The Tunisian performer and dancer Mohamed Toukabri has been working in the last ten years with artists such as Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Grace Ellen Barkey and Jan Lauwers. The Upside Down Man (The Son of the Road) is his first solo work. In this dance performance, Mohamed moves back and forth between the past and the present, between two countries, two cultures and two traditions, between artistic disciplines and the languages of dance. He uses his personal story as an aid to speak about the feeling of identity and perception in our society. Mohamed investigates the concept of “in-between space” and confronts his audience with this mysterious and philosophical zone, somewhere between a westernized Muslim background in Tunis and the citizen-of-the-world status that European contemporary dance offers him. The constant interplay between dance, video, text and sound result in a very personal dance piece.
“In The Upside Down Man, I chose an autobiographic approach because I am interested in what is uniquely personal, in the fact that no one else can tell my story, because no one else sees the world through my eyes. Precisely because of that uniqueness, every person has his place in the world. While we are often inclined to generalize, apply labels or accept ready-to-use packages, I want to show that I am not a single-story: I am many stories.”
– Mohamed Toukabri
Duration: 50 min.
A production of Mohamed Toukabri. In coproduction with HELLERAU – European Center for the Arts Dresden and with the support from Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie. Residencies in Festival Artdanthé (Paris Vanves), Vooruit (Ghent), KAAP (Ostend / Bruges) and HELLERAU (Dresden). Rehearsal spaces in De Kriekelaar and MILL (Brussels).
Concept and Performance
Mohamed Toukabri (With thanks to Ines Ghannoudi and two quotes from "Les identités meurtrières" by Amin Maalouf)
Mohamed Toukabri and Gwen Laroche
Light Design and Technical Director
Mohamed Toukabri was born in Tunis and began dancing at the age of 13, starting with breakdance. He joined the Sybel Ballet Theatre (TN) led by Syhéme Belkhodja and worked with them from 2002 until 2008. At the age of 16, Mohamed trained in Paris at the International Academy of Dance. In 2007 he returned to Tunis to study at the Mediterranean Centre for Contemporary Dance. He worked with the choreographer Imed Jemaa / 5 productions between 2006 and 2008.
In 2008, he joined P.A.R.T.S., the dance school in Brussels directed by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. During his studies he participated in 2010 in Babel by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jalet from Eastman (BE). From 2013 to 2018, Mohamed was a member of Needcompany, the international performance company in Brussels founded by Jan Lauwers and Grace Ellen Barkey. Besides, he also performed in the reconstruction of the repertory piece Zeitung(2013) by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Sacré Printemps! (2014) by Aicha M’Barak and Hafiz Dhaou (Chatha (TN)). Mohamed is currently working again with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui who did the choreography and staging for the remake of the Opera Shell Shock, A Requiem of war a work from Nicholas Lens set to a text by Nick Cave for the 100 years anniversary of the World War I at the Philharmonie de Paris in 2018. He is also part of Larbis new creation Nomad and the opera Alceste choreographed for the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich.
The Upside down man is his first work and was premiered in May 2018. Currently, he is touring this solo and preparing a new production, a duet with his mother, which will premiere in 2020.