1. Can you tell us a little bit about …in the middle with you?
This is the first piece I have choreographed in which I am not performing. It represents a big change in the way I work. I feel that not performing in the piece allowed me to fantasise more – to be braver – and to really identify with my work, message and aesthetics. It also really allowed me to fall in love once more with the act of choreographing.
2. What does ‘being in the middle’ mean to you?
‘The middle’ represents the everyday, the routine, a sense of repetition. This is a concept that in many ways scares me. It is a place that I tend to avoid and at the same time, a place I strive for. Dramas are there for us to deal with but the everyday is a place to survive… not to give in to. During the research process, I felt that we were there for each other; the dancers and me and later on other collaborators. The process was and is really demanding: physically, emotionally and mentally (as I believe a process should be – both in life and art). So we rely on each other in order to ‘survive’ it – in order to overcome the hard times. This why ‘with you’ is there as well. I don’t believe we can survive the mundane without others. …in the middle with you, for me, means that we can find the positive in the grey moments in life.
3. How much of the piece is based on the casts’ and your personal stories and why is that important to you?
This piece (like my other works) started in an autobiographical exploration. We explored personal stories, emotions and memories. However, when I started to structure the piece I was very keen to step away from individual literal stories. Or rather, I was looking for images that can abstract the personal and the private. It is a passion of mine to start from a personal place and then find the poetry in it, and create ambiguity and abstraction. I believe that the personal aspect is important only when it evokes a universal sense of humanity.
4. You also ask the audience ahead of the show to contribute to these stories (via your blog and social media), how do you incorporate the audience’s stories into this piece?
The stories of others always give me a lot of information about shared experience. In many ways, we are all very different but somehow we are getting affected by things, people, energies, emotions and stories in similar ways. When I’m reading other people’s stories, I try to analyse how they make me feel, look at similarities in sensations and emotions that people share. And then, when I come to choreograph and structure the piece, I have these experiences in mind. It give me a lot of indication of where I can take the piece to, what kind of an emotional journey I am working on in the choreography.
The piece had evolved so much – in many ways, it is almost a new piece. There is new text, different elements, different transitions, more detailed movement vocabulary. Different energies and different bond between the dancers on stage. Time did its’ magic on the piece – there’s more depth, more maturity.