Dark Grey Almost Black is the colour of the walls in most clubs I have visited for this research. It represents a particular space, a culture and the ways of moving throughout these two. It is a colour that depends on how you look at it can be one thing or another, closer to back or to grey. In that sense, it is a metaphor for the in-betweenness and ambiguity that undergo this work. In Dark Grey Almost Black we are neither displaying a theatre performance nor a clubbing experience but rather what is in between the two of them. At the same time, the work bends the norms of performativity, DJing, dance, and installation art and whether the audience sees a dance, a DJ set or installation art inside this work or not, it is up to them and how they look at it.
What does the name of your project represent?
The title of this project references the Spanish film ‘Dark Blue Almost Black’ (Spanish: Azuloscurocasinegro) -2006- from Daniel Sánchez Arévalo, a great Spanish filmmaker. I am passionate about cinema and this film somehow marked my career. The film shows a strange and solid ‘costumbrismo’. ‘Costumbrismo’ is a Spanish literary and pictorial movement that interprets the local everyday life, mannerisms, and customs, booming in the 19th century.
In my point of view, both the film of Sanchez Arévalo and this project bring importance not to the protagonist of the scenes but rather to the everyday actions that they display and their profound relatability. And it does so without implying any particular analysis of the society or circumstance it depicts.
What topics do you explore in your performance work? And what do you hope participants get out of your current project?
The main scope of the research has been so far both the physical and ritualistic aspects of clubbing. How do people move in and through a club? What kind of contemporary rituals are drawn in this context?
There are other poetic, maybe more interesting questions for me. Such as how to find a sweet spot between the performative and the mundane that can still be watched, observed and appreciated? This was the question that moved us further into the process.
There are many kinds of participants in this project. On the one hand, us- the makers, musicians, performers, producers, partners. For us, I hope we stretched our notion of what our practice can be. And then there is an audience, who is also an active participant.
For the audience, I hope that after this work -maybe even weeks after it- they surprise themselves by observing the beauty of a particular daily action in the middle of their day. I hope that this beauty interrupts them and connects them to their senses. But also, if they hate or love something they saw in the work or doubt or laugh or dance… If they are moved in any way… I will be content.
If you could perform anywhere in the world, where would it be next?
I have no doubts it would be in Berghain, in Berlin.
You include voyeurism as a part of your performances, could you elaborate on what this topic means for you and for the project?
Voyeurism is a part of the project that stems from my interest in observation of people in the clubs and other performances. I have done a lot of observation of the audience during my research. I can say that there is tension and a clear agreement between performers and observers: the distance is drawn by the light, by the curtains and other elements of the stage. Architecture of the performing area gives the sensation of watching something private that is happening both on the stage and in the audience. I like to play with the privacy of the public. The performer and audience feels vulnerable because of the existing borders. But the audience also invades the privacy of the performer. Where is the line of the performativity? It is the main point of the performance.
What is one thing that inspired you for this project?
It came all of a sudden during one night out, which is unusual for my practice, as often the inspiration catches me when already working. I was in a basement club somewhere dirty in The Hague, in the spring of 2022, right after the lockdowns.
There were a lot of people in the room and it was dark, but through the crowd, I saw a guy leaning on a wall. His movement was so intriguing to me, It looked as if one part of his body was free-falling to the floor and he was trying to maintain a stand-up position by other -activated- parts of his body, which were still in dialogue with gravity. It was fascinating to see. It was also fascinating to see his expression, there was nothing negatively dramatic in it, he was just experiencing this. And everyone around him was looking relaxed, respectful, caring but not concerned. I thought, what kind of theatre is this where this weird dance is allowed?
Then I met with Nikos and Noemi, who introduced me to clubbing culture and they were also curious. That was the start. After we included Vincent through an open call. This project is based on the collaboration between us. This project is based on the collaboration between us. Noemi and Vincent propose material and perform, I am the artistic director, and Nikos deals with music and with the issue of how to create a space of comfort for people. It was about creating a team by picking creative people who can give valuable insights for the successful outcome of the project.
And then we have seen the open call from WORM and we knew that our idea is interdisciplinarity, experimental, enthusiastic which would be a perfect choice for WORM. So, since April 2023 I have been working on this project with my teammates.
What do you think of Rotterdam?
I experience a lot of freedom in Rotterdam and there is a network of artists which is flourishing for my work. I like that Rotterdam is so multicultural. It is how people of different backgrounds are mixed here: the poor and the rich, the people native to the city and the people who come from other places.
What does the project give to you?
This project is about connecting to younger people. Reaching new audiences. Ambiguity, freedom to experiment with choreographic material. It is “very norm bending” the material is not based on the ornamental aspects of the movement of the dancers, but on their presence. It is somatic, it’s based on the excellence of the performance of simple movements rather than on perfectionism and physical difficulty. Making movements very detailed and at the same time very simple. I really like this project. I like working with Nikos and his music, it is a privilege to work with him. I love my team and we have fun working together.
There are so many research questions so that I can never become bored. My performances are very intimate, and this one is going to be big! It is new for me to work in front of so many people while still researching vulnerability and intimacy.