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      #SpeakingInDance: Breakdance and Grow Old Together

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      On a playground in a French primary school more than two decades ago, Mourad Bouayad went up to Paul Lamy, extended his hand in a handshake with his curly hair bouncing on his head and introduced himself (in French): “Hello, my name is Mourad”.

      That was the start of a beautiful friendship. They were both 10 years old.

      After that, there were other moments that sealed their friendship. The first was when Paul saw Mourad breakdancing, alone, on the same playground. The sight captivated him.

      The second one was when they performed as a breakdance duo at their primary school graduation. The hours they spent practising cemented their bond.

      After high school, they took divergent paths — Mourad to study biomedical science and Paul architecture.

      Mourad said: “It took me until I was 23 to really decide to embrace a dance career. After getting bored by biology studies and searching for a meaningful reason to wake up every morning, art came out as my only way out of depression.”

      Improvised Use of Space, by dancer/choreographer Mourad Bouayad

       

      He went on to dance for the prestigious Batsheva Ensemble in Tel Aviv, Israel.

      Meanwhile, Paul was creating digital content for top fashion houses such as Louis Vuitton, Dior and Hermès.

      I first met Mourad in a Gaga dance class that he was teaching about a year and a half ago.  He would sometimes talk about Paul. Paul this, Paul that… “It was amazing as I created this with Paul.”

      It wasn’t until when we were all having lunch at my French godmother’s place that I fully understood the bond they share.

      I handed them two baguette sandwiches. Mourad then took a knife from me and proceeded to cut the two sandwiches into halves, sharing each half with Paul. It might appear to be a tiny gesture, yet it was in such small moment that I saw how Mourad would place Paul’s interest on an equal footing to his. Even where there were disagreements between them, it was the same.

      I saw pure love then, and also in their creations.

      Perhaps the true measure of a connection between two persons is not how you celebrate good times, but how they get through the rough spots. To have space in your heart and the willingness to look at what your love means to the other person, to see if you could provide what the other person needs. And vice versa.

      Over French ham and goat cheese, Paul said: “You don’t know what you have got until it’s gone. When Mourad finally came back from Israel, we talked and we felt that we should just do it, just create beautiful things together. If we don’t try now, when are we going to do it?”

      And so last summer, they came together to form ACNO, which stands for Allow Creativity Negate Obligation. The artistic creation company is founded on their shared passion, complimentary strengths and more than two decades of friendship.

      The duo elaborated: “As creators, we want to have a chance to make our own rules. In the dance world, there are many ‘soldier’-based companies, where anyone can be replaced, where everyone is underpaid.

      “We want to bring back humanity at the centre of our choreography and our art, both for the artists and for the audience.”

      Their first piece of work is an inspirational dance piece titled For the Hungry Boy, with three dance artists in reverse roles — Mourad as a baby boy, Chiara Corbetta as the father and Thibaut Eiferman as the mother.

      For the Hungry Boy, by ACNO

      The work was performed to a warm reception at the Festival of Rencontres Chorégraphiques de Casablanca in Morocco in the fall of 2019.

      “Questioning the gender norm, dishonesty, repeating behaviours, For the Hungry Boy relies on text and movement to seek the limits of the cliché of family structure,” they explained.

      My personal reaction to the piece can only be described as a “multi-layered trance experience while in sobriety”.

      For the Hungry Boy is a rich narrative which takes you through the various layers of human emotions. At certain points, you may start to question if any of what you are seeing or feeling is real. And the dance movements make you wonder how the human body can move in such a way.

      Perhaps that is the point of the work — to take us beyond what “seems to be”, to remind us that sometimes we are “forced” to be or even “feel” a certain way due to our circumstances, that such reactions and emotions can be transient and left undefined.

      Most importantly, it is a reminder to move beyond the traditional “judgment process” of others and search for the core of who they are and what sustains them.

      While the foundation of the friendship between Paul and Mourad is beautifully simple — a handshake, a shared love of breakdance and 20 years of bonding — their new creation is anything but simple.

      Mourad once expressed: “I want freedom. I want to find the freedom to carry my speech and my dance all over the world, I want to have the freedom to create, the freedom to help people grow with me, freedom to be and care for others, freedom to exist among all, in respect and love.

      “It is all about freedom and love, I believe.”

      To that, I say, cheers to the paradoxical beauty in life. To freedom and respect. To giving and receiving.  And to growing old together and feeling young.

      ACNO

      @acnoproject

      https://www.acnoproject.com

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