Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Dramaturgy of La Même: Farah Saleh @ Edfringe 2017

New Arab contemporary dance performances 
Studio 3, Dance Base, 18 - 20 August 2017 | 15:00 (16:30)

Algerian born choreographer Nedjma Haj Benchelabi curates a weekend of new contemporary dance performance by three young up and coming Arab choreographers Mounir Saaed, Farah Saleh and Kouloud Yassine.

What’s the inspiration behind your performance?

The performance attempts to discuss the tension between the reality of a veiled woman and the image that she’s perceived in both in the west and in globalized societies in the Arab world. It tries to overview what’s behind the veil through dancing that looks for ways to illustrate the problems that veiled women face as well as how they try to make their dreams a reality. It attempts to tackle the problems of these women in an approach that remains personable. That’s why it’s called “La Même” (My Self).

The entire show isn’t built on simplifying issues through generalizing. After all, we’re all different as women whether we’re veiled or not.  It’s just a way to illustrate that we all have different opinions, dreams, and struggles that we negotiate on a daily basis. The image of a veiled woman is always that of someone who’s obedient and subordinate to men and generally has a lot of limitations placed on her in what she can do. The show tries to move past that. 

How did the performance come about?

It came in the wake of the Paris and Brussels attacks in 2015. At the time, there was an onslaught of attacks on the veiled woman in the west and heavy debate on her status in the Arab world. We wanted to have a conversation as we felt that there were attacks that happened in our globalized society without many people actually understanding much about veiled women or what leads them to become veiled in the first place. We’re not with or against anything, but we wanted to increase the understanding to attempt to stimulate conversations in increasingly close-minded societies. 

What steps do you take to attempt to challenge the audience’s preexisting notions?

In the performance, we pose a question to the audience about whether a woman is really the same whether she’s veiled or not by providing it with a 20 minute experience that’s split into two nearly identical shows that only differ in what the characters are wearing. One of them shows a woman gradually becoming veiled, while the other has her slowly taking it off. The gradual process really allows us to play around with conflicting notions that allow the audience to see beauty and ugliness at the same time. 

It’s not black and white; with every woman, there are certain conflicts and certain things that are easy or hard. That’s the springboard that we use to discuss the self. We never really get into whether we’re with or against the veil because that’s not really what our show is about.

Do you feel that the performance has a universal audience?

We’ve performed the show four or five times up to this point, with only one of those coming in the Arab world. We’ve played it in France, Palestine, and Switzerland. We feel that it was beautifully understood in all three locations. We successfully reached our goal of opening up a dialogue in all of them. 

What would you say is the show’s main message?

The message is that we should look beyond the veil to get people to understand more on the matter. We use the concept of the self to analyse the personality of women with or without the veil. 

What do you enjoy the most about contemporary dancing? 

What I love the most is that it allows me to tackle and open up dialogues on contemporary issues through my body’s movements. This is not something that I’m able to find in more classical forms. The body is completely free in contemporary dancing to an extent that you could talk about daily issues with any flick of your body.  

No comments :

Post a Comment