No article of clothing has given rise to so much debate in recent years as the hijab. And not least of all in France, home to Héla Fattoumi. One day she decided to put on a veil and investigate this hotly-debated garment from the inside…by trying to dance in it.
In Manta, choreographers Héla Fattoumi and Éric Lamoureux take on a controversial subject - the Islamic veil or hijab. In a loaded solo - in which Fattoumi herself is the dancer - they conjure up images of claustrophobia, pride and liberation. The pair borrowed the title of the performance from the awe-inspiring sea creature of the same name.
Héla Fattoumi currently lives in Paris, but grew up in Tunis. As a child, she played with her female relatives' veils, but as an adult, has never wanted to wear one herself. In fact, quite the opposite. Fattoumi has rather felt upset when she has encountered veiled women.
She describes herself as an Arab woman shaped by two cultures.
"I am convinced that no pretext or context can justify the wearing of a garment that has a negative effect on the body. The body is, after all, a tool for expressing oneself and initiating contact with the surrounding world."
This is an attitude that applies to everyone, not just to dancers, Fattoumi believes.
"In the end, I took the risk and bought one of these garments, put it on and placed myself inside it, in order to see how it felt. The sensations began to wash over me, guiding and leading me. I realised then that it was with my body that I needed to seek and to investigate. To just stand still, to risk a movement, a step, a dance. I was now ready to create an artistic act based on this item of clothing."
Choreography: Héla Fattoumi, Éric Lamoureux
Music & video: Éric Lamoureux
Costumes/Tissues: Marilyne Lafay
Set design: Stéphane Pauvret
Lighting: Xavier Lazarini
Building set: Jackie Baux
Assistantship: Pauline Le Boulba
Performer: Héla Fattoumi
Production: Centre Chorégraphique de Caen/Basse-Normandie (CCNC/BN)
Coproduction: Festival Montpellier Danse 2009, LiFE - Lieu international des Formes Emergentes de Saint Nazaire
Presented through Dansnät Sverige
Photo by: Laurent