{feature}How do we perceive, he asks – Niels Weijer

Niels Weijer was born in 1988, Netherlands; a choreographer who began his path on artistic research.  We had our dialogue nearby the cafe across the entrance of User studios. At that point in time, there were a lot of air planes flying by. His presence was warm and inviting, a sense of curiosity arises naturally within me. In his recent work of choreography, there were space in between of objects and human beings – a relation to be addressed and redefined. The performers interacted, and pointed out a space for us to look at. Continue reading, you would hear about his background story, philosophy, passion, and more.

This dialogue was recorded in August 2018, Berlin.

Part I: Choreography

What’s your story? 

I start ballet dancing for many years in Amsterdam, then I start doing contemporary dance in Rotterdam. After that I had my first job in Osnabrück. It is very good experience first in the company. In school, I already wanted to make my own work. So I quit the company and starting freelancing as a dancer. In the same time I start to create my own thing. It was very small thing at first. It is a development. From the beginning on, I was working a lot with visual artists. Immediately the visual arts triggered me a lot.  It is still like a big inspiration for my work, much more than dance, performance arts. My start point was a lot more of visual art work.

I have been dancing, creating as a freelancer. I did a lot of children performances. It is a very interesting audience. They are really direct. There is no contemplation of the concept. It just has to catch right away their attention. They take it or they don’t take it. It is still something that I would like to do in my own work. How do you get the attention right away? And take them along.

At some point, I think after five years of freelancing, I decided I would like to really do the creations. That is why I moved here to Berlin to be able to make fresh start. A new start to do it intensively. Because if you dance a lot, and you make money with that, you are distracted consistently. You can’t really focus. It is also hard in Netherlands, it is hard to get into choreographer scene when you haven’t gone through what I had just done the choreographer education. It is same here in Berlin. It is hard to get your head around if you haven’t done any education. Being here, it fits really well with what I am pursuing as a choreographer. It is really nice with an open door. Now being seemed as choreographer, it is a nice switch.

THE / LIFE / OF / FINE / LINES © Roberto Duarte

I consider there is oneness, but with object there are barriers. Are you willing to engage with the objects? It almost feels like tripping. 

Exactly. For instance, we can identify ourselves better with animals which looks very much like us. We can see the emotions from the dogs, cats, monkeys or horses. It is easy to identify with us. We can consider it as an object as well. It is another entity but it is very close. And with plants, we can see its growth. We can relate to it well. But with this cup in my hand, it is still alive but with different aliveness. It is harder to engage with it. But then on a philosophical level you can. That’s something I found it interesting to question – why do we like to identify ourselves more with something that we can see there are emotions. It is a lot to do with ourselves and how we look at our worlds. From a human perspective, maybe we can look at the world with a more all-inclusive perspective which is difficult.

It is about spirituality. Do you meditate?

I do actually. I am very interested in Buddhism. It talks a lot about the consciousness, being one, being here.  

Would you consider yourself religious?

Yes, I do. I grow up as a very active Christian. Then I kind of put my back onto the system which the church is. I don’t agree with how they structure and organize. I open up to Buddhism in a more philosophical way, but it has its religious aspect as well. It is very beautiful to see the origin and the tradition of Islam. It is different. Again, there is this system and also the art comes out of that which is very beautiful. I find the word ‘religious’ has a lot of heaviness.

Let’s say you have a believing system. 

Yes, I like that. 

THE / LIFE / OF / FINE / LINES © Roberto Duarte

In this artistic research, you put a lot of geometric shapes and items. How did you relate these elements into your work? 

I am very interested in mathematic and geometry. Plato start with that. He has all these crystals in the shape of hexagon. He kind of puts the shapes into the elements which let them all relate to the same shape. I am trying to say that everything is coming out of the five elements – water, fire, air, earth, and energy. It is a driving force for me, because it is a big research for long time. Out of the study of geometry and shapes, there is all these interesting space as well. Especially in the city, there is all these geometric shapes and structures around, and we interact with that consistently. Like I come to this meeting, I walk through buildings, pass streets. I have to go around to sit here with you. I consistently interact with space and geometry. In the performance, the only different is that I take certain shapes and I interact with those shapes with the surroundings, which is an interesting equation.

There is all these layers of consciousness that I put in the work that you have to visit with. Like ‘THE / LIFE / OF / FINE / LINES’, there are mirrors and people.You can move the mirror like this, and you have to respond to each others. You can copy and mirror each others. You play each other’s time. There is the whole consciousness. How can you reflect and play with your surroundings. There is all these mathematical conscious of how to deal with the shapes and space.  It creates patterns, showing patterns. For example, you see in the historical Islamic part, there is a lot of structures and patterns. They are very symmetrical, and I like that. In ‘THE / LIFE / OF / FINE / LINES’ it became much more complex, it was asymmetrical, still interacting. Like an interesting flow pattern came out of that.

His choreography “The life of Fine Lines”

Mirror is a human invention, it gets so emotional and poetic. All of a sudden, it looks like you are looking into a different universe with the sky background and greenish. It looks like a parallel universe that more than itself. The pictures just capture it sometimes.

What first attracted you to 《THE / LIFE / OF / FINE / LINES》 and how long have you been working on it? 

My instinct would be since I was in Berlin. It is never just that. It is like there is a bunch of ideas, and they manifest themselves. Because just as a habit, I also like to photograph. In that photography research, there has been a play with reflections. How the reflection I see from the window stands the line? There has been that research going on just visually, not yet as a sense of performance. And then, when I moved to Berlin. In order to make the money for study, I made a crowd funding within my friends and family. I collected some money. One of my friend gave me twenty euro folded in a crane of traditional origami. I always want to know how to do that, so when I arrived in Berlin, I start to look at how to fold a bird. And then, I figured the bird is actually moving because you pull the tail and it moves. It is amazing. You have moving origami. I did a lot of folding in the first three months when I was here. And I had this one origami which I was playing with. I was thinking “what can I do with this?” It really got my interests but I didn’t know how to work that out. I thought maybe I can make a really large origami, and move with them. I start researching but it is really hard. The cool thing of paper is it has this kind of stiffness and looseness, and you can fold it. It is very nice structure. But if you start to make it with bigger paper, it doesn’t work, because it can falls apart, or paper got so stiff that you can’t fold it anymore. 

Then I was thinking “what was it so interested me?” I have this origami which when you pull it, it has this fish zigzag line. If you pull it, it shrinks. I realized it is a play with lines. Because I am able to see the lines, the shapes appear because of the lines falling onto it. It is like a play of my perspectives. How do I perceive the lines and the shadows? You can draw lines, but if you fold it, you can see the shapes because there are lines, shapes and shadows of others. I got into this whole research on perspectives.

