Suresnes Celebration of Berki, 2017. Photo: Franc 3 Culturebox
Articles, Essays, Volume 7

From Street to Stage: Hip-hop, the History of an Artification through the Example of Farid Berki

From Street to Stage: Hip-hop, the History of an Artification 
through the Example of Farid Berki
By Omar Fertat
Arab Stages, Volume 7 (Fall, 2017) 
©2017 by Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publications

This essay follows my interests in questions of otherness and the relationships of the performing arts in the West with the Arab world. In pursuing a study of the dancer and choreographer Radhouane el Meddeb,[1] I became interested in the French dance scene where the Tunisian artist developed. And inevitably, given my considerable interest in anything that directly or indirectly involves Arab artists or artists of Arab origin, I was struck by the clear and strong presence of artists emigrating from the Maghreb within this artistic world. Indeed, some of these artists occupied important and prestigious positions at the center of French cultural institutions: Kader Attou has been the director of the national dance center of La Rochelle since 2008, Mourad Merzouki that of Créteil and Val de Marne since 2009. I was intrigued by this circumstance since, except the field of comedy and stand-up comedy in particular, very rarely have artists from Maghreb gained such visibility.

Radhouane el Meddeb. Photo: Agence Poupency

The first factor in common among all these cultural actors, in addition to their ethnic origin, is that they all belong to the same part of society: they grew up in the cities and suburbs of France. Secondly, they all have come out of hip-hop culture, and their creations share a common and marked tendency toward hybridity and blending. Their works occupy a space of interaction and exchange where different disciplines and artistic genres interact, and theatre, of course, is among these. I thus decided, with considerable hesitation, since dance is a field with which I am not very familiar, even if I am not a total stranger there, to undertake a study of this artistic and social phenomenon. The present article represents my preliminary thoughts on this subject.

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