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    Combining dance, music and video, La Forêt Ébouriffée explores movement and imagination.

    AS WITH popular works in children’s literature, the premise for La Forêt Ébouriffée—which will be performed in the city on Tuesday—was provided by a child’s wild imagination. Protagonist Racine lives a dreary existence with his grandmother and he finds himself distinguished in one way: a forest is growing inside his head. How he goes into the woods to find his true self is where the French performance packs a punch, attempting to recreate his emotions and experiences on stage with an unconventional use of dance, visuals and lighting.
    Tree of life
    The production is the brainchild of France-based choreographers, Christian and Francois Ben Aim, and has been brought to India by Alliance Francaise of Madras, after over 140 performances in Europe (since 2013). “The starting point for the play was an offer from a theatre to do a show for children,” says Christian. Author and illustrator Mélusine Thiry was roped in to write a book, which yielded the central theme of the performance. Thiry also designed the visual content for the show, which will be projected on to two  screens, in front of which two dancers will play the role of Racine.
    “The scenography creates a sense of depth between the images and the bodies in motion, causing confusion between dream and reality,” explains Christian. The aim has been to create a visual effect wherein the creatures imagined by the little boy, the setting and the dancers’ bodies are all shown to belong to the same universe, he adds.
    On stage
    The performance (targeting children between six and 10 years) will feature a contemporary dance piece to reflect the emotional and physical states of Racine, interspersed with a narration in English, Francois explains. Lighting is an aspect to watch out for, as they have to showcase the dancers without coming in the way of the visuals. “I’ve essentially used side lights to lend a magical effect to the dancers, who appear through a soft fog,” explains Laurent Patissier, the lighting director. It also has to “focus on the dancers but not too much”, as we have to create the illusion that they aren’t real and are only a part of the visual landscape shown, the 44-year-old explains. What the audience will see is a kind of movie with two living dancers moving inside, Patissier adds.
    At Sir Mutha Hall, on May 31, at 7 pm. Free passes on eventjini.com

    —Sharadha Narayanan

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