FROM STAGE TO PAGE VOL.1 INTERVIEWS 1
fromstagetopage publications fromstagetopage.wordpress.com Edited by Mariela Nestora
vol.1 interviews 2011-2013 by fromstagetopage
A collection of 12 interviews of choreographers and dance makers, that took place in Athens, Greece, offering an insight on thoughts, questions and practices taking place in the greek dance scene. 'from stage to page' is an artist-initiated open platform created in order to share ideas and thoughts on choreography.
you are free to copy, distribute and transmit the work under the following conditions: -you must attribute the work to fromstagetopage and the authors/interviewees -you may not alter,transform or build upon this work
on from stagetopage by Konstadina Georgelou
KOSTAS TSIOUKAS Could you briefly introduce yourselves? Kostas Tsioukas, performer, dancer, dance teacher, choreographer, with a background of traditional dances and computing. I recently started singing lessons and acting in films. What do you want to question with your current project? At the moment I am collaborating with visual artist Anthea Hamilton, on a project we co-choreographed, a research on Kabuki Japanese dance-drama. It was presented in Oberhausen Festival, Germany and we will have a small tour with this work. Part of our show is a song in which we reenacted our rehearsal process though Skype: all the fan Kabuki lessons were transcribed from the screen onto the here and now of the stage. The melody we used for this song we made up, is in Eric Rohmer's film 'Le perceval gaulois'. Our question in this project is: do westerners/europeans have the right to dance Kabuki? Kabuki dance is taught from father to son in really insular communities. A Kabuki dancer dedicates their life to it, in yarĹ?-kabuki men dance both male and female parts, similar to the only men casts in Ancient Greek Tragedies. Currently there is only one woman who was also taught by her father, but she is forbidden from performing onstage, she is only allowed to teach it. This dance is like a secret, westerners were not even allowed to watch rehearsals. In Kabuki, all the gestures have a meaning, they are encoded, for example here I point to the mountains, I cut my finger to prove my loyalty to my partner. One can say it is anti conceptual or is it overwhelmingly conceptual? In our project we also presented the metamorphosis of the Kabuki performer through make up and costume (also cross dressing) on stage, which is not exposed onstage. A forthcoming collaboration is a project with musician, performer and pianist Fleur Khan (also a danceweber 2013) on a project working on texts from Ivo Dimtchev's last performances. Now as far as my company is concerned, a conscious choice is to put the company projects into hibernation for a while. I will carry on working in dance, performing and collaborating. At the moment, my research interests in what I call the 'greek conceptual/ vanity fair'. Although the conceptual is fading away in the european dance scene, I insist on it because I think that the greek dance scene has not and should go through this phase, even with a delay. ( kind of like if you haven't contracted measles as a child, I shall try to infect you now). Exactly because the greek conceptual has not
been determined, I believe it should be done and I now flirt with this element as part of my pan-stylistic idiom. As for the Vanity fair element, if there is narcissism and vanity in my dancing, my interest is to be conscious of it. I want to show it to its extreme, to underline it rather than filter it or hide it. I believe that during the past few decades-during the generations zero of dance-, the facial expression of the performer has faded, I like the face becoming part of the dance again. I am also interested in lifestyle, in the sense that when one uses recognisable elements, one opens a future in dance. Dance as a recognisable and accessible form of art, dance escaping from its elitist marginalised position. Is questioning actually the process? I work with the literal, with cliches, with pop culture. Using cliches makes the work more accessible to more places, Athens, Karditsa, Brussels and also accessible to people who have never seen dance before. Do you want this question to become the audienceâ€™s question? I want the spectators to enjoy themselves and my ultimate aim is that they are moved. I am not interested in bring up questions, I think at the moment people have enough problems. For better or for worse due to our times , there is a sense of drama(tic) in most works by Greek choreographers. It comes unconsciously and effortlessly, due to what is happening around us. My artistic choice though,is to engage in an indirect way of dealing with contemporary issues, I prefer reflections on and of the subject. When one is too direct, sometimes only transmitting information on current affairs, then a dance work becomes stuffed and dense in a negative way, leaving no space for reflecting and questioning. At the moment in my research another subject I interested in, is the 'country' -where one comes from. Do you think audiences are looking for a message? It is best that they don't have to look for it, that the message is articulated in the performance so that they don't have to look for the message and hence they can dive deeper into the subject. Are you interested in the individual? The person on stage is different to the one in daily life, they are the performance body. I am interested in knowing things about the performer's actual life, for example for Nureyev knew he had fled from Russia, that he was Freddie Mercury's partner etc. I like it when the performer is part of society, when their private lives are visible- otherwise it feels to me like one is hiding something? while an artist should be exposed. I am interested in the transparent life of the artist within society.
Do you have a specific method? I am attracted by a diversity of elements and the juxtaposition of different styles. I write a 'script' and then I use dance as my writing method. The aesthetic is also very important for my work and the specific choices are part of the rehearsal process. I find myself using improvisation less and less, I find it limits the accuracy I am after. Do you consider yourself funny? I don't but others do. I think of myself as a suffering artist with his gaze extending into the void and his questions extrapolating into infinity. The others laugh at thatâ€Ś.My work is funny, with dramatic undertones. I am subconsciously funny in life and consciously funny as a choreographer. Are you interested in text or sound in your work? Yes, for me it is a necessity, some things I cannot communicate with the body. It also relates to the way I develop the initial script of the piece. I am interested in creating a show- the way it is structured, the way the text is spoken or sung in the work. I sometimes use the lyrics of songs as text. Sometimes the reverse the selected texts become lyrics of a song. Some of these texts I write myself with my collaborators of each project. I could not say I choreograph the words, the text is the text and its content/ meaning, it is not used in an abstract way. Is text improvised ? No, never, it cannot be done. What does it mean to produce work? To pull out of your drawer one of your ideas and bring it to life, rather than leave it in there. What is your strategy? I don't have a strategy. Not in producing ideas, this actually comes easily to me. My strategy at the moment is to not produce dance works as often as I did before. I want to limit myself to investing in a production, over a long period of time with persistence and fervour on a specific subject. Are you an artist? Yes, the people around me seem to think that.
Are you a good artist? No, and I believe that the worst artist you are, the more interesting it is (gets). Do you like your work? Not at all, I hope I will like it more in the future. I have gone through a period that was a bit of a black hole in my work. I mean I see some works on video and I wish I wouldn't see them. I do like a few works of mine. Do others like your work? I don't know but there are people who are interested in what I do and they follow my work and this gives me the courage to carry on making work. There is a specific identity in my work. Are you happy with how you do things? Who is happy during this time? Find them and bring them here, I would very much like to talk to themâ€Ś.. How would you be happy? Already things are better, quite a bit from the vanity is decreasing and the cliche of the successful and happy artist is rubbing off. Dance artists are closer to each other,the dance community is bonding. I still feel like there are obstacles but not sufficient ones to stop me from making work. Are you teaching workshops? I teach at the art gymnasium with lyceum classes (yes this is the official title!) which most likely will be shut down this yearâ€ŚLike many other art schools we doubt that they will remain open this year. I am interested in teaching workshops, and we are organizing (the dancewebers 2013) some seminars in Ireland. I guess I do have the eternal student syndrome. Do you set precise goals? Do you have specific expectations? Not really, I would not say setting goals is main characteristic. I am trying thoughâ€ŚMy goal is to communicate dance and make it more accessible through dance education and also through dissolving the borders between the art forms. It is not a taboo for me to express myself through other art forms than contemporary dance.
Do you have a daily practice? I take my dogs out for a walk on Filopappou hilleveryday and I dance in discos. What do you think about solos? They are totalitarian- solos are the easy and at the same time difficult way of controlling everything ( or just thinking you do). Did you work on one in the past? I have worked on 2 solos: 'Pinocchio'- in which I had no control over the music, presented at the Athens festival, and 'white floor over the ground' presented at the MIR festival, in which I controlled and did everything myself: video, music,costumes, dance, choreography,timing,shooting,set design, editing. Through this solo I realised that I am not interested in such a closed circuited way of working. How do you archive your work? I still don't have a website, I have videos of works on all possible formats vhs,dvd,mimidv which I am reluctant to expose. Time does test our works, I guess I could say that I have stored mine in a time capsule. Do you believe in less is more? Less is more bitch! Would you say your work is dance theater? Just recently during dance web I was told I look a bit like a Pina Bausch dancer (Lutz Forster). I wish I would have lived then, but dance theatre is dead baby, as is contemporary dance - it doesn't exist in Greece. I mean for the average greek person dance theater is Lia Meletopoulou's work and contemporary dance is the lyrical jazz presented at "So you think you can dance". One can admit to some kind of misunderstanding when it comes to dance terms here. Are you influenced by other art forms or sciences? Visual arts, performance, poetry, film. My work is interconnected to the visual arts.
How do you treat the body in your work? Intensely and with provocative ways. I am also interested in Butoh but in a transparent way. Do you favor / create a technique? A mix of contemporary dance with pop elements and dance that is outreaching to everyone through fashion and MTV aesthetics. Time? Works of long or short duration, depending on the subject, the context and the venue. I do time travel in my pieces- meaning there can be an egyptian reference and then straight away a 50's section and next to it something from our times. I don't play around with time perception, manipulating it, it is more a theatrical way of time references. Space? Also within the theatrical context, frontal dance, and 'show' aesthetics. Lights? I am really interested in experimenting with lighting design. As they say 'light can be the devil and light can be the god on stage'. Set? For set design I have collaborated with visual artists Dora Ikonomou, Kostas Sahpazis ( Deste Prize winner 2013) and often I do things myself. One of the characteristics of my work, is that I like to set objects into motion, the set is an essential part of the choreography. Costume? For costumes I have also collaborated with visual artists Dora Ikonomou, Kostas Sahpazis and often I do things myself. I have developed the Kostas Tsioukas wardrobe- its items which are available to our exclusive customers by appointment only! Do you feel you have sometimes failed? Not really, because I like failing and failing is part of my work. How much better
will I fail this time... How has that affected you? In a very positive way. I have learnt a lot from experience, discussing and contemplating on each failure, on each hardship, this is what improves my ability to communicate better and more precisely. So why does company, why do companies such as yours matter? Due to its originality uniqueness,etc…. I don't know if this is necessary… it is a question… nothing is an absolute necessity…nothing really matters… Don't know, in order to protect our national heritage maybe. Before and after the crisis? Before - more regularly producing more works due to available funding and the market, with some introspection and research but not that specific in their goals. Now, the introspection continues in a more extroverted way and more connected to society. My own work has gone into a pause or an idle mode of production. I am working on different projects and also in collaborative projects through which I communicate and expose myself. This need for dance is something I don't filter, I just know it, what I say comes out of thought, emotion, awareness, everything. Necessity! On the other hand, is anyone going to miss these 2-3 dance productions per year turnover? for example this year I only see theatre shows that appear and survive in the market….I do believe that at some point they will miss us, they will miss the greek dance scene! What do you wish for? To travel more often. I wish for the existence/development of a network of dance, that will be as recognizable as the greek film makers( who with complicity and collaboration they created and exported the greek weird cinema style). I hope for the acquisition of some identity for the greek dance, it is very important.
MARIELA NESTORA Could you briefly introduce yourself? I’m Mariela Nestora. I choreograph for YELP dance company, which started in London and then moved and is now based in Athens. There’s a core of artists I collaborate with but ultimately the company moves when I move. When did you go to London and then come back to Athens? I went to London to study biology and after my MA in genetics I decided to devote myself to what I love to do. I studied at the London Contemporary Dance School. I’ve done my Graham and done my Cunningham and I’m done with that. The original idea was for me to become a dancer but after the 1st week at school I realised that I was more interested in choreography and composition. After school I was dancing for others and choreographing for YELP. It was a very clear choice to keep that separate. To choreograph, to dance are separate functions – different parts of me. And I prefer to keep this pure. Lately I’ve really been considering bringing this together. Are you working on a project? At the moment I feel there is something pending. It feels like my last production is not yet finished. Although it was performed in Athens and Denmark I want to go back to it. I’m about to start a new production. The title...”Exactly what I wanted, minus one”. Is there something you’re questioning in this new project? I have this tendency to create series of works. So under a big subject I’ll have several works that deal with different facets. This links to my interest in “research”. Pure research? The act of research? Yes, pure research. The act of studying something. There’s a subject you’re interested in and then you work your way through your medium, you find your way to study it with dance. One example was “Odd Series”: four works of 1,3,4,5,7 dancers. 1 was the person with self. 3 was the person in a group. The piece was zooming out from the individual to the group. 4 was in relation to power. 5 was the individual and the crowd. Another example was “S series”: 3 peculiar duets that dealt with philosophy and space.
So, your new project? My project now is to create a piece that will be on its own, not a part of a series – to deal with a large subject in one work. Rather than breaking down and distilling a subject, I’m going to try to have an overview. Are your pieces always theme or idea driven? Choreographing for me is a way to think. To think, study and research. And when I say research I separate it from the actual movement research in the studio. Do you set yourself choreographic challenges? I like to set myself a problem...it’s a bit mathematical. You create a problem that you then have to solve. Sometimes there’s a paradox in that you think you can’t possibly solve a problem that you actually made up. “I created this problem, how can it be that I can’t solve it? Come on Mariela, if you stick to the research you’ll solve it.” It sounds like you begin with very abstract challenges for yourself rather that starting from an image or theme. Can you imagine what you’ll do in your first rehearsal? In the past I would begin with one dancer to make movement material. With this on I’m interested in the space, so I’ll start off with several dancers. I am thinking that I’ll work with interactions. Empathy. Ecstasy. You speak of both mathematical equations and of huge human conditions. Empathy. Ecstasy. How do you put these together in one piece? I don’t know yet. What I intend to do is work with algorithms and rates of change. I’m talking in my usual equational self...it’s about difference and repetition. I’m reading a book by Deleuze on the subject. He’s fantastic. Do you think audiences are looking for a message? Yes, they do. How does this affect your choices in your work? Unfortunately it doesn’t. I find that sometimes even if the work seems cryptic or abstract, the things that I ultimately keep in the work are the things that move me. That seems to work for some of my audience. I think the strength, the challenge worth risking everything for is to be confronted with an abstract place
and then suddenly you are suddenly moved – this is a strength – to be moved unexpectedly. That’s my favorite thing as an audience. To be moved unexpectedly, when I don’t know how it happened to me. After the performance , I take this with me and I can process it. And so 'watching' a performance can be 'happening' to me for a whole week or more. I like the decoding process, that it doesn’t necessarily happen then and there. I prefer it when it happens later. When you’re an audience do you watch with a critical mind? It’s a professional hazard. I have to consciously stop myself so I can watch more innocently. What’s the role of text or sound in your work? There was a phase that I considered my dance theatre phase. The text was deconstructed – devised text for the work – as open as the movement language. But then there are also works in which the sound of the body was like an essential body-part. For example in the work "In silence”, the sound was completing the body presence. Also in “faux pas” the solo completed itself with Katerina’s sound.More recent works have text in the score and projection. Improvisation? Major tool. That’s all I do. For me it’s completely integral that dancers perform movement that is born within their bodies so they have a close relationship to what they’re doing. That doesn’t mean that I use their natural tendencies. I always challenge and work with specific tasks and limitations. I always set tasks that equally engage the mind and the body. This engaging the mind and the body is actually creating the space for things to be emotional but in a nonrepresentational manner- which is when they actually have their full impact. So are your dances improvisations when they get to production? No. They’re not improvised. They are structures, constructions,scores. Every show is the same, more or less. The reason for using this process is that the performer has to be 150% present in each performance moment. There’s plenty of room for personal investment and interpretation. Are you happy with how you do things? No. Yes. Maybe. I wish I could not be...6K today and not a thing tomorrow...to find a way to calibrate, to give myself only as much challenge as I can take, and as much as I can afford...hmm… including in financial terms.
