On Tuesday, February 6, 2018, UC Santa Barbara Arts and Lectures will host back to back performances by two French dance companies, both inspired by Les Americains, and highlighting America’s growing global influence in the arts.
Choreographer Kader Attou and his all male cast of 11 dancers are set to debut their eclectic blend of French sensibility with American pop appeal as they debut their French sensibility and style with American pop appeal. Set to make their West Coast debut with their show The Roots, Attou’s team has been highly anticipated to grace SB’s Granada stage.
Attou and crew are part of Accrorap, a hip-hop dance company that takes its influences from Americana, combines them with French cirque culture to create a mesmerizing, fresh take on urban street dancing. Born and raised in Lyon, France, Attou describes his smooth, understated style as “drawing from the generosity of [hip-hop] in order to discover new paths.” He has stressed that his motive behind his methodsd is “to build bridges and create links and a sort of dialogue beyond and through our differences.”
In 2008, Attou received the title of director of the National Center for Choreography in La Rochelle; in part due to his dedication to expanding the knowledge and scope of this intricate style. This distinguished honor was a first of its kind for a hip-hop choreographer in France to head such an influential position in dance.
Growing up, Attou and his friends spent summer vacations showing off the daredevil stunts they learned from a local circus school. In The Roots, Attou and his dancers pay homage to these early influences, and remind audiences what an astonishing journey he’s made, especially in not having any formal or classic dance training (which is unusual for a French choreographer of his pedigree).
On Wednesday, February 7, another dynamic, international troupe will descend upon the coastal California town of Santa Barbara. French-Canadian dance troupe Cirque Éloize has become widely known as one of the leaders in a global circus-arts reinvention movement. Having managed to creatively evade the limitations of genre categorization, they are widely considered a dynamic presence in physical theater.
This season they’re [literally] bringing the American Wild West to the American West with their theatrical circus show Saloon. Combining daring athleticism with slapstick in their signature way, this group sets an almost avant-garde standard for other like performance troops, blending contemporary cirque with urban dance. They continue to spearhead their way into the forefront of pop culture, adding to their increasing, wide-range appeal.
The eleven Cirque Éloize performers will display their wide range of talents by singing, acting, playing music and as aerialists. Performing alongside live musical accompaniment by the likes of American icons Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash, the death defying team will wow crowds with aerial choreography on the Chinese pole, aerial straps, Cyr wheel and Korean plank. It is not too often that audiences are treated to such a wide range of exciting and original live performance.
Artist Director Jeannot Painchaud states that his companies affinity with this aspect of Americana stems from a similar “fundamental commitment to moving forward, toughness, the survival instinct, a tendency for irreverence, and a sharing sense of community.”
At a time when international relations aren’t always so cordial, the blending of cultures by these international troupes is a nice show of international diplomacy from both sides of the pond. This pair of special performances brings two worlds, along with their global communities together. Check them out while you can!