A La Maniere De: A Battle for Inclusion
Laura Nala is a twenty-six-year-old hip-hop dancer from Paris. She’s been dancing across her hometown for as long as she can remember. And now, with her new all-inclusive dance battle A La Maniere De, she wants to give back to the city that raised her.
Laura Nala began dancing at such a young age that she’s been known to regard dance as her ‘mother’—it’s not just her job, it shapes her whole being. Its teachings are at the heart of everything she does.
Pursuing her passion, Laura has worked her way up the international hip-hop ladder at great speed. A semi-finalist in international dance competition Juste Debout in 2010 aged just 17, she held her own against both male and female opponents with decades of experience.
Laura went on to become the only female member of the renowned French dance collective Criminalz and now dances with Undercover and Swaggers too. But she’s also a seasoned performer in her own right, performing independently in musicals and live events across Europe.
And while Laura might fast be becoming a global name with a huge following, the success hasn’t gone to her head. She remains down to earth: thankful to her roots and the community that raised her—and keen to give back.
Laura teaches workshops across Paris, sharing the extensive knowledge and experience she’s accumulated. Bringing incredible dance moments to her community is what she strives for; to help young people express themselves and allow them their opportunity to shine.
“If we mix cultures, styles and communities together, we can be unified as one. If we’re all together – and stick together – we’re going to be stronger, and we’ll make something stronger.”
A huge part of this mission is one of Laura’s most important projects to date: A La Maniere De (ALMD), a dance battle she founded in 2018. Having taken part in so many battles in her career, Laura knows better than anyone the power these competitions have to inspire dancers. They serve as a space for dancers to come together not only to compete, but to meet and collaborate—and, importantly, to learn from their peers.
And with ALMD, Laura hopes to take this atmosphere of one unified, collaborative community even further by making it open to all. Not only is it open to all dance disciplines (from ballet and street to jazz and hip-hop) but it’s open to people from all socio-economic backgrounds. “I want it to be free for everyone, so everyone can enjoy the moment together—without thinking, ‘I can’t go, I don’t have the money,’” she says. “I want it to be as accessible as possible so we can all create joy together.”
Laura says she started ALMD for people to improve their capacity “to go beyond what they can do.” And with Laura’s strong set of ideals for the battle, there’s no limits on who can learn and improve; there aren’t social or financial barriers in anyone’s way—everyone is welcome. Even the judges, who set their own theme for each round, are from different backgrounds and industries.
For Laura, it’s this bringing together of people from all walks of life that creates the very best of her artform. “It’s a way to push dancers further and to mix different communities together in the same place,” Laura explains. “If we mix cultures, styles and communities together, we can be unified as one. If we’re all together – and stick together – we’re going to be stronger, and we’ll make something stronger.”
Amidst all of the philosophising surrounding her discipline and dreams, Laura always keeps grounded. “It’s entertainment,” she laughs. “Dancing, or watching dancing—it makes people happy. Dancing makes everything more beautiful.”