Do you believe less is more? Yes. I think so. I tend to be very enthusiastic about more, so less is always better. This is our eternal conflict and joke with ILIOS composer collaborator, who accuses me of inventing the unique maximalist style of Balkan Baroque! Do you feel you’ve sometimes failed? In a way I’ve failed in every piece I’ve made. If one would judge failure by he difference between "what I set out to do" and "what I did", then I’ve failed in every work. But I follow my process through to where it takes me and I tend to think of that as a success. I have also failed on two occasions in choosing the right collaborators. I was so obsessed and absorbed with the project I failed to give the appropriate attention to the essence of our projects, which is the people working together with to make it. And have you had an absolute success, for you? On a couple of occasions people have come and talked to me years after the work was performed, giving me their insights on how it’s still with them, how it affected their life, choices in life. For me that’s the point of the - for me it’s a way of life – but the whole point is sharing the work. So those times felt like success. Doing this work is totally about communicating, otherwise I’d dance away on my own. Are you an artist? Yes. The way I live falls under that description according to the social norms in the Greek context. What is an artist? I don’t have a clue. I was just talking about social agenda. What I described before about setting problem and solving them, for me links more to my scientific background, but through a different medium. But the advantage of the artist versus the scientist is that in the lab there is a specific method with a yes or no answer at the end but Art is beyond this binary system. The outcome of the research can take any form or shape. The places between yes and no, what are their values? In science the definite yes and no have equal value. The full range offered by the Arts hopefully provides us with new pathways to understanding each other and ourselves beyond our conscious thinking. Thank you! I finally feel like I have a
concrete argument for deciding to be an artist rather than a scientist. Better late than never , no? Why does art matter? At this particular historic moment it feel like art is a “topos” (eng: locus). The way the system has developed, individuals are isolated because of many things like economics, technology, social interactions....a gradual abstraction of the individual and a weakening of the communal dynamics and power. So art can offer the reinforcement to the individual and the communal dynamic so that it reaches beyond apathy – not through a violent revolution but through reinvesting in the power of the individual IN the community. What do you think of Time? Time is my master, the ultimate dimension, because anything can gain or lose value according to where in the sequence of events it is placed. I consider choreography as more a time-based medium than space-design. The When affects the What ultimately. Space? Very interested in past collaboration with architects and in manipulating the spacing of the audience as much as the space of the performers. The whole sphere contains the audience and the work. Lights? Despite some fruitful collaborations, I’ve never felt I’ve explored Light. Set? For me set basically means space. I tend to have a fixation with multiple props, repetitive units, multiples. Costume? I have the pleasure of collaborating with Adonis Volanakis for over 10 years. I don’t need to say anything. He just sees the piece, brings me something and it’s beautiful and to the point.
What do you wish for? Within our Greek context I wish for the day when choreography will be considered yet another profession. I also wish that Greek dance will become less isolated from the rest of the world. I hope that 'from stage-to-page' will prove useful in this direction. What have you found by moving from science to dance over these years ? Overview. In my personal history I tend to separate things and then discover they are linked. So I thought 15 years ago that the science and dance parts of myself were completely different. I am coming to realise that the both inform everything I do. In the same way, I thought I had to separate being a dancer from being a choreographer. In order to develop further I had to put my own body back into my practice. Everything is about ongoing research and eventually combining all my resources.
Interview by Maxine Heppner, October 31, 2012
STEPHANIE TSAKONA Could you briefly introduce yourselves? Î™'m Stephanie Tsakona, dance teacher and choreographer and sometimes a performer. In 1996 I founded Magma dance-theater company, although I started choreographing in 1992. What do you want to question with your current project? The current works under the title of 'Ideogram', question human movement or stillness in relation to the visual and music context whilst leaving an open space for the audience to draw their own conclusions from the work. Why? The ultimate aim is to communicate with the audience. I'm interested in leaving an open space for each spectator to take from the work what they want , rather than me imposing something concrete and specific. Is questioning actually the process? My process is the following: there is a moment in which an idea comes, then the idea needs the appropriate time to develop, and this time is natural, organic a time span which I cannot control. When I feel the idea is complete , but also the composition between music, image and music, I present it. Do you want your question to become the audienceâ€™s question? Of course, I want my questions to become the audience's questions. In the questions I present, I wish to include a message, a point of view on life , a rather metaphysical one. For instance the last 'Ideogram', was dealing with blind justice: There is a specific way in which our culture views justice, I 'm looking beyond the current views and laws in use, and there lies another ideal world. The one I'm looking for and I hope to drag along the audience with me into this ideal world. Do you think audiences are looking for a message? I believe that audiences are a little confused with contemporary dance, since there is no known narrative, as there is in ballet. One thing is certain, audiences are looking for aesthetics in dance. Now that dance works are more abstract, the message (if there is one) communicates directly to their subconscious. What is the action you want to propose with this project?
I 'm mainly interested in awakening the audience to this ideal world I mentioned before, against the norms that apply at the moment in our society. It might sound like a utopia but I truly believe this ideal world to be feasible. We can change our reality and enter a different plane of existence. For instance, justice, is structure, the current law system, but also it is a human need deeper than the laws. Justice starts from each individual and extends to all of us collectively. As John Lennon says: imagine all the people living as one, imagine all the people living in peace. This song might sound like utopia but it is not impossible. Do you have a specific method? There are different methods I've used so far. In previous works I had a narrative for each work , while now I allow myself to be a channel that allows for something to be formed. Maybe this is the reason for which my latest works are short in duration? When I 'm ready, I am sure of it, but the amount of time it takes for me to feel ready varies a lot. For my next piece I am already working on research reading, collecting materials, but only when the time is right, I will proceed with making the performance. What does it mean to produce work? I produce means, I contribute functionally in my society. I Communicate. What is your strategy? There is no strategy and I would not use that word. I allow myself to feel like an empty vessel. This vessel releases at some point, what it will. Are you interested in the individual? All of my works have the individual as a centre point. At the same time, I feel I am only a channel that receives an idea/an inspiration and I deliver it. Are you interested in text or sound in your work? Yes, in the forthcoming production , a dance-theatre piece, I will use text, spoken, in order to pass on information to the audience, some scientific facts one might not be aware of. Are you an artist? Yes.
Are you a good artist? Yes. Do you like your work? Yes. Do others like your work? This I don't really know, honestly. At times some people like it. Some people have seen my work years ago and they still remember it and it has affect their livesthis I really like and feel that is a success. Moreover as a dance teacher, I feel that I offer a lot to my students. I try not to keep my students with me, for too long. I am a passage for them, and then I am really happy to see them develop, either as artists either on different paths. Are you happy with how you do things? Inside this question vanity lies: how much work have I delivered, is it enough? if I disappear from this world from this reality, is it enough? I do suffer from a kind of death anxiety, of some absolute cancellation of everything. On the other hand, I think that things are as they should be. I just try to release myself from my own obstacles and life seems to take me to places anyhow. The first time I choreographed, it wan't something I pursued, I didn't even know if I could do it. Everyone was enthusiastic with the product and so it felt like I found my direction in dance. The second piece I ever made, was welcomed with the same enthusiasm and I felt like this choice of direction was confirmed. Maybe this is why I always feel that choreography is something beyond meâ€Ś. Actually only when choreography became a really conscious choice, only then problems appeared. Certain people helped me a lot on the way, although I never tried to impose myself on the circumstances. Creating is always the happiest period , a very special one. When the work is performed and therefore exposed, there is something really beautiful but also very painful. As any other human being, I do have the need for affirmation, which doesn't always come. How would you be happy? (laughs) To be internationally famous, with full recognition globally. To be invited everywhere and I get to select which festivals I would go to. Seriously now, I would be happy to find collaborators that I perfectly communicate with and enjoy togetherness and harmony in the work. My greatest joy and satisfaction is when the work manifests itself on the performance even better than when it appeared as vision in me, and this can only depend on one's collaborators.
Are you teaching workshops? Yes, I teach an experiential workshop: the psychosomatic activation through movement. We combine psychology and movement principles in order to harmonize the body, spirit, soul connection. Are you using the principle of improvisation? I use improvisation as a process, the performance is set material always, with one exception the piece "Jetzt". Do you have a daily practice? My daily practice involves reading books and searching for ways to open up my spirit to other dimensions. Reality is what we live , I look for different channels of thought. Whatâ€™s the difference between process and practice? There is no difference, I look at different points of view on life and what interests me I keep, it is my process and it is my practice. What do you think about solos? Lately I have been creating solos, although it was not something I was after. This period commenced in 2005, due to circumstances. I had lost touch with the dance world, due to an injury, a rather dark period, in which I experienced stillness for a year. This experience created a need to communicate, the work was titled "On psyche" (about soul) and this solo truly came from the depth of my soul, my deepest needs at the time I performed it. The second solo, danced by Yiannis Karounis, was a commission from a psychology meeting and a solo work seemed appropriate. Then came this first solo of the series of 'Ideogram' which was a response to the December Riots in Athens. The title "Ideogram" referred mostly to its short duration rather than its subject matter. I wanted the audience to find their own reading. Then came 'Jetzt' ('now' in German) a solo performed by myself: an experiment on the departure from the socially accepted notions. I also feel this work like a dark place, possibly because I m not certain, whether I succeed to do what I wanted. I had to be in the now, in real time. I experienced this 'real time' as a dark place from the performers point of view. My aim was to discard any thoughts from my head and to be inside the now, the moment of present time. There is a conflict: you are exposed to the audience and as a performer you want to do your best to keep the audience's interest, while you are also engaging at remaining completely empty. Most likely due to this conflict and agony, I feel maybe it didn't succeed. The audience though said that my presence onstage was prominent, while most of my agony resulted from the fear that by
trying to reach the state of zero existence, my presence will not be perceived, will be diminished. Do you create scores? No, I don't create scores. During creation I allow things to develop in the moment, organically through rehearsing. Sometimes my collaborators have a problem with this process, since some prefer to have a specific task to deal with. In the new production, I allow this organic time as part of my own research, rather than with my collaborators during production. I always choose to experiment and I have sometimes fallen flat on my face (whatever that means….) How do you archive your work? Only by video, although even arranging for a video shoot of the performance seems hard. Although a video is what remains from a work, I am totally absorbed by the work, when nearer the premiere. For some works (for instance "on psyche"), if one would ask for this piece to be performed again, I would refuse, it is a piece I'm finished with. I am mostly interested in the ephemeral. This is the right word for my work. Would you say your work is dance-theater? No, I have used the dance theatre category for my company, since it has certain legal and tax advantages. Are you influenced by other art forms or sciences? Yes, philosophy, metaphysical mainly. I have been influenced by Plutarch in the dance piece "On Psyche". Plutarch wrote "On tranquility of mind" ("Περι ευθυμιας"), describing this state of internal balance. This was the aim of the dance piece, to find this internal balance onstage, first in the stillness and slowly developing and lifting off like the prefix (ευ-) of the word (ευθυμια) which also means gaiety. I m also influenced by Epicurus, Epictitus and Parmenides the pre- socratic philosophers and from the different religions. I m interested in how different religions have shaped peoples way of thinking throughout history, as is the case for Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam. I seek to find my own path through this knowledge. I don't select any specific religion but the paths suggested by each religion can be a great source of inspiration.
Do you believe in less is more? Yes and no, it depends on the state one is in. How do you treat the body in your work? The body is an empty vessel that receives inspiration. This my way of approaching the body, and in the forthcoming production this is exactly my point about the body. Do you favor / create a technique? I have created a series of exercises /tasks in order to clarify both the notions of space and time. I teach how a performer can alter (expand and contract) their presence onstage. This is what I practice as a performer onstage and as my process while making work. Time? 3 types: 1. the 'objective' time , the time measured by our clocks and also exists as a pattern in nature- the sun rising and setting daily. 2. the 'psychological' time, the time a person needs in order to feel they completed something, for something to run its cycle internally 3. the now, the present moment My teaching involves exercises in which the students are asked to identify and differentiate between these three types of time, since as a performer you are asked to be able to treat all of them: a. The real time of a performance or a task- what is 5 minutes, how accurate is my perception of 5 minutes b. the psychological time of being able to create and complete a task within these 5 minutes c. the now is about being present at each and every moment of these 5 minutes. Thought seems to be the enemy of the now/ the present moment, the mind thinks of anything at anytime, thinking becomes noise an obstacle of being absorbed in the now.
The now has to do with what we call presence onstage, of being 100% present and available in the present moment. During these exercises my students are asked to be able to distinguish the three types of time, despite the fact that the ultimate performance task is be to be able to access and unite these three types of time, at the same time. Space? 3 types of space: 1. internal space , that of the body with skin as its limit. 2.external space , the environment with all of its features and objects and the audience members 3. the common space, the space in-between, for communication. All of the above are also interlinked, again in separating in teaching them I'm just trying to clarify things. Lights? Ah yes lights, integral part of a performance, although I have made some works without lighting design. Lights offer the visual dimension, they create space, lights can become the set, the costume, the makeup. Set? I would use set only if I have the appropriate collaborators and only if I wish to clarify things, otherwise I'd rather not use set in my work. Costume? The same goes for the costume. As Katsura Kan (Butoh master) said- our costume is our skin and our body, anything more than that, is added for purely symbolic purposes. Do you feel you have sometimes failed? I'm not sureâ€Ś
How did it make you feel? Exposed? What do you wish for? Love for all of humanity. So why does your company, why do companies such as yours matter? Why should people keep company to each other? I think this is an equivalent question. Do you find that before and after the financial crisis, there has been a change in your work or the way you work? Any difference in my work now, from the past reflects my own personal development. I have not been affected by the crisis directly, I was in no better state before anyway. On the level of subject matter though, I am influenced by the political and social changes. Art is always a political act and I include my work in this, my work is also a political act. I don't think that the spectators have been influenced either, nor how they see dance. I adapt to different circumstances, as Î™ have always done in the past. I try to be in flow with what is there, this is my path, this is my way. Some may find this passive , while for me it is my way of life.
