1763 PodeSer LeïlaKa

Leïla Ka presents 'Pode Ser': 'I had a pink dress and a desire for freedom'

Gilles Bechet

As part of the programme of the Brigittines International Festival, Leïla Ka presents Pode Ser, a short piece that holds a mirror up to the opposing forces within us.

There she is in her old pink tulle dress, with a sullen air, her elbows pressed against her body in a defiant pose and her hands clenched tight as if to prevent them from falling off. Her movements are powerful, minimalist. Pode Ser by Leïla Ka is an intense and direct performance. It is like a fight for the freedom to be oneself and to embody multiple selves by ridding oneself of constraints, those that we impose on ourselves and those that are imposed on us by others. This solo is the young dancer and choreographer's first work, made just after her time working with Maguy Marin, during which she danced in May B. “I started working alone, without having anything planned. I had this pink dress and a desire for freedom when I left a company in which there were a great many of us onstage.”

A sulking ballerina, Leïla Ka always seems like she is just about to explode and send everyone who wants to prevent her from being herself packing. “I wanted to talk about everything that we should be, that we dream of being, and that we really are.” A battle is fought between these different internal elements, for which the dancer drew her inspiration, indirectly, from combat sports. “I watched a lot of boxing matches. I find boxing very beautiful choreographically. I would like to give it a go, but I haven't found the time yet. I am fascinated by that state of coiled tension, the way they hold themselves to protect their vital organs.”

I find boxing very beautiful choreographically. I am fascinated by that state of coiled tension

Leïla ka

One of the pieces of music that accompany the choreography is Schubert's Trio Opus 100. “I have had that music in mind ever since I saw Barry Lyndon by Stanley Kubrick. To me, the three instruments repeating the same phrase back and forth on a loop are like the facets of a personality that alternate within an individual.” When she throws herself on the ground, we discover, beneath the tulle veil, black tracksuit bottoms and trainers on her feet. Swirling on the ground, the fabric of the dress envelops her body like a cocoon before a metamorphosis.

Urban dance constituted an important stage of Leïla Ka's career as a choreographer. She worked a lot with George Cordeiro, with whom she co-founded Favela Compagnie. “I quickly moved away from hip-hop dance to explore other things. I have kept a certain rhythm in the movements. Hip-hop dance is like an alphabet inscribed in my body with which I write words that are no longer hip hop.”

Following Pode Ser, Leïla Ka created another short piece, C'est toi qu'on adore in collaboration with Alexandre Fandard. In it, she once again explores the difficulty of existing, the obstacles and constraints, but this time at community level. To bring what she sees as a trilogy to a close, she is working on a new solo show that she hopes to present at the beginning of 2022.

Raw, sincere, and sensual, Leïla Ka's dance concentrates a suppressed energy that cries out to be transformed into movement. “With dance, you can balance everything you want to say without having to explain it and release yourself without feeling depleted. And people take from it what they want.”

20 & 21/8, Brigittines International Festival, www.brigittines.be

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