An interview with NÄSS choreographer Fouad Boussouf - Riley Theatre

Fouad Boussouf is the Artistic Director of Massala Dance Company and the Choreographer of NÄSS (People) which has its UK premiere on Sat 2 Feb at Riley Theatre.

Ahead of the performance, we invited Fouad to let us in on his creative process and what the audience can expect from the show.

First thing’s first, how are you?

Fouad Boussouf: Great, thank you, very happy to be here for the UK premiere of NÄSS.

What initially inspired you to create NÄSS (People)?

Fouad Boussouf: The history of the famous band Nass el Ghiwane from the 1970s in North Africa has been of key inspiration to me. Their lyrics reminded me of the strange connection with the anti-establishment current of rap and hip-hop from the same period in the United States. I discovered a type of hip-hop that is more spiritual, impregnated with ancestral traditions.

What is the first thing you do when you get in the studio with your dancers to create a work?

Fouad Boussouf: When I enter a studio, I observe, I listen to the vibrations and try to feel the energy that is circulating between us.

Music appears to be a driving force for NÄSS. Could you tell us a little about your process working with the composer?

Fouad Boussouf: It is a constant back and forth between the musicality of the dancers, of the body and the music as a sound I hear and discover.  With the composer we test the sounds he creates on the body of the dancers and often it’s music that is in contrast with the dance. For example we dance hip hop to music that has nothing to do with hip hop, that is not directly related to the dance. I like the contrasts, the incongruity between the dance and the movement. That has a different effect on the body, makes for a different experience.

For NÄSS we were inspired by the sounds of North Africa, of the sounds on the street of Morocco. I recorded sounds from the streets, from daily life that the composer used in the score for NÄSS. You can sometimes hear and feel the sounds of the street.

Do you have any choreographers or teachers who you admire or are inspired by?

Fouad Boussouf: I have multiple sources of inspiration from different disciplines – music, film, art. In dance I particularly admire Akram Khan and Hofesh Shechter.


What do you hope audiences will take away with them after seeing NÄSS?

Fouad Boussouf: We share our communion, the communion between the dancers on stage. I hope the audience can feel that and take some of that energy and experience away with them.

This will be the UK premiere of NÄSS. What are you most looking forward to about performing at Riley Theatre, based at Northern School of Contemporary Dance next month?

Fouad Boussouf: The encounter with the audience, the exchange also through the workshops we will give here. I want to have all my senses open, to be alert and to listen to the reactions.