Indian-Australian choreographer, Ashley Lobo who is known to bring about a seamless confluence of western dance in India plays a significant role in the Hindi cinema industry. He garnered much appreciation for his work in movies like Rockstar, Tamasha, Jab Harry Met Sejal, Cocktail and many more.
In an exclusive interview with Deccan Chronicle on International Dance Day 2019, Ashley gives a delightful insight into contemporary dance forms in India and how classical dance is losing its charm and popularity among the Indian youth.
On choreography in India and abroad
It’s a very different experience to choreograph in India and overseas. In overseas, the audiences have different expectation from the work whereas, in India, the dancers are only “functionally” trained and have less understanding about the professional world. Hence, I am hoping to bring about change with my Navdhara India Dance Theatre.
On contemporary dance situation in India
We are good 20 years behind in the contemporary dance theatre scene. But things are changing and I am hopeful. Dancers here train for a short period of time however, they expect to be professional in it. For now, it works but as the industry evolves, professional standards equivalent to overseas will have to be developed.
On the use of Prana Paint (TM) technique
Prana is life force or breath. In dance, you are not just moving the body but painting with your breath like an artist. Over the years, through my Yoga practice, I have discovered a technique which combines the breath and skin to ignite movement and emotion, so that the body can create its own expression while we watch it to communicate. The technique can be used with music or acting as well as it’s more about igniting your sensitivity.
On classical dance and its importance among Indian youths
It would be a real shame if that happened. I personally love the Indian Classical Dance. I think it is such a refined art form and why shouldn’t it be – it has been around for so many years and has such a rich pedigree. In my own way, I am looking to see how I can collaborate with Indian classical artists and festivals so that we can bring the classical and contemporary worlds together.
Dance can awaken the spiritual side of a person
When the fervour of dance consumes you, you let go of the ego or the need for recognition. Both breath and body become one. There is movement and stillness all at once. At that moment you touch and understand God.
Dance can bring about positive change in a person
Besides the actual physical benefits of movement as a means to keep you fit and active in the body, dance helps you become one with yourself. In dance, you lose all interest in division or acquisition of title. Your world becomes one of acceptance and love as you have accepted yourself. There is no need for others to love you. You become a messenger of peace and in that, you also help society by sharing it.