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a piece by Aurélien Bory performed by the Groupe acrobatique de Tanger
(creation 2004)

Where did the idea of working with acrobats from a different culture from your own originate?

Let’s say that this project didn’t come from me. Sanae El Kamouni met me at the Théâtre Garonne in Toulouse, where she was on a course, while I was working on Plan B. She discovered my way of fusing circus, theatre, contemporary art and was very interested in this approach. She suggested that I should write a show in Morocco, where there are acrobats but no creation. I was already familiar with Moroccan acrobatics and I knew it to be unique and remarkable. I then suggested giving a two-week course in Tangiers, to meet acrobats and see what meaning such a project might have. One month later, I decided to write a show which would use only cloth as the medium for each scene, I wanted a mobile, fragile scenography relating to Tangiers. That’s where the title comes from, TAOUB, Arabic for “cloth”.

How did you meet the artists? Why did you choose them in particular for this collaboration?

We held auditions for this course all over Morocco, since acrobatics is practised mainly in the south, and to our great surprise, we found many acrobats in Tangiers. The first ones to present themselves were the Hammichs, who came as a foursome, including two girls, and also some friends. They were all very good acrobats, and I wanted to compose a group based on this core, taking advantage of the fact that they had known each other for a long time, even if they hadn’t formed themselves into a group. It is this family “mesh”, this organisation as a group which interested me. Sanae and I decided to give them a name after the creation of Taoub: Le Groupe acrobatique de Tanger [the Tangiers Acrobatic Group].


What memories do you have of that meeting?

The enormous gap. They had never approached this kind of thing, from near or far. Nor did they understand what a French artist was doing there with them, merely adhered shyly to what I was proposing. Everything changed when I asked them to bring their family and friends for a presentation of the work. Then they understood through the eyes of the others what they themselves were doing. When they heard their relatives laugh, for example, they clicked.

In the show, one really senses the result of a genuine exchange between your know-how and theirs. What did you actually do to achieve this great result?

I wanted them to understand that I wasn’t going to use their numbers, that we were going to invent new movements by adapting their know-how. They would see me reflect, improvise and try to find ideas, which derived from their skills and the concept of the show. I wanted them above all to be players and witnesses of a creative process and not the repetition of a fixed form. Therefore, I did not situate myself by comparison with their numbers, but on another plane. I explained to them that what we were doing was not a circus, but definitely theatre. They approved.

The Moroccan baraka is a divine power, a mystical force present in words, things and beings. The art mastered by Moroccan acrobats is its expression.

 Zakaria Rhani


La fabrique à images
19 December 2007

Au Maroc, l’acrobatie, à ses origines, était une tradition guerrière. Transmise de génération en génération, elle est devenue une pratique artistique qui n’avait, jusqu’à présent, jamais fait l’objet d’une création théâtrale. Aurélien Bory, metteur en scène, a rencontré à Tanger douze très bons acrobates, dont le noyau est composé par la famille Hammich, acrobates de pères en fils depuis sept générations. Taoub qui signifie “tissu” est leur premier spectacle. Du jamais-vu ! Les corps des acrobates, comme les fils d’une même étoffe, s’assemblent pour conter des pans d’histoire, intime, sociale, culturelle et universelle.

Sue un plateau vide, avec pour seul accessoire, des tissus blancs, mobiles et transformables, tout à tour, sol, toile, couverture, tente, trampoline ou vêtement, ils rendent hommage à la femme, modifient leur identité, habitent des territoires oniriques ou réels, renouent avec les défis acrobatiques et les fêtes traditionnelles. Indissociable l’un de l’autre, chaque acrobate est le maillon d’une véritable fabrique à images. Artisans habiles, ils savent tisser des univers homogènes avec les matériaux les plus divers : le corps, le textile, la vidéo, la lumière, la voix et la musique.


Taoub est un voyage kaléidoscopique à travers le Maroc. Aurélien Bory, sans jamais instrumentaliser le savoir-faire des acrobates, invente des situations ludiques et novatrices, qui lèvent les clichés véhiculés sur ce pays. Au départ membres d’une confrérie austère, la troupe change de costumes pour enfiler ceux d’hommes et de femmes d’aujourd’hui. En jouant avec la lumière, la vidéo et la manipulation de tissus, elle emmène le public dans une diversité de paysages, montagne, désert, ciel ou même fête foraine. La poésie et la fantaisie des situations, la rigueur de la mise en scène, le talent et la complicité des acrobates, la beauté des chants traditionnels sont quelques uns des facteurs réjouissants de ce spectacle, qui tourne à travers le monde depuis trois ans.


Dominique Duthuit

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People pass in and out of our lives like a shuttle runs back and forth across a loom.

 Chinese proverb


With Jamila Abdellaoui, Jamal Benali, Adel Chaaban, Mohammed Achraf Chaaban, Abdelaziz El Haddad, Najib El Maimouni Idrissi, Amal Hammich, Mohammed Hammich, Younes Hammich, Samir Lâaroussi, Yassine Srasi, Younes Yemlahi.
And  Joël Abriac or Cécile Herault

Writting and directing  Aurélien Bory
Director assistant and video  Pierre Rigal
Trampolin  Julien Cassier
Lights creation  Arno Veyrat
Technical direction  Joël Abriac or Cécile Hérault
Costumes Mahmoud Tabit Ben Slimane
Management and booking  Sanae El Kamouni
Tour management  Florence Meurisse, Audrey Gautron
PRODUCTION   Institut français du Nord

With the support of   Compagnie 111, Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, Ferme du Buisson – scène nationale de Marne la Vallée.
With the help of du Service de coopération et d’action culturelle de l’Ambassade de France au Maroc.
Scènes du Maroc  benefits from the support from Fondation BNP Paribas, Fondation BMCI and Institut Français du Maroc.

One of the unique characteristics of Moroccan acrobatics is the circle. I’m fascinated by how it twists the body and forces it to leave a straight line and thereby allow a continuum. Where the rest of the world’s acrobatics end is where Moroccan acrobatics continues.

 Aurélien Bory