Compangie Hervé Koubi returns to Aspen Santa Fe Ballet with message of hope through dance |

Compangie Hervé Koubi returns to Aspen Santa Fe Ballet with message of hope through dance

Herve Koubi's "Ce que le jour doit à la nuit."
Photo Credit Nathalie Sternalski

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet welcomes back Compangie Hervé Koubi to Aspen for the first time since 2019. The 13-member ensemble will perform choreographer Hervé Koubi’s Ce Que Le Jour Doit a la Nuit (What the Day Owes the Night) at Aspen District Theater on Sunday.

“Hervé Koubi is a French choreographer who takes these incredible street dancers from Algeria and uses them his dynamic choreographic creations. They are just unbelievable,” said Tom Mossbrucker, the artistic director of the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet.

The show is known for the highly-physical, gravity-defying works combining capoeira, martial arts, gymnastics, as well as urban and contemporary dance while evoking Orientalist paintings and the stone filigree of Islamic architecture.

Ce que le jour doit à la nuit.
Photo Credit Nathalie Sternalski

Ce Que Le Jour Doit a la Nuit is based on a novel by Yasmine Khadra, director of the Algerian Cultural Center in Paris. Koubi said the novel took place at the exact place and time where his parents had “left everything” back in their homeland.

Koubi was born and raised in France and only learned of his Algerian roots as an adult. He was shocked that his family would have hidden such a secret from him. But, given the complicated historical, political, and cultural relationship between France and Algeria, he understood the family wanted to assimilate fully into French society.

He decided he needed to know more and went on a quest in 2010 to educate himself about his Algerian heritage through local dance traditions.

Ce que le jour doit à la nuit.
Cie Koubi – Ce que le jour doit à la nuit – Argentat 31 mai 2018

“Hervé only learned about his roots at age 25, when his father showed him a picture of his great-great grandfather in Arabic-style dress back in Algeria,” said dance company co-founder Guillaume Gabriel. “He decided to go to Algeria — not just to see the landscapes and smell the perfumes, but also to meet the dancers. So, we did a casting there, and that’s when everything changed.”

The first audition/casting in Algeria was a challenge. They contacted all the French institutions and schools in Algeria, asking them where they might find dance schools with a high density of dancers and were told none existed. They did manage to wrangle five email addresses of ballet dancers in the country.

“We sent emails to those five dancers that we were told that we could meet, and I think the communication went well because, on the day of the casting, there was 250 dancers that showed up on the street. There were 249 boys and one girl,” said Gabriel.

They found that most of the people who showed up on the first call were street dancers specializing in hip-hop, capoeira, and parkour. Until then, the style of the company was firmly grounded in contemporary dance, but, with the arrival of these new dancers, they found they could mix these new styles with Koubi’s more traditional style.

Ce que le jour doit à la nuit.
Photo Credit Nathalie Sternalski

“It was really a way to integrate those dancers in a more global reflection of dance as an overall theme,” said Gabriel. “The theme is really about Hervé’s journey from a French raised boy to finding these dancers. It’s an Orientalist dream paying tribute to all the brothers that he found again.”

For the upcoming show in Aspen, he explained that they have spent the last couple of years expanding the troupe beyond Algeria, casting dancers from all around the Mediterranean basin.

“We now have dancers from all over the Mediterranean, with new techniques and new skills,” he said. “The global overview of the show is the same, but the global meaning is not the same. The original was about Herve’s history, and now it’s about how to make peace between the people around the region  because, if you come from Bulgaria or Slovenia or Italy or Algeria, France, Morocco, maybe, if we can dance together, we can live together also.”

Ce que le jour doit à la nuit.
Photo Credit Nathalie Sternalski
If you go…

What: Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Presents Compangie Hervé Koubi, Ce Que Le Jour Doit a la Nuit
When: Sunday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Aspen District Theater 199 High School Road, Aspen
More info and tickets: Prices start at $36 on the main floor. Tickets available online: By phone: (970) 920-5770
In person: Wheeler Box Office

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