In “What the Day Owes to the Night,” which the Compagnie Hervé Koubi is performing at the Joyce through Sunday, the dancers are between two worlds.
The thirteen men in the Compagnie Hervé Koubi look more like wrestlers than like members of a conventional contemporary-dance company, with bulky muscles, rounded backs, and a relaxed, lumbering way of moving that brings to mind the locker room. Before a recent rehearsal at the Joyce, where the company is performing through Sunday, they ambled on, in ones and twos, pausing to chat with a hand on the shoulder, whispering in Arabic or French, or dropping down to do a few pushups. Koubi likes to refer to them as “l’équipe,” his team. Most are from Algeria, with a couple from Morocco, one Frenchman, and a single man from Burkina Faso.
You soon see those muscles put to use in “What the Day Owes to the Night,” the piece they’re performing at the Joyce. About an hour long, it is both quiet and astonishing. The dancers, clad in long white skirts and bare from the waist up, do things onstage that look impossible, even dangerous. They spin on one arm, then switch to the other. They dive horizontally and flip over in midair, like a pancake being flipped on a griddle, or up and up, drawing a steep and elegant arc.