Erik Kaiel

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.

Inspired by the computer game Tetris, the dancers ingeniously click together and apart. With their acrobatic feats, they shape the space according to their will. But the theatre is too small and the world outside beckons. The dancers fold themselves around poles and jump on everything that comes before their feet. Tetris shows that there are many ways to occupy your world. Tetris has been touring tirelessly since 2011 all over the world.

Tijdens Here We Live and Now 2008 presenteerde choreograaf Erik Kaiel de choreografie My true north voor de dansers Kim Fischer en Heleen van Gigch. 

This duet is what the body of necessity leaves in its wake. form is enfolded by function. There is an unrepentant intensity of being. In the work, the dancers are autonomous beings, busy with raw, pure movement. Each body engages in a sequence of strenuous tasks, its relentless drive counterpointing the increasing exhaustion of the physical body. An infectious solidarity arises between the performers and the audience. My true north is something to watch, and something to feel. 

Click to watch a registration of  My true north on YouTube:

Drawing from the sci-fi film classic Blade Runner, Erik Kaiel, together with his dancers throws up pivotal questions. Whom will we accept? And whom will we reject, and for what reason? With this performance, Erik searches for the ethics with which we treat our fellow man, regardless of their origins.

In October 2009, Kaiel won the Dutch Dance Festival Award for upcoming choreography talent. This price gave him the opportunity to create Blade Runner. Intense physical movement material in such as parcour, break dance, acrobatics, martial arts and mime blend together and are reduced to their essence. What remains is an onorthodox performance which offers the audience a raw and refreshing experience.

Click here for the clip of Blade Runner on YouTube:

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