Mother says I was a dancer before I could walk…go the lyrics of an ABBA number from yesteryear; they could very well be what Naya Binghi’s parents say about her.
“I started dancing when I was really young; by the time I was three I was already swaying to the music and attending beginners’ classes,” says the Israeli dancer, who was recently in the city. “I would be dancing all the time at home, putting on shows and performances for friends and family.”
Naya recalls a family trip to Madrid, Spain. “It was the first time we saw a traditional flamenco tablao — it’s a rather intimate club setting where you can see the dancer on stage up close.”
“Towards the end of a show, it’s customary to have a ‘fin de fiesta’ or finale and I do it too, at the close of my shows today. The artistes invite members from the audience to join in, and in this moment, that flamenco dancer was looking at me, asking me to come on to the stage.”
“Though I was very excited, I didn’t join her because I was in a new country, but the intimacy of that moment still remains with me. The confidence and attention that dancer lavished on me, a child of five, mesmerised me and attracted me to this dance form,” says Naya.
Once back in Israel, her parents set about looking for a teacher who could go beyond the basics of dance, someone who would impart the nuances of movement to her. “They found a very beautiful, very interesting teacher who let me sit in on one of her classes. After the session, she asked me what I thought and I said, ’I’m Naya and I want to be a dancer.’ I was just six years old and all she said was, ‘Alright, I believe you’.”
Naya says her teacher, Zohar Yael Asaf, was a flamenco dancer who was based out of Israel and taught the dance form to all age groups, depending on their skill and not their age. “Values, goodwill and music — you can find all of these when you learn flamenco. That’s how I started on this art form, but around the time I turned 13, I was fascinated by Israeli contemporary dance. It was edgy, political and social all at once. I was interested in this open-minded manner of moving one’s body and began training in contemporary dance.”
However, the call of flamenco proved too hard to resist and when she was 18, Naya travelled to Seville in Spain to undertake traditional training to become a flamenco expert. “I was also part of a dance company in Israel for three years and by the time I was 23, I was focusing on blending contemporary and flamenco dance forms.”
Now five years later, Naya has developing a personal dance language which is a contemporary art form that draws from the traditional ways. “It’s like one body speaking many languages that can be understood by everyone,” says Naya, who has been sharing her work with other dancers for the past two years.
“I love to work with dancers, but I do enjoy meeting different people. For a while, I worked with a group of women who all had members of their families suffering from some form of mental illness, to share in their solidarity. It’s amazing how art and flamenco can help people deal with various issues. Art does not come from the stage; it comes from people and their surroundings. Movement is for everyone and I believe these fun group events can be therapeutic and I help whenever I get a chance.”
Her desire to make dance more than just a leisurely form of movement set to music, has led Naya into creating a series of short films conveying the intensity of human emotions.
Titled HISIN15, the second episode in the One Moment Before series, centres on bittersweet feelings one experiences “before leaving a place that you love, for a future that you are looking forward to and that you know you will love too”. “In these moments you feel sad, but happy at the same time. My work attempts to encapsulate how contradictory emotions can live together in one moment.”
The video dance short film is a collaborative work devoid of conversation and comprises original music; it was featured at the Manifest Dance-Film Festival held in Puducherry from July 28 to 30.
The first episode in the series captured the tumult of four women in the waiting room of a gynecologist. “It captures their emotions before undertaking an extremely difficult decision.” Naya hopes the series is made into a movie sometime in the future.
The movement artiste, who was here courtesy the General Consulate of Israel to South India, shuttles between Seville and Tel Aviv, and was excited to visit India again. “This was my first trip to South India. A few years ago, I was in North India and my experience was so strong, I wanted to be part of this energy again. Flamenco’s gypsy connections has Indian roots and I know I can learn a lot from the dancers I meet here.”
What is a tablao? (OPTIONAL)
A tablao is where flamenco shows are performed; it also refers to the platform on which the dances take place. Tablaos are usually decorated with embroidered shawls and bullfighting accessories such as capes. Depending on the location and structure of the establishment, a tablao could either serve drinks and tapas or entire meals.