Primal energy: five Terminators dance explosively, without tricksPublished 29 Sep 2016 at 12:01 by Welmoed Terpstra
Even though dancer and choreographer Shailesh Bahoran (1983) has worked in theatre for years, he still feels hip hop above all else. Breaking, popping and a bit of locking are the fundamentals to his movements. For his new performance Ignite, a collaboration with dance collective ISH, he selected five dancers with various specialities, such as house, breaking and tricking.
You began as a dancer, but no longer dance yourself in performances. Is that strange?
“This is the second time that I am not included as a dancer in a big production. I never sweat as much as a premiere that during the first performance, Lalla Rookh. As a dancer, I never suffered from nerves ahead of a premiere, but now, I have to let go of control and give the stage to others, haha.”
“But I am still super active as performer, so if I want something from the guys during rehearsals, I can just show them what I have in mind.”
How did you select the five dancers for Ignite?
“My previous performance was about how Hindus came to Suriname, and so for that performance I wanted Hindu and Asian dancers. This performance is about primal energy, and that’s why I wanted to work with dancers with African roots. These guys have such a primal energy in them, to put it very boldly. Even if they just hang out on the couch all the time, they still look like Terminator.”
What experience do your dancers have?
“Some have theatre experience, two have none, but they have experience doing battles and showcases. There’s one house dancer, a breaker, a locker, and one that’s more tracking and freerunning and one last dancer that is a bit of everything.”
What was it rehearsing for theatre like for them?
“I let them improvise for the first days. Then reactions started to surface: ‘no way I’m rolling over his sweaty body, or pick him up!’. The atmosphere was giddy, as if we were in elementary school. But that was all gone after a few days of rehearsal. That’s when you get a certain focus: we’re gonna do this! These are all dancers that want to move beyond battles.”
Are you able to communicate your theatrical vision?
“Sometimes they say: ‘that is way too simple!’, and they want to show their best tricks. But then I tell them, this movement says enough, you don’t need to go over the top.”
Your roots are in the hip hop scene and you never attended a dance academy. What was your first theatre experience like?
“The first time that I, as a dancer, worked with dancers and makers with different backgrounds, such as modern dance, was with the group Don’t Hit Mama. I noticed it immediately: I’m not as quick as the others that were schooled. They pick up steps so quickly, it takes me a little longer to really get a hold on it. But that’s when my battle mentality kicked in: I’m going to make sure I can do this. And I did.”
You are still referred to as hip hop dancer. Is that still true, after all of these years in theatre?
“I still feel hip hop, so that makes sense to me. Breaking and popping are still the fundamentals to everything I do.”
In the meantime, you’re part of the Fonds Podiumkunsten’s Nieuwe Makers arrangement and you’re making performances with the renowned platforms ISH and Korzo. How did you become a maker?
“Even as a breaker and popper, I was always looking to how things could be done differently, how to take things to the next level. Master one movement and adapt it to my own abilities. I think that that’s where it began, that I knew I wanted to make things myself. When I started working as a dancer in theatre, with Don’t Hit Mama and Alida Dors for example, I observed how the choreographer did things and analysed what wasn’t working. I learned so much from that.”
What is Ignite about?
“About the core, the fire within. About the hunger for more. I hope that people see that it’s about five men and the energy that exists between them. Who is the leader? What triggers the others? Who or what pushes you to want more? Using the language of dance, I observed each of the dancer’s qualities and tried to extract the core from that. I put their pure form of dance and the centre of everything.”
Photos by Studio Breed.
We Are Public members can attend Ignite in De Krakeling on 6 October. As always, De Krakeling offers a little something extra: you can bring one child free of charge (up to 17 years old).