What The Day Owes To The Night @ Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide 23/10/2019

What the Day Owes To The Night by Compagnie Herve Koubi is without any doubt one of the best shows that I have seen this year.

Choreographer, Herve Koube opens the show by standing in front of the stage quite demure, almost apologetic, and explains that his choreography is an exploration of the revelation that came to him in early adulthood that he was a Frenchman with an Algerian heritage. He then leaves the audience with a statement to ponder, “My mother was Muslim…My father Jewish (pause)…It happens”

It happens…And this show is about what happens when the reality of contrasts and juxtapositions is explored to see exactly what it is that “the day owes to the night;” in a Taoist sense where nothing is absolute. There is dark in light and light in dark.

On stage there are thirteen powerful male dancers (they are introduced as street performers by Herve Koubi at the start of the show), bare chested wearing white free flowing North African culotte pants. This inspired costume choice by Guillaume Gabriel allows for a fluidity of movement that fills the minimalist set with swirling shapes that is enhanced by a lighting design by Lionel Buzonie that takes you from a North African late evening streetscape to the soft but distinct beams of the desert sun awakening the rooms through to a fully sunlit African desert.

The choice of music (Guillame Gabriel is also credited as the Sound Technician), is sublimely evocative. Fitting in with the Taoist theme, there is a melding of styles and cultures from Hip Hop to Bach to Opera to Sufi Meditational and Egyptian Drive featuring the traditional Oud, that seamlessly flow to create a soundscape that takes in the shades of the human condition. Just as powerful is the absence of music so that all you can hear is the dancers’ feet and their heavy breathing as they work through one of their incredibly muscular routines.

Herve Koubi’s choreography explores that which the “day owes to the night” as it delves into the contrasts between mysticism and street savvy, spiritual meditation and martial arts, connectedness and anomie.
There are many stand-out moments like the Sufi Swirling Dervish-inspired meditational dance, the Capoeira style martial moves, the head spinning breakdance routines and acrobatic human pyramids and leaps.

But the choreography is most impressive when you consider that the thirteen performers are on stage for the whole show; there are no leads and the movement is en masse and very fluid to show the universality of the human condition that is being explored. The performers flow from shape to shape and style to style in the most natural and seamlessly aesthetically pleasing way.

What the Day Owes To The Night is a fitting choice for the OzAsia Festival because it explores almost poetically that which connects cultures and underscores the universality of the human condition.

What the Day Owes To The Night. It happened. And it was an extraordinarily uplifting experience.

OzAsia Review By Bob Becker

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