SOUS LEURS PIEDS, LE PARADIS, Solo Performance by Radhouane El Meddeb. ©La Compagne de Soi
Volume 1

Radhouane El Meddeb’s Experiments With Gender: In Search of New Bodies

Radhouane El Meddeb’s Experiments With Gender:
In Search of New Bodies
by Omar Fertat
 Arab StagesVolume 1, Number 1 (Fall 2014)
 ©2014 by Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publications

In a recent interview Rabih Mroué, the Lebanese theatre artist, complained of his inability as an actor, to develop “a dynamic body, athletic, well mannered, obedient, malleable and expressive,” saying: “I can not have that body, which the theatre demands, and I do not know any of my colleagues or my friends or my family that has this body. What I see is that we have bodies that are tired, lazy, spoiled, and flabby and presenting problems that we can not solve. Our bodies seem sad. . . and the body we have is neither perfect or exemplary.”[1]

Faced with the absence of the “model Arab body” that Rabih Mroué has been struggling to find, the Franco-Tunisian choreographer Radhouan El Meddeb, who himself has a body which is equally at odds with the slender and perfect body of most professional dancers, offers an alternative approach, making this “handicap” an artistic asset. Like a Raymond Hugh or Olivier Dubois, he seized upon the abject body in the dance as the only path to liberation for him. Thus the Tunisian artist draws his inspiration from the margins. Reasserting his difference and exploring the female universe through dance are two distinctive traits of the creative path of El Meddeb, which we will attempt to illuminate briefly in the lines which follow:

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