Confluence: Ashley Lobo, Valerie and a blend of ideas

Debarati Palit Singh
Thursday, 12 March 2020

Choreographers and dancers Ashley Lobo and Valerie Green talk about the concept of their show - Confluence, that will be held in Mumbai on Friday.

Not everyday do we get to see two established dancers and choreographers sharing the stage. Indian dancer and choreographer Ashley Lobo and USA-based Valerie Green are coming together for a unique dance show — Confluence in Mumbai, today. The duo, along with other choreographers, will be showcasing their original dance pieces. 

The duo has choreographed and held contemporary dance recitals with talents from Navdhara India Dance Theatre. The event will be held at G5A, Mumbai on March 13. 

Lobo, an internationally acclaimed name, is set to premiere two pieces — Together and Loop. According to Lobo, both are prequels to a full-length larger dance piece titled Om. His concept of Om is based on the belief that ‘all’ has always existed and always will. “To me, Om is the word that encompasses everything. It holds all aspects of life. Within the term Om, good, bad, dark, light, right, wrong — everything exists. It’s the belief that everything just is, as it is,” Lobo said. 

Green, who is presenting her first-ever choreography in India, launched her own company, Dance Entropy, in 1998. Green’s 18-minute presentation at the show is titled The Space Between. “The piece I have developed with Navdhara is about energy and consciousness, the precariousness of the unknown, the time between breaths, of risk, resistance, and boundaries. It’s an invocation to one’s journey to freedom,” she says.
 
Adding further about the show, Lobo says that the show will have different works by five different choreographers from two countries. “Each choreographer has a different style while the same dancers will perform, so it should be an interesting mix. The works have also been created in a very short time, so in essence, they will almost be in process. It’s a first look and I always feel that is more interesting,” he says. 

The other choreographers include Veronica Jose, Chetan Solanki, and Razul Singh, who are senior dancers with Navdhara India Dance Theatre. They will showcase performances based on gender, communication and expectations, respectively.
 
As for his collaboration with Green, Lobo says that he had an interesting experience working with her dancers of Dance Entropy New York. “It was the first time I was choreographing dancers from the US. I usually work more with companies in Europe, so it was quite a learning. Green’s approach with the dancers here in Navdhara is different to that of mine so I have had an interesting experience watching the process and final result too,” he adds.
  
Green on her part adds, “Ashley’s attempt to bring international dance to India is laudatory and it’s a very different experience to work with dancers here on a complex choreography. They have a warmth and openness.” 

Lobo’s association with Green took shape through her ‘HOME’ project where Lobo was one of five international choreographers who worked with her dancers to depict his interpretation of what home means to him living in India. 

Because he has collaborated with a dancer from a different continent, who has a different outlook towards dance, how has that enhanced the performances? Lobo replies, “The thinking is different. The thought overseas is much more independent, so the approach to dance too is independent.” 

He adds that here, dancers are used to a more nurturing environment and are used to being told what to do. “We interchanged our styles and that was interesting. In essence, we reversed the approaches that would be natural to our ways. So her approach has been more nurturing and mine more independent,” he further adds. 

Has the young viewers’ outlook towards contemporary dance style changed, we ask Lobo. “I think today the audience is much more evolved and informed. Hopefully, this will only add to another level of awareness,” he concludes.

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