Mascha Tielemans has African blood running trough her veins. She calls Africa home. Without any doubt. The smell, the rawness and dance makes her want to live there. Mascha is a passionate dancer, dance teacher, Applied Psychologist, owner of dance studio MAS&CO., choreographer and she currently attends to a course to become a dance therapist. She has the capability to translate every emotion coming form dance into perfect words. Both to herself as to others, because to her the body speaks. Always. The body tells you everything you have to know and dance can set this free.
After months of preparation, Sunday 17th of April 2016 it finally happened: the performance of HUMAN - choreographed by Mascha Tielemans in cooperation with the other dancers. I simply had to invite her for an interview, because what drives this woman? Why this devotion to dance?
“The performance was absolutely beautiful! I’m still on my pink cloud. I’m so impressed by the commitment of all the people involved, their enthusiasm and of course the great respons. Guests were moved to tears. I can’t imagine a bigger compliment. The performance was inspired by the documentary HUMAN, in which different people from around the world, were questioned on topics like: love, happiness and money. I created this dance together with my soul mate Marsha Simon and in cooperation with other dancers. In terms of location, we were certain it had to be carried out somewhere outdoors. Soon there was a nice collaboration with Frank and Merel from Veerkwartier in Haarlem. A beautiful catering facility with a large lake in front. A symbolic landscape where seven different ‘tribes’ performed their dance. These tribes danced matching rituals based on a trait: the energiser, illuminator, seducer, connector, warrior, supporter or leader. The audience was placed amid these rituals. Surrounded by groups of dancers. We stood on the roof of the restaurant, in the water, on the grass and in the sand. Everywhere you could see dancers. A great show with an overwhelming energy filling the open space.”
Mascha tells me that the performance consists of a combination of hiphop, modern- and African dance. Especially when she talks about the African dance, she starts to glow. She starts to talk even more with her hands and her story becomes even more vivid.
“African dance has captured my heart. It’s raw, powerful and has a pronounced body and voice expression. I still remember a collaboration with Stedenband Haarlem-Mutare back in 2006, were I traveled to Zimbabwe. It was like coming home for the first time. As if I finally knew where I was supposed to be. Since then, African dance is an important part of my life. It makes me stand with both feet full on the ground."
“Besides all this, African dance - combined with my current education for dance therapy - has taught me how I can listen to my body even better than I used to. Because of some bad experiences in the past, I used to pay little attention to that. I used to be tough, strict with myself and I set my goals extremely high. I judged myself, danced straight through the injuries I had and ignored all boundaries. But that’s slowly changing. I’m starting to discover a gentler part of myself. I allow myself to just be and to show myself completely to others. Full surrender. By putting my feet down firmly to the ground and by moving my body in a natural way, I can connect this new gentle energy with the power and expression that comes with dancing. This creates a combination of compassion and strength, tenderness and expression. A proces that fortunately brought back my joy and pleasure in dance."
For the time being Mascha will continue running her dansstudio MAS&CO. while dreaming of a life in which she will help traumatised war victims. Using dance therapy. Because through movement and voice expression, certain emotions can be expressed that can’t be communicated in words. The body remembers everything and dancing is a great way to create some kind of safety, to connect with trauma and to process it.
Text: Maartje Grond
Photo's: Daniel Maissan
Video: Haerlems bodem