ELPIDA ORFANIDOU Could you briefly introduce yourselves? My name is Elpida Orfanidou, I was born in Berlin, I am Greek and I grew up in Athens. I studied dance in Athens at Grigoriadou dance school while also studying Pharmacy and Piano, all of this at the same time. I continued with choreography studies in Arnhem and Montpellier, and completed my studies MA (Master in performance practices and research) at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. Since 2009 I live and work in Berlin. What do you want to question with your current project? I m working on two projects at the moment. One is a collaboration with Juan Perno, a visual artist. This is a project that deals with film, video and performance and it is based on the silent movie La Passion de Jeanne d' Ark, by C.T. Dreyer. We begin by cloning some scenes from the movie. I believe that Maria Falconetti- the actress, gives is one of the best movie performances I have ever seen. This project deals with questions on mimesis, repetition, God, relationships with people, questioning collaboration, casual mystics, the atmospheres you want to create, approaching the mystical with humor, casually. We try to recreate moments from this masterpiece. It is an interesting challenge and it connects much to life. Why? My interest is that a project is connected to life. I want to talk and deal with need and life, these are my main questions. Is questioning actually the process? Yes , I can't escape from questions although my usual answer is 'I don't know'. You see I doubt a lot, I am a master of ignorance! So this project is really a challenge for me,since it deals with belief in God and faith. But if I want to believe, there is no room for questions. This conflict is part of the process and my subject. The other project is another collaboration this time with May Zarhy, performer from Israel- supported by Mousontrum where she is based. At first glance it seems different to the other one. We deal with the here and now, and how to be there. I don't know if/how one can escape from performing. From the first rehearsal this project was a revelation for me: I had to escape from my own self criticism, in being and here and now. While performing there is this sense of being inside and outside at the same time, but in this project it is different. We try to do things and it doesn't matter what they are: singing, standing, dancing like crazy,
not being afraid of exaggeration. We investigate how to avoid our natural subtleness in performing. We try not to have too many questions, at least that the questions are not too present during rehearsal. If you allow yourself to become a child, you are bringing in things, not questions. This is not about denying the questioning altogether, but it is about entering a state of accepting the questions that arise in the here and now. Rather than saying 'I' m not where I should be', really tasting the state I am in, accepting it and see where it can take me. Do you want this question to become the audienceâ€™s question? I don't necessarily state my questions or make some kind of a statement. I like to share with the audience my way of experiencing questioning, to invite the audience into it. Do you think audiences are looking for a message? In general yes, they need to grasp something, to get something from what they see and sometimes they do. Sometimes audiences want to have an experience, to be included in the event. I feel this a more essential need rather than understanding "yes this artist wanted to say this'. Once an audience member said to me 'I did not understand, but I was there with you, I was following you'. Do you have a specific method? I 've never tried to have a method, but as I observe myself, I realize that I repeat ways of being in the working space. Maybe after some years I will realize that 'hey! this is my method'. I'm not attracted to the idea of having a method though, I deal with specific ideas in a chaotic way. I guess it is true that one's character is reflected in the way they work... Do you consider yourself funny? As far as remember myself, all my relationships with people are surrounded with laughter. I laugh a lot and the same goes for my work. I like humor, my work comes out with a lot of humor although I don't set out to create a funny piece. Are you interested in text or sound in your work? I use the voice of the performer and I like combining moving and talking. Using the voice helps me to have a more complete experience, it helps my body to respond more intuitively, it gives me a track, it helps me to dive into things.
Is the text improvised? Yes, it is mainly improvised text, sometimes I use quotes from texts (actually only once from a film). I address the audience with the text and it develops out of the the rehearsal process. What does it mean to produce work? Let me think for two hoursâ€Śâ€Ś I develop an allergic reaction to this word, its frightening, while at the same time with whatever you do inevitably something is produced. I get stressed from the idea of working in order to produce something. This way of thinking doesn't help me.While when acknowledging all of our little diamonds during rehearsal, using everything in some sort of way makes the stress go away. In any case, most of my works have a loose structure, I don't really fix things- it just doesn't come easily to me. In my solo works, I have little islands of fixed points/material/events, all the rest I decide at the performance. I challenge my self with allowing all the possibilities open. When I work with other performers, there is a fixed structure, although I still keep open the microchapters of the structure. How did you start this research? I worked on a solo which I performed three-four times under different titles, but with the same materials, same costume, same song which came again and again but in different parts of the piece. This is what I mean by non- structure. The best title for this solo was the last: 'one is almost never'. At first when I made work, I felt like I was responding to other people's desires of what a work is supposed to be. Eventually I said to myself ' ok I will stand by my freedom of what it is that I do- this is what I do'. This freedom of doing things as I want, started in 2008, using 'what makes me enjoy the work' as my criterion. When I am on stage, I'd dare to say: 'I just want to perform this'. I like this indirect/direct way of connecting to the audience. It took me many years to achieve this state but now it works and I really enjoy it. When I work with other performers though I aim for a fixed structure. In rehearsal we try different things, we watch each other, we watch other forms of art and then in the end the structure appears like magic, like 'oh wow! this is it'. As it happened during a long process of 1.5 years of sporadic meetings, I would estimate 5 months of work condensed, after lots of rehearsal time and decision making crises, the structure just appeared one day, it just happened. Are you an artist? I ' m afraid of this word , also of the word dancer, I experience my own little imaginary earthquake when I need to relate to these words. It used to be an
intensely present question, to which I gave no answer. Maybe I am growing closer to accepting this word for myself. Nevertheless, I believe it is charged with responsibility and with value implied for yourself. Are you a good artist? I don't know which are the criteria for what is good. Is it about offering something to the audience? Is about success? I really don't know….. Do you like your work? Yes, I just started. After struggling with enjoying the work, saw clearly that I can connect with other people and that it is worth doing, although not easy, then yes. Do others like your work? Some yes some no, it's good to have variety. Are you happy with how you do things? More and more. I do what I always felt is one of the clearest things in my life, I like performing dance. I tested myself a lot, and it is one of the things I 'm the most sure about. This need means happiness to me, more and more I 'm in contact with it. It also deals a lot with the ego……. How would you be happy? If I can be free in every moment, free doesn't mean open structured, I connect freedom with happiness. I used to hear this word a lot ,it is the last few years that I started to realize what it means, as a feeling, as an experience. Are you teaching workshops? Very rarely since teaching involves a clear proposition and my tendency is to be doubtful. Recently I taught teenagers in a school in Berlin: it was a shock for me. I realized that class was not about having a good idea, but it is about what works. You just have to say 'now we do this'. In fact it was an assault to my usual questioning and doubting. Do you set precise goals? Do you have specific expectations? A lot of expectations, fantasies, visions of what the work could be/become. At a point I developed this habit of fantasizing too much, so I thought 'I' d better do things now and we shall see'.
What do you think about solos? There is no conflict of collaboration, or equality issues, you can do whatever you want, this is what I like about solos. You are only with yourself, even if you invite someone to help you. (I asked a friend and dramaturge Vasiliki Mouteveli, with whom we studied together, to come into rehearsal. She still needed from me to say things about choices and content and so I felt like in a way I was still on my own. Being alone in the studio can be painful! Do you create scores? Not really. Once I took a score from Beckett, from a film he made, I wanted to recreate this. In the end I only used parts of his score, the spatial core, a circle in space. I always keep notes on my works but I wouldn't call these a score. Do you have a daily practice? The practice that seems to persist is yoga, I attend yoga classes. Do you believe in less is more? I think yes, I have a tendency to get rid of things. I try to do that. Would you say your work is dance theater? I have used this word, to describe what I do, to people that don't know much about contemporary dance. I guess I could say, I use dance and talking. How do you treat the body in your work? The body is a field of possibilities. We can do, what we can do. And I want to do whatever I want with my body. Do you favor / create a technique? I don't try to develop a language or style in my work. I use everything I have learned. I was never super good at a specific technique, I am flexible to use all of them, rather than one specific technique absorbing me. I admit ballet has been my obsession and has affected me the most. Time? I am a fan of suspension, I like to suspend time, timelessness.
Space? I m a fan of Beckett, he is my main influence. I try to create the Beckettian space: a space that can be a void and not a void at the same time, that can be specific and abstract at the same time. Lights? I love lights, they create atmospheres and inspire my performing. I try to bring the lights into the process as early as I can. Lights can create feeling, but it is expensive. I would like to learn more about light, field, space and sound. Set? Yes , objects. I started developing a particular relationship to objects. The objects are the set. The objects act like little anchors, I create awkward relationships with them, through their use I can propose different fantasies of states of myself or the object itself. Costume? Inspiring, yes. Anything can be considered costume on stage and anything can work onstage but not the casual. Do you feel you have sometimes failed? Many times, I like it. Failing is charming, its a way to connect with people, hey I failed but it doesn't matter. I use it onstage , in solo work. There is trying, failing, not completing something, there is no success ever. People engage more or are more empathetic when they witness failure, it is somehow more human. So why does company, why do companies such as yours matter? A much more relevant question to the past, it used to charge me with the responsibility of offering something. But when you accept a kind of irresponsibility in your work, it is then that it feels it matters. It matters as an experience, you are connecting in a strange ways with other human beings. It is nice, maybe its about love, about people. There is a quote by Andrei Tarkovsky I like, "one thing a person can count upon in his life is the capacity to love" and also from Ingmar Bergman 'art is shameless and irresponsible'. For me giving value to human relationships in everyday life, to talk to someone and to create a connection from the stage is the same and it matters. I guess it is the human aspect, although I cannot articulate what exactly is human: It is a feeling, we do things, we are together. It 's not a big deal, I am not on stage to offer knowledge or
some big wisdom, it more about: lets be together. What do you wish for? To be where I am, with other people, with audience, to offer something. To be where you are. enjoy life. 24.9.2013
OLIA LIDAKI Could you briefly introduce yourselves? My name is Olia Lidaki and I was born in Crete in 1975. I stayed in Crete high school and then I went to France to study ballet and contemporary dance for 5 years. After my studies, I stayed in France for another 6 years working as performer, collaborating with many dance companies. Soon enough I met Carlotta Ikeda , an important meeting for my future artistic development. She is a Butoh performer , teacher , choreographer and we are still working together , despite my relocation toGreece. In 2003 I moved to Athens and since then I have collaborated with several dance companies here. I also worked with D. Papaioannou during the Olympic Games. I work mainly as performer and dance teacher and I sometimes choreograph. My first piece was a solo choreographed and performed by myself “Fool’s Triumph” in 2000 presented during the Athens contemporary dance festival by the association of Greek Choreographers. What do you want to question with your project? I don’t have a project at the moment but in the last work “Hors Corps” I was investigating human nature: On the one side the grounded, earth bound nature , of instincts, of self-preservation, of reproduction and on the other side the more spiritual, metaphysical nature of man. Across cultures , a lot of traditions, traditional dances and symbols are connected to the earth, fertility, reproduction, the phallus. For when human nature adheres to only one of its two sides passions arise. Is man ready to leave behind part of this nature in search for its more spiritual self? This work is about the tension between the earth/self-preserving self and the spiritual , immaterial self. How do we live our lives between these two opposite poles? The ongoing conflict between spirit and flesh. From the earth and flesh , you lift toward the spiritual and then the flesh brings back to the ground. This becomes a cyclical pathway from the body to the spirit and back to the body . One could say birth , death and rebirth. This cyclical pattern is a principle of Butoh, the fact that it never ends. Is questioning actually the process? I think so. I try things out. I don’t have a fixed idea and then go ahead and construct it. Nor do I just ask dancers to improvise. I start with two opposites and then through the work see what appears between them. These two poles, like magnetic poles, provide the tension of what comes up , which actually brings more ideas and more questions.
Do you want this question to become the audience’s question? Yes, I set my questions and find my own way through the subject. The audience can also choose a different way. Do you think audiences are looking for a message? Some do… As a spectator I don’t try to understand. I believe that art is the processing of things through the specific point of view of each artist. If one is just trying to understand they in fact limit the potential exchange that can happen during a performance. It really depends on the spectator. Because each person sees different things. In my work – there is no message. My work is about people ( human beings with their dreams, fears etc.) confronted with something. About relationships and relationships between notions and meanings- not messages. I am not that certain about any message, which I would feel confident to share anyhow!! Are you interested in the individual? Not in the sense of identity and its ramifications on gender, culture etc. In my work the performer is a representative of man (human being). Of course a female performer and a male performer are not the same. But I am more interested in humans as beings. Man on the path between birth and death. It is this bigger picture I am interested in , inside of which, the issues of identity, beliefs, political views, nation, gender etc. can be a subset. Ultimately how you see this bigger picture, your philosophy of life, determines some of the aforementioned issues. My main interest is finding meaning in our journey from beginning to end. I guess this is why I sometimes find myself uninterested in dance performances I see; sometimes the issues discussed are not within my concerns. This also links to my Butoh practice. During the first years of working, all the choreographers I worked with would use my best bits, my potential best in movement. What I liked about Butoh was that it was an art form in which I would use everything about me: the good, the bad, the child, the old man, the female etc. It is all there, you work and dig deep inside of you and you can find all of it. No one tells you how to do this. This is what I carry on stage and in life, all of this. And maybe this is why sometimes when I see something very specific I am not that interested. I am looking for these ‘big’ questions: who am I? Where am I going? Why am I here? –these are the basic questions that give birth to life, beyond identity, profession etc. Everything I do is ultimately about these questions and I see them expressed everywhere. I am very moved by anything that contains these questions- I look for different occasions to ask these big questions again.
Do you have a specific method? I start with a theme and different ideas on the theme and then I look into how these ideas connect to each other. Ideas can come from an image, a state, a specific event. I use pairs of opposites (binary oppositions) that usually guide me through the work: Using the two sides of the same coin, seeing the same thing from a different angle and looking into the different energy potential of these two opposites. I try to rebalance this system of opposites, into some form of neutrality-‘Nul’ like my teacher Carlotta says, a zero that is also the infinite ‘Neant’ (eastern philosophy style….) Are you interested in text or sound in your work? I am not really interested in text, I find it too specific, it doesn’t serve my process. Sound I find necessary, as long as it serves the theme of the particular work and it is in a good balance with silence. I always use the bipole of sound and silence in my work. What does it mean to produce work? I do find producing very difficult. Going through the production process can be revealing about the relationship you have with your work though. Even writing a text about the piece clarifies things for the creator also. Going through with the production also confirms how important the work is for you. How much you believe in what you do. But it is also a hassle both physically and mentally. When I had to do it, I did it all myself and I was ok to do it but it also halted my drive towards making. I didn’t like the people I had to meet and spend time with, I didn’t like the way they perceive (or not for that matter) our art form. I also didn’t like myself while going through this. I would need to really consider it before entering into a production process again myself. I suppose the more experienced you become the easier it gets. Are you an artist? Yes I am. Are you a good artist? I don’t care.