From that I came to what is the original perspective, to get into Renaissance. That is the first time in Western society where this idea of perspective comes into question. It comes into question in relation to painted landscapes. If you have a landscape, you have always a point of view. It gives its perspective. From the perspective, you draw lines. I was busy with perspectives, landscape and horizon. There is this French philosopher Francois Jullien who wrote a book ‘Living Off Landscape’ about landscape. He put the western idea next to eastern idea. He studied the symbols of Chinese. In western, we have a word for it called landscape which we related to certain surrounding, and then, there is like in Chinese in which the word for landscape is combined with two symbols ‘mountain’ and ‘water’. Landscape is a combination between the stable and fluent. It is kind of like in any continue. It is not just that. The weather inside is like the tension created there. In between the tension, there is why the landscape start to appear. It is not something we look upon, but something that we are in. From the whole origami, I came to this perspective which is how I got to the ‘THE / LIFE / OF / FINE / LINES’; for me, I had this church which was the stable mountain, and with mirrors which is what I wanted to create as the fluent water. Because it was outside, and there is whole interfere of the weather. It was simple, step by step. It is really beautiful when I see the big mirror on the floor in the second performance, it looked like a river. They were lying there like still water which you can see reflections. When you move it, it looks like a blowing wind in slow motions – a still image which is a new idea of a landscape.

THE / LIFE / OF / FINE / LINES © Roberto Duarte

How do you create – do you go into the studio with a firm idea of the movement you want? Or is it more free-form and organic?

‘THE / LIFE / OF / FINE / LINES’ was a different working process for me. Generally I went in to the rehearsal with very strong clear ideas. “This is what is going to happen,” and my last performance was on a triangle. I came in with a very clear and simple numerical structure. We want to welcome the walking patterns. We just have to put the composition together but it was quite clear what is gonna happened; This one, I realized quite late what would work with dancers. Although the project was in June, I did the audition in April which is really late. This is because I wanted to make a performance with just objects. Then, I realized I am not interested in just objects moving. I am interested in relation between human and objects. So when we came in to the studio, I didn’t have much time to research on my own before. I was a lot like “okay, here is the mirror, can you move with it?” After I saw they move with it, it might be “I really like what you did,” and then we remade it, named it. Then, we teach each other. Bit by bit, constructing it. Still, create some kind of system. I wanted to make a score for the performance, but I ended up providing the structure; where they have a beginning image and an ending image, and in between they had to take from each other which is a very complex approach. It was something kind of develop on its own. My plan was to make the score but I realized it doesn’t work for this piece. They have to interact with each other. Also, because of the materials was complex objects. You can not say I want you to hold the mirror or the tube like that, because they can not see what they are doing. It was very imaginative. They were interacting with the space, with each other, and with the mirrors. There was these three layers. It was beautiful to see how it evolves day by day until the performance. I have a basic understanding of what I was looking for, for how to move with an object. I just have to work with them to see until they did it, and I take that out.

The basic start is how to connect, connect with your objects, connect with your space around, connect with other people, other objects, other spaces. It is a big ball of complex connections. And yet still be able to make clear decisions. 

Niels Weijer

What is your fondest memories of all that creative process?

That would be like taking one thing out. If I look at the whole thing, I just look at what is the common, what is the core, what is the essence. I realized there is all these different aspects of myself being in there. I am curious if there is an answer.

Which part of you resonating in yourself at this moment?

I feel that what is the core thing in most work that I created, is that there is always this system. Our society is a system. These kinds of performance and installation is also like a system of interactionist. When the performer are performing, I also realized there is not just about doing it for you. That would be like “I show you what we learned in the studio.” We were actually showing the system, a reduced reflection of a different society.

One memory I had is a performance I did with a visual artist Evelien Jansen in Netherlands. We were in a residency in Turkey for a while, and I came to visit her. We wanted to take the inspirations for a piece – we realized being there on the streets you hear people talking, and you have no clue what they are talked about, because we don’t speak the language. There is this different language which you don’t understand, and you observe that. I start trying to make some kind of sign language with movement which is not necessary with meanings. Random movements which is not loaded with meanings. I created sounds to that. We use that as a platform to look at people with different cultural system. You don’t understand them but you start to grab, seek and hook onto something.

The other show I did are ‘The Question of Broken Triangles’. There was this mathematical structure of three. They walk in triangle, a repetitive numbers which keeps on changing. It is kind of simple – two, one two one, and one two three. But it consistently changes so you never able to get the system.You just have to let go. In there, they also have a small system to communicate with each others. This one is counting, and the others know where they are. It is a system of interactions. If I take a core, it is not necessary about the memories but the system of connectedness – how they are connected through a performative theme, and reach the audience. To see how do we perceive and what can we get out of it. I like abstract arts because it doesn’t tell me how to look at it. I like how it gets me start thinking. For me, it is the gold of artist that how to make people rethink the things which they already have opinions about. Try to open it up again. 

You are still digesting the piece you just made.

Thinking about digesting, I actually don’t refer to the creation of a piece as creation. Because that means I know what is gonna happen, and I don’t know. I just had an idea. But I am slowly discovering it what this idea want to be. I really believe that the idea is already there, and I am just discovering it. Of course, I made an interpretation of that. If you ask five choreographers to make a piece on a same idea, there would be five different work. But they have different discoveries because of their personal connection they made through their minds. The way I realized the ‘THE / LIFE / OF / FINE / LINES’  is not me creating it, it is discovering, and making decisions.

THE / LIFE / OF / FINE / LINES © Elliot Hughes

What would be useful tools to practice regarding creating and expressing one’s imaginations? Any secrets?

The tool I need to give myself is not to start researching or reading, but just try to keep it open. How to leave it open as long as possible. The more open you are, the more you are fluid. It is like how to get intuitive, how to get back to my belly. For example, the key moment really pull things together, I made it on my belly. How to make these connections between the rational and intuitive. That is one of tool I am discovering.

What does being a male in your profession means to you?

I feel like in my profession it is not just being a male, it is also about being a straight. I am a male and straight – it questions me as well. How did you deal with that? It is a struggle as a person. What can I do, and what can I not do? As a dancer, I understand it better because I have danced for long time. When you enter the audition, there would be five males and forty-five females. For me, my competition was always with the female in that position. I needed to step out of my gate. It is not about being a male or female, but it is about trying to be successful.

His work “reframing La Tourette”

Part II: Philosophy

What’s your favorite meal of the day?

Breakfast. I love eating pancakes with maple syrup and a good cup of coffee.

What other hobbies do you indulge in?

I like doing photography.  I love making coffee. I love walking and biking. 

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

It is very cheesy but follow your heart. Do one wants to do, do not hold yourself back, even when you are in bad situations. Listen to yourself. 

What’s the best gift you’ve received?

I got a really nice knitted earwarmer from my ex-girlfriend. I think it was very beautiful and practical. 

If you were an animal which would you be and why?

A fox, because they are curious, nutty, and funny. 

Which city do you love the most and why?

I don’t know. I really like Berlin but it has been too short for me to say I love it. I really like Amsterdam but as a tourist. To really live there, it is not enough. I have an interest to be in New York but I haven’t been there. 

THE / LIFE / OF / FINE / LINES © Elliot Hughes

What’s daily ritual for you?

Making a coffee. 

Can you describe how would you make it?

That would be very precisely because I am a barista as a side job as well. Basically what I do is – I take out my scale and my coffee. At the moment I really like Colombian. I weight my sixteen grand of beans, and I dry them. I boil my water, prepare my air press, put in the coffee, put in the water, and prepare the coffee. And then, I put the coffee into my cup, and I drink it. That is the summery version of it. That is my daily ritual. 

