French dancer-choreographer Martin Harriague presents his production ‘Black Pulp’ on April 13

Dancer, choreographer, composer and costume designer Martin Harriague ensures that all his talents are synchronised to fine tune his dance performances. Director of Compagnie (Company) Xin, based in Bordeaux, France, he performs ‘Black Pulp’, a contemporary dance production in the city. ‘Black Pulp’ was premiered at the Festival de Danse de Cannes and selected for the 7th International Copenhagen Choreography Competition. In an email interview, 28-year-old Martin talks about the production, his company, and his connect with India. Excerpts:

Formation of Company Xin

I was working in the dance troupe Noord Nederlandse Dans in Netherlands when it shut down due to shortage of funds. I took a risk and formed a new company last year. While we were searching for a name for the company, I happened to go to Malaysia with a friend and there I saw a Bharatanatyam dance performance in Kuala Lumpur. It was incredible to see a 21-year-old Chinese girl dancing for more than two hours. Next day, we saw her performing a solo contemporary dance. Unfortunately, she fell down in between her performance. She was bleeding profusely but stood up and kept on dancing. Later we heard that she got 32 stitches on her forehead! Her name was Xin Yan. Her versatility, tenacity, and courage inspired me so much that I decided to use her name for my company.

‘Black Pulp’

Having lost a job, friends and a lover after the closure of Noord Nederlandse Dans, I wanted to express my anger and sadness but at the same time deliver a message of hope. Thus ‘Black Pulp’ was born. I didn’t want to simply entertain and make the audience laugh. It is a dark piece but full of hope.

The team

I wanted to create ‘Black Pulp’ for two dancers, but slowly it became a four-dancer piece. Solos, duos, and ensembles were used to express in a very abstract way the symbiosis between the two lovers or the manipulation, domination and anger of each other. But for the Indian tour, we have a duet version, which is less abstract. I am performing with a female dancer whom I met in Israel. I believe it is more in tune with the Indian culture and perception of what a love relationship can be. In fact, I recently read the Ramayana and I was touched by the emotional state of Sita and Rama and how they overcame difficulties.

Why the name ‘Black Pulp’?

It refers to the duality of a relationship: on the bright side, it is luscious and succulent like the pulp of a fruit and on the other side, it can bring mixed feelings and despite your will, the darkest side of you can appear.

Wearing the hats of a dancer, choreographer, composer and costume designer

Music, costume and set are essential, and the right combination of all those elements can make an aesthetic and powerful stage performance. When I composed for ‘Black Pulp’ it helped me express easily all my thoughts and feelings I had in mind during the creation process. While doing the choreography, I was free to adapt the music according to movements. It was the same case with the costumes. However, what is most enjoyable for me is the universe I create and why I create it, not how.

Being in India

It is our first trip to India. Our first performance is in Delhi and then we are performing in Thiruvananthapuram, Bangalore, and Hyderabad as part of the Festival DanSe DialogueS, organised by the French Institute in India. Kerala has an ancient culture of dancing and it will be a challenge for us to entertain the audience as the techniques are quite different. However, I know Indian audience is open-minded and curious and ‘Black Pulp’ is about love which is a universal theme. I look forward to interact with Indian artistes, especially those in Kerala and hope to meet Kathakali artistes.

‘Black Pulp’ will be staged at University Senate Hall on April 13 at 6.30 p.m. Alliance Francaise de Trivandrum organises the event.