Olé Kamchanla, French choreographer in Singapore residency
The French-Laotian dancer and choreographer Olé Kamchanla has been in residence in Singapore for one month from 18 May to 10 June to produce a show with the collaboration of the local hip hop school O school and organise workshops with secondary schools and university students.
Initiated by the French Embassy with the support of the National Arts Council – operational arms of the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, for the residence, this project is part of developing collaborations between French artists and Singaporeans in order to place French culture in a more self-sustaining way in the local culture.
Olé tells us about his experience:
On the production of a show with O School for Voilah! which is a French cultural festival:
The aim of this residence is to come up with a local hip hop dance school, namely O School, and a show, “Listen”, which will be presented during Voilah!, the French cultural festival on 10 December 2011. The residency takes place in 2 times: one month from 18 May to 10 June and 10 days from 1st to 10 December. The participants are regular ones, who are at the same time, dancers, teachers and managers of this school which welcomes around 1,000 students every week.
The residence work I have done with them has been very interesting. It was the first time for me, as I have never really worked with dancers who are solely from the “new school hip-hop” and they also, did not know what to expect from a “hip-hop old school” choreographer. One of the aims of this project was the meeting between two different choreographies. I was proposing to them that they come into my world through choreographic exercises, while at the same time, respecting their corporal vocabulary. An exercise which has been pretty well accepted by all – they went along and trusted me.
I have noticed that some of them have acute talents for dramatic art, more than what they show in the usual choreographic scenes. It is always very interesting for me to take out the hidden talent of each dancer’s interpretation. The piece “Listen” is a choreographic experiment which has been transmitted since 2005 in France, Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. I use different corporal languages used by the dancers, included those that they do not dare to use in public. “Listen” is the opportunity to reveal them differently. It was not about imposing things to them, but working together and writing down my sentences with their words.
On his workshop at SMU (Singapore Management University):
“My work there aimed at helping them to create simple dance choreographies (so that they could pass them on to beginners). My action aimed also at teaching them basic hip-hop dance techniques (break dance, locking, popping). Their practice of hip-hop comes from the “New school” trend; they did not know the history and roots of hip-hop movement.
By attending these 12 hour-workshops, the dancers learnt « Old school » hip-hop and the roots of the movement. They also learnt educational exercises in order for them to be able to pass their hip-hop vocabulary on to others.”
On his workshop at Tanglin Secondary School and Juying Secondary School:
In the building of Tanglin, these workshops gathered students from both establishments, enrolled in extra scholar activities. Average age of the attendees were 15-16 years old, they’ve had practiced hip-hop dance (“new school”) for 1 or 2 years. Some of them have already been introduced to popping and break dance techniques.
My work there aimed at allowing encounters of young dancers from different establishments, by introducing them to hip-hop history and by teaching them break dance, locking and popping techniques. It’s the first step needed to go further in the teaching process, helping them to discover their open-minded sense and body awareness with group exercises. My aim is also to show them that dance, each type of dance, is a movement technique that has its roots and history. And all of them can be revisited to find an exclusive vocabulary. The students were very kind and full of a stunning energy. In Singapore, hip-hop dance practice is very popular to young people. Many are starting this artistic practice, as the hip-hop, jazz, ballet or contemporary dance. I was very surprised to discover the range of talent and promising artists.
This residence is the start of a genuine dialogue between the two countries: apart from the workshops and the production of the show “Listen”, Olé Kamchanla has seized the opportunity while in Singapore to select two Singaporean dancers who will accompany him in residence in France in February 2012 in order to present his new creation at the Hivernales d’Avignon.
Born in Laos, Olé Kamchanla grew up in Valence where he discovered hip-hop in the early 90s. He trained with different dancers and choreographers from Azanie, Aktuel Force, Caopeira Panam, la Baraka, Storm, and Artemis Danza. He gradually creates his own style, his own way of dancing which enables him to be noticed on the dance scene. He opens up to the capoeira, to contemporary dance and met up with Karim Amghar in 1998 with whom he created his company “A’Corps”. In 2007, with Tarmac’s help, he went to Laos, Thailand and Myanmar, a return to his roots which give him the opportunity to deepen and polish his choreographic writings. In 2009 – 2010, he choreographs a show for seven French, Laotian and Thai dancers, “Fang Lao”. He produces his own dance festival in Laos, Fang Mae Kong, which will take place in October this year.