Interview: Compagnie Käfig's Mourad Merzouki on Boxe Boxe
The dynamic new dance performance combines the worlds of boxing and breakdancing
Picture a breakdance battle: two opponents squaring up, using their skill and agility to beat each other into submission. Now picture a boxing match. Aside from the obvious physical contact in the latter, there are more than a few similarities. Trained as a boxer before discovering the world of dance, artistic director Mourad Merzouki was acutely aware of those comparisons and has turned them into Compagnie Käfig’s dynamic new show Boxe Boxe.
Punchbags, boxing gloves, silk dressing gowns, a referee: all the iconic images of boxing are in there, alongside eight performers delivering Merzouki’s fluid blend of hip hop and contemporary dance. ‘There are so many similarities between boxing and dance,’ says French-born Merzouki. ‘So I’ve tried to emphasise all the movements of boxing, through dance. I used all these new tools as ways to feed the choreography – a way to evolve the dance and make it richer.’
To add spice to an already fascinating mixture, Merzouki recruited a string quartet to appear live on stage and interact with his dancers. So, instead of the heavy beats usually associated with hip hop dance theatre, we have works by Schubert, Ravel, Philip Glass and Glen Miller.
‘With each show I create, I try to give the audience something new,’ says Merzouki, ‘and to have a new collaboration that they would not expect, so they are surprised by what they see. With Boxe Boxe, the challenge was not to show just hip hop or just boxing – that’s why the classical music is there, to create yet another surprise.’
Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Tue 1 & Wed 2 Apr.