Rachid Ouramdane’s Loin, was presented this past weekend at the MAI in Montreal as part of a world tour including : Switzerland, South Korea, Spain and New Zealand.
The piece is technically a solo choreographed by Ouramdane, but its wide scope implicates the stories of many people and places. The hour-long piece is a solo that Ouramdane produced using his family’s and others’ faits-vécus in colonial wars to investigate how these experiences affect identity and legacies. Ouramdane’s Algerian father was initially a victim of colonial conflict and torture by the French army; later on he would fight alongside the French in former-Indochina. This paradox is part of what brought Ouramdane to question his own identity and create Loin.
The piece was filled with audio and video interviews of people who had experienced conflict and/or questions of identity in their home countries. Woven together and interspersed with dance sequences by Ouramdane, the voices of these people became a part of the choreographer’s overarching motion to consider identity through abstract and personal physical expression.
While part of its subject matter is war, occupations and suffering, the overall narrative of the piece reflects curiosity in unpacking the lives and perceived identities of those affected by colonial rule. In this way, I found the piece to be a valuable and progressive exploration of traumas and repercussions on families. Residing a few degrees away from intense emotions, its unresolved memorandum is to be expected in dealing honestly with complex and painful personal histories.
Artistically, loin is a multimedia performance. Large rotating speakers act as partners in the dance, and Ourandame himself uses pedals on stage to trigger shifts between video and live performance, all the while immersed in a sophisticated sound scape. While the moments of dance seemed few and far between for an hour long show, Ourandame’s performance itself was earnest and committed. Even so, I was left with a dance for more movement and a more committed performance presence.
As dance-documentary, Loin is an impressive patchwork of movement, projection, sound design and personal stories that endeavor to sift through layers of memory and identity.