Meet our Leg Uppers - Romain Hassanin
Name: Romain Hassanin
Artistic Training/Skills: Parkour, Contemporary Dance, Capoeira, Breaking, Martial Arts Tricking, Drawing (hopelessly average at it but I enjoy it).
Born: Paris, France
Grew up: Savigny- le- Temple, France and Johannesburg, South Africa
Influences: There have been so many friends and peers that have shared, influenced and taught me things along the way but there are too many to mention, however they played a big role nonetheless, as a teacher Adam Wheeler has probably had the most influence on me. I am very grateful to have met them.
I really enjoy the readings and philosophy of Nietzsche, although his stuff is rather extreme at times I really like his notion of the ‘uber mensch’ (the modern take on it today being the obsession with super heroes). However, Nietzsche’s version is humans who have surpassed themselves, are independent and self-actualised. The idea that people are capable of surpassing themselves and attaining ‘self-efficacy’ to become the ‘uber’ part of themselves is very powerful.
Of all the cultures you've been living in, can you tell us a bit about each that you cherish?
Yes! From France the thing I appreciate the most is the honesty, not that everywhere else is particularly dishonest but the French just have a way of telling you how it is. The passion too, there is no mistaking that the French are a passionate people. In South Africa there is a form of toughness that people have and develop from a place with a racial and violent history, alpha predators on the land and in the water and 11 official languages. In Australia there is a humour and relaxed nature that seems to be around that I do enjoy, ‘she’ll be right mate’, it’s a nice atmosphere to be around, and the country itself is a beautiful place.
What is it about parkour and its physicality that you love? How was it like when you first started?
There’s an element of freedom felt within parkour that sucked me in initially, not being tied to boundaries to move (both financially but also within a physical space). But as the learning curve plateaued I find that it is the ethos of the practice that I connect with, such as the focus on longevity: don’t do one jump on a fly that will break you and never practice again, instead come back six months from now (or however long it takes you) after focused training and do the jump three times, in doing so you are setting up for a long practice. How was it when I started? well my legs were sore for the first few months from all the jumping and landings! I was a bit like a kid in a sweet shop, I wanted it all right now, and I wanted to do everything now because I was attracted to the physicality of it and the brute power from the jumps and the vaults and scaling walls so fast.
What aspects or themes have you enjoyed researching and exploring in your practises... and why?
I started formal dance training relatively late. I fell into contemporary dance through friends and found myself connecting to it, where I then decided to do formalised training. My interests are largely movement driven and largely encompassed by movement research due to experiences in other movement based disciplines. I am curious about movement acquisition and the ways in which one stores polarised movement information in the body, for example the polarity of the physical power from say acrobatics versus the softer nature of contemporary practice. I’ve enjoyed researching aspects of a softer movement quality too, a quality that isn’t necessarily considered strong, powerful or inherently masculine, as having options I think is a powerful tool.
What would the first work of your company be like? what could it be called? what would its intention be?
The company would probably be called ‘creaky knees’ or some sort of anatomical ailment because I like the idea of embracing limitations, as a physical performer (and I speak only for myself) you never really are at 100%, there’s always some sort of niggle or slight fatigue or physical imbalance, or previous injury you’re managing, so you just have to work with how you’re feeling each day. I think ageing is also linked to that, how does your practice and movement change as you get older? Do you roll with the changes? I think that’s interesting too in a western society where we are obsessed with staying youthful
The physicality of the work would be raw, highly physical but also precise, with moments of slowness, isolation and control. I think trying to marry the notion of athlete and artist is something of a theme that will be present. That’s as much as I can picture for the moment.
What has brought you to Legs On The Wall?
I did an audition at the company in early 2018, which was my first interaction with Legs. I got a feel for the company and really enjoyed the atmosphere of the company, it was a very welcoming environment. I did know of them before that and that’s why I decided to travel up. The company makes very diverse works and I really wanted to learn from them. The combination of high physicality and varied style drew me in.