Dancer with a message

Dancer with a message

Dancer with a message

His grace, expression and passion held me spellbound. It took all I had to stop myself from getting onto that stage and joining him, even though I hate dancing in front of an audience... that’s how inspiring he was.

Miguel Nosibor, one of the first generation hip-hop dancers from France, is unbelievably agile at 40 and his style can blow one away.

Though I was a tad apprehensive about meeting a well-known personality like Miguel, my fears were soon put to rest as he turned out to be easy going and extremely easy to talk to. He had no qualms in patiently explaining things I did not understand. Like how he can move every single muscle in his body!

His dance style is unique. It’s hip-hop fused with contemporary, with a dash of martial arts and classical dance forms. But the energy is what reaches out to the audience, infusing them with the need to seek similar expressions. But, when did it all begin? How did he become a dancer? Why hip-hop? He grins when he says he’s been dancing for as long as he can remember, but his formal training began when he was 13 years old. He had just gotten introduced to hip-hop and loved it. His first public performance was for his class when he was 10 and though he was nervous, he enjoyed the whole performance immensely. It’s taken 25 years of training to get where he is now. While he’s studied many other dance forms like classical, contemporary, etc., and learnt martial arts like kung fu and taichi, he’s remained true to hip-hop. He says it’s a way of life for him and his whole family dances hip-hop too.

Reading about how Afrika Bambaataa and his Zulu Nation had a great influence on Miguel intrigued me. Bambaataa’s message, in essence, had been to build a nation of creativity which would bring people together. When had he come across Bambaataa? The moment he hears Bambaataa’s name, he looks up in excitement.  

“The first time I saw Bambaataa on the screen, I’d already begun learning hip-hop. I saw him walking with the hip-hop music which I loved, and saw him performing with the Zulu Nation. It pleased me a lot. But later, I heard him speak and this had a profound influence on me. He was calling upon the youth who were in the ghetto, the outer peripheries of society, who lived in the suburbs. Bambaataa called upon them saying, ‘Let’s hold hands and do something positive’. At the time, though I wasn’t living in a suburb, I lived close to one and knew how hard life in a suburb could be. So Bambaataa’s message to the youth resonated within me. This appeal is what I took up when I formed the company.”

Miguel had been dancing a long time, when in 2008, he decided to take a break and introspect on his life for a while. That introspection resulted in ‘Temps d’arrêt’ — ‘A Pause’, a piece where the pace continually switches between fast and slow, depicting the fast paced lives of city dwellers. He advices the audience to take a break from their busy schedules and take a good look at their lives.

“I have come across different kinds of people and different kinds of emotions. Usually after a performance, I have emails, calls and people coming to me and the common thing I find is that people are touched... they are moved. There are people who are in tears, who have a smile and people who say that it has kind of changed them. According to the audience, what they see on the stage is reality. They’ve always said I show reality and don’t cheat,” he said.  

When he first came to India, he was a little worried about how people would respond to his piece. A lot of work had gone into it and he hoped it would reach people as easily as it had done in his home country. But in Bombay, after the show was over, he was pleasantly surprised that there was applause everywhere and people came up to him to talk and discuss how much they related to his message...and he loved it.

As I try to wrap up the interview, I remember an obvious question I’ve left out. “Anything to say to the readers?” I ask. His face takes on a more serious look. He replies, “Let the movement remain a movement. Let these movements be free.”

Seeing my nonplussed expression, he explains, “I’m talking about introspection, reflection, creation and imagination. All these are movements. So let these be free to continue their movement. In today’s world, people are too scared to create or imagine and society itself doesn’t help you create and continue. Because society thinks of methods and categorises things...labels everything. This hinders people from moving ahead and continuing to experiment. At all ages, let the movement remain.”

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