Back in Ireland after the workshop I gave in Bulgaria.
Following the event one of the participants Elena Angelova who writes for the Bulgarian newspaper “Литературен вестник” asked to interview me. She asked some very interesting questions. Below is a translation into English of the text from the article.
What is your impression of the young dancers you’ve met during your workshop at Derida Dance Centre?
This is not the first time I’m struck by the potential I find among people in Bulgaria. The opportunities here are less but the artists have the desire, enthusiasm end strength. I met dancers who were very talented and eager for knowledge.
During the workshop you focused on “performance technique”.
The Performance Technique Workshop was focused on preparing the dancers for the stage. A successful performance requires from you as an artist to mobilize not only the body but the mind and the spirit. In order to prevent injuries you need to be physically prepared for the stage. Performance state or the condition you are in during performance requires focus, confidence and clarity, enabling the artists to unleash their potential. It is also described as an experience beyond the daily and normal or “the zone of optimal functioning”.
You brought to our attention the difference between improvisation and instant composition. What are the differences between these two basic concepts?
Within the wide range of meaning both terms overlap. But in my work I use instant composition or “composition in real time,” because this term most precisely points to the result I’m looking to achieve.
What kind of techniques and principles do you use?
Instant composition requires the ability to take fast decisions and have clarity in your intention. As a choreographer, I’m looking for a certain quality of movement and the dancer’s willingness to invest in the process. You need both a high technical level of performance and knowledge of composition. This is the art of creating in the moment.
How do you train that?
I give specific tasks designed to introduce the dancers to different compositional tools. Such as use of space, rhythm, time, atmosphere, theme.
Does the audience affect the performer or is it the other way around? Maybe it’s a two-way process?
For me it is a two- way process. As a choreographer, I’m interested in how my work is perceived by the audience. I like to give the freedom to people to interpret what they see.
In your work you explore delicacy as a quality of the movement. What kind of specific approaches do you use to achieve this result?
Being delicate* enables you to increase the sensitivity of your body and to connect with it. The key is listening to the body, integrating all its parts as a whole but at the same time being an open system. The focus is from the inside to the outside, i.e. the feeling in your body is leading rather than the form.
*Delicacy in the meaning of softness, tenderness, sensitivity. Paying close attention to the feelings in our body helps us to increase the sensitivity in our movement.
Does that require a specific focus in the process ?
Yes, I use different exercises to activate body parts with reduced sensitivity. Often this is the back of the dancer, the end of his fingers, etc.. It is important to have a clear intention. For a choreographer it is very important to help the dancers to enter into a state where they invest in this process.
What role does music play in your work as a choreographer?
From my experience I have found that music has a strong influence on the dancers regarding mood and energy. So I use music that encourages the energy and intention I’m looking for in a dancer’s performance.
Thus the music is meant to evoke and build an internal process in the artist rather than to convey something specific to the audience?
During the workshop you paid attention to a very important point – the individual rhythm of each dancer or his “Groove”. Tell us more about this concept.
The rhythm of each individual dancer to me is the excitement, the inner awareness. This is the flame that makes you dance. There is a proverb that says: “March to the beat of your own drum.”
Share a few words from your personal experience about the people that inspire you.
People who inspire me have a similar understanding to mine of dance and what is the most effective way to express yourself . I love working with people whose approach to dance is happiness and pleasure. It is very important how we experience effort. In a dancer’s life everything is connected to a great physical effort. When you re-program your brain to connect effort with pleasure, the body and mind transform the movement differently and for me in a more effective, and natural way.
Along with your work as a dancer and choreographer you are developing another important project. You are the creator of the world renowned website www.dancingopportunities.com. Where did the idea come from?
The idea came after I graduated from the university and I was searching for opportunities. At one point I started finding a lot of useful information from a variety of sources. At that point I hadn’t found a website that gathered this content and presented it in a useful way. That’s why I thought it would be interesting to experiment and to collate all the opportunities I found so I could help people in a similar situation. Very quickly the website grew and became a platform for dancers and choreographers from around the world. It gives them the chance to discover information about auditions, residencies, workshops, open calls and more. This contributes towards their successful career development.
You can read the original text in Bulgarian here ( може да прочетете текста на български, на стр.8 тук) : http://www.bsph.org/members/files/pub_pdf_1373.pdf
” Публикувано “Литературен вестник”, бр. 7 от 2014 г.