Who or what inspires you the most?

It is visual arts. It is not like just one thing. It is several artists. When I don’t feel good, I like to go to museum. It charges me, gives me a lot of inspiration and new ideas. It opens up my respective. That would be my biggest inspiration.  

Any word you would like to share with our audience?

To be open. To be willing to stay open, to see what an artist want to tell you, to not judge from your experiences. That is a very special place for the artist and the audiences. 

The meeting point.

Exactly. The conscious exchange.  

If you are intrigued, you can find him on his website.

You can find the Mandarin version contributed to Red Bull Taiwan here.

Thank you for your openness and curiosity in our communication, Niels. This dialogue was important part of my transformation. You are a very wonderful human being.

{feature} Connect to your heart, she says – Dorotea Saykaly

Dorotea Saykaly’s voice is very bright and full of joyful energy. She has a short black hair, beautiful smile and an open-heart — an authentic human being, talented choreographer and dancer who lives in Sweden and works with GöteborgsOperans Danskompani. Let us get to know her more with her background story – The dialogue was surrounding by motivation, creativity and curiosity. She shared a lot of warmth and inspirations with her presence, even through Skype. I was very excited and honored to be in the dialogue with her. Here is the moment. I tried to keep it as close to original as possible. Please note it that some part has been edited for the flow of whole article.

This conversation had been recorded through Skype in 2018 summer, Berlin.

Part I: Dance

How did you start dancing?

I started when I was eleven years old. I was a bit introverted my mother suggested that I try a ballet class But it was not appealing to me at all. I was a bit of a tomboy, not enthusiastic about the idea but my mother said “just try it”. So I went to a first class with some younger girls, which I didn’t connect to at all, and I was so eager to tell my mother that she was wrong. But the second class was with girls my age and seeing that I was able to keep up, I got inspired by the others around me. I was just really enjoying looking and learning. From that day on, I basically never stopped doing it. I started it in ballet and some jazz and did classes when I could. Contemporary came much later. The more I was training, the more I realized people can make a career out of dance. That opened up a door for my mind to have something to work toward.

They say love is blind and I think I was really blinded in finding my love for dance, and I went for it. I kept doing whatever came up — workshops, summer program, loads of auditions to get extra training. Doing whatever projects came along. It was a turning point. I remember realizing how much I wanted to dance when I was watching something my father had recorded a TV program for me. It was a duet in slow motion, something like Neo classical/contemporary from the art channel. I remember watching it and crying realizing how sad and unfulfilled I would be if I didn’t get the chance to dance. It was really important that as long as there is opportunity to perform, I would do it. At some point when I was around age twenty, I saw a performance of Compagnie Marie Chouinard. That inspired me so much to just see how those dancers were moving, the atmosphere of the show and the movement quality. It was the direction that I could finally see myself. “Like now, I know what I am striving for”. I ended up working with Marie Chouinard for seven years since I was twenty-two.

How did you get into this company?

Lots of people from across Canada, the States and even Mexico came to the audition. It was a two-day audition, long and thrilling. I made it to the end. It had gone really well, and I was really inspired by being there. A couple months later, I was out with some friends downtown and my phone rang. A voice answered and said ‘’Hello, this is Marie Chouinard.’’ I thought ‘’oh my god!’’ and she offered me short contract to start working with her. My first day in the company, she came up to me and said ‘’I want to offer you a one-year contract. Are you happy with that?’’ which I thought ‘’yeah, I am!’’ She said ‘’okay, great.’’ And that was it. It was pretty natural and reminded me of the audition process, meaning being present and open. I’ve found that the most successful auditions that I’ve gone to are a combination of ‘’yes I want this job’’ and also staying open. Auditions are such a matter of timing, luck, dedication and presence. It just shows how precious being present can actually be, how precious it is that you have an intuition to do something and you just do it. Sometimes it works out sometimes it doesn’t. I was really just thrilled. It was like an exploration.

The production ‘bODY_rEMIX’ of Marie Chouinard

You have danced in Göteborgs Danskompani since 2014. What are your fondest memories of it?

I was really excited about this change. In the beginning I think my naivety and excitement kind of saved me for this new challenges. It made my initial transition smooth. I remembered feeling very challenged by the projects we were doing and having very little time to work on them. I felt rushed at times and out of my element. It was really a big growing point for me, also realizing how I reacted to stress. I think this company has offered deep experiences that has helped me. Like seeing who I am in creation for example. I have to say dance in some way is something that saves me. Even though it creates insecurity or stress, or it always ends up giving me more inspiration and breath. Recently I started to create a little myself. I am not sure if I really would have done that if I stayed in Montreal. I think being in this environment with so many creative colleagues has pushed me. It has opened me up in many ways. There have been many incredible creative processes that have been very forming.
The stage memories are the ones that pop up the most. Being on stage in certain contexts, and working with certain choreographers that are just really beautiful human beings. People who have been so brilliant, kind, patient and humble. It is so nice to know these people exist. In some way I am settling in

Now in Sweden. It’s opening yourself to the funny experience of relocation. Deciding where to put your roots down. It is difficult because once you put some roots down it becomes more permanent. So it’s something I have been thinking a lot lately — What makes a home? Can your home change often depending on where your heart and mind is?

performance of “KODAK” by Alan Lucien Oyen, performed at the Goteborg Opera ©Mats Backer

Would you say that would be your answer if I ask you what’s the question has been shaping your life lately?

My question has always been always ‘’what’s next? What’s my next step? What’s the next stone I am gonna jump onto? Where is that other side that I would like to make through?’’ I would say that is something that has shaped me, pushed me. Although recently I realized I am at the point where I want to focus more on ‘’what’s now?’’. To just take in the moments that are at hands right now, and not think about what is for the future. The piece I just made recently has to do a lot with questions of how do you deal with memories? I was looking at ‘’cognitive biases’’, which are shortcuts in the mind that distort information. It turns out re not programmed to live in the present. So even when the mind is working on a mathematic equation, where there is a break of concentration, the mind immediately starts to think of the future or it start to retouch the past. We adjust the details of the past. So other questions that I have now — where is my balance? What is my balance? The balance is between spiritual and physical, relationships and myself, my work and my rest time, indoors and outdoors. Taking in life in a different way. That is something that I think I need a bit more.

Her solo ‘’UNraveling’’

Part II: Choreography

When did you start choreography? What interested you in the beginning?

I started by doing choreography for some screedance films when I was in my mid-twenties. I also dabbled in an interest for installation, and I was received by a small festival in New York for a work I made for myself and a dear friend. However, I never gave myself any credit from those projects. A couple of years later I decided I want to make a solo myself because I felt that I didn’t want to wait anymore for choreographer to give me what I thought I wanted to explore or what I wanted to do physically – not to say that what I created was satisfying to my body all the time. So I just got myself into the studio, and I worked with one of the independent theatres in Göteborg. I just started making a solo. What came out I realized was an interest in speech and words. What I had there as the soundscape was a series of speeches from people who have initiated change. It started with a clip of Gandhi’s voice and I just liked the rhythm. I was also interested in looking at myths and came across Prometheus who gave blind hope to humans. The solo revolves around messages of hope, and what it is to have it as a motivator for change. I think that’s actually in my career — hope has driven me a lot. The hope to get a contract, the hope to be able to dance every day. The hope to move my body the way I never thought I could three years ago. Creating is not always logical. I just created a new piece this year, a trio. I was juggling between full-time dancing in the company and this parallel project. I was completely tired afterward and needed time to recover but my mind was still there. It’s like an engine that you need to fuel— I thought ‘’oh take this note down. You know you might want to write a script about it.’’ There is just something in there that makes me curious. You just have to try it out.

