Getting to Know Soufiane Karim

Aisha was lucky enough to do a few quick interviews with the artists of Fleur d'Orange.  In celebration of their arrival today, here's an interview with hip-hop artist Soufiane Karim!  You can catch Soufiene teaching workshops at Impulse Dance Center on 10/17 and Endicott College on 10/18.  He will also be performing in Identity/Identite at Arts at the Armory on Sunday, 10/19.  For more information or to purchase tickets, click here!

What first drew you to dance? What was your path to becoming a professional dancer?
SK:  My mum is a dance teacher, and I always followed her in her class when I was young.  I really started dance when I met Hip Hop culture in Paris.  The music, the movements the style and energy inspired me from the beginning.

AC:  How did you and Hind begin working together?
SK:  Hind invited me to participate in the creative project Identity and we started to work from 22000km apart.  I'm living in New Caledonia, so we started to create the collaboration by internet relations and work in different ways.  Personally, I've created with my own company another work linked to calligraphy (what i was already working on) and this was my way to participate and add my brick to the wall.  Then I invited Hind to New Caledonia and kept working and exchanging together.  We kept the link and talking by Skype almost everyday and intensive working and documents sharing and writing.

AC:  Have you encountered resistance to your work?SK:  The distance was my most important resistance/difficulty during this process...and the short time I had for the creative process due to my other company schedule and projects already.

AC:  How has your attitude toward dance and performance changed over time?SK:  I was very anxious about my first work in Morocco.  Representing my culture was a pleasure but at the same time brought back to me memories and struggle that I had had in the past, like [the idea that] dance is not a job.  In our culture it is important to have a "real job".  So [my attitude] slowly changed by accepting my own culture inside this way.  Creating this work with Hind and Mohcine as my friends and family more than just random artists.  This piece is a real part me, of my struggle, of my memory, my village in casablanca and all the ceremonies and weddings, all the music songs and songs that I've been hearing during all my childhood.  I'm now fully accepting all this past as a present and as my present lifetime dancing and performing this piece and dancing with my heart, giving all who I am.

AC:  Have you found your style or process influenced by those you work with?SK:  Yes, I am always influenced by the person who I'm collaborating with.  As artists we are working with our souls and heart.  We are sharing pieces of cultures, arts, way of thinking, living.  So I feel like I've taken a small part from every artists I have collaborated with, every culture, every art form, universe.

AC:  As primarily solo artists, what kinds of challenges do you face in creating and performing? Do you find that collaborative work erases some of those challenges, or provide new ones?SK:  I think solo is a really difficult way to work and to process because you are deeply facing yourself and this is the most difficult thing for me. I'm now also artistic director and choreographer of my own company, dancing in every piece I'm making, and this is truly bringing difficulty and at same erasing some.

Performing solo is sometimes sad because you're not sharing the pleasure to have been performing, and being on stage, or sharing the hard moments with someone.  Collaborating with other artists you have to face their own personality and character, desires and anxiousness, strength and sometimes everything doesn't go in the way you would like to or expect to, if you have expectations.  But sometimes it brings more than you could ever expect.

AC:  What have you enjoyed most about working on Identity/Identite?  What were your expectations verses outcomes?SK:  Discovering my culture through the artistic universe of Hind and Mohcine, their stories, and sharing the beauty, good things and also the struggles with people.  Second, creating a new work being pushed again till the limit, and push myself to accept the challenge and discover their artistic world and stories.

AC:  In the states, we often talk about the dance community and connecting performers with the audience. Can you talk about experiences you've had trying to engage with your audience, and with connecting dancers and performers to each other?
SK:  We had such beautiful experiences sharing our work by Q&A, and sharing people's thoughts about what they felt by watch us performing. It's a such great opportunity to be able to receive the audience's feeling and understand the impact your work has had on them, and feeling how powerful art can impact people's life.  To be honest, to be able to feel how much some simple things like a one hour art piece can change the perception of hundred of people, and open their minds.  Just have to be responsible about what you are sharing with them.

Thank you for listening some bits of my story!

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