Do you like your work? Yes I do. Do others like your work? I guess some do, some don’t. After the last show “Hors Corps” a lot of people that saw the show didn’t tell me what they thought. In my experience as a performer it is important to have / live and strong experience during the time that you are on stage performing. I really enjoy this and insist on this as a performer even if the work is not that great. So I could say that I am not as interested in the performance (the execution) as I am in the lived experience. I think finding one's way to communicate his work to the public needs experience and the capacity of engaging in the creative process both as a performer and a choreographer at the same time! Are you happy with how you do things? It’s hard for me because I find it difficult to make decisions. I find it hard to place things in a specific context. It is difficult for me to differentiate between things and therefore decide. As time goes by it becomes easier. How would you be happy? By not feeling like I am split into different parts. I would be happy to feel like all of my facets my profession, my way of life; my choices are all based more or less on the same principles. To find this one person , myself. For a long time I had been feeling that I am only ‘dance’ and when I decided not to be only ‘dance’- I created a new body. I ‘ll be happy when I unite my ‘selves’ and dance, so that they can all stand reconciled, in one. Are you teaching workshops? It has been a while now that I haven’t. Are you using the principle of improvisation? Yes I do. In order to create material I start with a specific subject for improvisation, then I will start working on it, develop different stages of the material. Gradually time becomes a part of this, and then space becomes a part of this.
Is your work set or improvised? For the performer there is space in the material for improvisation so that it can be performed slightly differently every time. So that the material serves the work and the specific mood and inspiration and discoveries that the dancer can have in each performance. In this way the performance develops. Do you set precise goals? Do you have specific expectations? I don’t set precise goals in the distant future. I invent my goals gradually and on the way. When it comes to expectations, they are linked to goals, but I have to say I fear them , I don’t like expectations that much. If you expect something, there are so many uncertain and chance factors that can influence your goal and expectation that it is highly likely that you get disappointed. I don’t always find the strength to set a goal and then end up facing all that. Sometimes I just hide and declare that I have no goals. But I do , I make them up on the way. But I am not always that brave. Do you have a daily practice? No I don’t. I used to practice Yoga daily. I am training in Feldenkreis at the moment. During rehearsals I prepare the bodies with yoga, martial arts, running, butoh exercises, in a group warm up. So that the performers have a prepared body as well a team /group notion. What’s the difference between process and practice? They do link somehow. Practice sometimes helps the process, it improves it. What do you think about solos? A nice challenge. I have worked a lot in solo performances as performer myself. As a soloist you occupy the stage in a different way, you handle the audience differently, also. You have great freedom and also great responsibility because you are on your own. I have also choreographed a solo which I performed myself “Fool’s triumphs” and a solo for Ioanna Apostolou “Tenir en surface”. It is really different making one to performing in one you are making. When you create for another performer, you have a better distance from the work, it is also more pleasant and easier. I am really interested in seeing how the performer invents their own ways through the material. It is a dialogue, you go to them and they come to you, ultimately you create something that belongs to neither.
Do you create scores? Notes during rehearsals, initial plans for scenes and a story board format during the development of the work. How do you archive your work? Video. Do you believe in less is more? Yes I do, both with regards to the work’s direction and complexity. Are you influenced by other art forms or sciences? I am definitely influenced by Carlotta and from all the choreographers I have worked with. What I have done with each one is inherent in me now, I tried to enter their way of thinking. I am also influenced by other arts: photography, painting, cinema and literature. Are you using technology in your work? No I haven’t I tend to think I wont, it doesn’t lie within my interests at the moment. Time? Development in time, dynamics of time. Space? Space inside and outside of the body of the performer. Lights? That breathe. Set? Discrete. Not that obvious. That contains the element of surprise. Set that reveals itself gradually.
Costume? Second body. How do you treat the body in your work? The body is the live canvas onto which all of what will develop is imprinted. Do you favor / create a technique? I favor Butoh and contemporary dance , a mix of what I trained in. When you choreographed, were you actively dissatisfied with what kind of choreography was on offer? No, choreography comes from a internal need. The opportunity came up that they offered me some funds and I had something to say. So why does company, why do companies such as yours matter? What matters is the process of creation. In entering this process what matters is that you share. This sharing and exchange promotes the process. This presupposes the notion of processing and recording certain things in you. But since in the creation you exchange with others, you also become changed through the process. It is not only about making something. You start from a point which is where you are (the work at the same time records this place-where you are now). Through collaboration, dealing with the process and the questions arising in it, always assists the development of one’s perceptions- and this is why I believe that creating is very important. Do you feel you have sometimes failed? Obviously I am not that interested in this. I mean that maybe for others I have, but when it comes to me I don’t feel I have failed. What do you wish for? I wish that I carry on searching not expecting to find, necessarily. I wish that the angst of finding answers doesn’t hinder my search. 9.5.2012
TZENI ARGYRIOU Could you briefly introduce yourselves? My name is Tzeni Argyriou and I am an artist who is working for the past 10 years in a fusion of performing arts and new media. My background is in dance and movement and ‘movement’ has always been what leads and links all the elements in my work. When I say movement-(in order to clarify my statement) I mean rhythm and duration in relationship to space. For example even when I am editing a video, I am looking for rhythm, the movement from one thing to the next. It is a movement of emotions, where to move the emotions of the spectator and of myself. After all, I am the first sample of a spectator. It is a movement of spaces, a distortion of the environment that I am suggesting each time. The movement becomes the space – an illusionary space rather than the given space. And of course there is the time element; space and time are linked anyhow. For me, the process is equally important to the result, the product. I do have a fascination towards documenting the process, and then I use this documentation either in the performance, either create something else with this documentation material like a website or an installation. What do you want to question with your current project? My current project is still Dr. Maybe Darling. The question is the topic, the topic of freewill, it is more about free choice: how we choose things- this freedom on many levels especially in western society. This is where the questions stem from, the west. Maybe if lived in the east I wouldn’t have these questions at all. For me this topic is also related to the fear of taking responsibility. This is what I experience, observing around me- we struggle to make the right decision (based on the duality system of western thinking, a or b). But in our lives actually most of our decisions are the c – choice. It is not really black and white, we live our lives mostly with what is in-between. We move in the in-between, but we don’t consider this place to be a strong place. We don’t trust it as an action in itself this in-between space. So we postpone decisions in time still sticking to the western right /wrong format. In my work, these past years, I have been commenting on technology and all the choices we are offered. I feel that it postpones the actions of people- the multitude of choices, renders one unable to even act on ONE of them. My personal realization after all these years, is to accept a childish curiosity and motivation, to accept ourselves as energy receptors and transmitters – ultimately accept uncertainty as a natural thing. Choice is really a human thing.
Is questioning actually the process? Questioning has always been the process. Eventually one reaches a hypothesis. Questions formulate through millions of neurological pathways-is it the same for men and women? Then this question, leads to other questions and eventually I am lead to the following hypothesis: Indecisiveness is a contemporary social phenomenon. Do you want these questions to become the audienceâ€™s question? I am trying to find ways so that the audience will also question themselves. To follow my stream of thought is also allowing for the audienceâ€™s interpretations to these questions as well. Do you think audiences are looking for a message? Yes, I think they do. The message for this piece Dr Maybe Darling, is contained in the last 3-4 minutes of the piece. If 80% of this work is talking about our overloading of our brain- this last 3-4 minutes is the message. And the message is that the body takes over the mind and in this way everything becomes easierthrough a childish curiosity, their is flow, and it is natural. Humans are very egocentric, we suffer from this. If you see yourself as part of a huge chain and you realize it is not only about you, that you are part of a whole system, it is a very different way of being. Are you interested in the individual/character/yourself? I donâ€™t think you can ever be yourself when you are on stage. If you are working on a solo, on one character, then you really want this performer, to be there 100%. The performer is ultimately the most important element of the work. Do you have a specific method? No. Maybe there is something common in the processes so far, but I would like to change soon. There is a common practice of gathering lots of material and then I cut, I edit. I want to change this, though. I have this need to become satisfied with one thing, rather than always wanting more. In my current project, I could use only one element out it and make a whole performance out of this one. Instead, I now have 10 elements/sections.
Do you consider yourself funny? Yes, or should I say also funny. I do make a conscious choice of having humor in my work. As I said before, I am the first sample of an audience, and for me humor is a very important element. Are you interested in text or sound in your work? I don’t have a particular interest in exploring sound and text. Only if there is a need for these in a piece I l will work on text or sound. So if you use text, is it improvised? Some parts of the spoken text is set, some of it an improvisation. In Dr. Maybe Darling there is a section in which I confess what I see and think at exactly that precise moment, so this could not be set material anyhow. What does it mean to produce work? Producing the work is what I find the hardest and most exhausting. It really sucks up my energy, I do admit I am a control freak, I prefer to work in centralized manner, but ultimately I don’t enjoy producing my work- although I have done this a lot. I find that I am also very critical when other people are producing for me. Are you an artist? What is art? What is an artist? What is performance?- big questions…. In simple terms I would say that an artist is a way of being and a way of doing. I am being and doing this work for a long time now. Are you a good artist? No comment. Do you like your work? I can always find things in my work that I would have changed, if I was working on it again. When it comes to the whole picture, the final taste, I have recently overcome my critical, detailed viewing and I can see my work from a distance. And I can say that although I can still see a few things I would change, I like my work. To be specific, I like the works that I have created and produced myself.
Do others like your work? I don’t have a clear picture of the statistics, the percentage of people that like the work and the percentage of the people that don’t. I actually know most of the people that like my work. Are you happy with how you do things? No, in the current situation of making work here, it is very difficult. My work is experimental anyway, it is an experiment in which you set the parameters and you try out things and this is hard. I really suffer sometimes- I mean you really need a basic infrastructure in order to make work. How would you be happy? I would be happy if I would have access to a space that: first of all supports experimentation (so that it is feasible to try things out) and brings people together for exchange (rather than working in isolation). I believe that this would help in making things less serious-meaning that one doesn’t have to always think about the money- production issues or asking friends for favors- To be less serious in the sense of things being easier to handle and having the space for experimentation. Are you using the principle of improvisation? Yes I do use it as a tool. I play with it. Is your work set or improvised? My work is made up of set rules in order to improvise. Do you set precise goals? Do you have specific expectations? My goal is to open dialogues. My expectation is that people would want to be part of the dialogue. Do you have a daily practice? Unfortunately not. I just cannot maintain the discipline. I m very close at having a regular practice, though… What do you think about solos? I have done three solos, so far. I was the performer, only in the last one. With solos
I think you have more time to go deeper with the exploration. Because there is only on person, you spend all the time on this person, and you try to reveal as many aspects of that person as possible. For me it is a very nice trip- we’ re born alone and we die alone, a solo-one person’s trip can be everyone’s trip. So it is very interesting for me, but it is also very hard. Do you create scores? Because I don’t have a specific method, the scores are different: story boards, writing etc. A score for me is when I set certain parameters for the work, which are set both for the process and for the performance. Creating storyboards is also a way of documenting the work and is useful in communicating with my collaborators. If I am just left at my own devices – I just write notes, although I never go back to them to read anything. I just write something down because it makes the conscious realization of it, stronger for me. Do you believe in less is more? Yes, I think so. Less is more. But maybe you need more, in order to arrive to less. And of course the less is more to the point. Would you say your work is dance-theater? My work is not dance theatre anymore. I have made some works in the past that were more dance theatre during this period 2001-2003, not anymore. Are you influenced by other art forms or sciences? Yes. Sciences definitely neurology, sociology, there are so many I want to make a list. I am amazed with how many there are, they keep inventing more sciences through specialization or by combining two sciences. I had my first presentation for Dr. Maybe Darling in 2006 in Lisbon and until 2011 in a different place still the same piece. It is a scientific way of working, this way is very slow and I am obsessed with keeping on working on it from all the aspects until I feel it is complete-or when I understand it. (Although sometimes, understanding comes later than the moment of completion) At times, it is only after I have created the works, when I realize that I was actually working on the same topic with these different creations. Are you using technology in your work? Yes, since 2005. But this does not mean that technology will always be a necessary element for my future work.
Time? Precious Space? Everywhere. Lights? I did work on light with one creation, it was very specific. I use all these elements to enrich the work; I donâ€™t use them as a starting point. Set? The less possible. I want the less possible . Costume? I have worked with that in the past. It is a part of collaborating with other peopleto figure out, how the whole work will make sense. How do you treat the body in your work? I treat it with a lot of limitations. I set my limitations out. I am searching for the most interesting movement vocabulary rather than being in interested in the ability to do everything. Do you feel you have sometimes failed? Many. How has that affected you? As a lesson to learn from. When you started your company was it because you were you actively dissatisfied with what kind of choreography was on offer? It was partly good timing, to start working as a choreographer rather than a performer. I was not challenged by what was happening to me as a performer. Both the timing and this dissatisfaction, helped me make this shift in to making my own work.
So why does your company, why do companies such as yours matter? ‘It doesn’t matter at the end if you don’t have fun’, lyrics from a favourite song. The company is just an umbrella, it is a legal prerequisite in order to make works. For me what matters –is not to be guided for making money or a career for myself. For me there needs to be a personal reason, a voice to carry on when making work. When this need/sincerely is present, it links and connects to questions and needs of other people. So you are not just working in a permanent position in an institution. What I am trying to say is related with the freedom of (what you make) creating what you want. Only then, you can be experimental, take risks, try things out and have the urge to communicate something. What do you wish for? I wish that art will be/become more a participatory action for changing things in the world rather than a sophisticated and enclosed (isolated) practice. Not something outside of life itself.
