Intensity Condensed & Ignitied – Compagnie Hervé KOUBI’s Sol Invictus Creates Cinema On Stage

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By Liana Wilson-Graff

Compagnie Hervé KOUBI’s Sol Invictus is a cinematic experience. In a rapid flurry of acrobatics,
capoeira, contemporary movement, and b-boy/b-girl tricks manipulated and extended to their
fullest potential, Koubi’s dancers seamlessly craft some of the most compelling live “moving
images” I have ever witnessed in dance. In this truly unique work, Sol Invictus knows not only
the profoundly human joy in movement, and the dramatics of performance, but how to squeeze
every drop out of the theatrical and visual potential that those elements carry.


From the beginning to the end of this piece, the dancers never exit; even if they are not dancing
they surround the stage, engage with their collaborators, and remain present. They do this with
such authenticity and generosity that no matter how potentially boring the idea of watching
someone sit, look, and replenish themselves with water may be, that very dancer will draw your
attention and admiration. Sol Invictus is a piece that requires a deep commitment from its
dancers and its audience — of course, our role is a much easier and dreamy one, but
nevertheless, it requires an active watch, and even stamina in its own way. The beginning of
this evening length piece slowly builds momentum as Koubi’s large company of incredibly
strong dancers line either side of the stage, watching as one dancer circles the space with a
strong awareness of his peers and the audience, developing his movement from a walk, to a
jog, a run, sprint, ferociously fast crawl, and slide into horrifyingly beautiful and lightning speed
headspin. Soon after, every dancer joins, crossing back and forth through the spac, while
somehow still watching each other as they execute astounding movements and tricks layered
and layered on top of one another.

These moments throughout the piece are where Koubi takes phenomally subtle advantage of
the audience’s tendency to zoom in on a fleeting event or dancer as they are surrounded by a
sort of chaos. He does this through durations of sustained eye contact between dancers, a motif
of social dance that seemed potentially connected to Koubi’s Algerian heritage, and an
allowance of real humanness enacted on stage through vocalization and exchange between
dancers that could only be crafted in-the-moment. The pure trust nurtured within Compagnie
Hervé KOUBI is palpable for every second of Sol Invictus. These uninterrupted sequences of dynamic, collaged, striking, and fast-paced movement are given distinct breaths of stillness and
slow, methodically constructed visual marvels that take full advantage of lighting, visual effects,
physical contortions, and the simple beauties of the body. The expansive set and prop, a golden
drape of fabric spanning the entire stage is thoroughly utilized in these sections, enhancing the
spectacle set before us. Low lit fog will outline the slow walking bodies of dancers so that the
ground slips from underneath us, place is lost, and we are immersed in a world unattached to
the earthiness that was so present in movement just moments before. The silhouettes of bodies
in repose seem to drift as they are dragged across the stage on a golden sea, and will paint
your mind with recollections of sacred renaissance art. These are live illustrations that push
dance practice and performance to a new realm, and will stick with you for a long time. Just
these short interludes are enough to go see this performance, if not once, then several times.


Compagnie Hervé KOUBI’s, Sol Invictus is presented by The Joyce Theater Foundation (Linda
Shelton, Executive Director) and is playing at The Joyce Theater from January 23-28. Tickets,
ranging in price from $12-$72 including fees, can be purchased at, or by calling
JoyceCharge at 212-242-0800. Please note: ticket prices are subject to change. The Joyce
Theater is located at 175 Eighth Avenue at West 19th Street. For more information, please

Photos by Nathalie Sternalski, provided by  Richard Kornberg & Associates  for The Joyce


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