Carte Blanche was co-produced by Berchem CC, the Vooruit Arts Centre and Cultural Interventies Antwerpen, and was created with the assistance of Les Ballets C. de la B. In 1997 this debut was awarded the Signal Prize for the best youth production.
The choreographer Abdelaziz Sarrokh assembled a superb collective of male and female dancers. For three months they worked together in the studio, learned from each other and discovered the power of each other’s technique: the breakers from Namur Break Sensation, a female dancer who had studied contemporary dance, a veteran of the Belgian hip-hop dance scene, a young female dancer at home in classical, modern and African dance, an autodidact, etc. Specific improvisations provided the building blocks. The crew of eight set off in a real Mini-Cooper on a journey that had everything to do with failure, waiting and relational incompetence, but mostly with living dance. The stranded travellers attempted to kill time, to give meaning to their own presence and that of others in the hope of being able to move on.
Carte Blanche was the result of a dance crash. It was a performance that was built up using elements that produced hip-hop, classical and contemporary dance techniques, that set the adrenaline coursing through the veins, that caused professionals to frown and faultfinders to criticise, that made dance-lovers love dance even more, and opened the doors to a young and uncultivated dance audience.
Via was the second HUSH HUSH HUSH production with Abdelaziz Sarrokh as choreographer. This time the production was officially recognised and received support as part of the Flemish Community’s policy to subsidise professional dance companies (in 1997). Via was co-produced by Berchem CC, the Vooruit Arts Centre and Villanella, but musically also by Muziektheater Lod.
Via continued in the style of Carte Blanche: provoking a dance crash. And here the composition of the group was of crucial importance, comprising dancers from very different backgrounds. Khalid Benaouisse had also danced in Carte Blanche. Philippe Beloul came from La Tristeza Complice (Les Ballets C. de la B. / Muziektheater Lod). Sarrokh had never worked with the others: Ivan Bertram (who appeared in Lod’s Papalagi), Geneviéve Lagraviére (from Walter Verdin’s production of Ex Africa), and Annabel Schellekens (P.A.R.T.S. training). Mohamed Chairi and Mustapha Morabit (breakers / acrobats) were invited to stay after auditioning. The characteristic style of dance of each one was an excellent guarantee for producing a cocktail of pure dance, adrenaline and mastery.
As a co-production with Muziektheater Lod, live music formed the basis for Via. The musician and composer Rik Verstrepen used the opportunity to write new music for a unique ensemble of piano, cello and DJ (performed by the renowned DJ Grazzhoppa). In this sense, the confrontation between the styles of dance continued in the music, in the crash between scratch and beat and contemporary music. During the course of the performance, the instruments were first given space for solo performances. After this there was a gradual progression towards a fusion, with space for improvisation. Working with live music, with a grand piano that refuses to be out-drummed, as well as with musicians with a rock ‘n roll mentality, has visual and theatrical consequences. Sarrokh put this to good use. Via’s place is here and nowhere else, with these performers and nobody else. There were few introductions, and they introduced themselves to the rhythm of Mexican Wave.
Risky productions like this can also flop, as was evident from the premature end of the Via tour. Fortunately this was cushioned by the start of the K’Dar tour.