Her solo UNraveling © Zawirowania festival

How long you had been working on ‘’Rosy Retrospection’’- the solo piece we are talking about right now? What were you using in “Rosy Retrospection”?

My creation period officially for this project was twenty-two days spread out over three months. It was a wonderful project my artist director initiated. It brought together our company and two other Swedish companies. It was a three ways exchange. One dancer from each company went to go create on other company. You walk into the room and you don’t know the dancer. You inherited three or four dancers that you have never work with before. And you are not always creating in your home base. This is also interesting since we were talking about home. Like what it is to create in another house?

The idea came a year before when I was applying for the project. I made working progress on two of my friends/colleagues who I love and respect. I started off with looking at “cognitive bias” and the idea of distorting information. What is perception? But more and more it got down to how we distort an idea personally and in regard to a memory. It also came from my personal experience of how to let go of memory? Do you try to shape the memory? By doing that does it shapes you? Rosy Retrospection is a cognitive bias associated to nostalgia. It makes you retouch the details of the memory to make it better than it was. It is like putting on pink glasses on and getting stuck in a moment. I went through a lot of trials when it came to physicality. I am still trying to develop what it is that interests me physically. I really do enjoy a type of stutter — a movement that gets interrupted. It has to do a lot with communication, getting interrupted, the connection between the hands and the body. Sometime it is very awkward. This idea of bones slipping out of you and you are trying to manage, and still pretending everything is fine, or getting caught in something and trying to work with that. I didn’t actually manage to put the element of groove in this piece. There was a lot of things I was putting in there. Flow is something I like. Knowing when to use flow and knowing when to break it. There is something I like to call it an inflatable man — basically you are just skin floating in the air, inflation and deflation. Gaga has helped me a lot actually, sparking curiosity, empowerment and the use of imagery fuelled me quite a bit. I work very well with images. I realized early on that I need images and sensations to access the body.

Her recent piece ‘’Rosy Retrospection’’

How did you make your choices in ‘’Rosy Retrospection’’ ?

I went in pretty prepared because I knew I had a short amount of time. I had some scenes that I knew I wanted to do. The piece had a narrative, characters. I had given myself a list of what I wanted to explore. What I think I forgot along the way, and that I only re-discovered toward the end was the element of a play time. I made my choices based on instinct and filmed improvisations — like the way I built the final trio in the piece. It came from improvisation with tasks. Maybe that’s not the best way to do it. It took a lot of time for me to figure it out, but everything there flows really well. That one was structured on instinct.

Her solo UNraveling © Zawirowania festival

You mentioned you like to work with scripts. Could you share a bit more of what is a script for you?

Last year when I was making that duet on my friends, I was looking at this acting technique called Meisner that I had done in Montreal which is based on improvised repetition between two people. I love acting. I always feel like it is such a joy. It is such a gift when choreographers come in with texts. I would think “oh please, give it to me.” Acting has always been instinctual and natural to me. I had done some classes which gave me some tools and I want to bring that work that I had done to the pieces that I’m making.

The idea of having scripted scenes in Rosy Retrospection came up last Fall when my colleagues and I were creating and collaborating together. We were talking about what challenges we would all like to explore and I said I would really like to work with script. So basically I started scripting out the dialogues between two or three people the atmosphere and intentions. What is that subject matter to talk about? For example, in Rosy Retrospection, I knew I want a scene that would be quite difference from the rest of the piece. There was a failing relationship between a male and female character and a third character who is kind of not helping the situation. You don’t really know who he is. He is a bit of a shit disturber. He is kind of the floating, satellite character. So, within this frame, I wanted a scene which would be very different. Dark, somber, a bit out of context. So I thought of a psychologist scene, which I have heard from people is one of their favourite scenes in the piece. Sometimes, what I do is to write down my wishlist of what I would want in the piece. Then I ponder on which ones could work, which ones maybe too ambitious, what’s not gonna fit. For the psychologist scene I just started to write based on instincts, quotes and the research I done on cognitive biases. I just pulled from my research and what I know about therapy sessions. I just started writing this dialogue based on nostalgia and how we distort information. I was doing it instinctually and consciously, and choosing my words very carefully, reworking the scripts. Usually the scripts were too long, so I cut them down trying to get down to the essence on a scene. I don’t think that more words is better. I like concise meaningful scripts. I like the gaps in between the words, between the two characters — that silence, the space in between that people can feel. I would like to do more of it and I think I will hopefully. I haven’t had a formal education, but I used to date a director/writer for seven years. I also worked with some choreographers/writers and saw how they write scripts. It is trough experiences basically.

A lot of people ask why I think script is necessary. They ask why are you inserting scripts into your piece. Sometimes, something can only be said through words, and others it can only be said through the body. What I like is that there is a game of tennis between the two medium, dance and text. Sometimes the script would push the scene forward or give it another filter to look at the movement happening.

An example of a technique Meisner invented to train actors’ responses is called the Repetition Exercise:

“In this exercise, two actors sit across from each other and respond to each other through a repeated phrase. The phrase is about each other’s behaviour, and reflects what is going on between them in the moment, such as “You look unhappy with me right now.” The way this phrase is said as it is repeated changes in meaning, tone and intensity to correspond with the behaviour that each actor produces towards the other. Through this device, the actor stops thinking of what to say and do, and responds more freely and spontaneously, both physically and vocally.The exercise also eliminates line readings, since the way the actor speaks becomes coordinated with his behavioural response.”

video introduction of Doro

Part III: philosophy

What other hobbies do you indulge in besides dance?

I do meditation. It is something that I have been inviting more into my life. Reading and laughing. I am trying to invite more love into my life. Love for the moment, love for the nature, love for people in my life, love for myself, love for my thought. Something to harvest.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

I think just be yourself. We hear that so often. In the last 4 years of living Sweden, cliches that I have heard my whole life have started so much sense. Also, this idea of loving yourself. I think I really understood what that mean only recently— to love yourself enough to be yourself, to speak your mind, to speak your thoughts, not to be apologetic about them.

What’s the best gift you’ve received?

Having a functional body. On an other level, there are so many beautiful gifts I have been given by so many friends and family. Sometimes, words or cards can be the softest and most personal gift.

If you were an animal which would you be and why?

A wild cat. I think it is something I’ve wanted to be since I was a kid. I was just thinking about it recently. I was always a bit of an outsider when I was a kid because of language purposes. Whenever we played a game like transformers or cops and robbers, I always want to be an animal. I thought that animals are the most amazing things on earth, and I always kind of imagine I was like a black wild cat. Why? For the freedom of running fast, being so agile and wild.

investigating female body ©Melanie Garcia

What’s daily ritual for you?

