Preview: World Fair at the Wexner Center

From the October 20, 2011 edition

We live in the age of unavoidable images. French-Algerian dancer and choreographer Rachid Ouramdane last performed here in May 2006 in his “Les morts pudiques,” which focused on images of death. Its most memorable passage was a comical pas de deux with a near-life-sized twin that he manipulated with his feet.

Ouramdane returns to the Wexner Center on the fourth and final stop of his North American tour with his new work, “World Fair,” performing with composer and multi-instrumentalist Jean-Baptiste Julien.

In an interview with French dancer and writer Maxime Fleuriot, which was posted on Ouramdane’s website, Ouramdane suggested that “World Fair” revisits that earlier aesthetic of images, what he calls “the ability of the dancer to perform multiple identities … this kind of ‘polyphony’ in the body … to compose a portrait.”

From the theme of mortality in his earlier work, Ouramdane has moved on to the ways that our imagery transmits ideology, whether through political leaders, sports stars or musical icons.

“What I want is to understand how political constructions can affect individual sensitivity and how public speeches leak into our behaviors,” he said in that interview. “I don’t want to imitate the icons of today’s society to show how they can be harmful or inhuman. … I want to reveal how the individual reacts in front of them, what marks they leave on bodies.”

Quoting another Wexner Center favorite, choreographer Meg Stuart, Ouramdane said, “My work starts where the words fail.”

Jacques Hoepffner photo