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How can we reinvent what a festival might be in 2019, in Marseille, on the shores of the Mediterranean? By focusing on the global but disconnecting themselves too much from the local context and its inhabitants, and by supporting political engagement without challenging society, all too many European festivals look alike and are running out of steam. We want to show that another kind of Festival is possible: a festival inspired by its city: European and Mediterranean, determinedly cosmopolitan, inclusive and emancipating in the artistic and civic sense, engaging in dialogue with a broad range of audiences, mirroring the city and the world around it. Here are a few key words that underpin the structure of the 2019 Festival de Marseille:

BODY – Taoufiq Izzediou’s norm-bending dancers, Boris Charmatz’s corps de ballet, the body as a political medium in Latifa Laâbissi’s work, the transgressive body of Groupe Crisis…the Festival presents shows where performers exhibit, celebrate and put in danger what is most precious and intimate to them.


SHIFTING – On a global scale, the South brings inspiration, wisdom and development. Its artists shift our perspective on classics of the western repertoire: Ravel’s Boléro revisited by Gregory Maqoma from South Africa; La Chanson de Roland adapted into Arabic by Wael Shawky from Egypt for singers and musicians from the Persian Gulf; The Rite of Spring recreated by 300 dancers from Marseille and orchestrated by Isabelle Cavoit, Yendi Nammour and Samir M’Kirech. On a local scale, the Festival spreads across the city from North to South, from the Gare Franche to the [mac] and the Parc Borély.


DISCOVERIES – It’s here in Marseille that you’ll be able to discover the work of the artist Wael Shawky and Pepe 'Elmas' Naswa, the new sensation of Kinshasa. Like most of the participants in the 2019 edition, their shows are French premieres.


CREATION, and also inventiveness and imagination. This edition focuses more on how artists create their work over time, in close proximity to their contexts, and for whom opening doors is a fundamental artistic need. Adeline Rosenstein, Dorothée Munyaneza and Rara Woulib share the steps of their creative processes with us.


MUSIC – A wide range of musical styles connect the dots in this edition: 47 Soul’s electric dabke, Amir El Saffar’s flamenco, Nomadic Massive’s rap’n’roll, Hlengiwe Lushaba’s voice, Shawky’s fidjeri singing, Berlin electro from DJ Yes Sœur! in Castaing’s work, and the frenetic beat of DJ Samantha featured by Pepe 'Elmas' Naswa.


HUMANITY – With Le Moindre Geste, Selma and Sofiane Ouissi put humanity at the centre of their work. Beyond questions of discipline, form, content and style, the 2019 edition of the Festival de Marseille is an invitation to meet the human within us and around us, in all its beauty, fragility, danger, and craziness. “He who hides his madness dies without a voice”: these words by Henri Michaux, which Rara Woulib has made into her credo, affect us on a profound level.


GENERATIONS – From 7 to 107 years old, there’s something to appeal to all generations at the Festival de Marseille, in its performance spaces and its original shows such as The Rite of Spring, Khouyoul by Kabinet K, and Invited by Seppe Baeyens.


SUSTAINABILITY – The model of the major international festival has gone as far as it can go. We offer international artists the chance to come and work in Marseille with local artists and residents, spending time with us in our city. We believe in a more sustainable, eco-friendly festival. “Everything can change”, as Naomi Klein says.


PROBLEMS and above all SOLUTIONS – We are convinced that, in our cities and in the world at large, major problems offer tomorrow’s solutions. We want to place cultural, civic and ecological issues at the core of what we do, just as our artists do in the framework of their creations. Instead of dodging these issues, we want to deal with them subtly and intelligently. This isn’t about “bashing”: it’s about commitment and love.


Welcome to a Festival that invites the world to dance in Marseille and a Festival that makes Marseille dance. A three-week Festival that gives us time to exchange ideas and to meet with others, opens perspectives for sharing, and creates links and connections.  So let’s dance the city together!


Jan Goossens
Director, Festival de Marseille