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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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And will we have more of this when we see you next time?

This is in my plans: ... develop full shows or if not, long ‘suites’, around my existing solos. I am already envisioning a show around the “Other prince Charming”. Actually my dance partner and friend Geneva Bybee and I have already presented such a suite in Rome in 2009. I am trying to develop the full Fairy tale show with my friend and wonderful dancer Barbara Kira from Hungary, we are both fans of Disney and their princes and princesses… So more is to come…

The “Little Devil” too has its suite coming up. Currently it is connected indirectly to my piece “the Warm ball of energy”, the Hip Hop Bellydance piece I presented during my latest European tour, with a mime section where the Devil jumps in to give a poisonous warm ball of energy to a cold, lost and poor little being.

My solo show might also use some existing piece and place them in a context…
Your performance in February in Düsseldorf at the "Orientale" was your first solo performance in Germany (other than the one in 2008 with Bellyqueen in Frankfurt).  Everybody fell in love with the demon. How do you create this unbelievable stage presence (don't deny it, that was what everybody was talking about after the show)?

Hi hi hi  (little evil laugh ;) ) . (I love smiley faces ... they enable me use my face in writing…)

Thank you. I am touched that I can touch people in turn with such power. Well, I think that it comes from my natural tendency to be a clown at times, full of energy and uncontrollable. Don’t take me wrong, I can be pretty shy too… As a “clown Anasma”, I love to make faces, grimaces, mimics, not only on stage but also in my everyday life. I think that body language is a universal.
When I moved to the US in 2006, my English skills were ok, but I was yet to learn colloquial expressions, vary my vocabulary, add more precision in my way of speaking and word choice… In order to palliate to this lack, (the same phenomenon happens in any foreign language, for me), well I do faces. I actually picked up very fast the ‘typically American enthusiastic words’ and expressions. (Normally in French language and culture, I am sorry for using stereotypes as I am doing right now, we are more reserved or critical)… So, to put it in a nut shell, I love to be a clown on stage too. I am not afraid to look ridiculous or ugly at times. Of course, I intend to keep a clean dance technique, musicality etc but having a clear meaning and committing to my character count more than anything else to me. Usually performing in restaurants or clubs does not allow me to do this and this is why I do not enjoy such gigs, compared to beautifully lit stages… but this is another story.
I studied Theater from age 8to 10 and age 14 to 15 with a wonderful teacher and life coach, Chimel. She is still around, in Paris, directing, and leading amazing European theater projects with “La Compagnie a Bulles”. I learned a lot about some key theatrical rules to project better. For instance, I learned how to project my voice so that the people on the last row would hear me (for this aspect, I could actually grow more nowadays…), I learned how to face the audience or be at ¾ at all times (which is different for dancing because using your back can be very interesting to highlight the beauty of some movements). I learned how to visualize objects in space, embody my character and its feelings, own the anger, own the pain, own the melancholy… I practiced executing a ‘word choreography’ with good diction and appropriate tone, as the director would want it to be (just like a choreographer with his dancers)… I learned how to play off of my mistakes and use them as a springboard.
During my teenage years, stage was the place for me to express myself openly, the place to not be shy., the place where I could explore another part of myself, away from fears, away from the judgment. Of course, I know I am judged (positively or negatively),  when I expose my vulnerability on stage , even nowadays … especially nowadays. I feel sometimes I need to be “at the level of Anasma”, because people have expectations.
But I also learn the process of self forgiveness and supporting myself, embracing my mistakes. And I believe my vulnerability is my strength.

Now I work on different techniques to ensure that I still maintain this presence. Posture is key , especially for dancers. Yoga has helped me tremendously align myself, and know when to place and how to control my breath. Breathing techniques. As much as possible I breathe through the mouth. Breathing through the nose is also good, and certainly better than not breathing! But breathing through the mouth allows a better exchange with your audience. I give and receive.  Ballet and Flamenco also help me work with posture. Break dance, Wushu , and Yoga with building stamina and physical strength, and flexibility…

Mime reminds me Theater rules applied to the body. I train with a wonderful teacher Richmond Shepard (www.richmondshepard.com) in New York.

Anasma as the "Other Prince Charming"
"Water", Anasmas Performance at the "Orientale 2010"
© Photos: 1 Scott Schuster, 2 MarieLou Avery, 3 Joe Marquez, 4 + 5 Konstanze Winkler
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I would ‘help out’ my partner if they forgot their text, they would do the same for me. This is the talent of improvising. I learned how to bounce off of somebody else’s story, building upon existing foundations, always say yes… I loved being on stage.
I have also started teaching and coaching performers. This of course teaches me a lot as well, to observe, analyse and help out others. I have mentioned the Theatrical Bellydance Conference already, truly part of this vision of empowering performers and dancers.