KATERINA SKIADA Could you briefly introduce yourselves? My name is Katerina Skiada, and I was born in Athens Greece. I still consider myself a dancer /performer more than a choreographer. It is only recently that I became more interested in choreography –dare I say more so than in dancing. It has to do with the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside’. I started on the ‘inside’ and now I am more interested in the experience of the ‘outside’. The transition period is the one of watching, being the observer. In brief, I went from the ‘inside’, to the observer and now I am trying to find ways that will lead me to the ‘outside’- the choreographer’s position. Still though, when someone asks me “What do you do?” I find myself replying “I am a dancer”. The word choreographer doesn’t seem to come out of my mouth, yet. In our company Lemurius, we are all co-creators we are all performers and choreographers at the same time: a double identity. Hence I have not yet been totally on the ‘outside’ during a creation. But, it is now clear that I am becoming more interested in this position. For now, I observe, question and research. What do you want to question with your current project? We are just at the beginning with this idea. The question is – How can one see/understand/decipher something , without this something being necessarily visible or present on stage? I am more interested in what the spectator doesn’t see: what is not happening at that moment, an image which is not present. It is more about hinting on things. For example in our last creation, “Big Production”, there is an ongoing cyclical pathway but only one half of it (a semicircle) is visible on stage and available to the spectator. The other half, one can hear sounds from it, imagine it. During the non- visible part of the pathway, we would also have very fast costume changes, so when we became visible again it was apparent that something is happening that you don’t see. Also other performers that you have never seen before on stage appear on the same pathway! So, what is on stage is as important to us, as what is beyond the stage. We are flirting with these two worlds: the world the spectator sees and the one he doesn’t. Through translating this same idea, we chose the blank canvases as objects. This white frame provided a way of disappearing, whether it a part of a body of a person, or of a whole person. The starting point of “Big Production” was: how could lots of people –like 100-
create a dance piece together. Evidently this was a far too difficult and complex task, so we simplified it. We interviewed lots of people, asking these questions: what would you like to see as the beginning of a performance? Describe a section of about 5 minutes that you would like to witness onstage? What would you like to see as the ending of a performance? We did not make a collage of these collected ideas. We worked on creating a structure that made sense with these suggested ideas. During the rehearsal period period, we worked with 2 performers on the ‘inside’ and one on the ‘outside’, exchanging roles. This became a pattern for us- we would hide in order to prepare an idea, then reappear in order to present it. This practice of disappearing and reappearing - from the rehearsal process became a concept of the work. It was also present in the collected interviews. So we used the ideas from the interviews, interpreting them in our own way. Is questioning actually the process? Yes, I think we sometimes overdo it with the questioning, but then we realize it is necessary! We discuss a lot during rehearsals. Do you want this question to become the audience’s question? Yes, it is really important for us that the work’s questions become the audience’s questions. Not as an end in itself. We strongly believe that, when things become very clear to us, there is a higher probability that our questions come across to the spectator. Regarding the ‘reading’ of a work, if a spectator reads something else than what we intended, its fine. But, if the spectator cannot read anything, then it’s a problem. Do you think audiences are looking for a meaning, a message? It is really hard to find a spectator who does not look for meaning, who doesn’t have the wish to understand. This insisting effort at understanding is sometimes the reason for missing out on things. A spectator once spoke to me after a show and said: “I didn’t understand. I was trying so hard to understand that I didn’t actually see the performance.” I am wondering what -spectators who are not involved in dance- would want to see. If they would understand what they are trying to understand- that is the point.
Sometimes spectators, are impressed with technique and virtuosity, they say things like: “I didn’t understand a thing, but the dancers are great”. Maybe it is possible to understand through emotions and sensations. I am intrigued by and would like to find out, what is the absolute minimum of information that the spectator needs in order to feel they understand, (in order to start thinking). The work offers an incomplete sentence and the spectator needs to fill in the gaps to complete it. In this manner the spectator can shift the meaning also, there is that space available. The question is, how can we engage the spectator as an energetic rather than a passive viewer. Are you influenced by other art forms or sciences? Yes, without making any particular reference. Each one of us, has their own influences which they bring with them into the work. Are you using technology in your work? Not yet. We would like to do so in the future, provided that it serves the needs of a particular work. Are you interested in text or sound in your work? Yes, but only if it serves an idea. Sound played an important role in our first works. After all Lemurius was founded by 3 people, 2 dancers and 1 musician. Are you interested in the individual? Yes, of course. Just the mere fact that in the company, whoever is participating in a project enters the process both as creator and performer, I think that says it all. Are you teaching workshops? Yes, a few in the past. We are just now starting to teach workshops with the network “Sindesmos”. It is something I am interested in a lot. Do you have a daily practice? Yoga. What’s the difference between process and practice? I believe that the practice chosen by a dancer is linked to their process. For me Yoga, is connected to my work, in many yet indirect ways. Certain principles of
Yoga: the respect for the body, not moving all the time- a stillness that continues to move although it is not apparent- (stillness not as non-movement and nonaction), taking responsibility. Accepting responsibility, realizing that it is not the circumstances’ fault, the dancers fault,etc. Do you consider yourself funny? Yes, lots. I am really trying hard to maintain my self-sarcasm and my humor. I think it is an important part in our work. I am really interested in invalidation. I work with things which cancel each other out, in order to do so you need humor. Making fun of something, also means you are questioning, you disputing it at the same time. Are you an artist? Yes, I say this nor lightly nor momentously- just simply and spontaneously. Are you a good artist? What is good? A good artist? Potentially every artist is a good artist. It ‘s a big question. Do you like your work? While we are in the making, during rehearsals, yes. Whenever we have reworked something though, we have always changed it. What’ s important for me is, that when we are on stage, at that moment of performing , we are honest and we are there, where we are. We could not be ahead of ourselves anyhow. Do others like your work? People have come and talked to us positively. Not that many people have seen our work though so far. We have had both positive and negative comments . Are you happy with how you do things? There is always better this or that. I do not bestow any responsibility to circumstances though. In any given moment in time we are where we are. I feel happy and good, we have found ways to do things. I don’t think that it is due to circumstances that we don’t do things or that we don’t do better things. How would you be happy, or happier, what would you need? I could say more money ...
But as long as I have the possibility and the desire to do things- even if this sounds a bit romantic- I don’t need anything more. Are you using the principle of improvisation? Yes of course. Our process is really slow, we really gradually go through the different stages. We work on one idea at a time and investigate thoroughly and dig deep into it and then slowly we add on. For example, we would never start with a thirty minute improvisation. Our method is to focus on one idea and work on one thing at a time. Is your work set or improvised? The final product is set- very set indeed. Almost everything is set during the performance, on the other hand we use a lot the improvisation in our workshops. During a workshop we are more interested in the dialogue with the material, in a way of thinking in movement. Setting is for a later stage of the work anyhow. Do you set precise goals? Do you have specific expectations? Expectations. I don’t like this word. It feels like a long wait, it stresses me, it blocks me, it puts me under pressure- I don’t want to think about it. In Lemurius , we would have not created our works the way we have, if we had expectations. Precision and detail – we do work on these a lot. Goals on the other hand, we do have. The ultimate goal is –to communicate what you have to say, in a better way. What does it mean to produce work? This bit is alien to me. So far we are producing our own work, we only do the absolutely necessary. At the same time our work is really very simple, it was only in the last production that we even had lights. Yiannis is doing most of the production, promotion stuff. I do most of the budget and accounting things and it really eats up a lot of my time. How do you archive your work? No we don’t have an archive! We do have DVDs of our works. We are now thinking of doing something about this- it is part the production stuff…..
Do you have a specific method? I don’t have a method yet. I haven’t found it yet. So far all of our creations begin with a lot of discussions. Do you create scores? Yes, in the last production we had posters of notes on the walls. We change the piece all the time, it would be impossible to do, without looking at notes at some point. We do change all the time. So we need to write things down somehow-each of us in their own way. During our shows at ‘Kinitiras’ – we had a different ending on each performance, also in our next performances of the same work at the Athens Festival. So, since we change things all the time, the scores change all the time. This is what I really enjoy in our work, that it’s not a problem changing whole sections, even on the day of the show. Do you believe in less is more? Yes I do. What is the minimum amount of information that the spectator needs in order to become active towards the work ?- to fill in the gaps- to have the space to do so. The audience needs to understand something if they are to be entering such an active attitude, if they feel they are confronted with chaos they won’t. You don’t want the spectator to suffer during the work by no means, nor you want them just sitting there waiting to be ‘fed’ information. The issue is how to render the spectator active. Time? Relevant. Can contract and expand. Boundless. We like to test the limits with time. We have had whole rehearsals in which you sit on a chair during ALL of the rehearsal, and observe what happens, how thoughts or time change. In our performances time, is real time. The performers and the spectators share the same time. It’s not theatrical/ stage time. Space? The primary element, for us. We realized that we cannot describe time- while maybe it is possible to describe time through space. In “CrossTalk” there was a really long linear pathway, which defined not only space but time as well. Another example is during a long scene of our bodies still on the floor, examining how presence gradually dissolves and disappears. We remember people and then at some point we forget about them. We are interested in what is happening to the spectator even when there is nothing happening on stage or when there is no
change on what is happening. Lights? It is only in our last production “Big Production” that we used lighting design. Until now it didn’t feel necessary, we were focusing on sound and movement. It seems that the elements are added one by one, in our work. Set? The stage space, becomes our space. We use each particular space we are performing in as if it was our set. We also use props, we don’ rule out the idea of using set one day. We do end up with the bare minimum though. We always start with more and then try to limit ourselves as much as possible. We are interested in exhausting the possibilities of usage of any given object. Costume? We have never used theatrical, non realistic, of a different era type of costumes. Usually it is just clothes- although anything you wear on stage is a costume. Many of these are our own clothes. How do you treat the body in your work? With respect. We don’t take the body to its limits in the sense of taking risks that can be dangerous or that can strain and injure the body. The work is physical and tiring, but it is not dangerous. Do you feel you have sometimes failed? Hmmm, sometimes I still wonder about this… all the time….It doesn’t matter. Oh well so what? What matters is what you do with this. How has that affected you? In the past I used to have lots of ups and downs because of this, nowadays I am not preoccupied with failure. It is only interesting to me as far as it can teach me more about the next work. Of course this has to do with my own perception of what is failure or not, for other people a creation can be a failure or not irrespectively of how I feel about it. In any case I don’t sink in to the emotional side of this experience. I treat it as my homework: to understand why. There are times when you watch the work and you think to yourself –Yes , nice, good, and then sometimes you look at the same
work and you think – what were we on about? This is ongoing, it depends how you watch that day, sometimes you see more what worked sometimes you see more what didn’t. When you started your company was it because you were you actively dissatisfied with what kind of choreography was on offer? I just wanted to work together and more closely with certain people. It was the need for team work and collaboration that founded this dance company- and communication. I guess I was also at an age in which I wanted to try certain things for myself. It didn’t start from my big desire to choreograph. So why does your company, why do companies such as yours matter? I don’t know if it actually matters …… But from the moment that we decide that something will become a performance- it automatically involves the others. All our works start from studio works- we are mainly interested in research. If we decide to communicate this to an audience and when we do so, we become really interested in the friction generated through the exchange and dialogue with the spectators. Our performances are sparse in actions, we leave space to the viewer to take a place in this. What do you wish for? That we are all well. My wish is collaboration- the notion of a team. 5.2.2012
MARIA KOLIOPOULOU Could you briefly introduce yourself? Choreographer, performer. What do you want to question with your current project? Memory. How we remember, what we remember, primordial, memory, what we carry in our cells, in our DNA. Also current memory, the memories we create ourselves. From the primordial to the present, how we form again our bodied self from our ancestral body. Why are you dealing with this subject? I have been interested in this for a while now, and the things I am interested in, I investigate further. Eventually I find the way and the necessary circumstances in which I can finally talk about it, by making the work. Is questioning actually the process? As far as my own process is concerned, yes. Questions- questioning is my process. Then in the studio this process becomes purely non-verbal- exclusively physical. How does the body remember, how, what does it remember at this present momentâ€Ś In this specific process, images and paintings are an important tool. Some images can evoke sensations, other images, memories that are inherent but forgotten. You say we use images and paintings, are you always influenced by other art forms or sciences? It depends. Some images or some artists are imprinted in me stronger than others. Through my personal research I come across works of several artists. But you know, sometimes you open a book on a page by chance, and it is on that page that you find exactly what you were looking forâ€Ś I believe that chance and intuition play a very important part in the choice of artists or works that influence me, for each project. I always start with a verbal stimulus, something I have read or something I heard of. Then I will look this up, start reading about it. It is the words that bring on the images. Then there is a stage, in which the images enter the conscious level from the subconscious and that is when it becomes a mystery how this process
actually takes place- the pathway through which things become manifested. It is a process I am trying to understand: how do ideas become decoded and become a dance work? Do you want your questions to become the audience’s question? No. I am not that interested in this process. I do believe that the questions of the work are transmitted somehow to the audience- as it transpires from the feedback I have received so far. Questions are transmitted to the audience, even if there is no intention on behalf of the choreographer. My intention is to create an open framework- a system of images and sensationsin which the spectator can raise their own questions- and these questions can be associated with or totally different to mine. Do you think audiences are looking for a message? Yes. This is what we know; this is how we are educated. The audience is anxiously looking for the message-what is this work trying to say-what does the artist want to convey-what is the message I should understand but don’t? The audience is in agony…Absolutely no need for that, but this is how our perception has been trained: to perceive things with the mind. Spectators rarely allow themselves to experience or to sense the work? Do you have a specific method? I think that whatever is becoming a method, I try to destroy somehow. I want to destroy anything that is becoming a method in order to find a new way of doing things. I am not sure I succeed in this, but this destruction is a necessary renewal for me, otherwise I get bored! Your title your works Praxis- meaning Actions. What is the action you want to propose with this project? That art as action is resistance. Resistance to anything that shrinks us. What does it mean for you, to produce work? Two things….The first one: what I felt in the past (when there was regular funding from the Greek Ministry of Culture for new productions): that you have to produce/make work every year in order to exist as an artist/ choreographer. The system imposed this constant making and this felt quite oppressive at the time. (There was definitely a negative aspect to this as well).
The second one: that the production of a new work is something really beautiful/nice/great/exciting. What is your strategy? In the past I have been very…. I had total control over everything from the beginning to the end of this system of creating work. Now, I am not that interested in controlling all the phases of the work, I prefer to leave the freedom and responsibility to my collaborators. This could actually be my strategy: How to inspire the desire -in each of your collaborators- to totally take on, their respective responsibilities. How to get your collaborators involved in the project at their maximum potential. Are you an artist? Ahhh, this is a grand statement….I didn’t state anything like that at the beginning when you asked me to introduce myself... Are you a good artist? (No!) Look, in theory we are all potentially good artists in whichever art form, we are making work. Do you like your work? Υeeeeesssssss. Do others like your work? Some yes, some no, and I suppose it depends on the particular work… Are you happy with how you do things? Hard. It is really hard for me to be pleased. I guess there is always this feeling of being unsatisfied….. How would you be happy? If I could be more easily pleased and satisfied- surely I would be much happier. I would also be happier by finding things, easier things which can offer this sensation of-even momentary-happiness. Year by year I am getting better, at this.
