Nine to Five Box

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  • Director & concept: Jamal Suleiman
  • Producer: Studio 8, Jamal Suleiman
  • Choreography: Jamal Suleiman, Odai Talal, Mohammad Qattan
  • Performance: Mohammad Qattan, Akka Hamdan, Oday Talal, Daniel Issa
  • Videography: Amr Abu Eitah
  • Visual Art (Clay): Leila Hajbi
  • Sound design: Yazan Abu Jarad
  • Movement advisor: Abd Al Hadi Abunahleh
  • Production adviser: Xiaoman Ren
  • Light design: Next Generation International
  • Photography: Reema Shatat, Xiaoman Ren, Maria Asenova

“This performance takes a place with 5 performers, to perform a reflection of how we want to escape from our 9-5 routine but we are pulled back to it without realizing.”

— Jamal Suleiman (Director)

Story Behind

“My story started from my experience of engaging the nine to five routine for a long time without being aware about the possible consequences of it. 

Most people get up at the same time each morning, follow the same routine at their jobs, socialize with the same people in the evenings, and watch the same television programs.

As a result of not continually challenging their minds, they become dull and complacent. If someone suggests or proposes a new idea or way of doing things, they usually react with negativity and discouragement.

Instead of thinking proactively and creatively, we thinking becomes passive and automatic.

Drawing inspiration of my own experiences living in an environment that there is a tremendous irresistible unconscious pressure that brings us back to doing what we have always done, I started a dance project exploring this idea.

This project is called ‘Nine to Five Box’.

I imagine it to be performed as a live performance, or produced as an audio-visual piece.”

 — Jamal Suleiman (Director)

“I have some experience as a dancer. I have done solos before. However, this is my first choreography of a group work. I have to say that the art of making dances, the gathering and organization of movement into order and pattern, is fascinating, yet very challenging.

Additionally, this is my first time experimenting with incorporating live clay art with dance on stage.” 

— Jamal Suleiman (Director)

“I have some experience as a dancer. I have done solos before. However, this is my first choreography of a group work. I have to say that the art of making dances, the gathering and organization of movement into order and pattern, is fascinating, yet very challenging.

Additionally, this is my first time experimenting with incorporating live clay art with dance on stage.” 

— Jamal Suleiman (Director)

The Process

“To gather my movement materials, a series of improvisation sessions were conducted with dance artists of varies background.

I had a suit prepared in the dance lab. A brief was given to dance artists then a few minutes were given to them to freely express through their bodies of their own experiences of comfort zone, over time, becoming a box, and then a rut, becoming stuck. 

I then looked into the materials, starting to piece them together, with a loose storyline, experimenting working with clay maker. It was great fun. Finally, I collaborated with Music producer and audio engineer, Yazan Abu Jarad, to use sound from office equipment and tools, and design an original sound track for this piece.”

 — Jamal Suleiman (Director)

Project “Nine to Five Box” has been realized as part of “Choreography Creation Camp” (CCC) organized by Studio 8, with the support of Drosos Foundation, EUNIC Jordan and European Union in Jordan.

What is CCC?

CCC is a pilot version of a talent incubation program that supports emerging local young choreographers, dance makers, performance directors to sustain their individual or collaborative creativity, and, in the process, finding new ways to be connected with their audiences.

To know more about CCC program, click on the big C button below. Get digital access to the teaching manual of CCC program, click on the on the big M button below.


helpful information that is given to emerging dance makers of what can be done to improve a dance piece.


“I liked the lighting and the chosen colors for the general aesthetic of the performance.”

“The use of the space is interesting.”

“The stage division with the lights is also interesting.”

“The movement ideas are good. I think there is a possibility to further develop this piece and create a full duration show without adding anything more to the score.”

“Regarding the music, it was very interesting. But it seems that the rhythm and development the music is not corresponding to the action that is happening on stage This nonalignment makes the performance feel more like a video clip than an actual performance. I would suggest to consider to use silence. It helps the audience to build connection of the action on stage with the story the dance maker is trying to tell.”

“In my opinion, sometime when the performers are dancing with silence or more minimal sound, may be more powerful than dancing actually dancing to the music.”

“Remember, music is a performer too. It needs to breathe too!”

“Regarding to the direction, it might be a good idea to imagine the performance is not made for a video, but for a live experience.”

“I would suggest to have less cuts, and editing. How one use a camera could direct the viewers’ attention significantly.”

“Regarding the action, I noticed that there were two actions taking place on stage. It is wise to put the main action in the center, and the minor theme at the corner. I would suggest to play more with the distance of those two.”

“Regarding to the main action, there are actually four sub actions that are four performers. I would suggest to give more time to each front performer to develop his or her movement. Therefore, viewers would have time to actually see what is going on and be able to understand the piece better. Without giving more time to front performers to develop their movement, a spectator is likely to feel that too many things taking place at the same time and a lot of things might be lost to the eyes of a spectator.”

“Regarding the story, I have a note for building characters. It is important for the development of the stories of characters as if the stories were happening in real time. They have to perform their stories as they are happening right now and we need to see what makes them move, makes them get close, where is this closeness to them, why do they decide to approach the clay maker at the end? It is important to show what is the connection of the dancers with the clay maker.”

“I noticed that there seemed that four dancers and the single clay maker were in two parallel universes in most part of the performance. I wondered how has this spatial theme changed to enable all of them to meet at the end of the performance.”

– Zafeiria Tsirakaki – Dancer, Choreographer, Contemporary and ballet teacher

“I enjoyed the dance. Thanks for creating and sharing!”

