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    Cécile Loyer blends Bharatnatyam and contemporary western in a performance that explores the art of dance

    When Scene Nationale d’Orléans, the only national French theatre exclusive to music and dance, asked  contemporary dancer Cécile Loyer to combine western dance and Bharatnatyam, she was quite at a loss. “I did not have any particular notion of the Indian classical dance before this project,” Loyer says. “So when the theatre’s director, Bruno Lobé, proposed a project like Histoires Vraies in Chennai, I knew I could not work with Indian dancers without seeing the dance,” says the 41-year-old, who has been visiting India since February this year. Explaining the theatre’s focus, Lobé says, “We are interested in the idea of developing a choreographic study abroad, as we already do in our own country (with workshops in secondary schools for the benefit of amateurs). Such an action would offer us a welcome opening and new perspectives while possibly creating a lasting partnership with the artistes and institutions of Tamil Nadu.”
    History or his story
    The title, Histoires Vraies, is a subtle wordplay, says Loyer. “In French, histoire means both story and history, depending on the context. So we are talking about the history of dance (from around the world) and the story of a dance in particular,” says Loyer. She adds, “The performance speaks about the language of the body and what each dance has of the universal and singular. It also shows how bodies, with different stories and cultures, speak the same language.”
    Show time
    Besides Loyer, the performance consists of two Indian dancers and two European dancers. About Bharatnatyam, Loyer shares, “The work with the face, its expressions—that is what touched me.” When it comes to her own style of dancing, expect free and expressive movements. Loyer, who has performed all over the world and has 13 original dance pieces to her credit, in collaboration with other artistes, says, “When I build a show, I try to put the spectator in action. I do not want to fascinate the public with a beautiful dance—I want them to question what they are seeing and how they are feeling. I like that people feel present during the show as much as the dancers.”

    At Alliance Française, December 20-21, at 7.30 pm. Details: 28279803

    —Janane Venkatraman

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