Are you using the principle of improvisation? Yes, but only on specific tasks/stimuli, in order to evoke the state that I wish to create. Is your work set or improvised? I work towards the challenge of keeping room for freedom for the performer, but within the limitations of the specific context of the investigation. I want to find a method that can offer the maximum freedom for the dancer. This has to do with the sensation of things, and then to be able to revoke this experience that you find during rehearsals, in performance. This is particularly important for my work, since movement is the protagonist, movement within a very specific structure, space and time. It is not easy to perform. Usually the emotion/sentiment of the performers is accessed. They need to dig deep inside, emotionally, for things to emerge. It is difficult to do and difficult to reproduce. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Do you set precise goals? Do you have specific expectations? I set very precise goals, but my expectations change, they reconfigure constantly otherwise they die really fast. If the framework ,in its totality, is defined by me right from the beginning of the process- if I define the frame and the whole system of parameters- then the whole thing is finished, done- both for me and everyone else in the project. You need to be able to co-create with your collaborators. I never know the whole framework/context when I begin the workI know the questions. Somehow during the course of rehearsals-with all the anxiety and stress involved- it is revealed. The process shapes and gives substance to the work - ultimately it is about studying and searching…... And did you find something? If I knew exactly what I wanted to say, I wouldn’t have the need to search further into it. If I knew that for this question, this is the answer- I would have no reason to investigate further. Actually the answer usually comes once the work has been completed: you distance yourself a bit and then you can see it. During the making process all the answers, lead to more questions and you just carry on investigating. I suppose there is no ultimate answer to anything- maybe this ‘answer’ will never come….. Do you have a daily practice? Yes. Aikido, that’s my personal practice. In rehearsals our daily practice is a 40 minute warm up in which we are all in the space together, engaging in a physical warm up, non verbal. Each of us does what they need for themselves for their
bodies. In this way, we also leave things behind, we concentrate/focus. Is there a difference between process and practice? In our line of work, practice is included in the process. Also practice can be the process. This is why I do something physical everyday. I engage in some movement procedure daily, which I guess, is my practice towards my process. Do you favor or have created a technique? No, I thought I did but no, not yet. What do you think about solos? They are praxis/ actions. They are difficult. I believe solos are an extraordinary process each choreographer should go through at regular intervals. I also think it is important to choreograph oneself also in order to test yourself. Did you work on one in the past? Were you also the performer? Yes. I have done a solo on myself in the past and I want to do one again soon. The research has started already – it has been a year now- we will see when it will materialize… Do you create scores? Yes. Every composition requires a score. For my scores I draw movement symbols, rhythm symbols (that look a bit like cardiograms) and space symbols. The latter which deal with the space design of the work, are pivotal. Time? / Space? Especially with this series of “Praxis”, light and sounds cape are equally important to the design of movement in time and space. And the development of these elements happens simultaneously. The full potential of the light and sound is developed, after the first draft of the movement composition has been created. This movement design draft is used as a point of reference for the development of all of the other elements. Lights? I‘ve never had the opportunity to experiment with lighting as much as I would like. There is never enough time in the theatre for trying out different possibilities in the lighting design. Even in this production, when I thought I
would have the conditions required for this experimentation; it still seems I won’t have the time for it. Light, sound, movement in space and time are simultaneous and equally important elements in the way my choreographic framework formulates. Costume? Costume is also important but so far I have not had a clear idea/image of the costume from the start. While with the other elements the concept arises simultaneously. Set? Although I have not mentioned it so far, set is the most important element in my work. This is my number one. I don’t start rehearsing if I don’t have the set, I don’t start the making of the work. The set provides the framework in which the movement is created. It is the canvas of the work. Do you feel you have sometimes failed? Yes. How has that affected you? I have been through different phases. I have been paralyzed by it, I’ve been immobilized temporarily. But the empowerment that comes after this is much greater. I become stronger, even more ready and prepared for the battle. Our mistakes make us stronger. We learn from them and carry on…. When you started your company, were you actively dissatisfied with what kind of choreography was on offer? I didn’t start this company on my own- it was a group initiative. A collective of 7 people, with tremendous urge to do things. All of us wanted to choreograph, to speak out, and to find our voice. We felt like choreography didn’t really exist in Greece! When you are young you are dissatisfied with everything around you. One learns to respect their history much later, one gets to see the positive and only the negative when more mature. We definitely had this urge, this need, to bring back home all the things we learned while studying abroad and training in dance. We played to win but being part of a collective is a really difficult. A tough bet to win, especially when the members of the collective didn’t even have enough experience as individuals. So
now there are only two of us in the company. One on the creative front- myself; and both of us, Dimitra Kritikidi and myself on the organising front. . So why does your company, why do companies such as yours matter? Research in the art form of dance; dance as an art form â€“matters not only to me- I believe it is an important part of society on the whole. It is considered one of the most primitive art forms, present in all kinds of civilizations. Dance is an integral part of every society that believes in the bodyâ€Śin that the body existsâ€Śin the body, an important aspect in our lives. I was recently reading an article about Argentina, (since Argentina went through a similar crisis to the one Greece is going through now). About a decade ago, in October 2002, at the time when 57% would live in borderline poverty and 27% would live in extreme poverty- their main theaters had their peak of success, in numbers of spectators. 123 theaters in Buenos Aires would be presenting 390 performances. 150 performances were presented just at the Off Buenos Aires scene. Within 3 years, there was a 65% increase in exporting Argentinean art works and the capital became full of art galleries. What do you wish for? I wish for the continuation of dance in our country, for a dance university, for ongoing education and training in dance inGreece. And if may be use a utopian manner for a moment , I wish that we would dance more; and move more in any way we can.
IRIS KARAYAN Could you briefly introduce yourselves? Dance artist, choreographer, dancer, and teacher. I am based inAthens, I choreograph for Zita Dance Company and I teach choreography at the State School of Dance. I create projects. What do you want to question with your current project? I wanted to create something that referred to the idea of Heroism, on the transcendental nature of humans. Using these notions as my starting point, I am trying to find out how I/we experience these notions in the present moment. It has to do with the here and now. The title of the project is “Mothers”. Going back to your question I don’t know if I actually want to question things or if I just want to present my point of view, how I experience certain things in this particular moment- within this particular sociocultural context. There is a personal interest, while at the same time, it has to do with the human being per se. Why? This idea came to me as a desire, as a necessity in this particular moment in my life. I was more interested in how I wanted this idea to be represented. I want this project to have certain characteristics and while the project develops, it is these characteristics, that define what the project is about. Is questioning actually the process? A question is a process. This happens irrespectively of the staring point or the end product. You put into it your idea, your instinct, your desire and you give it a form. The real question is how to make it work. How is this choreography, this live performance of 30 minutes or 50 or an hour-how do you make this become a piece/work of art/concrete work? Do you think audiences are looking for a message? Yes. Audiences are always looking for whatever they can get- for a message, an aesthetic, a story, a feeling, a sensation. They are looking for something they can relate to. They are looking for a way of ‘reading’ this, of ‘translating’ what they are watching through a cerebral/intellectual process. They are watching through their senses, their eyes, /ears ,but they still try to understand it through a conscious- analytical pathway, through their brain.
Are you interested in the individual? Yes. Of course. Very much so. Of course I am also interested in dynamic, form, chemistry, physics, the body- but still it is always about the individual. My interests always have to do with the individual-they stem from human, existential questions. It is existential questions this is what we know, we know ourselves, or have experiences of. Do you have a specific method? Yes. Either I try to listen to my needs and desires; either I put out something that interests me. It can be an idea, a word, an image, a prop, an action, etc-these are all materials I work with. Part of this process is conscious, intellect driven, but there are things that come by instinct or by something I donâ€™t know of. For example: I decide I want to work on a piece with a table. Why? Why chose a table, I donâ€™t know, certain choices like that come to me and they cannot be explained or justified. So, in the beginning there is a process one could call research, or reflection on what I intend to do. During this phase, I need to be open, receptive, allow myself to be influenced by external stimuli. Then I go into the studio and start working with the dancers and collaborators. This is the time I go fishing! I try out things, things that come from an idea or a task. I try to sense things then, get feedback from the dancers, how they feel, how or what they translate this task we are trying out into. On the one hand is my own ideas and the other is how the dancers position themselves in what we are doing- and at this particular moment in time. I am really interested in what the dancers bring to my idea. I am fully conscious and aware, that if I work with this particular group of dancers on this idea, I will get this piece, while if I work with a different group of dancers and the same idea it will be another piece. I have come to realize, in this past year, that despite following my own process, method, methodology (call it what you may) I actually co create the work with the dancers. In fact I make the work FOR these particular dancers. During the fishing phase, if it gets too chaotic- I choose one thing ( a movement , an idea, a state) and I try to analyze it and go as deep with it, as I can. This is the time when I start working on the form. And while working on the form, the structure of the piece is developed gradually. Once the form and structure are all in place, I watch it and I try to understand the piece: If it makes sense to me. In a way, I do things the other way round. So you are you using the principle of improvisation? Yes. Always. I donâ€™t create improvisational pieces though. The final product is not an improvisation. Details in movement can change from performance to
performance but the movement principles are the same. Certain sections of the works are set- either gradually by the process or by the dancers themselveswhile other sections are more open to the performativity of each dancer. So once you have the form/ the structure do you set precise goals? Do you have specific expectations? Once I select the form-since there is always the premiere deadline- it is time to create a product out of this process. This is when I place my next challenge –my goal. This clear choice of the goal of the work is a choice I make on my own – within my microcosm- the dancers don’t need to know, it is not necessary. I just work towards my goal. When it comes to expectations… my expectation is to like the piece, if I like the piece maybe there are other people similar to me that are going to like it. I use ‘like’ here as in enjoy, laugh, cry, relate to, follow it through, think it is clear with no gaps in it. So the expectation is for the work to be true and sincere to myself and to find the final product convincing, to accept it fully as a means of expression. Are you interested in text or sound in your work? Yes. I am interested in everything. Not that I use it much. So far text has not been a formal element in my work. I am really interested on sound though both from the dancers and the soundscape, the music. What does it mean to produce work? Good question. It means sharing: with yourself, collaborators, the audience (there is a lot of noise on the latter…) Yes it is about creating, you put your efforts, your whole self, or your whole whatever you want to put in the making. Like preparing a meal for your friends… Are you an artist? Yes. Are you a good artist? What does good or bad artist mean? I don’t know. I think being an artist is always a good artist. It is the work that is bad according to someone or good according to someone else, or proper, or appropriate, or a masterpiece….
Do you like your work? Yes! I think if I didn’t like it, it would be a problem… Do others like your work? I think a minority, yes. Some people might like it… Are you happy with how you do things? It depends on where I have set my goals and expectations. It depends on if want less, or more, if am being greedy, how much I succeed on a goal I've set, how I deal with a problem, what kind of challenge I am setting myself. Sometimes I ‘ m not happy I want to have done more, to be better, feel I am being lazy, feel this could be deeper, or more intellectual….. Do you believe in less is more? I don’t know if less is more generically, but it can work. It can function. How would you be happy? I can still be happy being unhappy. I don’t think it is necessary to always be happy. But I can be happy if something resolves easily- you see, I am used to having problems and dealing with them. But it could work the other way round that I am unhappy if it is easy. To work within a good environment, freely and sincerely is always nice. It has to do with the resources one has, also. Do you have a daily practice? Personally I practice Aikido, when it comes to rehearsals it is always different. In this work of 2 dancers there is an individual warm up, in a piece for 6 dancers, I did in the past, I was coaching a daily warm up. Do you create scores? I keep notes. In certain cases there is a score. It is always different in each work, sometimes I write, or make a story board. Would you say your work is Dance Theater? No. Not at all.
Are you influenced by other art forms or sciences? By film, dance, theatre, fine arts, literature everything! Sciences also, human sciences, philosophy… everything that I can grasp and understand ( no nuclear physics….) Sometimes I choose one thing, for (fictional) example Hamlet and create a dance on Hamlet. Most of the times though, it is a collage of images, of ideas I bring to the work. I prefer to use several sources as material. Time? Starting point, necessity, trigger point, the birth. Space? Hand in hand with time. Again necessity, challenge. Time and space are the motivation. Space /time/ body a broad notion of these, a philosophical notion of these, yet I treat them differently. The way I deal with the problematic of these is different for each work. Lights? An add-on. Artificial. Theatrical. I use it artificially ( on top) to create images, or an atmosphere. Set? Will always be related to space. A set you bring into this theatre, the theatre space itself is a set. I haven’t worked much with set, I've worked with props. Costume? Problem! I don’t know about costumes, it is difficult. I think it has to do with the artificiality of the theatrical representation. How do you treat the body in your work? I love the body. I treat the body in space and time. It is the most important asset in my work. Do you feel you have sometimes failed? Yes.
How has that affected you? It has added to my experiences, my consciousness/awareness, and knowledge. Acknowledging the failure helps you question and reflect on how things could be done, in order for them to work. You find new ways you can potentially succeed. When you started your company, were you dissatisfied with the kind of dance that was on offer at the time? I started the company together with a group of dancers and friends in 2002. We worked together for some time and gradually each followed their own path. We still relate and share common views some of us. No I was not dissatisfied, the opposite, I was enthusiastic and eager for more. #Why does your company or companies like yours matter? Why does this particular kind of dance matter? They matter as everything that takes action, a position in our societies. They matter because they exist and define the greek dance scene. As a whole they construct a system which is alive and transforming. What do you wish for? I wish for courage, boldness, aggressiveness, fearlessness. I wish for more crazy things! Believing in your gut. To go for it. I also wish for the state to invest in artistic expression, in general (ok! thatâ€™s wishful thinking). I wish for the state to invest in education, in the beauty of the uniqueness of the individuals, invest in empowering individuality within the educational system. In fact, I wish for the educational system to change completely- to turn upside down. To treat the body equally to the mind. To invest in training our senses and abilities that are left unused, kept in the closet. Invest not only in the intellectual but also in the corporeal. 6.11.2011
MEDIE MEGAS Could you briefly introduce yourselves? My name is Medie Megas with an e. I was born in England but I have dual English/Greek nationality. I am not a young choreographer, but I am relatively new to the job – currently working on my third piece! I find my balance in life through teaching history of dance and doing many other things besides choreographing. I am also part of a collaborative initiative aimed at the creation of a strong Greek dance community. What do you want to question with your current project? For me it is not so much a matter of questioning, but of deepening my understanding and insight into the subject matter of each of my works. In the case of the piece I’m working on right now the subject matter and title is ‘Metapolitefsi’*. *[(Greek: Μεταπολίτευση, translated as polity or regime change) was a period in Greek history after the fall of the Greek military junta of 1967–1974 that includes the transitional period from the fall of the dictatorship to the Greek legislative elections of 1974 and the democratic period immediately after these elections.-Wikipedia] Why? Looking back at the other two pieces I’ve made, I realize that what I am always trying to do is to find my personal connections to the theme I have chosen. At first, it might seem very removed and far away from me, but my intuition tells me that it is actually really close. I find that through working on the choreographic forms and the dramaturgy of a piece, I can reach a deeper understanding of my subject. Here are the titles of my two pieces just to give you some hints about what I mean: “Poetic Asylum” and “Guard Dog. An allegory about the Media”. Is questioning actually the process? No, for me the research is the process. I don’t mean a theoretical research that simply lands in the studio. For me, research is ongoing on two levels: inside and outside the studio. These two converge into one - the process. Do you think audiences are looking for a message? I think that audiences are looking to understand. And I feel I understand their need to understand and their frustration when they don’t. What is difficult for the audience is to be satisfied simply by the experience of a work, especially if the work is not easily decipherable. I also believe that our post-modern legacy has focused a lot on articulating questions, but seems to have no interest in answers. When I say answers, I don’t mean it in a modernist sense, where the answer would be a
monolithic statement or an absolute judgement, I mean answers as attempts to organise chaos…I don’t know….. Are you interested in the individual? It’s funny you ask me this question while I am creating this piece. I have just finished the first phase of rehearsals and I am beginning to realize that what works for me in this piece are the points at which the personal experience merges with the political - the moments when history is inscribed in the body and the moments when the actions of the individual create history, not in the heroic sense, but in the mundane everyday sense. Take for example the 80’s in Greece a time of extreme political polarity: the intense experience of waving the flag and shouting out the name of the prime minister to-be. This is for me a clear instance of when the individual’s experience meets the communal experience, just by the act of gathering at political rallies. Did I answer your question? Maybe not… Anyway! Do you have a specific method? Again with hindsight. I always seem to have two starting points: 1. a very conscious decision about the issue that I want to deepen my understanding of and 2. a formal idea about the piece which I intuitively know will come in use in one way or another. So the process for me involves these two poles expanding towards each other and ultimately meeting. There is always a point in the making of each piece, when it becomes clear to me why my intuition led me to that form in the first place. Do you consider yourself funny? No, I wish I were. Although for me, there are elements of humor in my work that other people don’t always seem to get! Maybe that’s the price you pay for having a sense of humor that is half Greek and half English! Are you interested in text or sound in your work? Very. For me words and music coming from the dancer are elements that somehow complete the dancer’s expressive capacity. They are not necessities in my work (my last piece had no spoken text) but if they come up through the process I let them be. I don’t want to block these means of expression in my work. Is text improvised? Text is not improvised – not in the performance, only during rehearsals. But it is a goal for me, to manage to create more open forms on stage.
