The Weight of Joy In India

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on TumblrShare on Google+Pin on Pinterest

Despite the changes in the discourse surrounding people with disabilities, there continues to be a lot of stigma associated with this particular demographic. A differently-able person can often find themselves being treated like they are lesser-than and their identity being reduced to their disability. French choreographer Eric Languet’s contemporary dance project The Weight of Joy challenges these notions and explores new ways of promoting positive action for the differently-able.

The premier of 'The Weight of Joy' at the Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall in Chennai on Feb 18

The premiere of ‘The Weight of Joy’ at the Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall in Chennai on Feb 18

Eric admits that he has never felt fully integrated in any group. It is probably this feeling of alienness that has guided
his career as a dancer and choreographer for the last 30 years. Having discovered dance in Réunion Island, where he grew up, Eric would go on to dance with the Paris Opera Ballet and the Royal New Zealand Ballet, where he was also the principal dancer and resident choreographer. His aesthetic choices and choreography style are strongly influenced by the work of Jiri Kylian, William Forsythe and Douglas Wright.

Eric Languet interacting with the audience

Eric Languet interacting with the audience

To create the show, Eric spent two-and-a-half months researching about people living in the most difficult situations in India – crippling poverty, rape survivors, disabilities etc. – to figure out why they continue to live despite everything. His answer to this question was joy. In many ways, The Weight of Joy is an attempt to find the source of these short bursts of joy and the price one pays for it. The title itself plays with the seemingly contradictory ideas of ‘weight’ and ‘burden’ paired with the lightness of bliss.

A performance in progress

A performance in progress

The Weight of Joy featured 8 dansers – Mariyya Evrad, Sarah Dunaud, Brice Jean-Marie Luce, and Cedric Marchais from Réunion (where Languet’s dance company Danses en l’R is based) along with Chandiran Rajendiran, Deivamani, Sruthi Sriram and Anish Babu from India. Out of the four Indian dancers, two were hearing impaired. The performances drew from the friction between these disparate cultures in an attempt to discover the foundations of joy, be it individual or collective. Navigating movement, text, and music, this joyful and chaotic piece of physical theater was an attempt to reconcile ourselves with the human species and all its ironies.

The dancers take a bow

The dancers take a bow

The Indian dancers were handpicked amongst the 20 dancers with whom Eric had conducted a workshop last year. They included an art therapist, a Kalaripayattu and yoga practitioner, and two differently-able boys. All of the Indian dancers were amateurs and paired with professional dancers from Eric’s company. During the training, all of them trained together without any distinction. Instead of giving them dance moves to imitate, Eric gave them weekly tasks to delve into how one would express joy with movement, scenes, and situations.

Interacting with the audience

Interacting with the audience

As part of Bonjour India 2017-18, Alliance Française de Madras piloted the India tour of The Weight of Joy in Chennai (Feb 18), Delhi (Feb 20), Hyderabad (Feb 23), Bangalore (Feb 25), and Kolkata (Feb 28th). This tour was organised in collaboration with the Ability Foundation and Eric’s company Danses en l’R. It was kicked off after a month-long residency in Chennai (Jan 15 – Feb 17) during the course of which Eric also organised workshops every Saturday at Vidya Sagar, an institution for differently-able people.

The teaser of the The Weight of Joy can be found here :

Siddharth Bhatt

Rédaction, AF Magazine Inde-Népal

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on TumblrShare on Google+Pin on Pinterest

Comments are closed.

Rédaction

Directeur de publication : Délégation Générale de la Fondation Alliance Française en Inde et au Népal

Rédacteur en chef : Laurent Elisio Bordier

Rédacteur/Coordinateur national : Siddharth Bhatt

Rédacteurs, contributeurs : Guillaume, Abhirami, Alexandre, Chintan, Cléa, David, Eleonore, Elie, Kanika, Karine, Nita, Thomas, Malvika, Marie-Joëlle, Meera, Mayuri, Mitushi, Alice, Prutha, Romain, Ritika, Manas, Supriya ...