Compagnie Käfig returns to Jacob’s Pillow

Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival presents hip-hop dance company Compagnie KäfigThe internationally acclaimed Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival presents the return of Compagnie Käfig, an international ensemble of dynamic hip-hop dancers, for the second week of its 81st festival on June 26-30 in the Ted Shawn Theatre.


Led by celebrated Artistic Director and choreographer Mourad Merzouki, Compagnie Käfig returns to the festival on the tails of last year’s massive success. The company was the smash hit of festival 2012 with sold-out shows and favorable reviews and now these virtuosic dancers will perform in an encore program of two works, Correria and AGWA, both bursting with athleticism, artistry and drama.


Roslyn Sulcas of The New York Times comments: “One of the most prominent of the many French hip-hop troupes to emerge over the last two decades is the Lyon-based Compagnie Käfig, founded by Mourad Merzouki in 1996…For two new pieces, though, he has collaborated with a group of dancers from Rio de Janeiro; Correria and AGWA are inspired by their stories of growing up in favelas, and the choreography incorporates elements of athletic samba and capoeira. It’s a potentially fascinating cultural exchange.”


A major figure on the hip-hop scene since the early 1990s, choreographer Mourad Merzouki works at the junction of many different movement disciplines, fusing circus, martial arts, fine arts and music with a continuous exploration of all hip-hop styles. He is known for opening up new outlooks in dance, while honoring the hip-hop movement’s roots and its social and geographical origins.


Dancers in Compagnie Käfig vary based on the current repertoire. The company made its Jacob’s Pillow debut in 2001 with Dix Versions, with dancers mostly of Algerian and North African descent. Returning in 2012 as part of the Pillow’s 80th Anniversary season, Käfig performed to sold-out houses and brought audiences to their feet with a new all-male cast from Brazil.


In a review of this performance, Janine Parker of The Boston Globe wrote: “What do you get when you mix one Frenchman trained in circus skills, martial arts and hip-hop dance with 11 male street dancers from Rio de Janeiro’s notoriously perilous shantytowns? The answer is Compagnie Käfig, a.k.a.: the cure for pretty much anything that ails you. This élixir de la danse, though billed as a hip-hop company, defies easy categorization.”


Due to the success of last year’s run, the Pillow brings the troupe back for an encore engagement. Anna Kisselgoff of The New York Times calls Compagnie Käfig “one of the most innovative troupes on the experimental dance scene” and credits the Pillow with giving the company the wider exposure it deserves.


Since 1996, 17 of Merzouki’s dance works have been performed in more than 600 cities. In the past 16 years, Compagnie Käfig has given over 2,150 performances in 61 countries for more than 1 million people. Merzouki is often invited to collaborate with other artists in France and abroad, contributing to the international reputation of hip-hop dance and his own company.


To buy tickets to see Compagnie Käfig perform in Merzouki’s AGWA (2008) and Correria (2010), visit or call the Jacob’s Pillow Box Office at 413-243-0745. Tickets are $39-69 and the Pillow will have discounted tickets for those 35 years old and under. For attendees between the ages of 18 and 35, tickets are available for $19 on Friday, June 28. Youth tickets are also available for Friday, June 28 at 8 p.m. as well as Saturday, June 29 at 2 p.m. for only $10.


Jacob’s Pillow is located at 358 George Carter Road in Becket, MA. To learn about other performances scheduled for the 81st festival, visit the website. The other theatre on Pillow grounds, the Doris Duke Theatre, will be presenting the show LEO the same week as Compagnie Käfig is performing in the Ted Shawn Theatre on June 26-30. This fantastical, touching, one-man show from Berlin will blend brilliant physical theatre, acrobatics and mind-bending animation.


Photo: Companie Kafig in performance at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in 2012. Photo by Christopher Duggan, courtesy of Jacob’s Pillow.