Streets of Casablanca: An Interview with Moroccan Photographer Yoriyas




October 27, 2016

Yassine Alaoui Ismaili is a street dancer and Moroccan photographer. His images capture his personality, a touch of humor, and portray a beautiful authenticity that leaps between documentation and art. Sixtysix spoke to the artist, who works under the name Yoriyas, from his home in Casablanca.

You were a street dancer. How did that lead to the opportunity to travel the world? 
I’m a breakdancer. I started dancing in 2002. In 2005 I created a crew called Lhiba Kingzoo and we became Moroccan champions and then African champions in 2009! So we go invited all over the world to represent Morocco, I have been in Brazil, Korea, South and North Africa, Turkey, Germany, France, and Italy.


How did traveling influence your photography work?
Its a very funny story, I was in Marseille for a dance theatre project in 2014.  After finishing practice I took my camera and I went visiting around the city.  I found a group of American football players and cheerleaders making a show in the street so I followed them and took some pictures.

In few minutes it was not only me who was following them but also another photographer.  So we started to speak and we enjoyed taking pictures of this group. In the end, we exchanged address and we meet over the weekend. He was the street photographer Yves Vernin! He showed me the APF group and gave me a lot of information about street photography.  So since that time I took my work more seriously.


If you weren’t dancing still would you still be taking photos?
I guess yes, but I would not have the same style which I have now.  Dancing has taught me a lot of things about the street, space, the directions, body language, how to connect with people in street, and also the way I choose my angles.

Casablanca for me is the capital of hip-hop dance in any Arabic country.  The scene is big and also old and has created a lot of crazy talent like my crew Lhiba Kingzoo and also the famous membres Lilzoo and Hatouta. But to have a good living by dance, or art in general, in Morocco is not easy. There ae only a few who can make it. Most artists here are doing commercial work to live, or have another job. 

Who are some of your other favorite local artists?

My favorite artist in Morocco for photography is Hicham Benohoud. He is so creative, I like his conceptions. Khalil Nemmaoui has got nice and clean work, I especially like the way he is still in the photography scene, actively connecting with the new generation of photographers.  Many photographers his age are not active any more. Als,o I like the work of Daoud Wlad Sayed. He’s a great photographer. To m,e his work has a real connection with people.

For dance the legendary Foad aka Lilzoo. He is one of my closest friends, he is a breakdancer. In a short tim,e he put his name in the hip-hop world dance history and made it to be a world champion.

Khalid Benghribe is a  great contemporary choreographer.  I hadthe chance to work with him, he inspired me a lot.
Mustapha Swinga he is a circus guy and also doing creative animation and video.
Also there are many old men I play chess with in the café, they inspire me a lot!


A magazine cover