Mohamed Toukabri - 'The Upside Down Man'
© Tom Leentjes

Mohamed Toukabri

The Upside Down Man
Het TheaterFestival
Sat. 14.09.2019 20:00 - 21:00
Sat 14.09.'19
20:00 - 21:00
  • Sat 14.09.'19
    20:00 - 21:00

An investigation of the 'in-between space'

The Tunisian performer and dancer Mohamed Toukabri has been working for some time with artists such as Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (Rosas), Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (Eastman), Grace Ellen Barkey and Jan Lauwers (Needcompany). With The Upside Down Man (The Son of the Road) he presents his first solo work. In this dance performance, Mohamed Toukabri moves back and forth between the past and the present, between two countries, two cultures and two traditions, between artistic disciplines and the languages of dance. He uses his personal story as an aid to speak about identity and perception in the context of our society.

Toukabri investigates the concept of 'in-between space' and confronts his audience with this mysterious and philosophical zone, somewhere between a westernized Muslim background in Tunis and the world-citizen status that European contemporary dance grants him. He makes the link with contemporary Afrofuturism, which is being used to reinvestigate historic events in order to shed a different light on current dilemmas. By way of a constant interplay between dance, video, text and sound, he deals with themes including identity, shock, change and the eternal power of discovery. 


"Zoals hij zijn er geen twee. Sierlijke balletlijnen vloeien over in acrobatisch vloerwerk. Spannend hoe hij breakdance de gewichtloosheid van ballet geeft. Hoewel de mix tussen (geprojecteerde) tekst en dans nog niet helemaal snor zit, is dit een genereus debuut van iemand wiens verteldrang nog lang niet is gestild."

De Standaard

Mohamed Toukabri was born in Tunis and began dancing at the age of 13, starting with breakdance. He joined the Sybel Ballet Theatre led by Syhéme Belkhodja and worked with them from 2002 until 2008. At the age of 16, Mohamed trained in Paris at the International Academy of Dance. In 2007 he returned to Tunis to study at the Mediterranean Centre for Contemporary Dance. He worked with the choreographer Imed Jemaa in 2006 and 2008.

In 2008, he joined P.A.R.T.S., the dance school in Brussels directed by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. During his studies he participated in 2010 in Babel by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jalet from Eastman. From 2013 to 2018, Mohamed was a member of Needcompany, the international performance company in Brussels founded by Jan Lauwers and Grace Ellen Barkey. He also performed in the reconstruction of the repertory piece Zeitung (2013) by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Sacré Printemps! (2014) by Aicha M’Barak and Hafiz Dhaou.

Mohamed is currently working again with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui who did the choreography and staging for the remake of the Opera Shell Shock, A Requiem of War, a work from Nicholas Lens set to a text by Nick Cave for the 100 years anniversary of the World War I at the Philharmonie de Paris in 2018. He is also part of Larbi’s new creation Nomad and the opera Alceste choreographed for the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich.


Concept & performance: Mohamed Toukabri - text: Mohamed Toukabri (with thanks to Ines Ghannoudi and two quotes from Les identités meurtrières by Amin Maalouf) - dramaturgy: Diane Fourdrignier - composer: Kevin Strauwen - video: Mohamed Toukabri, Gwen Laroche - technical director: Gwen Laroche - artistic development: Eva Blaute - production: Mohamed Toukabri - coproduction: HELLERAU - European Center of the Arts Dresden - with the support of: Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie