A collective surviving through punk
Brussels-based twins Doris and Nathalie Bokongo Nkumu, aka dance duo Les Mybalés, embrace the power of movement and challenge their artistic practice with the deep complicity and shared history that is embedded in their sisterly bond. We talked about their transition from hip hop dance battles to theatre productions and the perks of interconnective collaboration.
Interview by Weronika Zalewska
Photos by Aurélie Bayad, shot in Brussels
We’re inspired by all things out there; by the people we meet, their energies and ideas
You’ve been deeply embedded in the international dance scene. How do you experience the transition from dance battles to practicing within a theatre context?
We’re completely embracing this transition as it brought us new knowledge such as the methodology of working with emotion, intention and interpretation. For example, in our theatre residencies we’re working in depth on several stages of emotions and taking into account every element of context and history. Additionally, our perception of movement has evolved. It became more mature, larger and multidimensional. However, it’s important for us to keep a link between these two different but inseparable worlds as they both bring out something strong. What happens during a battle can be very useful when creating a dance performance.
Can you tell us about De Living, your new collaboration with Ersan Mondtag?
De Living is a story about a woman (or two women) coming home and committing suicide – or is it the other way around? – that questions the conditions of the mysterious complexity of a woman’s final hour. It is a production of NTGent and a collaboration between us and the German director Ersan Mondtag. We’d never worked with him before which roused our curiosity as we were interested in his approach. For us, discussions, reflections and sharing ideas are a way to become aware of what’s happening and what will happen. It generates a receptiveness in our bodies and minds. Ersan is continuously making sure that we are all in symbiosis so that the project can take shape. He involves us and is calling us the authors of the project.
How do you experience your connection as twin sisters while working together?
The connection we have is natural and has always been there since we grew simultaneously within our mother’s womb. Strangely enough, putting this connection into words complicates it. Without a doubt our connection empowers our practice. While working together we both have our own ideas yet we are focusing on expressing our common visions.
Ersan is continuously making sure that we are all in symbiosis so that the project can take shape
Would you say that interconnection is a force that allows you to create with more awareness?
In our opinion, working interconnected with one or more people brings strength and depth into a creation process because it develops your ability to see further. Yet, interconnectivity does not hold you back from developing your own consciousness.
What are your current inspirations?
At the moment we don’t have any fixed sources of inspiration. We’re inspired by all things out there; by the people we meet, their energies and ideas. In our artistic journeys as well as our lives we try to be open to different influences.
Any plans for the future?
Our plan for the future is simple: to excel in our art.
Les Mybalés will perform De Living
at NTGent Arca, Ghent on the 16th of May.
Free for Subbacultcha members. Join us here.