AF: What inspired you to become a dancer?
Hosni: Accrorap, the dance troupe, was a huge inspiration to me.
Jamal: I was very influenced by Kader Attou, the choreographer for the flagship dance troupe Accrorap, which I had the pleasure to join in 2002.
AF: Did you have a specific message in mind that you wanted to share in this performance?
Hosni: Yes, in the performance of “The Three Wise Monkeys” there is, first and foremost, the message of listening to our bodies, our spirit, filling all of our senses and forgetting the vices of our contemporary society.
Jamal: Yes, our choreography is a free interpretation of the entire philosophy of the “The Three Wise Monkeys.” In it we explore the ambiguities of hip-hop dance, contemporary dance and capoeira.
AF: What do you of when you think “American hip-hop”?
Jamal: I think of the birth of hip-hop culture and I think that NYC was the birthplace of the hip-hop movement.
AF: What is the perception of the hip-hop movement in France?
Hosni: Hip-hop, in France, has two different movements: 1) Artistic, that is to express a message through a show and a performance and 2) hip-hop battles and contests
Jamal: French hip-hop has developed considerably in the past 15 to 20 years. There are excellent dancers not only on stage but also in the streets. I think that the French hip-hop movement is now recognized worldwide through certain artists like Lilou (a dancer from Lyon), the beatboxer Ezra, etc.
AF: Have you ever been to Washington, DC? How do you imagine the city?
Hosni: No, this is my first time! I imagine a large capital with many historical monuments.
Jamal: This is the first time that I have had the pleasure to visit Washington. I imagine that it’s beautiful, large and absolutely chock full of historical monuments and buildings. One image in my head is the White House.
AF: What are the styles of dance that have inspired this show?
Hosni: Hip-hop, first and foremost, because it’s what everyone in the troupe does and it allows us to be free with our movements and with contemporary dance. It is also very useful for our theatre shows.
Jamal: Hip-hop and contemporary dance and capoeira.
AF: Why did you choose to focus on the human senses in this performance?
Hosni: Because in today’s society the human beings’ senses are sometimes badly used or even not allowed in certain countries.
Jamal: Without understanding or knowing the significance, I was very touched when I saw, in a documentary film, Gandhi walking around with a statue of the three monkeys.
Hosni: The name, Par-Allèles, explains everything about our dance troupe. It explains that our hip-hop style of dance can be performed with any style of music! The parallel of dance and of a completely different kind of music. Plus, the company was created by two sets of brothers, thus: Par-Allèles (by-side), Par-gènes (by-genes), Par-frères (by-brothers).
Jamal: The name “Par-Allèles” goes back to the birth of our dance troupe, regrouping two pairs of brothers: Julien and Clement Martorell and Jamal and Hosni M’Hanna.
If you missed Par-Allèles’ performance May 20 at the Kennedy Center (or if you loved it and want to watch again), watch it online in the Kennedy Center’s archives.