By Steve Sucato
Moroccan-based dancer/choreographer Hind Benali’s new work, Identity, began as a solo journey of self-discovery after the deaths of her two grandmothers in the same year. Both were of Algerian decent, and both lived with her. “All the traditional parts of my identity came from them,” Benali said recently by telephone from Washington, D.C., where the company was performing the work. “The question then became, … would I end up leaving tradition behind?”
The hour-long work, presented by the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater and performed by Benali and her troupe Fleur d’Orange at The Alloy Studios, grew when Benali asked Franco-Moroccan hip-hop dancer Soufiane Karim and composer/musician Mohcine Imrharn to create their own journeys of self-discovery.
The resulting contemporary-dance work in three parts, performed to recorded and live music by Imrharn, traces a path from ancestry and tradition through contemporary Moroccan culture, religion and gender politics.
Adding to the texture, lyrical calligraphy by Moroccan artist Yacine Fadhil will be projected on the stage and dancers.
“There is an evolution in the work that starts with something calm and beautiful and ends up with internal conflict,” says Benali. “We are split in two as Moroccans, we want to stick to our traditions, but we also want to be, like everyone does, free.”
Hind Benali/Fleur d’Orange performs Identity, 8 p.m. Fri., Oct. 10, and 8 p.m. Sat., Oct. 11. The Alloy Studios, 5530 Penn Ave., Friendship. $10-25. 412-363-3000 or www.kelly-strayhorn.org
This article originally appeared in Pittsburgh City Paper October 8, 2014. Copyright Steve Sucato.