“I enjoyed the dance, the camera, and the music constantly moving forward into a new phase.”

“I enjoyed the visual artist adding an extra layer.”

“From the very beginning as a viewer, I felt like I was asked to think about the relationship between the dancers and the visual artist and that kept my mind thinking throughout the dance.”

“4 seemed like an important number: the cube, the four figures on the table, the four lights, the four dancers.”

“The ending left an impression to me: the dancers shared the same space with the visual artist who continued playing with the cube as though she was the creator of her own world. Great job!”

– Ryuji Yamaguchi – Dancer, Choreographer, Teacher, Dean of Senior Class at King’s Academy

“I really like the energy in this video and I wish to see it as a performance in real life sometime one day.”

“Here is my feedback. In this 5-minute short video of contemporary dance mixed with work with clay performance, directed by Jamal Suleiman, we watch a kind of a circular story, that starts where it ends.

It starts with a box of clay and ends with it.”

“The change is clear in the end that we see the dancers around the clay player / manipulator. Playing with clay is initiating the appearance of the dancers and slowly we get to know little about their rituals/work, they are wearing formal suits plus there are no real interactions or revealing of any kind of emotions, they are mechanical in what they are doing, so we do not get deep and intimate in our relation to them and to what they are doing. “

“In between these two actions, sequences of positioning figures of clay on a table by clay player/manipulator while on stage a sequence of movements/kind of rituals are taking place.”

“Regarding choreography and presence, I do appreciate the precision of dancers that was sustained throughout the whole piece and the variations of actions in a short film, well done!”

“However, I did not see a developed work with material, the figures were ready-made in advance which I felt pity for; there was no interaction between the manipulator and the material itself apart from touching, pressing, positioning, holding, turning and pointing, which can be done with any object. So why to choose clay if we do not explore its possibilities in expression? We did not see the potential of using such material on stage I am sorry to say. What would happen if there were more variations on how to work with the clay: rough movement, destruction, changing shape, etc. For approaching the clay, what would this add?! I would love to see more details from the work with clay and to take the time for actions to be understood.”

“Regarding to camera work, it was very interesting and exciting work, even though I would love to really give more time for the moments with clay and show more details. Divide the camera between dancers and clay in some parts when needed might be helpful!”

“Regarding the music, choice of electro music gave a trans circular repetitive feeling that fits with the routine concept conveyed by the repetitive movements and rituals by dancers on stage.”

“Regarding the lighting, especially the cold blue color for dancers and warm color for the clay, this contrast created balance somehow but what does it communicate for us as viewers? Moreover, I did not understand the reason behind choosing moving light on the floor.”

“Regarding the space, the dancers start to move in the moment that the clay player is pushing the piece of wood towards the clay box at 0:26 simultaneously. Where are they coming from?! Are they brought to the stage/trap by the one who is playing with clay? If yes, Why are they really pushed to this routine?”

“Regarding the costume, dancers in formal clothes, are they going to work!? So what kind of space is it? Did the choice of clothes for the clay player add any meaning or created contrast?”

“Regarding the relation of the movements of dancers and the clay player, I do appreciate the contrast between synchronized mechanical sharp movements on stage and the delicate sensual approach towards the hands’ movements around/on the clay material with minimum sharp movements yet gentle. However, this did not make the character of the one playing with clay clear enough and if it was a manipulator for the bodies too or not or just someone who is mimicking what is happening. This was not clear by the actions, timing and costumes choice.” 

“Regarding playing with clay in relationship to the movements of bodies, the choice was not clear if the actions are happening simultaneously or the clay sequence is provoking what’s happening on stage or the other way around. We could see these three options have been used without building a clear system of communication.”

“Regarding the relation clay and body, I think at the beginning, the voodoos game alike manipulation could add more players to the performance and convey maybe meanings of power relations and authority, God maybe; if playing with the clay is initiating and provoking the movements on stage and if this was sustained in the whole piece. In some moments, I felt this manipulator of clay figures was controlling the bodies on stage for some reason that was not revealed which does not have to be clear too. Also the relation between them and if they are at the same level of power or in different levels also was not clear. The power relation can be understood at the beginning of the video/performance for example, but it was not well developed as in some places the dancers were moving before the action was done on the clay in later stage which made me confused about the choice.”

“Noticeably, there was one moment of interaction between the dancers and the clay player when the dancers decided to go and look at what the clay player is doing with the box of clay. I wonder if the dancers would interact with let us say their clay figures what would happen then? It was a very interesting moment when the camera combined both dancers and clay in one shot, or even to project the figures on the clay. If it would be possible even to project each dancer on one figure of the clay what can this add to us as viewers and to the meaning?”

Regarding the relation between dancers themselves, my questions are Is there any? If yes, what kind of relation is it? How to develop it further? Regarding the relation between dancers and clay player, there was little interaction between the dancers and the clay player until the end of video/performance when suddenly they surrounded the manipulator after pulling the box of clay up in the air away from the table by the clay player. This was following two moments of interactions even touching between the dancers. The first when two dancers shake hands and the other when all of them gather and connect their arms in a central point. Was this kind of agreement to change the routine? What does the manipulator want to show or tell them by pointing at the box? How can this be read through the actions of the dancers on stage and their movement in the end and even throughout the piece?” 

– Husam Abed – Theatre director, Puppeteer and Musician, Founder Member of Dafa Puppet Theatre (Jordan), Member of Amman Theatre Lab (Jordan), Arab Puppet Theatre Foundation (Lebanon), UNIMA (France), Co-founder of NARA music group in Prague

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