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Interview with the
Vietnamese-Tunisian
Dancer

Anasma

by Marcel Bieger

DANCE AND DIGNITY MAKE FUSION
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Layout: Konstanze Winkler
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Bringing dance and theatre together seems to be one of your main goals. What do you think makes these two compatible?

I think any performer and Artist in general has to convey a message, a personal one, or a collective one. It can be abstract or very literal. I believe theatrical and mime skills benefit dancers. I also believe movement and dance skills can benefit actors. We are whole beings, all is one, we are connected to each other. Arts are connected. Dance to music.  Movie direction to photography. Script writing to Novel writing…  The audience is connected to the performer, the performer connected to his body, the body connected to the mind and emotions. Thus, the audience is connected to the emotions of the performer... If I hold tension, if I forget to breathe on stage, the audience will feel it.

Theatrical skills teach how to project one’s energy, and share, and receive! I create a show concept that I called “On your Marks, Get Set, Dance!" where the first part is a ‘more traditional form of dance show’ where the participating artist present one of their choreographies. In this section they give to the audience what they choose to give on an artistic level (music, movements, storyline etc). In the second half of the show, the dancers turn into acting dancers. This part is interactive and the audience is welcome to participate and GIVE back in turn. According to the keys words suggested by the audience, the dancers improvise with themes… This show is a lot of fun and pushes to the extreme the concept  of giving and taking that is inherent to both theater and dance.

Theater brings to the dancer facial expressions, an ‘inside out’ path. Dancer brings to actor a better body awareness, smoothness of execution, an ‘outside-in’ path.

And some of the biggest stars know how to dance AND act AND sing… Michael Jackson, Madonna, Justin Timberlake not only have impressive singing skills but also possess dance skills and a humongous stage presence that theater can help develop.  Lady Gaga, Wade Robson are not only fantastic dancers and choreographers but also musical composers. It feels like arts communicate and understanding of a complementary field enriches the field you choose to specialize in.


Does the future of Oriental and Fusion dance lie in a synthesis of both theatre and dance?

To me, yes, definitely. Oriental dance, like any type of dance, needs to be mounted as a musical Broadway style show.

I think you go see a good movie not only because the director of photography has amazing esthetic sense. You will enjoy if many conditions are gather. There are excellent actors whose game and embodiment of the character you like. The pace and rhythm is good (some movies are too long, or on the contrary finish too soon…). The storyline and dialogue of course have to be well written, if possible the story original… or take on it innovative. For me a dance show needs to have the same combinations of qualities… And naturally, Oriental dance shows too!: a good technique, varied choreography, dynamic usage of stage, good length and rhythm, transitions, touching performers who are connected to their dance and to each other, and have a strong presence. And last but not least, the storyline and character development will make your show different from a year to the other or different from shows created by other choreographers of the industry. Too many shows look alike (variety shows) with pieces back to back that have no link between each other… Technique is wonderful but not enough. Storyline also needs a strong technical back up.

And where will you be in five years? What new projects do you have in store?

There are many things I would like to achieve within the next five or ten years…

On the professional level, I will have set up my yearly international schedule, hopefully opened a dance school, launched a DVD collection, created my solo show and toured with it, created maybe a dance company and a full show. I would love to get on more Television shows, work for Cirque du Soleil!…

Currently I am working a couple medium term projects: a DVD collection, the solo show, a new website, and the Theatrical Bellydance Conference. The latter has happened in July 2010 in New York City. It was a lot of work to do.

My co-director Ranya Renee (www.ranyarenee.net)  and I invited another thirteen beautiful teachers and a couple international guests to join us on this first edition. The Conference had three nights of curated shows, 3 nights of parties and open stages with some more featured performers, three full days of workshops about theatrical approaches applied to Bellydance (cross- styles), panel discussions, and master classes. The concept is unique because each room is taught by four teachers over a day, and these teachers “team up” and bounce off of each others’ exercises to offer a full integrated experience to the students.

The next Theatrical Bellydance Conference will be July 6-10, 2011 (and another article is coming up in this magazine, of course). For more information and updates, our website www.theatricalbellydance.com says it all.

On a personal level, I want to get closer to my wonderful Fiance, who lives in France, my friends and family… as I will keep a foot in the US and keep doors open there. Next year we will get married.  In five years, we will have a common place to live (apartment or home), maybe our first child?

Let’s see what life reserves and right now, as I keep long and medium term goals clear, I savor the present, my travelling, my friends, my meetings with the man of my life. We definitely travel a lot him and I.
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© Photos: 1 Scott Schuster, 2 Eric Troudlt, 3 Konstanze Winkler, 4 Dale Langdon