Monday, December 10, 2018

Fez - Cultural Happenings

The last few days have been busy with a number of cultural events taking place, including contemporary dance and a new music group
Left to right - Etienne Gruel, Frédéric Calmès, Faith Barker, and  Léo Fabre-Cartier, 

Gouer Ouled Chaabi is quartet of musicians who have a strong affinity with Morocco and its music. It is unusual as the group members, Etienne Gruel, Frédéric Calmès, Faith Barker, and  Léo Fabre-Cartier, are all non-Moroccans!

According to singer Faith Barker, Gouer Ouled Chaabi is a work in progress. "Fred, Leo, Etienne and I are musicians who love Moroccan music and live or have spent extended periods in Morocco. For this project we have worked together on original songs in Moroccan chaabi styles, including lyrics in darija. Some of the songs playfully talk about things we have come across while living in Morocco, eg the strange things that can happen while you travel in a grand taxi".

Faith Barker in fine voice

Saturday night's concert was the first time they had played together after a brief residence over the previous three days. But, as Faith explains, "Fred, Leo and Etienne have worked together on several storytelling shows and I’ve obviously done the same with Fred and Leo, as well as working with the Hamadcha together".

The performance was a treat, with fine vocals, mesmeric percussion and fine work from Fred and Leo. There was certainly no indication that this was the group's first concert. One highlight was a song inspired by the Hamadcha Sufi Brotherhood which had the audience swaying along and applauding loudly.

Maestro! Leo at work

Gouer Ouled Chaabi plan to continue the project with further concerts and hopefully a recording in 2019, so, watch this space!

Contemporary Dance

Friday night's performance of the 11th edition of the International Festival of Expressive Dance at Complexe Culturel Al Hourria was a delightful mix of styles. In the first section, budding ballet dancers from the Ecole des Arts Classica performed a simple series of steps under the enthusiastic eye of their parents. When the smaller dancers left the stage, the street dancers of Studio X entered, to much applause. A duet between a classical ballet dancer and a hip hop dancer was the highlight, and an unexpected treat.

The second section, with three accomplished contemporary dancers, was a more serious piece. Called Women, it explored perceptions of female identity.

Choreographed by Alham El Morsli, it began with a dancer fighting to get out of a mosquito net. When she eventually succeeded, hair covered her face, and she moved across the stage like a wild creature - clearly representing the primal, primitive aspect of the female psyche.

The second dancer was the extreme stereotype of sexualised femininity, strutting and rolling about the stage, smoking, in a tight red dress and ridiculously exaggerated high heels. Her personae and movements were confronting to some in the audience, who left during this section.

The last dancer wore a long white robe, covered with what appeared to be soft toys. She came across as a girl/child, trapped within a garment that confined her movements.

After changing into identical dark grey tops and lighter grey trousers, the women's movements became freer, and they explored group dynamics, with two dancers "attacking" the third. A transition followed, until they eventually all were dancing together, supporting one another.

It was a considered, reflective piece which raised some pertinent points about stereotypes of femininity versus reality - surprising and pleasing to see it in a Moroccan context.

For further information about Babylon Cult Art Association, CLICK HERE. 


1 comment:

Smart_Margauz said...

Contemporary dance is my favorite and I tried this once when I was in high school, we travelled like 3 hours for the competition of this dance and it feels like you are expressing your emotions thru this. Love it.