What does it mean to produce work? I understand production in its classic sense. I make work – on stage. So there are production issues that come with that. For example, I have never participated in a platform or festival in which excerpts of works are presented. The way in which I develop the dramaturgy of the piece is such that the work makes sense only when it is presented as a whole. Are you an artist? Yes. Are you a good artist? I am faithful to myself. I‘m very sincere. It is impossible for me to do anything that is not 100% true for me. Do you like your work? Yes! Of course I like my work, but that doesn’t mean that it is necessarily good! My work is often very different from the work I like by other choreographers meaning that I often explore dangerous terrains – dangerous in the sense that they could easily lead me to things that I don’t like seeing in other people’s work… Do others like your work? I think that many people do. I think that it manages to speak to people in some way. Something that I am conscious of is that negative critique doesn’t always reach us. I wish there were some kind of platform for discussing our works embracing both positive and negative critique. This is especially important for Greece, due to the lack of critical discourse and the lack of opportunities for artists to articulate and exchange views regarding their work. As you know there isn’t a single dance critic at the moment writing reviews in any Greek newspaper! Are you happy with how you do things? I can usually say that I am happy with how things get done, but I am not always happy with how I do them. How would you be happy? I would be happy if I could reach a level of communication with my dancers which would allow for all thoughts to be expressed, but still try out every idea. What I
mean is that I really need to know if a dancer thinks that a certain pathway we are taking is crap, but at the same time I need to know that he/she is available to follow it through, anyway. I get very affected by the emotions of the group of dancers I work with. Also, I’m not always happy with the way I introduce an idea in rehearsal. Sometimes I say in retrospect that I should have been bolder and presented the idea in a more direct way, and sometimes I say that I should have created a richer and longer journey to reach a certain point. Many ‘what ifs’ are involved in the work of a choreographer! Is your work set or improvised? It is set, although I never teach set material - I use structured improvisation to arrive to the set material. Now I come to think of it though, the dancer is usually free to play with the material, but not to make choices that affect the dramaturgy. Do you set precise goals? Do you have specific expectations? When the dramaturgy of the piece starts to become clear, then, yes. Although to a certain extent it remains open until the end. For me the goal is the dramaturgy, when that is clear to me, then it is just a matter of working out all the rest. The rest? What you see. The actual piece. The movement material, the choreography and the structure. For me dramaturgy is the underlying code or rules of a piece. That which determines what stays in and what should be chucked out. Do you have a daily practice ? Checking my emails is my daily practice. What’s the difference between process and practice? For me, the process is much broader than the practice. The process consists of many things outside the studio. Half of my time is spent in the studio and the other half is spent outside: researching, interviewing, thinking, writing, discussing… Do you create scores? I would say I write about the length of a book for every piece! It is not a codified score, but it is very articulated.
Would you say your work is Dance Theater? Yes. But I’m not sure if all the connotations would be right… I would add the word theatre when it comes to the dances my dancers and I create, because I search for a directness in movement that resembles the way performers address each other and their audience in the theatre. I find that movement very often becomes referential in a way that – for me - blocks its own expressive potential. I’m talking about negating the ‘dance mode’ that dancers so easily access - this ‘dance mode’ that ultimately isolates them from what surrounds them. Are you influenced by other art forms or sciences? I am influenced a lot by poetry, philosophy and the social sciences, and of course, the history of dance and its current developments… Usually, poetry and music inform the intuitive choice of form that I make in the beginning of the process. Philosophy and social sciences are where I run to in order to deepen my understanding of the subject I’m working on. History of dance and contemporary dance influence me, simply because I love dance. I love watching it pass through history, make its modernist statements, pose questions, conduct radical experiments, create ruptures, unfold its diversity… It is what I am passionate about… Do you favor / create a technique? Yes, I think I create a technique of responding to ideas and to words. Also, there are certain qualities in improvisation that I know I’m always looking for, which could be defined as some kind of a technique. I suppose we could say that I have a method that helps me access these qualities, but it is different for each piece. It is as if each piece somehow requires its own technique. Also, what I talked about previously, this directness in addressing the audience and the rest of the performers, I would say this is a form of technique too. How do you treat the body in your work? I am not very interested in the body’s limits. Not interested in taking the body’s capacities to its limits. What I am interested in is accessing body memories, body rhythms, body images and body sensations that have been wiped out by years of dance training. A few questions on the elements of performance: Time? Real time.
Space? Codified space. Lights? Unknown terrain. Set? Not set for set’s sake. ‘Set’ or ‘setting’? Costume? Mmm that’s a hard one. I usually know what I don’t want. I haven’t found exactly what I want yet. I can’t stand trendy or ‘pop’ clothes on stage. I usually go for unobtrusive costumes. If something on the costume needs to be accentuated – some detail - fine, as long as it is semeiologically correct. I think many creators forget the semeiological strength of clothing. They work hard on the messages their piece sends out, on all their dramaturgical choices, and then suddenly ‘dress’ the piece with clothes that look good, but give out completely wrong messages. Do you sometimes feel you have failed? Of course I feel I have sometimes failed. But I would say they were partial failures: failures in the (very important sometimes) details, not failures in the big picture, not large scale failures! But as I said I am new to the job! Just hoping the first time won’t be in ‘Metapolitefsi’! What do you wish for? I’ll pass on that question. When you started your company was it because you were actively dissatisfied with what kind of choreography was on offer? I wanted to try out things that were in my head, I needed to succumb to this desire of trying things out and see if they would lead me somewhere. To be honest, I suppose it also had to do with the feeling of not being 100% satisfied as a dancer. But by no means did I enter this scene with an attitude of – ‘here, I'll show you how to do it’.
So why does your company, why do companies such as yours matter? I think that in the Greek context companies like mine don’t matter. Don’t get me wrong. What I’m trying to say here is that our country lacks a system of support that can create a sense of continuity and value for dance. And I think that this is why initiatives like 'from stage to page' and the association of 5 choreographers I am part of are so important. Because their work can help fill in these gaps, repair this lack of continuity, create a sense of value between ourselves, within the community and with the audience. Otherwise things get lost, fall into nowhere (to use a Greek expression), leave no traces of their existence. I am not talking about recognition. I am talking about support, about a sense of community, about the development of discourse in our country. What do you wish for? I wish for bridges. Bridges between theory and practice, between artists and between art forms, between us and the public. I hope that we, Greeks, will manage to surpass our difficulty or unwillingness to discuss, interact and exchange in a way that will enrich each other’s practice. I really believe in Greek dance and Greek dancers. For this to happen, I think, we all need to actively shift our position, alter our perspective a little bit. In order to meet.
SOFIA MAVRAGANI Could you briefly introduce yourself? Sofia Mavragani was born on a sunny day in 1978.She had her first ballet class when she was 4 years old. When she was 5, after having performed on big stage, she stopped.Some years later, while studying Economics, she decided to have a career change. So she found herself in Holland studying in order to become a dance maker. There she met her friends and colleagues, and founded FINGERSIX artistic network.Sofia Mavragani/Greece together with Melina Seldes/Argentina, Marta Navaridas/Spain, Danielle ES Brown/USA and Alessio Castelacci/Italy , all graduates from the EDDC-European Dance Development Centre, ArtEZUniversity of Arts, Arnhem-NL, created an international artistic network, named FINGERSIX, a collective of independent artists with diverse cultural and artistic identities, who share an endless curiosity for the art of performing, and a deep belief in the rich experience of collaboration and interdisciplinary exchange. Are you influenced by other art forms or sciences?# My main influence is social and political observation. From there I move to theory, to move to related art forms, to move to practice. What do you want to question with your current project?# I am looking into the role of lucidity in contemporary society and culture. In this context, Î™ have developed an international experimental performance project called playforPLACE. A series of in situ performance workshops which explore the performative potential of the act of playing. In each selected location I create with a local artist a unique experimental process based on collective teaching and experiential exchange. Why? #I was inspired by the book 'Homo Ludens' and the way it approaches the element of play as fundamental element of culture. This book was written by John Huizinga a Dutch historian and cultural theorist in 1938. I am interested in finding the contemporary expressions of the element of play in current political and social interpersonal relationships. So is questioning actually the process?# Questioning is the process from beginning to end. Performance is an ongoing process of questioning. I donâ€™t believe there is ever the perfect from of a piece, there is always something to correct, or something to discover.
Do you want this question to become the audience’s question?# Not necessarily. I am surprised when the audience lights up another aspect of the work. I like to be surprised. Do you think audiences are looking for a message?# Yes. And the creators are responsible for that. We give elements to the audience which make them start looking for the hidden messages. But all this is problematic since, if they try to find my message, they miss out on the possibility of creating their own parallel universe to the work. Are you interested in the individual? #Yes, all of my process is based on the particular individuals involved in the project and the combination of the group of collaborators. It is difficult for me to dream of a project in advance, if I don’t know/see the people, start rehearsing. Do you have a specific method?# Yes I have a specific method, which is so open that it becomes different for each project. I work with “Open Form”, a combination of set material and improvised structures. Creating the appropriate open form for each work is always a challenge. The work is based on the individuals and their specific characteristics and needs. Ultimately the dancers formulate/influence the method as well. Would you say you choreograph all-together?# I would say I choreograph with the dancers. The “Open Form” requires creative input and responsibility on behalf of the dancers. I am responsible for creating the “Open Form”, coordinating all the elements both of performance and production. Inside the work both in the process and during the performance, the dancers have to maintain their creativity. In effect I direct the creativity of all the collaborators, independently and in relation to each other. Do you set precise goals? Do you have specific expectations? #I have precise directions, and keep myself ready to move away from them if necessary. Are you interested in text or sound in your work?# Although I am not fully oriented in using text, it has been present in all the works. Maybe because I strongly perceive voice as part of the physical
expression. Is text improvised too? #Most of the times. It depends on the ability of the performers. I prefer to have the text improvised as well, but so far in my experience I have had to set it. Or set it before I can let it free again. Would you say your work is dance theater? #More dance theater than dance…or theater. What does it mean to produce work?# It's an adventure. It excites me.#Writing the press release, finding the form for the marketing material, choosing the photo, shooting the trailer, can all be creative. What is your strategy?# I try to make production a creative process. Connect it to the specific characteristics of each project. How did you start this?# I always liked organization and management, I suppose there is a seed left in me from my previous education ιn business administration. Are you an artist?# For me art is more connected to the way you do things or the way you perceive reality, and not necessarily to what you do. . In that sense, I consider myself an artist Are you a good artist?# Are you doubting this? Do you like your work?# Not all of the works. There are some which didn’t fulfill my expectations, and left me with a bitter taste. On the contrary, there were some that I fully enjoyed.
Do others like your work?# Same answer. Some people like it some people don’t. I believe both that art is subjective and that personal taste is irrelevant to the communication value of a work with the audience. Art is a stimulus, an occasion to think and exchange. Exchange and improve. Even when we don’t like something it can still change something inside us. Are you happy with how you do things? #I am happy, there is space for improvement in my work and in my processes. I am aware that even an unsuccessful process and all the positive and negative aspects of it can improve my way of thinking and my working methods. So no matter how difficult an experience is, the final taste is good! Do you feel you have sometimes failed?# According to a western point of view, I would say yes. But because I don’t believe in failure I say no. Do you have a daily practice? #I run, I play tennis, I hope I will soon start stretching sessions, these are my weekly practices. What’s the difference between process and practice? #Practice, is the individual work that one should do in order to get himself ready to start the process. Do you create scores?# It is part of the ‘Open Form’ method I use. Parts of the piece are based on specific scores –so yes. How do you archive your work? #photos, video, press release, dossier. Are you using technology in your work?# My main focus is to find a strong physical identity. I prefer to concentrate on people’s physical presence rather than impressive technological tricks.
Do you use / create a technique?# I recognize in my work specific technical requirements. Therefore I have developed some methods of training the performers, so that they can adapt to the specific demands of the work. It is a combination of anatomical release, embodiment of images and performance technique. Time? #I respect time by just letting it be. Space? #It is my obsession. I get excited to observe and discover its hidden magic. #Lights?# I love light. I hate the lights in the Greek theatre spaces because of their technical limitations.# Set?# Has never been a main element, in my work.# Costume?# Problematic area.# How do you treat the body in your work?# With love and care.# Do you consider yourself funny?# Well, people say I am funny while I work. They laugh in rehearsals because of an extreme reaction to something , a unique expression while watching, or the loss of all verbal articulation at timesâ€Ś Why did you start dancing?# By accident.
When you started the company, were you dissatisfied with what kind of choreography was on offer at the time? No. I didnâ€™t create a dance company to fill in a gap in the dance scene of that timebut to fulfill my own personal artistic needs. To tell you the truth, for a while, I did have an ethical dilemma whether one should create more and more works or rather focus on supporting and developing the works that already exist. So why does your company, why do companies such as yours matter? Because the Greek company -FINGERSIX Athens- is a branch of an international network, my main concern in the past projects has been to collaborate with artist from abroad (Austria, Spain, Argentina, Germany, Korea, Holland, Switzerland).# The idea behind is to start establishing in Greece the multinational character that dance has abroad and to establish a bridge between Greece and other countries. What do you wish for?# To keep our minds open.#When it comes to the Greek context I wish for the end of suspicious-ness.
