“We are very complementary, like a yin and yang”

Dancing twins Les Mybalés

Nathalie and Doris Bokongo Nkumo are both 27 years old and live in Sint-Gillis. They started dancing House in 2010 in Gare du Luxembourg, which was a place where a lot of dancers came together to train. Now they are professional dancers, currently performing their piece ‘À travers l’autre’ in theatres: on the seventh of October they will be performing part of it at Mindblowers: The Time is Now.

How did you get into the world of dancing?

Nathalie: “In Gare du Luxembourg we met loads of other dancers and really loved the interactions and different styles of dancing we saw there. There was one dancer in particular that really helped form the other dancers and by practicing a lot, we evolved slowly but surely. We started with freestyling and afterwards we took classes to improve our technique. Besides that, we also did some workshops and travelled to discover even more. For example, we went to New York and Senegal (for two weeks) for the traditional dance they have over there. Today we still partake in competitions such as dance battles. We actually just won one in London called ‘Juste Debout’.”

Doris: “We also got to work with a lot of different artists. One of which was Ersan Mondtag. We got a part in his play called ‘De Living’. We love being in touch with the dance scene and meet a lot of different people, to gain more experience in our field.”

“We don’t just do whatever, we really have a clear idea of what we want to accomplish with our dance”

Doris: “When we first started, we just loved dancing. But when doing it more and more and for longer, an interest grew to become professionals and to discover new universes in the world of dance. We wanted to travel and collaborate more to form ourselves as dancers and most of all we wanted to create. Our first taste of creation came to be during the project ‘Seven step’, this really inspired us to create our own piece of work. So, we worked for an entire year to create ‘À travers l’autre’.”

What is your favourite dance performance you have seen so far?

Both: “A piece called ‘In the Middle’, by a French group of hip-hop dancers called ‘Swaggers’. It really made us go ‘wow’ because of the cool concept and also because it was full of women who used very powerful moves. It was choreographed by Marion Motin, who we also got the pleasure to work with.”

What does the process of making a choreography look like?

Doris: “The first thing we do is sit down and discuss what we would like to talk about, what the theme of the piece will be. A subject that resonates with us or one we would like to defend. The next thing we will do is research on this subject on the internet, in books or in conversations with other people. After assembling all this information, we take them into the rehearsing space and try to interpret them through dancing. We don’t just do whatever, we really have a clear idea of what we want to accomplish with our dance.”

Is it sometimes difficult to work with your sister?

Both: “Yes, there are some difficulties.”

Nathalie: “I like working with my twin, because I know her very well. When she doesn’t like something, I can tell right away. Because of our strong connection, my sister will also get what I’m trying to do with a specific movement during dance. But of course sometimes there are difficulties. It’s just the two of us and there isn’t someone else to give us direction. So, when we can’t agree on something, we have to find a middle ground and compromise.”

Doris: “It’s also nice to work together because our relationship is almost fusion-like. Both in dance and in life. But this also means we often have the same energy in dance, so we need some time to find other energy to come back together afterwards. Because when we’re always together, we have no new things to say to each other or new ideas. We’ve known one another from in the womb, so it’s sometimes needed to do some things separately, to really be able to find yourself. People have a tendency to view twins as one and the same person but in reality we’re two separate people.”

Nathalie: “Sometimes I think people are afraid to come and talk to us or be with us because there are already two of us and they don’t want to break the ‘evenness’. This could also be seen as a negative side of being sisters and twins.”

“One morning of the fourth grade, we switched classes. Nobody noticed until after lunch”

Is your family supportive of your work?

Nathalie: “At first they weren’t really supportive; they wanted us to study. We could dance but after our courses. But when they saw how motivated we were, they began accepting it little by little. Now they support us a lot and it has really helped to become even more certain of ourselves and our goals. Our big sister is our biggest fan, she is always there. Only our mother hasn’t been able to come and see our last performance and we really want her to, because it truly represents us.”

Do you often get compared to your sister?

Nathalie: “Yes, people tend to do that. When people that don’t know us want to find out who is Doris and who is Nathalie, they have to make a comparison. Our family on the other hand doesn’t do that because they know us and they know what makes us different. I don’t like it when we get compared because there is no real point of doing it, we both have our own qualities.”

Doris: “Because there are two of us, a comparison is more easily made. I think it’s most often done unconsciously. When we’re dancing together it’s easier for people to spot differences in our movements because we look so much alike.”

Nathalie: “When we were young, our mom dressed us in the exact same outfit, so we looked almost identical. One morning of the fourth grade, without really thinking about it or talking about it up front, we switched classes. Nobody noticed until after lunch, when our best friends started to feel that something was up. Not long after that, the teachers were up to speed and they got a bit angry with us and called our parents.”

What are your sister’s best qualities?

Doris: “Nathalie really takes her time to reflect on things and therefore always comes back with good ideas.”

Nathalie: “What I like a lot about Doris is her precision. It ensures a clean rendering of our work. She’s better at seeing details than I am.”

Doris: “We are very complementary, like a yin and yang.”

Mindblowers: The Time Is Now. Monday October 7th, 6 pm at KVS: https://www.kvs.be/en/agenda/154/VUB_KVS/MINDBLOWERS_THE_TIME_IS_NOW/
Tickets are still available at the reception of KVS, on the evening of the event.

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