Forget fusion, cultures have to coexist separately to facilitate dialogue between different traditions, says French contemporary concept dance maestro and Bharatanatyam fan Jerome Bel.
“Fusion is not the way to cultural synergy. I believe in a cultural discourse where we can compare our respective cultures with our stories. It is good for the modern times because discourses eventually become journeys in self-discovery and identity,” Bel told IANS in the capital.
The concept dancer loves India - a country which he has been visiting since in 2006 to create “discourses” with Indian dancers.
“India helps me realise how European I am in my sensibilities. There is this strange feeling of safety in India. I love the culture...I can be on the road any time,” Bel said.
The concept dance guru is looking for a dancer to conceive a Bharatanatyam “discourse” performance,” Bel said.
Bel is known the world over for his new-age interactive choreography in which dancers from different cultures and traditions talk to each other through their art and personal stories about their art and lifestyles.
He combines contemporary dance with theatre to break into “traditional genres to simplify them”, he said.
The French concept dance maestro is in the capital to perform a concept dance drama, “Pichet Klunchun and Myself”, with Thai contemporary dancer Pichet Klunchun.
The performance opened the week-long Indo-French “DanSe Dialogue” - a cultural discourse between Indian, Asian and French contemporary dances - at the Alliance Francaise as part of the fifth Delhi International Arts Festival.
Bel performs again Friday.
The essence of the choreography “was to create a bridge over the cultural divide between contemporary western dance and and the traditional cultures of Asia”, Bel said.
Pichet, a traditional Khon dancer from Thailand - whose dance form is based on stories from Ramayana - was engaged in a theatrical dialogue about his dance, god king Rama, his traditional upbringing and the growing modernisation of his homeland with Bel, comparing the two cultures and the dances.
The dialogue was interspersed with Oriental-style performances by Pitchet and theatrical concept dance by Bel, which drew from everyday body movements like “sleep, silence and introspection”.
“When I am immobile and silent on stage, I am one with the audience, participating in their lives,” Bel explained.
The performance, choreographed in 2005, connected to India with its lores of Ramayana.
It was awarded the Routes Princesse Margaret Award for Cultural Diversity, and has travelled all over the world.
Recalling the dialogue, Bel said, “I was supposed to work with Pichet in Bangkok and we did not have the time to think of solo choreographies. We introduced ourselves and got talking backstage. I decided to do the same - talk - onstage and came up with the
Bel, who works with dancers from all over the world to set up cultural dialogue, “feels safe in India”.
Born in 1964, Bel choreographed his first performance, “Nom donné par l'auteur” - an object dance in 1994 followed by “Jerome Bel” (named after his own self), a nude dance show in 1995 and “Shirtology” - which shows a dancer wearing many T-shirts.
“Unlike India, France is very supportive contemporary concept dance. We have 19 national choreography institutes which help dancers innovate,” Bel said.
The French government was looking to open sustainable and long-term dialogues in dance with India, the new French envoy to India Francois Richier said.