Modern dance in the modern era

Mourad Merzouki’s ‘Pixel’ delves into the Digital Age.

From 'Pixel' by Mourad Merzouki (photo credit: AGATHE POUPENEY)
From 'Pixel' by Mourad Merzouki
(photo credit: AGATHE POUPENEY)
As anyone can tell you, the Israeli audience is a tough nut to crack. Opinionated and outspoken, the classic Israeli viewer will be the first to say if a show fell short of his or her expectations. To win the hearts of this bunch takes certain pizazz, something that Mourad Merzouki clearly has.
Last year, the French choreographer shared his 2014 creation Pixel with Israeli audiences.
The production, which combines digital media with various movement languages, was Merzouki’s most ambitious project to date and a big gamble. The proof was in the pudding, with soaring ticket sales and an additional performance added to the company’s already packed tour schedule. And, in fact, the performance was such a hit with local audiences that presenters decided to forgo newer productions in favor of hosting Pixel once again.
Merzouki, 44, is one of France’s top multidisciplinary artists. He is known for blending together different dance styles, theater, music, circus, extreme lighting schemes and sets. As a child, Merzouki was exposed to circus and martial arts. In high school, he discovered hip hop and was hooked.
Through this, he came to study contemporary dance, followed by theater.
In 1996 Merzouki formed Compagnie Kafig in Lyon. Ten years later, the troupe relocated to Bron, France. Then, in 2009, Merzouki was appointed artistic director of the National Choreography Center in Creteil et du Val de Marne, outside of Paris.
Pixel, which Merzouki created together with a long list of talented collaborators, is hailed as one of the most technologically cutting-edge dance works of the decade. In his comments about Pixel, Merzouki writes, “We are constantly exposed to images, videos and digital media.
Screens are everywhere. One only needs to walk down the streets of big capitals of some countries to imagine what the city of tomorrow will be, a large exposure to images which is now part of our everyday life.”
The concept for Pixel emerged from a type of confusion Merzouki began to feel. The differentiation between real and virtual life became increasingly difficult to make, and Merzouki found himself overwhelmed by technologies. As such, the Lyon-born choreographer decided to process these emotions through his work.
On stage, the 11 dancers of Pixel interact with, respond to, guide and are guided by projected images.
Their immersion in this altered reality presents the audience with a rich, visceral experience that, for many, will speak to common experiences of living in the modern age.
‘Pixel’ will be performed on September 25, 26, 27 at 8 p.m. at the Opera House in Tel Aviv. For tickets, call *8780 or (03) 692-7777.