Flossing. If I do it in the end of the day, it means I am taking care of myself. Also, just taking time to breath usually in the morning. You just need to give five minutes, put the timer on and meditate breath.

Who or what inspires you the most?

Thinkers. Unexpected people and inspiring people. I think about my mother. You see her and expect one thing, and she would say something that you would never expect. Just people who are not afraid to say what is against the grain. They are people inspire me the most.

What does be a female in your profession means to you?

Being strong and having the strength to vulnerable as well. Being comfortable with your vulnerability. There is something I want to get back to and that is communication. I think it is so important to be unapologetic and know how to communicate in our profession. Once again, a cliche — as a woman you have to work twice as hard than men. It’s true and that’s the imperfection. It means having to speak up a little louder. It also means being comfortable with your identity, your body and your femininity. When I say femininity, by no means I am putting it into a box — I mean whatever versions of feminine power is to you. To embrace it fully, it is important for our profession. To really just listen to your internal voice, your internal organs.

Her solo UNraveling © Zawirowania festival

What would be useful tools to practice regarding acting and expressing one’s imaginations more freely? Any secrets?

Connect with the heart. You have to just be there, you have to be willing to connect, and be brave. Really connect to the heart and not making it about what you’re going to look like or sound like. When I was doing these Meisner classes with a really fantastic teacher in Montreal, they always say “the most important person in the room is the person in front of you.” In a way what that does is to take away the egoistical side of looking at yourself. There are something I have been curious about and fascinated with is how the face changes on stage. There is something about not putting on performance’s gaze. To just be present, just being there. A practice in being present is very important and very fascinating to me. How a face can be so open. If I am in situation where I am watching someone, a performer, and I feel open, I want to remember these feelings, those moments, those sensations that I feel in my face and eyes. This is how my face is supposed to be. This is how I want my soul to come out through my skin. Up through a natural face. I try to connect to that by breathing, by softening the tongue. These are tools when I try to use in moment of pressure, when it comes to acting or dancing. The tongue is a very good barometer for how stressed you are. If it’s tight, then you are holding it. That’s ok but nice to recognize it, let it go and keep going.

Any word you would like to share with our audience?

I just want to say thank you for reaching out, giving the opportunity between me and you, and also between me and your audience, an audience that maybe I am not able to reach otherwise. Also, something I have been thinking about recently is trying to invite the opportunity to connect with your body, whether it is trough yoga classes, breathing, kundalini or a dance class. I find so many of us can go through the most of our lives without connecting to their bodies. It is such a blessing to do so. The best gift really is to come back to the body.

If you are intrigued, you can find her on her Instagram @Dorosay.

You can find the Mandarin version contributed to Red Bull Taiwan here.

Thank you for your openness and generosity in our communication, Doro. This dialogue meant a lot to me. You are a very wonderful human being.

{feature} A ”modern” Flamenco woman dancing on the stage – Anna Castillo

I walked into the cafe in Wedding, waiting for Anna Castillo to enter. She showed out shortly, wearing a black top, black pants and a black pair of boots. Her hair was hanging down, unlike her stage image as I remembered. She is such a bright woman that you would easily recognise anywhere once you have met her. Anna Castillo is half German half Chile, a young flamenco dancer growing up in Berlin. She used to dance in her room with her parents. People used to tell her: this looks so flamenco. So she got into flamenco first. Describing flamenco as ‘painting the air’ at age five, Castillo got inspired by usual things with their simple movements. One step afterwards, she got inspired by flamenco festival at age eight.

That was the first time she saw the Spanish flamenco. There was an amazing young dancer called ‘La Moneta’ dancing on that stage. Castillo told her Mom, ‘I loved it. It was amazing!’ Her mom went straight to talk to that dancer. She expressed, ‘my daughter wants to dance with you.’ That was a big deal. They even went to the backstage to talk to the performer. The performer replied, ‘ok, you can take the solo classes with me. You just have to come to Granada to dance.’ That’s how Castillo starts flamenco. She went to Spain for the first time, following this specific dancer. Castillo still appreciates her mom did that. It made her first understand flamenco in a deeper way.

It was very personal and strict. She used to cry when she took classes with her. It was professional flamenco. La Moneta comes from Granada, dancing a lot at ‘Cuevas’ which is a place Gypsy used to live. It was the houses on the mountain near cacti-studded countryside. It was a deep flamenco setting. She basically understands the sense and the difficulty of flamenco. It’s not just dancing. It’s also a cultural thing we are transmitting.

What’s flamenco?

It’s a dance which comes from people who suffers a lot. They’ve never been accepted by the society. They are kind of like the outsiders. That’s why this dance has a lot of suffering and fighting in it, which makes it really strong. What does interesting to me is the ‘solo’ thing. It pushes the women into not as anyone’s background on the stage, which is really nice. A very strong woman dance of who has been discriminated for a long time. It has an important message.

However, there’s a lot of amazing male dancers. They dance a little differently. Flamenco is a very traditional thing with a traditional image, such as a woman in the red dress and a man in the black suit. That’s changing a lot. I was taught by a man how to use ‘petticoat’, which is like a big long wedding dress. Flamenco is a traditional thing but changing very fast and floaty. There’s also women dances a male role. It’s getting more and more free from that cultural perception. In the meanwhile, you have to respect the culture. It’s difficult to say how modern and traditional you want to be. The transformation is happening individually.

modernizing flamenco

Perhaps it’s my interpretation of movement. Flamenco is just changing a lot from last twenty years. People get to have for example ballet and contemporary dance so we can mix traditional flamenco movement with other movements. This is unusual. Because of like I said, fifty years back flamenco was a discriminated dance. That was not very usual to dance it. Now it spreads all over the world. It’s amazing. If flamenco dancers get very famous, they tour around the world. They go to Brazil, Tokyo and China. Fifty years back, people would not imagine that. It’s becoming so international. That’s movement of modernization and globalization. If you talk to professional dancers in the school, you would know you normally need to take flamenco classes. Because flamenco has its own character which is interesting to get to know, such as Arabic dancing and American tapping. It’s a weird combination of totally different backgrounds. It’s quite complicated including the rhythm. It’s an amazing way for people to learn different perceptions of the dance. For example, our communications with guitarists. We always work with live musicians, which is such an incredible experience. Obviously I am alone on the stage, but actually, I am not. Although I am not with other dances nor my partner. We have unspoken rules regarding the communication with the musicians, which makes us able to dance and improvise together. That’s how flamenco start.

We have rules, for example, starting a phrase. It’s called ‘Llamada’. If I do this specific movement, everyone would know the new phrase is gonna happen. Even though we have never spoken to each other, I could jump into a session doing this movement. I think that’s a really important thing people/dancers all over the world could learn from flamenco. It is an interesting way of improvisation. With the strange undercover rules, it’s almost a bit like jazz sometimes. They also communicate in a non-verbal way. Flamenco maybe is richer than jazz regarding this communication. Instead of communicating on the stage in jazz, flamenco dancers need to know specific melodies and lyrics. If you know the lyrics, you know the song has to end at some point. For example, at the end of the phrase comes ‘flowers’. You wait to improvise. The flowers are the change. Everyone knows that. Then we change to the solo of guitarist, singer or foot-tapping. It’s kind of complicated structure. I have to say myself I don’t understand it fully. It takes years to understand. From the popular dancing forms, there are twenty-four types of flamenco. We have to know all the rhythms, the singing and the melodies of the guitar. It’s a difficult art to manage. Different flamenco also has different characters. That would kind of define the improvisation as well. That’s why I sometimes like to choose my song so I could improvise freely.

