Nacera Belaza’s dance company managed to create many renowned dance pieces, including her recent performance ‘Le Trait’. Moussem managed to invite her again for a complete weekend in giving a workshop/audition as part of an upcoming, international dance project in collaboration with Algeria, Belgium, France and Japan. The premiere is expected in September 2014 at ‘the Biennale de la danse de Lyon (Focus Dance)’.
Already at the doorstep of the cultural center of Berchem I encounter several disenchanted dancers who are in a perplexed state. One of them is a graduated contemporary dancer who tells me that ‘ he, as a dancer is ‘too technical’ and ‘too much’ in his head. Nacera is looking for somebody ‘fresh’ who can be formed.’ While entering the building I wonder how somebody as good as him, can be TOO technical.
Nacera is a dancer, artist and choreographer who knows very well what she wants and who has a particular way of portraying this in her creations. She could easily make the creative decisions for the dancers, but that isn’t really the aim of this audition. Now, articulating her wishes to the dancers is not so convenient either. Especially when Nacera gives the dancers the primary instruction to make their own decisions.
”You are an envelope which contains space. Not just A Space, but an empty space. First, you try to receive all the sounds when freeing your head and the rest of your body. When you learn to receive, you will learn to become the embodiment of every sound that you hear”
This was the main instruction, which was followed by a persistent, deconstructed vocabulary.
By definition this is bordering to the fundaments of contemporary dance, in which the dancers are exploring the total movement of their bodies. A movement depicted by an extra Nacera ingredient.
‘Don’t justify the movement, there are so many reasons to move’
When observing the dancers at the beginning, one will notice the perplexity and confusion on their faces. And if the group was lucky there might have been one or two dancers who managed to embody the sounds as Nacera wanted to see it, including the resistance of rhythm.
After several try outs the rigid atmosphere, which originated in the need to succeed, turns into a free and comfortable tone. In which each movement advocates the emptiness and contains the dynamic self-control that is needed to have this particular experience.
Nacera comments that ‘dance is a way to explore human beings and what is the best starting point if not yourself?! All these existential questions are learned trough dance and choreography. This is my way to apply this crucial exploration on myself and if possible on the dancers as well. The most important thing is to know why you move in a particular way. The achievement of this knowledge is usually invisible but not for the trained, hardworking eye.’
Dance improvisation is considered to be the creation of new movements and to overcome the standard. Nacera takes it a step further and announces dance as the release of oneself while finding this fine balance between accepting where the movement brings you and of being conscious of it. So one should push and explore ‘the self’ by questioning the technical habits, the known resistance and common fears of the body.
What, why and again why? You don’t stop questioning until you are conscious of every step you make.
‘Your movement should have a consequence on the space, because Your expression will change the perception of the viewer. And suddenly the space is expanded to another dimension.’
This type of dance tries to reinvent the space as something that is unlimited and which inhabits the presence of the dancer. She states that space is not just something to fill for the sake of filling. It’s an available area that can be used for many projections of oneself.
So there seems to be a way to consciousness. Nacera complements this by saying that it’s not held as a gift but comes into being when we connect to our intuitions. It’s this ability that will bring you closer to an inhabited movement. This need, to get closer to one self is an unquestionable quest, one that motivates Nacera to reinvent herself every day and to exceed the limits of her body, a fundamental reinvention.
‘ Don’t let yourself be restricted by the space’
When going deeper into the labyrinth of Nacera’s thinking you will find the need to erase one self. To empty oneself works almost like a cleansing process that enables you to create the needed space for new rising movements. In other words, becoming a circle.
‘Everything comes from the body’
For this year, Nacera wants everything to be a circle. And the interest is captured, not by imitating the circle but by the way it will work on you as a dancer, in the way it will redefine your movements. It’s a simple image – it will cleanse you – it will change your way of moving – it will reinvent your known structures – it will in the end, preferably change you as a dancer.
‘Expand your limits’
Nacera works with little projected images, an empty space and a lot of guided intention. A long-term process, which imbeds the dancers into a transformation far away from mechanized actions.
And how is the audience included during this process?
For an observer this spectacle manages to interfere with every expectation a spectator can hold. It invites you to accept the nothingness and embrace every possibility, to surrender to an almost infinite point in time and to let go. It’s this exact position that Nacera likes to connect to within herself.
Nacera manages to construct a piece, which embodies the abstract elements of life and opens up to a narrative one. The dancers have to believe that dance surpasses technique and creates the ability to connect to the source of it, life.
Nacera ends with the following words ‘ art can be demanding. The movements on stage are not made to make the spectator feel good, nor to please the spectator or to create any mystification of yourself. It is just a way to be truly honest and sincere with oneself, which for me is the most important goal of this work’.
‘Don’t reduce the sounds to your safety zone,
Connect, relax and find that space that has ALL sounds’
Photos: © Soumaya El Houbba
This post is also available in: Dutch