Karyn Benquet (1979) was born in Port-Gentil, Gabon. She studied dance in France at Jeune Ballet Méditerranéen and Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris.
Since graduating in 1999, she has performed around the world with dance companies such as Grand Theatre de Genève and Les Ballets de Monte Carlo.
She is currently a member of the Nederlands Dans Theater in The Hague, and is also developing as a choreographer through a variety of collaborative projects.
I have moved several times while living in Holland. When I do, I always call a friend with a van to help me. One time the home I was moving from had no parking spot, and so we had no choice than park half on the sidewalk. In Africa, nobody would really care. But here in Holland this is considered as a crime.
It was not very practical but we tried to be quick. After a successful first round, we came back for a second when a police car stopped. An officer asked us what we were doing. While the policemen did not seem happy with our explanation, they did move on.
We had one last load to do when the police car returned. I was upstairs and did not notice, and by the time I came down my friend was in handcuffs and being put into the police car. I was quite shocked and asked what was happening. The policeman did not appreciate that I was not speaking Dutch, but did give me approximate directions to the station where they were bringing my friend. They left his van where it was.
I took my documents and went to find the police station, but at the first corner of my street I saw a police car parked half on the sidewalk. I couldn’t believe my eyes and took a picture. When I finally found the police station, I was not allowed to see or talk to my friend. But they did agree to give me the keys to his van so I could move it. After my return and a few more hours of waiting, I was summoned to give evidence.
Since I had been upstairs, I could not give them many details about what actually happened. It was all very surreal and I could not understand why this was happening for a simple fact like moving. I will always remember my friend’s face when I finally saw him again: confused and tired. I showed him the picture of the badly parked police car, but he was too exhausted to react. But he did tell me that as a Moroccan he had felt discriminated against by one of the police officers.
The experience taught me that some rules don’t have to be followed by all – it all depends on your position and function. As for my friend, he learned that a few words can change a pleasant day into a nightmare.