"I don't just dance. I perform. I breathe. I watch the world disappear. I release my feelings. I lead with my heart. I tear down walls. I stop feeling sad. I lose the pain. I let go. I smile. No, I don't just dance, I do so much more." This quote describes the essence of dance succinctly. It was no different with ‘Yama’ ~ a contemporary dance show presented by Alliance Francaise de Delhi. The piece, inspired by the Buddhist philosophy around yoga, is choreographed by Laura Arend, inspired by her travel in India.
Five artistes performed the piece including Arend, who studied at the National Dance Conservatory in Lyon, followed by a study at the Merce Cunningham School. She was also part of the Judith Sanchez Ruiz Company before joining the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company.
The Sanskrit word yama means self-control, austerity, restrain and moral duty; however, the piece opens onto a sombre world ~ a reflection of the shortcomings of daily life, of the loss of what is essential. It explores our reality as a mirror of society, of our ways of life; our selfishness that is particularly capable of making us and others suffer; our capacity to judge and ignore the views of others; our need to own that makes us dream everyday about what we cannot obtain, and this despite the bitterness that it evokes.
So, how was ‘Yama’ conceptualised? "’Yama’ is an intriguing title. My first trip to India was to Agonda, with the objective of being a yoga teacher. In India, I found peace, and it was during one of my philosophy classes with a monk, that I learnt about the five yama ~ nonviolence, sincerity, probity, moderation and detachment. When I came back to Europe, the time I would devote to meditation dropped over a period of time, making me question myself about how I could find peace in such a fast-paced world. So, actually, the piece is a journey of understanding, that yama is here surrounding us, but we cannot understand it, unless we open our hearts, minds and eyes for real," says Arend.
The dance is very physical and techno-centric, with high energy and clear form, drawing great influence from the Israeli dance scene.
How has her journey in India turned out? Arend replies candidly, "Initially, it was a shock, but the multifaceted aspects of the country left me wanting to come back for more and more. Four weeks in Agonda were just not enough."
The message of the piece is pretty clear: Be the change you want to be. Arend elaborates, "You see, everyone wants to change the world. What needs to be understood is that life is short, and instead of trying to change the world, the change has to be initiated with oneself and within oneself. This message was understood by the audience very clearly, and that was very surprising and satisfying."
So, what next? "Dance and travel are two of my passions. From India, we proceed to Israel, where we will focus on our piece titled 'Five'. This piece will be performed by five dancers, who worked in Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company. In 2018, I plan to create a duet with a former dancer of the Lyon Opera Ballet."
Journeys of creativity and passion are almost always nostalgic and remind one of the thought: “Oh, music! Won't you be my soul tonight? Won't you teach me another dance?”