“Culture and art must continue to be accessible and reach absolutely all audiences”

photo Joel Saget AFP

Mehdi Kerkouche is the choreographer of this beginning of the year. He has just succeeded Mourad Merzouki as director of the Créteil and Val-de-Marne National Choreographic Center, and opens the 2023 edition of the Suresnes Cités Danse festival with Portraithis new creation.

Portrait refers to the family. Is it your dance family, that of your company EMKA?
What interested me in the idea of ​​the portrait is not only this representation of the group but also imagining what are the paths that led them to meet, to live together, to live together or to separate. It is indeed a photo, five years later, of this same family that may not be the same. We established the company five years ago, so the oldest ones have been there for five years. And the little kittens that accompanied us on the way have been there for two years.

Has this family grown for this show?
Yes amy swanson joined us specifically for this project. she co-leads The gaze of the sign in Belleville. To talk about the family I need to represent absolutely all personalities and all ages. Often when we go to see a dance show, we see young, slender dancers with extraordinary physiques. Amy is 67 years old, she has been a dancer for over 40 years. She is very cool in the show to see her dance with Jaouen who is only 19 years old.

Why did you decide to leave the board empty?
I had an idea for a set design that I sketched out and budgeted for and realized that nine performers on set was already extremely massive. I didn’t need to add any decoration. I believe that in simplicity we can find many things. We focus on the movement, on the choreographic character, on the material, on the relationship with the body and on the dancers present. And it is as powerful thanks to the light as having a very large set design.

2023 starts off on the right foot, because both are at Suresnes Cités Danse and, from January 1, they also take over the direction of the CCN of Créteil and Val-de-Marne. What is your project?
I don’t really realize it right now because I’m totally in the creation. The project that I bring to this place is really the evolution of the work of my company in the last five years. I set it up to create shows and events, to give dance classes, to break the border between the public and the fourth wall, so that people come with us. What I am going to implement in Créteil is continuity, but with more resources. I hope so anyway. So I go there with the pressure, of course, of a title and an appointment from the Minister, but I also go there in a way that is very aware of the importance of this responsibility.

You are one of those artists who never gave up in 2020 during the confinement, keeping in touch with the public. Why was this so important to you?
I too have been in show business for a long time. And as soon as I was confined to my house, I was stressed. All the shows he was supposed to start working on were cancelled. Because I’m passionate, I kept being creative. If I had been a painter, I would have continued painting. If I had been a singer, I would have continued singing. We continue to unite the public through social networks.

Is it also a way for you to renew audiences?
When we broadcast the piece I created for the Paris Opera ballet on television, we received a lot of comments from the public who said “thank you” because they would never have been able to come to Paris. . You have to pay for tickets to come to Paris, and when you have a family, it goes up very quickly. And in fact, the community that we created on social networks thanks to all the actions implemented during the confinement, such as the festival we dance at your house, prove the importance of maintaining this notion of accessibility to culture. Culture, art, in general, must remain accessible and reach absolutely all audiences. This is how we manage to educate people. This is how we managed to transmit our messages and our information. And the festival, which in its 3rd edition brought together 2,000 spectators in one day, will continue in Créteil.

Which choreographers do you want to work with in Créteil?
The CCN system will allow me to continue developing my work, but also to support emerging talents. What I have been doing for three years with we dance at your house. The good thing is that I use this platform to allow the public to discover all the styles of dance. I want to continue doing it to offer a maximum of shows, a maximum of diversity, both in the way of living, of being, of creating, of reflecting on dance; not necessarily to reflect it just on set, but in 25,000 different ways.

Interview by Stéphane CAPRON – www.sceneweb.fr

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