La Tigressa Takes Down Her Prey in the Ring
Anais Lalange is a talented 24 year old multidisciplinary artist. She is a philosopher, a performance artist, she plays viola, makes collages…However, what makes her exceptional is that she wrestles as part of Lucha Britannia and has been training at the London School of Lucha Libre where is taught a mixture of Mexican style of wrestling that can be quite acrobatic with the classic British style. ‘Lucha Britannia is very unique, it is similar to Lucha Libre as we often wear masks and it is very theatrical, colourful.. We have ring girls in sexy latex costumes, someone commenting in the ring…’, says Anais.
Opposite to what many people think a female wrestler would look like, she is compact brute force. ‘You don’t need to be skinny to wrestle but there can be gymnastics involved and the more athletic you are, the easier it gets on the ring to do certain moves.’
The professional shows of Lucha Britannia as well as the training of the LSLL, take place at the Resistance Gallery, in one of the arches by Bethnal Green station. Going through this arch is like entering a whole different world. This is not in London anymore. This is a group of people sharing a unique experience. The audience gets together to support or to boo the wrestlers. And these wrestlers are not themselves anymore but the characters they are representing. ‘Apart from fighting you need to have performing skills. Some wrestlers talk to the audience to make them hate or like their characters’, explains Anais. The audience gets into the mood, they are also part of the show. ‘At the beginning of a show, you are asked if you want to hear the noise of the breaking bones. And every time a cheer rise back from the audience at this question.’
Having said this, don’t be too scared, the shows are choreographed. ‘Some people think that because the ending is predetermined that we don’t get hurt. If you can pretend some punches, however, you cannot give the illusion of a fall. You fall for real, on a ring that is just composed of a thin layer of wood and a mat. Falls and bumps are inevitable and cannot be faked. This is why our bodies get shattered after a while. Our backs take a lot of impact from bumps as well as pretty much every joints (particularly ankles, knees and shoulders).’
‘Training and building our bodies strengths and exercises like neck bridges are primordial as they can be live saving. Bruises and aches are our lot after every matches or training but it is generally taken away by the joy of it all.’
‘Paradoxically wrestling makes you feel alive. You can even see people walking differently after a few months practising because of the confidence they gained.’
Wrestlers practice their moves not only to keep fit but to find an harmony with the person they are fighting against. ‘You need to be musical in a way, to get a sense of rhythm in the ring. You need to get your timing right with the other wrestlers. A few seconds too late and you can end up dropping some one on their end.’
Each character of Lucha Britannia has its own storyline that evolves through the matches. As Anais explains ‘La Tigressa came to life because one of the existing character, ‘Tiger’ was in need of a companion’. Anais designed the costume for La Tigressa and ‘when the promoters saw it they encouraged me to develop that character.’ Lately there was only one other regular female wrestler on the show, Janey Britannico, and another feminine presence was needed.
Wrestling is exceptional because it involves many disciplines including choreography and acrobatics. Anais is exceptional too. Her combination of different skills allows her to be creative in different mediums. As an athletic person she can fight on the ring. She uses her performance skills not only as ‘La Tigressa’ for Lucha Britannia but she works on her own live art performances and for or with other artists on diverse artistic projects. She creates collages and when she has the opportunity she plays viola and record parts for bands.
Anais’ mixture of abilities makes her a unique artist. Follow her performances in Lucha Britannia here.
video by Amy Obarski