Gestures & unspoken rules

I learnt these rules from stage experiences. I start doing improvisation. That’s really good to start at the young age. After going to Granada, I went to Plaza de Saint Nicolas, which is a beautiful platform to exchange with all the other live musicians there. That’s where I learn the improvisation rules. They are very free, however, the stage performances are difficult. Especially in Germany, it’s difficult to get taught. My teacher taught us doing choreography, explaining what are we dancing. We as the dancers also contribute to the way how flamenco piece gonna transform on the stage. For example, if I would dance ‘subida’ to suggest speeding up gradually, or Salida as a closer. There are workshops/ lessons for pure techniques. If I want to share or understand more of flamenco, Youtube channel is also a great resource. It changes flamenco completely. Before that, some steps and classes are secret and exclusive. Now you can go on Youtube, watching everyone dancing. You see how the structures are, how everyone respects the singers, the guitars and what the melodies are. Some people just learn on Youtube all the time. You can also google different lyrics and ways of singing. Flamenco’s textbooks are actually the internet. Every day I wake up, I watch a flamenco video. To entertain myself, or get to know the dancers I am curious about. That’s the way I get inspired a lot.

The turning point of life

One of my most important experiences in a professional setting was a dance in the flamenco centre of Berlin by Raphaela Stern, who is my main teacher. She has a flamenco night in a big church. The performance includes two singers, two guitars and two people clapping. That’s always in October. I dance twice with it. It’s always an amazing experience because we prepare a year for that. Even after 15 years of experience, it’s challenging to understand all the steps for dancing nicely. This year, there was another experience which changed my personality and dancing. It was a participation in the Club Oval Battle. The reason is I am pretty young in flamenco scene. There are two or three other ones in my age. But I feel lonely sometimes. I needed to learn more. I was desperate to learn more. I wanted to know how the dancing world looks like in Berlin. Although I am from Berlin, I have no idea about other dance scenes except flamenco. That really depressed me. After seeing Club Oval on facebook, I decided to participate the next time.

I was incredibly nervous at the first time. I only told one friend that I would participate. That’s was a heavy raining day. I came after university with my backpack and computer. My friend told me she’s not gonna have dinner with parents for coming to see me. At that moment I knew I need to go. It turned out Club Oval changed my half of the year completely. It made me a flamenco dancer with more self-confidence, forcing me to dance with non-flamenco music. That’s why I actually participated the Diggs Deeper Berlin. I got to know one of my best friend who I met in the Club Oval in July 2017. I was participating three times in a roll. I won every single one of them. That was something I would have never expected if you would have asked me a half year ago. I was so shy, feeling excluded from this huge dancing scene in Berlin. Suddenly I was so accepted and welcomed by this event. That was a real surprise for me, a most important turning point of my life. I realized this completely new scene that I want to explore and learn. I want to take something from it into flamenco. Club oval is such an interesting place. It is definitely one of my favourite places in Berlin. I feel so motivated by the people I met in Club Oval, that’s why I am going exchange in Madrid Spain for a half year. A lot of things change.

Anna Castillo by Shantel Liao

How does the urban dance/flamenco scene look like in Berlin?

I have no idea what is it like in Hip Hop community. It is really big. I am just myself still discovering it. I was surprised that they are so accepting me as a flamenco dancer. I was able to participate! I would describe it as an open scene. Everything I have seen is inspiring. Every time I went club Oval I met someone inspiring to me. Then I went classes with them. For example, Prince was my judge in the Club Oval twice. He invited me to dance with him in a show ‘BI NKA BI – Tanz in seiner höchsten Form’ at Pfefferberg Theater, which is the same place I met my teacher La Moneta the first time. For me, it was kind of emotional that fifteen years later to dance in that theatre. That was amazing. I also went to another judge’s wrecking class. I am sure you can use the wrecking dance somehow in flamenco. I also met the entire voguing scene. I think the Hip-Hop scene is really well connected. I was so surprised. I would never expect that. I also a little bit of shame of myself that I felt different and afraid. I was not even trying. I lost so much time and energy, instead of just trying. Everyone is so welcoming.

I dance Flamenco since I was five. I tried everyone out in all the different districts. It’s relatively small. Now we have Spanish teachers coming to Berlin two or three times a year in the different schools. That’s really nice because we are not so isolated anymore. I also travelled to other cities for flamenco. It is all over Germany. Berlin has the good amount of people, musicians and other resources. We never dance to CD. There is always singers or guitarists joining.

Which city is the most suitable place for flamenco?

Seville in Spain is the Capital of flamenco. You can find good flamenco in every corner. Once a while, I would go Seville for learning more. It has festivals and crazy good schools. Madrid is also a good spot. There are things happening. You just need to be aware of it. In flamenco, all the different city has its own flamenco atmosphere depending on the circumstances. Granada has its Arabic influences. Without knowing it, there’s a lot of Arabic touch to it. You want to understand flamenco, you have to visit all the different places to be a part of the different scenes. So to speak, travelling is necessary.

What motivates you to continue this journey? What’s your drive?

Oh god! I wouldn’t say I have a specific drive. It’s quite funny. I sometimes try not to dance flamenco, or I can’t dance flamenco because of my study. Then I got really depressed. Like the last two weeks, I couldn’t dance, and I am having nightmares everyday. I would say it’s almost like a surviving skill for me. I don’t know it’s good or bad, but I just need it. It is my deepest way of the communication. It’s also the only way I know to dance. I’ve always been dancing. I can’t imagine myself not dancing in the future. It’s bad for my own health if I don’t dance anymore. But obviously, my drive is also to be a part of this movement, which is ‘modernizing flamenco’, bring flamenco to a wider audience. A lot of people think flamenco with a specific image, like having the red flower in the head. Flamenco is way much more. We are also learning from other styles. We are having new instruments, new dance forms and cooperators into the movement. I want to push that too. I feel like flamenco is such an interesting way of communication. I want to bring it to more people to see it. How beautiful it is.

Anything you would like to share with our audience interested in creativities?

From what I learn from the experiences, not being afraid of the audience is very important for a dancer. It is so difficult. Even I have so many experiences dancing on the street of Spain, I am still afraid of showing myself in Berlin. That’s just because I was feeling different. We need to explore and understand differences. You need to see the different styles, dancing in different battles. I wish people would be willing to show themselves, standing for their own identities. it’s important to show these differences, which is not only important as a person but also for the dance community, even the whole society. So we can explore more, get inspired. I love to get inspired, seeing what other people do. It’s so nice! Not everyone is gonna like you anyways. It’s worth to show a little bit because someone gonna appreciate you.

