The Libanese-American Erik Kaiel was born in Innsbruck, Austria; he grew up in Oregon, studied in Canada and Massachusetts, received his Masters degree from New York University and spent almost ten years in Brooklyn (N.Y.) before moving to The Hague.
Kaiel worked with various American choreographers in New York. He has shown work in venues throughout Europe and North America, and given performances in unexpected locations such as subway stations, sculpture gardens, and abandoned warehouses. He was awarded the Prize of the Nederlandse Dansdagen In 2009. This led to a location version, a film, and a theatre tour of Blade Runner in 2010.
Recently, he was awarded top prize in Germany’s prestigious No Ballet choreography competition. Last year, in addition to his theatrical works, he made location projects with local dancers in a fort in Utrecht, an old movie theatre in Benin, and the city streets of Saint Louis, Senegal.
Though he travels through Europe, North America, and Africa as teacher, dancer, and choreographer, his home base is now in The Hague. Since arriving, he has enjoyed a multi-year collaborative relationship with Den Haag Sculptuur. He is a member of Danslab. He is also the artistic leader of Crosstown Den Haag, a dance partnership between Korzo, Culturalis, and Theater Pierrot. In addition to these roles, he is a faculty member at Artez Dance Academy in Arnhem.
Kaiel presented his work for the first time at Korzo in the program Voorjaarontwaken (2007) with No Man is an Island, a duet with Jasper Dzuki Jelen. “In between acrobatics and dance the one climbs on the other – without losing contact – seemingly impossible in view of gravity. It starts as a trick, and slowly becomes art. Wonderful.” (NRC Handelsblad, Ingrid van Frankenhuyzen).
This duet led to new initiatives, such as an invitation from Dance Works Rotterdam to rework No Man is an Island and to present and tour it as part of the Xtra Xtra Large program (première 13 February 2009). Kaiel was invited by the Urban Explorers festival in Dordrecht to present new creations in 2007 and 2008. In the spring of 2008 he created a new choreography My True North (as part of The Hague talent festival Here we live and now) which was selected for DanceClick in Spring 2010; at the 2008 Voorjaarsontwaken he performed Momeo & Jamila, a contemporary fairy tale set in the gap between cultural integration and cultural integrity.
For the 2008 CaDance festival, Kaiel received a special festival commission; he created a special location project for BINK36 with amateur dancers of Crosstown DH and professional dancers, called Mecca is a two-way street. Together, they led the audience through the industrial estate BINK36.