MAXINE HEPPNER Could you briefly introduce yourself? Maxine Heppner is a short dark haired woman with a lot of energy. Born in Montreal Canada, she moved to Toronto in the early 70s, when contemporary dance was coming alive in Canada. My pre-pro training was in Graham, Cunningham, some Limon, mask, and new contact and butoh techniques, but my creative development really had begun with my mentor Elsie Salomons (in Montreal) who had danced with Mary Wigman and Kurt Joss, with Til Thiele from Germany (in Toronto) and with Alvin Nikolai and Hanja Holms in New York. It was only with hindsight that I realized that all the teachings I most connected to since a child were from that European tradition. I was lucky to grow up in a magic time when new dance and new music was birthing in Canada. I was part of many indie projects, pure dance and interdisciplinary. I worked with ‘The music dance orchestra’ and the ’15 dance Lab’. “15” was a studio in an old garage space, across the road from a mission for “rubies”, homeless street men. “15” was run by 2 dancers who had run away from the National Ballet Company and the myth is that they had literally burnt their ballet shoes. Hanging from the ceiling of the garage was a full-size glider plane being built by Lawrence. At the back was a printing press where Lawrence and Miriam spearheaded one of the first avant-garde art magazines. A closet turned into an editing room for video and sound - on reel-to-reel tape - also had a computer that filled a whole wall. My god, I sound ancient but this was not so long ago! With ‘The music and dance orchestra’, we interpreted music scores in dance, and dance scores to music. We had a period along the lines of the work now being done with sensors, only then nothing was wireless. We used a lot of duct tape attaching microphones and other machinery to our bodies. Tape recorders and video cameras were the size of this table. I remember always stepping on lots of cables and a crazy project with contact dance trying to incorporate the cable-problem into the work, rather dangerous with electricity running through some... I’ve had 3 companies. The first one was just after university in the late 70’s with fellow students Holly Small and Robyn Simpson. After about 4 years we went our own ways. My second company “Phyzikal Theatre’ had 3 directors: myself as the dance person, a mime and a theatre person. This was period when theatre and dance were re-converging. Our obsession was performance that did not give up any of
the difficulties of any of the art forms for the sake of the other. This is the time that I developed my movement and voice technique. ‘Across Oceans’ is the company I run now and is an outgrowth of my life in the time between “Phyzikal Theatre’ and ‘Across Oceans’ companies. In 1989 I made my first trip to Asia -a kind of personal Odyssey. I went all by myself, on my bicycle. I rode across a good part of Indonesia and also to Singapore, Hong Kong, and Bangkok-Thailand. Indonesia was the main part of this trip. Back then most villages didn’t have telephones. Many of my new music friends at home had studied East Asian music. So I arrived in Indonesia with a pocket full of letters from these students to their teachers. This is how my trip developed from village to village. As a result of these meetings then, the next 25 years of my life have been full of connections with contemporary Southeast Asia artists. I think that the reason for this is because when I arrived there, I was in my middle 30’s and I had already developed a choreographic voice. And the way I thought of energy and spirit really connected with the people there. I came to Athens in 2000 for a conference via the Pays Bas (Holland/Belgium/Germany). Driving up Vouliagmenis from the old airport to the Centre I felt so relieved, since it was vaguely chaotic like Southeast Asia only with lots of gorgeous European cafés. So whenever I got invited to do a workshop in Athens, I was always happy to return. More seriously, I was drawn in by the dancers here, very spontaneous, with fabulous dry technical training primarily from England and the US, and performed with a deep blood passion – a very special combination I haven’t seen other places. These characteristics make it possible to do projects like “krima” – flash! idea, 3 weeks of flash! action and then a show with a phenomenal cast of 80 or more performers. And during that time I also met Christos, my husband, so Athens has become home. What do you want to question with your current project? My current work has the title “My heart is a spoon”, although the whole project is called ‘The Rage project’. My main artistic interest now is how we use energy. Rage is an extremely powerful energetic condition. We are examining how we release rage in ways that are both destructive and creative. Why this project? Because it’s all around us. Isn’t it? Is questioning actually the process? My motivating question is how does our energy move us, cause us to act: physical, intellectual, emotional actions. My process? I tend to watch a lot. What goes on around me. Observe patterns.
Make these patterns into drawings, because that makes them abstract, takes them away from the human element or the group. By abstracting, I can more easily see the pure form, or impose a form (a time and space) – uncover and then manipulate the tension: the force that is in the action. Then I work with the interpreters. We experiment with these forms as abstract idea. Then, I turn this abstract work back to see what we are portraying as people, so the final development is always about relationship. Dance is always about people. I don’t think that humans can distance themselves from human interaction when they are watching humans. Are you interested in the individual? I am interested in people. My art work is about people. Do you think audiences are looking for a message? No. Not necessarily. Audiences are looking for entertainment, meaning something different from their everyday life. Are you interested in text or sound in your work? Sometimes. Text appeals to our intellect. Sound goes to a similar place that dance goes to. In my life there are times I’ve done text based work, times when I have done only movement. BUT...lately I have been thinking that it seems very strange to me, to watch people on stage without a sound coming from their mouths. Is text improvised? My relationship to improvisation is this: I think it is essential when we are researching our work. Improvisation as performance is its own art form. The term that is commonly used these days is “spontaneous creation” and I’ve been part of improvisation performance ensembles in both dance and physical theatre. I think that the work of a choreographer is to create set movement. I could soften this statement…in my set work I may occasionally include tasks like ‘walk from here to there with floating arms’ but through rehearsing, in the end, the performance of this instruction doesn’t vary much. I call this a small room for interpretation, not improvisation. But most detail in my choreography is strictly set. And for text it is the same. I do the same. What does it mean to produce work? Do we produce work or work to produce? We could riff on various phrases we know: for instance, “take an idea to production”, “make dance-work”.
You know this cliché, art is1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. I believe that the 99% is the actual producing of the work and this has two aspects for our discussion: 1. Making the piece 2. Making it possible for other people to see the piece. I tend to make projects- ‘The memory project’, ‘The rage project’; in-between I also had ‘The faith project’ but I didn’t have enough faith in it so it’s resting now. The concept of the project dictates the form of the production. For ‘The memory project’ – the concept made it blessedly simple to produce. My main collaborator was a neuroscientist. Most of our research about deep neural muscle-memory was done in his science laboratory. Each of the public events was an experiment and was called an experiment and we directly challenged and included the audience in the lab. The shows were for 10 to 50 people. Never in a theatre space and with none of the administrative production work. Except for Athens actually, when Takako Segawa and I presented “Kiss: an ongoing experiment” during months of dance in...2006? I still approached it as an experiment- how to put it on stage without losing the laboratory feel. It worked in many ways but the audience was distant and I decided it belonged in non-theatres after all. My current ‘Rage project’ is very different- I want to take it off the street and put it into conventional frames so that the audience relates to the content, undistracted by some unusual container. So it has all the standard production baggage. One of the first events was a formal academic roundtable. “My heart is a spoon” is a dance media work with multiple projectors, 5 technicians and, and, and...The project also includes an art exhibit, a talk about the psychology of rage, a mini film series, and the final stage of the project will be a festival with others’ creations... a Lot of tech and administration. What is your strategy? From the first impulse to actually get to the creative work took 2 years of organizing. Last fall 2010 I finally began creation. My strategy for ‘The rage project’ was to have 4 months of studio work- not thinking about anything else apart from the dance. Then I had 10 months doing more administration and nondance research of the theme (like the roundtable). Now I am going back to the studio for 2 months and with any luck my production manager will take care of all of the production stuff. Being a choreographer/producer is hard; it’s just too many jobs.
Making a piece is like having a baby. It’s not so easy to get pregnant, one can try but ultimately it just happens. So in a way the actual getting pregnant is no big deal. Being pregnant has its ups and downs, moods swings, health issues, and in some societies the final decision to go forward with it. The actual birth is always horrid and then one has an unavoidable HUGE commitment to bring this all to maturity. With luck, in the end the parent and child actually enjoy spending time with one another! Are you an artist? I was first called an artist when I went to Asia. This was kind of a surprise. I’d never called myself an artist. I still don’t define myself, think of myself, as an artist. Do you set precise goals? No. Not goals. I try to make things as clear as possible “Is this clear?” is the question that leads most of my work. Do you have specific expectations? Of course I have expectations. My expectation is that this work will be extraordinary and my hope is that it will be alright. Do you have a daily practice? Yes, a personal practice that I have developed over the years. Is there a difference between process and practice? Yes. What do you think about solos and have you made solos? It is a particular genre of choreography. I’ve made many solos and toured several solo shows. I believe that solos are more, if not most connected to the spirit. Do you create scores? No scores. I make a lot of diagrams though, notes and pictures- lots of them, on very large pieces of paper. I am going to be sharing a studio –in an old school building in Toronto- one of the walls there is a full blackboard. It’s going to save me a lot of paper…
Do you believe in less is more? Not always. Sometimes more is more. How do you treat the body in your work? I don’t call it the body. I grew up hearing ‘move the arm’, ‘tilt the head’, I think it is very important for a dancer to know that it is her head or his arm. On the other hand when I watch videos of myself or dancers who are working with me, we always refer to the dancers on the video in the third person. Time? Malleable and cyclical. Space? Embrace it. Lights? Even a dark room is light. Set? Even an empty room is a set. Costume? Usually overrated- it has to grow from the piece not vice versa. Do you feel you have sometimes failed? Yes. How has that affected you? It makes me very sad. And then one carries on. What do you wish for? I don’t think it’s good to wish. Legends say one only has 3 wishes. I am scared to use them up, before I really need them.
So why does your company, or companies like yours matter? That’s a very good question. In many non-technological societies shamans and artists are the same class or guild. I think we are the shamans of the modern world. We are the keepers of the spirit. That may sound very grand… but… we need farmers to make food and farm, doctors to doctor, teachers and learners to teach and learn, and we need artists as keepers of the spirit. And some shamans are clearly more powerful than others, but we need all contributing from each particular place to keep the energy going. Did the recognition you receive make you feel different about yourself? Recognition gives one confidence, and with confidence one carries on. But every new work is a mystery. There are no guarantees. 24.10.2011
ON FROM STAGE TO PAGE from stage to page was an idea conceived as a response to the first dance congress held in Athens in 2011, by Mariela Nestora who also conducted the interviews. It is a blog which aims at locating the greek dance scene. An open call to dance artists, to write about their work and choreography, and dance theorists to write about the blog and the dance scene. The blog consolidates in biennial pdf publications and a website. In the blog texts in the categories of : manifesto, method, on why, research, interview, self interview, theory, dance works, images,quotes can be found. This is the first publication, the interviews.
ON FROM STAGE TO PAGE By Konstadina Georgelou
Is it possible to make the move 'from stage' 'to page'? Let's say that it is. Let's jump over the gap that separates them and accept that it is possible to write dance on a stage and on a page. According to this hypothesis, what is intrinsic for both is the practice of writing and, even more, of thought, which then travels as a wave of movement in the gap between the space of a stage to that of a page. If we want to further disentangle this relationship, our attention should be drawn to the particular type(s) of movement. In what ways does this movement happen? How does it operate? The aim of this short text is not to give any conclusive answers to these questions but, through them, to elicit a few thoughts on the implications and possibilities of the project â€œfromstagetopageâ€?, an ongoing collection of words on methods, ideas, manifestos, research and works by Greek choreographers, in the form of a blog. This project chooses to go beyond the gap that keeps 'stage' and 'page' apart, seeking to empower a discourse around choreography in Greece. Although theoretical thinking has been standing next to dance practice already for some decades, this is not the case for Greece. At least, it has not been systematically so. This may sound as a negative point to some of us. But it is worth acknowledging that, on the basis of Greek choreography's relative autonomy from western dominant and established discourses, it also shows potential for generating discursive practices that are not necessarily aligned to existing institutionalized systems of thought and methodologies. Reading through the blog, one can notice two things: on the one hand, an excess of somewhat modernist ideas on dance, connecting it to feelings of freedom, authenticity, subjectivity and expression. And on the other hand, a more reserved approach on what impact dance has to the individual and a deeper reflection on what (else) dance does, is or can be. For instance, there are texts in which choreography seems to be getting involved with issues of spectatorship, theatre, movement, dramaturgy, philosophy, technology, politics and the society. In other words, for some choreographers in Greece dance is not limited to selfexpression, physicality and emotionality. In an attempt to redefine itself it opens up outside of itself, re-appropriating, affecting and infecting common territories of knowledge, action and thought. Although this strand of discourse around dance and choreography is not well developed yet and often seems bereft of conceptual tools to do so, it nevertheless shows traces of experimentation with the movement that travels from stage to page, and perhaps even premises a movement from page to stage as well.
It is noteworthy that stage and page resonate to another significant 'couple' in art, that of theory and practice. The relationship between them is similarly characterized by gaps and movement (of thought), manifested through words and artworks. This is not to say that theory and practice are one and undifferentiated. Rather, they are constituted through difference, which is though not unilinear; it is pluralized. Theory and practice converge, diverge and intersect with each other in multiple ways, depending on the particularities of a theme, an idea or an artwork. Only by stressing the multiplicity of their differences and similarities at each case, it becomes possible to productively reorganize, translate and re-invent themselves. Theory in particular has been resisted by many artists, who consider it as a system based on essentialist epistemological principles and absolute truth. However, this point addresses a rather traditional understanding of how theory works. Art theorist Ana Vujanović discusses the particular function of theory and rightly claims that, contrary to certain beliefs, “contemporary theory is a post-scientific and post-philosophical discourse.” (p.20) She explains that, especially since the Frankfurt School in the 1930s, theory appears in social and political contexts, questioning, criticizing and deconstructing traditional disciplinary discourses in humanities and in the arts. Underlining the performative and intervening character of theory (considering it as a practice of discourse), she argues that “[theory] is a discourse which forces and obliges art to reflect its social position, the ways in which surrounding discourses pervade it and in which it pervades them.” (p.24) Although I would avoid verbs such as 'to force' and 'to oblige' because of the power they seem to exercise, I share Vujanović's belief that by means of critical discourse and theory, art and society can effectively (re)position themselves towards one another. What is at issue here though is not as simple as illustrating sociopolitical imageries and events, in the sense of merely re-situating them on stage or on page as a way of 'informing' the spectator or the reader. Especially today, in such financial, political and social turmoil, everyone is familiar with the actuality of problems surrounding many facets of our lives. One is already informed and aware. With this in mind, the political and social potential of the interperformance of theory and practice in art is rather conditioned by the friction, paradoxes, complexities and anomalies that occur in the process of working and thinking through them; in other words, by the ways that their relationship is creatively and critically problematized, negotiated, imagined and used during the artistic research and in the dramaturgical structure of a performance. Perhaps the aim of these few thoughts is after all to defend and, to some extent, to unfold the urgency of practicing theory and developing it alongside with the choreographic practice. I think that by functioning together, within their heterogeneity, they can effectively resist and sap regimes of power and capital, which condition dance -in its creation, production and presentation- and thinking about dance in general. Stage and page being positioned next to each other
uninterrupted, as it is proposed by this project, is thus a crucial gesture in the present times. It suggests that movement has already started happening in the case of Greece. And it now needs to be developed in its own particular way. 14.3.2012
REFERENCE: VujanoviÄ‡, Anna (2007) 'Undressing Theory', Maska, Vol. XXII, no. 109-110, pp: 18-25
fromstagetopage.wordpress.com contains these interviews as well as thoughts on works and methods by various contemporary choreographers and performance makers. thanks to all the artists for sharing their thoughts and practices, to Katia Savrami and Emilia Papafilippou for the publication to everybodys publications, Andre Lepecki, Marten Spangberg for inspiring this initiative.