The oriental dance actress suffers for her profession
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (Hollywood Reporter) – When Franco-Moroccan director Nabil Ayouch sought the lead role in the oriental dance romance “Whatever Lola Wants”, he auditioned around 300 dancers.
But he ended up choosing Laura Ramsey, an actress based in Los Angeles with no dance experience.
Lola is a postwoman from Brooklyn who follows a boyfriend to Cairo before deciding to train as a belly dancer and become a star. The role meant a period of intense training for Ramsey to master jazz and oriental dance.
The filmmakers sent Ramsey to train in Casablanca, Morocco’s largest city, where the film would primarily shoot. “I went there on my own. Basically I became Lola. I lived (in a) Arab world and learned about their culture, and I love it, ”says Ramsey.
Ramsey moved into an apartment in Casablanca and came under the tutelage of oriental dance teacher Melinda Jillet. “I lived with 1,000 cockroaches and danced six days a week for six or seven hours a day,” she recalls. “At the start (of the film) it’s jazz, and jazz is so technical. Bellydance is the exact opposite, ”says Ramsey.
“Your knees are bent, your hands are sinking, everything is moving. This makes it difficult to distinguish between the bottom half and the top half, so the bottom half allows you to move while the top half sinks. This is the hardest workout you have ever done in your life! “
“I will never forget the blood on his feet,” Ayouch says, confirming Ramsey’s full commitment to mastering eastern gyrations.
The actress also traveled to Cairo to meet famous Egyptian belly dancer Aida Noor and visit cabarets on the Nile.
Once that all falls into place, instinct takes over, Ramsey says. “It’s like an out-of-body experience. You lose all inhibitions. When you dance there is no right or wrong. People are fascinated by it. It is the most beautiful and sensual dance in the world.
Considering the curvaceous figure required to perform the dance, the role had a definite advantage. “I showed up to the movie so skinny and they said, ‘Welcome to Morocco. Now we’re going to have to fatten you up. It’s nicer to have something to shake, ”says Ramsey, who stars in the thriller“ The Ruins ”, now in theaters, and has just finished the indie movie“ Street, ”in which she plays a girl without- shelter.
Ramsey visited the Dubai International Film Festival in December for the premiere of “Lola”. Pathé is releasing the film in France next week, when paying audiences can find out exactly what Lola wants.
Reuters / Hollywood reporter