PREVIEW: French duo Philippe Pelen Baldini and Thierry Moucazambo on Vast, their latest production
Vast is a visual treat that takes viewers on a riveting journey of self-discovery through nature
A little less than a year after successfully presenting BHU/Earth, a dance theatre performance in Auroville, French theatre artistes Philippe Pelen Baldini and Thierry Moucazambo are back with a unique show titled Vast. The French duo from Reunion Islands, who run the dance theatre company International Talipot Theatre, have made India their home for a little more than two years, and their performances revolve around nature and its limitless expanse. Vast, being their second production is a performance in collaboration with Gopal Dalami, a Delhi-based contemporary dancer with Nepalese origins. Incidentally, the plot, in which Gopal plays the main character, also revolves around a boy travelling from the Himalayas in Nepal to the city. Created entirely in India, the duo gave the audience a glimpse of the dance theatre performance during the Journey of Auroville festival in Kolkata at the Indian Council for Cultural Relations hall.
Journey for the ages
“The story revolves around a young man from Nepal, played by Gopal, who has been kidnapped, abused and now lives in the slums of a big city in India. It follows him through his misery, as he looks to find a path back to the Himalayas, in search of his past,” Philippe, director and choreographer, tells us, when we ask him about the premise of the performance. He adds, “The boy, in his search, is helped by Lord Hanuman, who has been a part of the Himalayas for a long time, and helps him with the help of his wisdom and humour.”
The performance involves a research, which started a little over a year ago in December 2017, as Philippe and Thierry read the works of Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo, revolving around the concept of ‘vastness through nature’. They were immediately inspired by the concept, and took it a step further by researching about Nepal, Himalaya and Hanuman, and his relationship with the Himalayas. “After the initial research, we also zeroed in on the specific kind of music that could help us connect with the concept of vastness, and the soundtrack which forms an equally important part in the performance that was created by Varun and Nadia of Svaram,” says Thierry, who is the assistant director and also plays the role of Hanuman in Vast.
Music and aerial route
While usually they concentrate on telling the story through dance and drama, Thierry says that this time, there is a big emphasis on music, which will also be unlike what they usually use. “Since the performance revolves around connecting with home, we use different sound frequencies to explore the relationship between the body and the mother tongue, and ancient mantric poetry,” Thierry simplifies it for us.
The use of contemporary electronic music will be at the centre of the performance as they use the sounds of nature like the wind in the Himalayas, snow, various sounds in the forest and even birds to bring out the true essence of the Vast. Interestingly, this will also be the first time they will be incorporating aerial dance into a performance in all of the 32 years that the duo have been together.
From gravity to weightlessness, the act is also an exploration of the body being free through its movements in three different directions,“With the focus on aerial movements and music, we will keep it simple as we intend to be deeply connect to the audience through a rather simple performance, which will lead them on their own path of imagination and interpretation of the story,” elaborates Philippe, as we ask him what will take centrestage during the performance, from all of its different elements which will come alive on stage.
With their second production, Philippe and Thierry are looking to tour India and while they started in Kolkata before coming to Auroville, they also want to perform in other places. While Pondicherry is next on their agenda, they hope to come closer to Chennai before travelling to Mumbai, among other locations in India before returning back to Auroville, which is the source of their inspiration.
February 15,16,17. 8 pm omwards.
At Sri Aurobindo Auditorium in Auroville.