With many thanks to Anna Castillo
Photos credits/ Ralf Bieniek and Shantel Liao
Original article in Mandarin contributing to Red Bull please see the link

New wave of Berlin-based Frantics

Various characters but close as family, Frantics is a Berlin-based dance company, found in 2015 by a group of young talents. They met each other in 2013, Berlin. Strike to be different from B-Boys scene, they decided to do something else. Due to the contacting source with the contemporary dance scene, they start to create choreography and other theatre pieces. Following by that, they got noticed by public and theatre scene, instead of staying in the underground. As well known production team in Berlin, Germany, they just published their latest piece “Last” in Sophiensaele. Catching the free time during their intense rehearsal, here’s the exclusive interview to share with you all.Start from zero, they prove to the world that anything is possible. At very first step, all of them had other works and plans to support them surviving as artists in the underground scene. But the situation has changed since 2014, just about two years ago. It was the year they created the first piece, right after that, all of them focus on teaching, workshops and winning battles in the dance field. For them, the changing point of the whole group is when one of the member Juan joined major theatre as a dancer. He shared everything he learns with Frantics. So to speak, that was the influence of making Frantics stronger, also the base of how they look like now. This year, they got invited to produce a program in Sophiensaele, major theatre in Berlin. For that, they had an audition for one more new member. Amazingly, it turned out to be a great energy flow in for the group, and their new production “Last” just published this week.

 To synchronize everyone on the same channel, they play vivid roles in the group. For example, Marco does more organizing and theatre-related preparations, Diego directs the creating process with sharp logic and gentle voices, Juan always bring massive ideas for everyone to try it out, Carlos remains the whole group in peace, and Young Won provides strong concepts of spaces and counting beats, along with solid determinations. Everyone in the group is rather a sensitive artist, but for them, to learn how to deal with people saying no is exactly how they grow together. As equal position for everyone in Frantics, all of them are both dancers and choreographers. Instead of giving anyone powers to be the boss, they prefer to decide everything within Frantics as a group. This fundamental mindset is also the reason they decide to start up a company to call the owner, but not to join a major dance company in Europe. No one tries to play all the roles in the group. Based on mutual respect, they are coworkers and friends at the same time, to truly understand and listen to each other’s needs.

While we talk about the situation of co-creating for this piece or in general, they said the most common ways for them to build up an idea, is to find the start point resonated with what emotions they try to communicate with others. Later on, to create visuals, spaces and choreography by creating and looking at images at certain spaces. Of course, everyone has their own ideas about what they want to say, but to find the balance between different bodies with different qualities becomes the crucial point for them to work as a group. In this process, more or less there would be some fights, but they always try to sit back and talk about why they want to present this particular choreography with everyone. So to speak, the creating process allows everyone to use their own creativities, also to continue their own body movements research. Even everyone comes from the similar background, but to really look at it, every human has their way of living. Most of the time, they agree and disagree with each other at the same time, and this mutual understanding is exactly what makes them outstanding as a group.

This year, they are invited to participate in Fuse the world 2017 happening in Taiwan. If they figure out the time for teaching and making choreography, they might also apply for residency of Soulangh Artist Village. Hope to communicate their voice with unique European flavours, could be brought completely to the audience in Taiwan.

What’s the concept of this collective piece “Last” published this January?

In the whole picture, we hope to present how the mind tricks the realities and time in certain situations.This idea came from our daily training and the concept of time. Step by step, we decide the further direction with more specific research, especially regarding this topic so open and including millions of possibilities, we called it time. For us, we try to capture the different perceptions that human brains interact at certain situations. To make it more clear, just imagine the car accident. While human bodies receiving a traumatic injury, it extends the time longer than it actually is. Which means, you might feel like it’s half-hour accident, but it’s just within few seconds. In order to process this concept, we present people’s body languages in daily life, also to show the perceptions under circumstances. In addition, we blend in the relationships between us in a playful way for our audiences in the theatre. In the end, add up repertoires for replaying the human brain’s reactions toward new and habits, regarding the time differences.

Which city is the most suitable place for dance and creativities?

Diego: For me, the crucial point to decide is the characters of a city.
Marco: Places near sea and sunshine, maybe south of Spain. The best solution for me is to live in other cities in summer, and back to Berlin in the end of winter. As a city, Berlin brings us so many inspirations. Here is the place we start to know more people in the very beginning.
Carlos: Dance scene in Berlin is massive, but maybe not so much in breakdance and Hip Hop. Since they seem like against each other sometimes, although this situation is changing now. As a dancer, we still need to struggle a bit or making the ideas come out. But yes, Berlin is really nice, especially how supportive people are in conceptual creations. And now we are facing the new wave of dancing.
Juan: It feels good to create in Berlin like we mostly inspiring by surrounding people’s moving ways, music and architectures. There is a strong relationship between how we look like and how Berlin looks like. On the other hand, to stay in Berlin for the whole year is a bit tough, so we try to find the balance between different cities. Although people in Berlin seems like much more supportive of theatre art and creativities, compared to the warm cities like south of Spain or Italy.
Young Won: Berlin is nice, although any capitals in Europe countries might also work, it’s much more expensive to live in Paris and London. I was studying dance in a small town in Austria for five years. They support creativities with lots of sources, but in the end, no one comes to the theatre to see the performance. It made me miss the young spirits.

Dancer’s biggest inspiration is themselves. To embrace the imperfections of their body, so you can become perfect, by accepting the nature of human bodies.

How you describe the relationship between music and movements in your piece?

First of all, we enjoy dancing on the beats in some situations. But we found it more interesting when you have another layer of movements. In practices, we often use music with rich atmospheres, then we give it the beats from our own definitions. In this way, the dance seems more playful with vivid colours. For example, we play music and see how we feel about it by natural body movements, afterwards, we identify it with certain movement’s settings. So for us, the beginning of music research and choreography is separated, if we don’t feel good with the music, it would be strange to actually use it.

Best events/parties/festival you ever been?

Atonal, It was the very first time all of us went something together. Also the Mira Festival in Barcelona, it just happened two months ago when we first met Young Won. Altogether, we participated residency in Barcelona, and at the last weekend, we experienced all kinds of art like lightings, designs and installations in a party. It was inspiring to us. Besides, we all like Tim Hecker and saw the lives there.

With many thanks to Frantics and all members of Frantics
Photos & videos credit/ Alvaro S.Rodriguez, Derek Pedros, Projeto SOLO
Original article in Mandarin contributing to Red Bull please see the link

Unknown journey of Daniel Rojas in celebrating the life

Arrived in Zurich, Switzerland, in the kitchen with the working heater and hot tea on hands, we breathe in fresh air and share about the core of dance, live, social changing and beautiful memories on the road here. Aim to contribute ourselves to something bigger, soon I realize how kind, talented and heart-warming my new friends are. They are not just dancers, facilitators or teachers, they are real human beings. Thanks to the conversations in lovely kitchen, one of my new friend named Daniel(aka Sonic) and I, surprisingly discovered our connection with RedBull and B-Boying scene. By chance, we decided to put this article together, for sharing this wonderful journey in dance. Most importantly, continue to offer love and energy to the world.

Daniel Rojas as known as B-Boy Sonic, originally from Colombia and moved to Denmark when age sixteen. Found himself in Singapore for the new wave of life, he has continually contributed himself to dance, movements, performing art and entertainments for over twenty years. Focus on spreading healing love, inspirations and energy around the world, he is also the founder of legendary crew Natural Effects and Embodied Dance combining his own concept of movements and dance. Just like he said, his feeling toward dance is only growing stronger than ever.

