Busting a groove with German dancers

Yasmin Bauer and Ralph Christian Leiser talk about dance, urban movement, their experience in Karachi


Saadia Qamar December 16, 2016
German dancers Amelia Spencer, Yasmin Bauer and Ralph Christian Leiser helped polish the dancing and performing skills of about 120 young girls and women. PHOTO: COURTESY GOETHE INSITUT

KARACHI: Put on your dancing shoes and prepare to groove with three German dancers and performers - Amelia Spencer, Yasmin Bauer and Ralph Christian Leiser.

The three dancers visited the city last week for the Girl Power project, a collaborative venture by Goethe Institut and Alliance Française de Karachi, to polish the skills of about 120 young girls and women and teach them about urban and artistic movement.

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In their interview with The Express Tribune, Bauer and Leiser shared their experience of the city of lights and working with the emerging talent. Spencer declined to talk as she felt she could not express herself in the English language.

Talking about her experience, 28-year-old Bauer remarked, "It [feels] great to be here."  Adding to this, Leiser said, "We have visited most parts of the world but this is our first trip to South Asia."

Every time you visit a new place, it leaves an impression on you, he said. "In Karachi, there is a lot of traffic on the road and you get to see rickshaws and a lot of truck art in here," he said. On this, an excited Bauer chipped in and said, "[Yes,] truck art [here] is wow."

Thirty-five-year-old Leiser remarked that one thing that has left a lasting impression on him is the way people dress in the city. "You visit any shopping mall and [so many] people are dressed in an ethnic fashion," he said.  On the other hand, for Bauer what stands out is the spicy food. When asked if the food is a bit too spicy for their taste buds, she said, "No, food is great. We love it."

Sharing her opinion regarding the type of people she met in Karachi, Bauer said that Karachiites are very warm-hearted people. "They make you feel very comfortable and welcomed."

However, Leiser's perception is a little different. "They are pretty welcoming faces," he said. "But the first time they look at you it was as if they have never seen a human face before." However, the people of the city were quiet welcoming no matter where we went, he added. "There was not a single person who approached us in a negative manner."

Empowering girls

Explaining the aim of the training and workshops, Leiser remarked that it is not just about dance. "It is [about] teaching the girls about urban and artistic movement. It's all about expressing yourself and in the meanwhile getting to know your body." They have to learn to be conscious about their body, weight and anatomy, he added.

"Through solo movements [of people] and body postures, we realise how people like to partner up and perform," he said.

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Sharing her experience of working with the young participants, Bauer said that she noticed that the girls were quiet energetic and happy to explore new things.

Leiser noted that, while performing the girls tended to giggle and laugh a lot. "However, when we asked them to stop [chuckling], we discovered that they depicted new emotions aside the twinkle in their eyes."

Speaking on dance movement, Leiser said "[It is] more individualistic and has less cultural inhibitions." In the beginning, we were quiet sceptical as to how we will teach the girls, he said, adding that they soon discovered it and got comfortable with it. "It was like taking [and] eating an unknown morsel, not knowing how it would taste, but slowly you get familiar with the taste."

Published in The Express Tribune, December 17th, 2016.

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