Friday, July 13, 2007

Tangiers' Taoub

Picture this. You're on your holidays. Somewhere nice. North Africa, say, Morocco even. After dining on a very agreeable tagine, you go for a stroll on the beach. Did I mention there was a beach? You see, you're in Tangiers. In the twilight. All of a sudden, the pink sky is filled with bodies, flying through the air, soaring, tumbling, spinning by flickering torch-light. It's a wonder, a marvel, it's a troupe of traditional Moroccan acrobats plying their centuries-old trade for the tourists.

In the past, it seems, acrobats adept at creating human pyramids, were used as a form of security for travelling merchants in North Africa. The acrobats would build themselves into a tall tower of humanity and scan the horizon for approaching marauders. Well, it's a nice story, anyway.

These days, they work the beaches.

Now, if you are an average tourist, you smile and store the memory away on your Flickr page. But if you are, say, French director, Aurélien Bory, student of architectural acoustics turned creative force behind Compagnie 111, the Toulouse-based troupe that uses circus performers to create spectacular theatre, other things can happen.

Bory was taking just such a walk in Tangiers one day, when he came across the Hammichs, the seventh generation of acrobatic family, plying the trade on the beach. He had an idea.

That idea became Taoub, a circus-based performance combining the Hammichs' acrobatic skills, along with the theatrical vision of Bory, video projections and acres of fabric, and a healthy dose of North African traditional music.

Like that other recent circus visitors to Dublin, NoFit State Circus, Collectif Acrobatique de Tangier (as the family is now called) has been performing at London's Roundhouse as part of the circus season, Circus Front, an event which aims to showcase the ever expanding field of contemporary circus. Dubliners who missed out on NoFit State's version of "New Circus," (where mood and atmosphere are as important as pure athleticism) can check out this Franco-Moroccan version at the Abbey for the next nine nights.

And Also...

As a kind of warm-up for their Edinburgh Fringe Festival visit this year, Irish-Spanish company, Pasodos Dance Company, founded by Spanish dancer and choreographer, Laura Macias, along with Dublin-born, Gavin de Paor, makes a stop over in Dun Laoghaire (along with a short tour of other Irish venues) with their latest production, Sorry, Love!

The two hander (featuring Macias and de Paor) is by director, Joe O'Byrne. O'Byrne, it seems, is having a busy summer, with a revival of his version of Frank Pig Says Hello, as well as directing, The Revenant, a new piece for Galway Arts Festival in collaboration with Frank Pig author, Pat McCabe and Gavin Friday. The Galway Festival kicks off next Monday, when The Revenant begins previews.

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