Jasad Dance Projects / Meryem Alaoui
Jasad Dance Projects (Jasad) is a Canadian Toronto-based not-for-profit dance company, incorporated in 2018, dedicated to the promotion and presentation of contemporary dance and performances; offering training, workshops and community programs; and developing collaborations and exchanges at local, national and international levels, with a focus on artists who identify as North African, Arab or Middle Eastern.
Jasad Dance Projects seeks to explore new ways of facilitating exchanges and collapsing boundaries between so-called ‘professional’ artists and ‘community’ artists. We do so through creating links between artistic and cultural communities that are geographically distant, through artistic collaborations that challenge the recognized, traditional Western colonial approaches of art making.
Jasad is particularly committed to supporting and providing access and professional development as well as creative opportunities in dance for North African, Arab and Middle Eastern people, especially women, whether it be in community or professional contexts.
Collaboration, exchange and a spirit of openness and non-hierarchy, as well as experimentation and play are integral to the activities and processes of dance making, performing and transmission at Jasad.
Meryem Alaoui's Bio
Meryem Alaoui is a dancer-choreographer from Morocco, living in Toronto. She’s the founder of Jasad Dance Projects, a not-for-profit aiming at increasing the visibility and representation of dance artists from the MENA region. Influenced by her studies of Body-Mind Centering®, her work is often an invitation towards a softer, more sensorial and felt experience of dance.
A graduate of the School of Toronto Dance Theatre, she has danced for choreographers Amanda Acorn, Peggy Baker, Angela Blumberg and Antony Hamilton, among others. Her choreographic work has been shown in Ontario, Quebec and Morocco, including ‘Ensemble’, a dance creation with collaborators from Morocco and Canada, and “Sand Bodies”, a group piece for 7 women from the MENA region.
Meryem has received residency support nationally and internationally, and project funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario and Toronto Arts Councils.
She is also involved in community and arts-education projects such as with Arts Etobicoke, Dreamwalker Dance and The Arab Community Centre of Toronto.
I believe listening can be a generative form of dance making. Listening as relating.
Relating to one’s inner landscapes and experience, relating to the space in the moment, to other humans creating together a world in performance and to an audience witnessing the performance.
Listening to the silence, listening to the smells in the room, listening to the histories shared through the bodies of the performers, listening to the invisible within the body and in between bodies.
I am fascinated by the complexity of the human body in its most beautiful simplicity. I see no hierarchy in movement and I question added embellishment, forceful spectacle, and gratuitous outward displays of virtuosity.
When I dance and when I create dance moments, I anchor my research in the experiential communication that happens inside the body and between two bodies, which may be subtle and not yet visible, but that we can all access when we open to and willingly enter states of consciousness that lie underneath the cuirass of doing that we carry through life.
My work is often an invitation towards a softer, more sensorial, perhaps sensual and felt experience of dance.
Voice also inspires me. Breath and voicing as vehicles for affect that precede cognition and understanding deeply move me, beyond the meaning that they may convey.
Through my creations, as my act of resistance to the loud and dominant discourse, I am inviting audiences to hear a softer voice and see a quieter dance – my voice, my dance, as a woman, as an Arab North-African Muslim person, and I am encouraging them to possibly reposition their expectations and re-examine their preconceived notions about what these kinds of voices have to say."
~ Meryem Alaoui
Moving with their fluid instruments, they use attention, redirection, pausing, silence, breath, the sound of water and its absence, to see, match or interrupt the flow.
scale, volume, amplitude, detail,
play, work, strategy,
Choreography, costume design: Meryem Alaoui
Created in collaborating with and performed by: Germaine Liu (music) and Sahara Morimoto (dance)