Fouad Boussouf

Nass (Les Gens)

Fouad Boussouf - Compagnie Massala

At first, the audience can only see the backs of the seven male dancers: their formation morphs from a line into a scattered circle, their steps steadily punctuating the beat of the music. Only once they’ve revealed their faces do they break off into more complex sequences.

With NASS, choreographer Fouad Boussouf skilfully blends urban and contemporary dance styles: it’s a meeting between different times, different cultures – between the earthly and the spiritual. The dancers raise their arms together as if in a silent plea, but are they all praying for the same thing? Despite cleverly playing with patterns to convey the unity and tradition that underlies it all, each performer’s individuality is apparent.

The mood shifts as quickly as the swift footwork: switching from menace to trance-like abandon, the dancers triumph over gravity itself, somehow managing to fuse heaven and earth with their prowess.

Sophie Ammann

A deep sense of urgency seems to propel the seven male dancers during the opening seconds of Nass – conveyed not through their eyes, but their backs. Driven by a heavy drum beat, they advance and retreat, keeping their anonymity intact even after they finally turn around to face the audience. They’re disconnected – from each other and us, maybe even from themselves – as their pleading arms reach up to beg for something better, swing angrily through the air or clutch their heads in despair.

Ingeniously fusing the loose-limped sweep and pulse of traditional Moroccan dance with the excitement and athleticism of hip hop, choreographer Fouad Boussouf gives us 45 minutes of energising dance that urges us to find stories in the swarm. As we journey with them from isolation to friendship, from troubled existence to joy, the dancers of Company Massala hold us mesmerised in the palm of their hands.

Kelly Apter