Laurent Aït Benalla
France | 2012 | 70 min
Languages : French, Arabic
Subtitles : English, French

Abou and Nawal Lagraa want to create the country’s first contemporary dance company at Algier’s National Theatre. Laurent Aït Benalla follows the ten young self-taught dancers, hailing from the world of hip-hop, from the rehearsals to the show, which he films from behind the scenes, where bodies emerge from the shadows to soar towards the light of the stage.

“Oh my body, make of me, always, a man who questions” wrote Frantz Fanon. In the background of a rehearsal room, his portrait watches over a dozen self-taught dancers, hailing from hip-hop, the ultimate street art, chosen by Abou and Nawal Lagraa to create the country’s first contemporary dance company. At Algiers’ National Theatre, the two choreographers work with their recruits rehearsing a diptych – bringing together Ravel’s ethereal Bolero and the earthly songs of Houria Aïchi – in front of Laurent Aït Benalla’s camera, which vibrates in response to these young chrysalis-bodies, tensed, on the brink of rupture, fragile. The tight framing opens up as they begin to assert themselves, taking in their social, religious and familial off-screen life - which also governs any form of creation. Ô mon corps records the enthralling gestation of a collective made up of beings learning to give themselves over freely to dance, and masterfully ends during the premiere of the show, filmed from behind the scenes: when bodies, moving under the stage lights, come back to nestle in the semi-darkness, becoming faces.

Emmanuel Chicon

Atelier Hassen Ferhani

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