Watch: Ashley Lobo talks about his show Agni, Bollywood and dance as an art

Bollywood's ace choreographer Ashley Lobo spoke with great candour about his dance theatre company and the technique he developed

Fire is something that destroys and makes way for something new, something thatAshley Lobo swears by. The ace choreographer of Bollywood started a contemporary dance repertory company- Navdhara India Dance Theatre, which is making all the right noises. The dance theatre has over 5000 students, and all of them seem dedicated to it. But, NIDT is unlike any other theatre group. It doesn’t force you to think of its stories in a certain way. Instead, it is all left to interpretation. This abstract form of dance has become possible owing to the technique of Prana Paint™.

What is Prana Paint™ you ask? It is a technique where dancers explore movements through connectivity, yoga, breathing and touch. Ashley Lobo and his team of young dancers gave a sneak peek into this dance from in the show Agni.

The dancers prefer to call him Guru, not teacher. They rehearsed for 12-15 hours straight for months to perfect the 60-minute long performance. Their energy stayed unmatchable throughout and they credit Ashley Lobo for it.

Post the mesmerising show that got a standing ovation, spoke to Ashley and his team in the green room. Excerpts from the interview:

Tell us something about Agni?

Agni is fire and for me fire means passion. I think when you are passionate you create and in creating sometimes you destroy. I think when I am talking about Agni, I am also talking about numerous aspects of fire.

What is Prana Paint™ all about?

Prana Paint is a technique that we created. It is based on breath and sensitization as in using breath and skin. It is about moving through breath and sensation. So Prana is breath and paint is painting and it could be anything. You paint the floor or another dancer’s body.

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What prompted you to star Navdhara India Dance Theatre (NIDT)?

I think NIDT happened by accident. For a longer perspective, did I want to start something like this? Yes. That was the idea when I came to India. My ballet master from Israel saw small pieces and he suggested that we should form a professional company. Somehow, things started falling into places and here we are.

I have always felt that in India, what is represented overseas is Indian classical, folk or Bollywood. There is a new India that is emerging and that doesn’t have any representation. The language which we speak here is a global language, it is not an Indian language. The audience for this kind of dance is already built up but the philosophical content will always be Indian.

You seem to have quite the connection with Imtiaz Ali, you have worked with him in many films. Are there any creative clashes?

Imtiaz and I are very good friends. I think more than colleagues we are buddies. And creatively we started working together ages ago and I think we kind of connect on the fact that the truth is important. It is more about getting it right than about who is right. Of course, there are creative clashes because he has a perspective, I have a perspective. But at the end, we think about the project we are on and make changes accordingly.

Ashely Lob and Imtiaz Ali (Courtesy: Twitter/@_AshleyLobo)

Ashely Lob and Imtiaz Ali (Courtesy: Twitter/@_AshleyLobo)

Speaking of Bollywood and dance, do you think the film industry has not exploited dance as an art form?

Ashley: I think the time will come. There have been a few films that have done that.I think predominantly in Bollywood what has been happening is you have a film that is totally about dance and the storyline is very thin or you have films that have stories and the dance is just superficially planted to sell the film.

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You also worked with Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma. Tell us something about it

It was fun.