I’m a traveler, a father, a lover, a teacher and a student. I’m no one, and at the same time, I’m everything!!!! I’m simply grateful,

As far as Daniel could remember, he always loves to dance. It was 1996 when he first met breakdance, right after moved to Denmark. Since then, he has been devoted himself to this wonderful dance with his heart and soul. And the ride is still unfolding itself by creating endless movements every second. Wondering how Daniel transforms between different styles and dance forms that seem more spiritual, he said to us, ‘In my understandings, everybody has a spirit, it makes us all spiritual beings. Every time I freeze, I simply try listening to my body more. In that silence, I found the real music. The music of my heart playing by my spirit.’ That melodies guide him through every step and move, direct him to use dance to a full potential. Not longer, Daniel bumped into Meditation and Yoga, along with many other amazing art forms of movements. Following by that, slowly Embodied Dance was born, a creation from his personal journey as a dancer, a mover. Breakdance was just one of the key to open the door of this endless journey. For now, he’s blessed to share the dance in different communities through facilitating Embodied Dance around the world, also support the art of movements to grow. Furthermore, Daniel and his beloved created a dance journey called Shiva Devi Dance Journey, a form of ecstatic dance where he plays instruments along to a playlist he mixes, to bring people into a two hours dance meditation journey. He also teaches in conscience physical conditioning training, yoga and active meditations sometimes.


Curious about his story, we softly share some conversations in the kitchen under the candles lights. As he said, those memories are more like magical and unforgettable moments for him. Those unknown spots on this earth where he has been experienced many times because of dance. Like dog sledge in the mountains of Greenland, or meditating in Crystal Caves in Malaysia, through his sharing, those stories became part of my memories in life journey. In the end, he said, ‘what makes this journey unforgettable is to have the opportunities to be able to share endless inspirations, regardless wherever I go and whoever I meet. We all meet humbly through movements and dance. I consider myself very blessed.’

How do you describe the relationship between music and movements in your choreography?

Simplicity, unmasked, honest, freedom, creative, celebration, live, love and dance.

Resonated with modern society, political and human races dilemma, what’s your perspectives concerning to take responsibilities as an artist on this planet?

For me, art isn’t particularly one thing. If I do describe it as a thing, it is the only thing we can come to touch and have, but just for a moment. In my opinion, everybody is an artist, an artist of life. So in this life, we are experiencing, we have to be open to keep learning, in order to share some more. By doing so, we can educate each other’s hearts, and help each other to see the realities more clear, which is what this beautiful planet is going through. Our responsibility is to evolve consciously.

To leave peacefully and joyfully with yourself. Acceptance and learn to let it go, until you find yourself in pure, unmasked and endless LOVE, for yourself and the rest of the world.

What music you are listening recently?

Music that fills me with inspirations for more creations, like having a story or a message behind. Music full of magical endless rhythms that it can bring me in and out through wonderful journeys, and leaves my heart with a big smile.

Best events/parties/festival you ever been?

 Oh so many. In Hip Hop culture, I would say Battle Of the Year, IBE, UK B-Boy Championships, Euro Battle, Red Bull BC One and Floor Wars, etc…In the spiritual community, would be Bali Spirit Festival, Sound & Silence Festival in Greece and soon some more to add to list.

With many thanks to Daniel Rojas
Original article in Mandarin contributing to Red Bull please see the link.

The born of Berlin Diggs Deeper

Sometimes, a scene or short clip would communicate more than words, but when we speak about dance and performing art, the energy of self-witnessing is incomparable with anything else. I participated in a dance event as a dancer while doing my very first solo performance. It is a new form of dance event born in LA, nurturing freestylers to fully express themselves, share their passion, love, inspirations and personal stories with the audience. Nobody watched the performance through their phone screens, thanks to the principle of no video recording enforced by the organizer.Just like the underground music scene in Berlin, by giving you two stickers to cover the cameras before entering, what’s happening inside stays inside, no video and photo. And it’s your free will to follow the rules or not. I see this as mutual respect and understanding, whatever you see, it’s for that moment, the privilege of people on scene to experience. In other words, it can only be tasted.

While celebrating this incredible event arriving in Berlin, we share a little conversation about Diggs Deeper with house dancer/event organizer Madeleine Schulze, a 24 years old German who used to live in France, U.K. and U.S for the past 6 years. Diggs Deeper, been held in Phoenix, San Diego, Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco and so on, now coming to its first international location Berlin, by fusing juicy organic vibes within the city and its dancers, expand to its maximum.

Encountered with Diggs Deeper while she lived in San Francisco Bay Area, it was November 2015 when Madeleine attended it for the first time. It blew her mind. As she mentioned, she used to be surrounded by a highly competitive environment from the European perspective, and Diggs Deeper offered her a completely new way of celebrating art. Deeply inspired by that, she decided to get down to the floor at the upcoming one in February 2016. Following up, she determined to share this wonderful experience with the community in Europe.

Madeleine described the Bay Area as a big pool of artists of all kinds, the performing arts community is different from what she’d seen until that point. The dancers are extremely creative, offering everyone who shares their passion a family vibe and community to exchange with. In the meantime, providing all sorts of supports with dance styles and personal projects from individuals. So to speak, what impressed her the most is the spirituality and love those dancers shared.

Everyone is the crucial parts of Diggs Deeper, no matter we are talking about performers, audiences or music. This is the momentum between creations and sensations, what’s inside can only be tasted.

As the organizer of Berlin Diggs Deeper, she shared her insights into what this event is all about. Which is, same as their statement of mission, creating a safe space for artists to be fully self-expressed, surface awareness and acknowledge to culture, and to bring individuals into leadership, regardless what location the venue is. They were able to communicate this spirit and realize it at the very first Berlin Diggs Deeper event.

Founded in July 2013 by Jojo Diggs who was born in Germany, Diggs Deeper presents the awareness and acknowledgement of culture evolving from dancers and allows to capture the intimate and authentically raw momentum in creating processes, exist powerfully beyond the dance event. It successfully fuses multiple cultures in an organic way, leaves people feeling reminded and healed. As a ground for artists to feel completely safe to create, no video recording allowed. By doing so, those memories become unspokenly precious, a certain kind of touch that no media is able to recap, or copied a thousand times for people to review afterwards.

How was the process of making this event happen in Berlin? Any stories behind you want to share?

The process was indeed a lot of enjoyable work. Creating awareness about a new format, with a completely different mission from what dancers in Berlin are used to, represented the biggest challenge. I spoke to at least 75% of the performers either on the phone or via chat to explain what the event is about and make them understand why Diggs Deeper is different than other events and competitions they’ve participated in in the past. That was very time-consuming. I did my best to explain the concept in our Facebook event and still, questions like “Who will be judging?” And “How do the preselections work?” were asked on a regular basis.

Which city is the most suitable place for dance and creativities?

That is a broad question. I think every city has its unique things to offer when it comes to art and dance. I personally had the best experience in the Bay Area, just because of the mindset of the people, but I find inspiration and artistic power in every place.

How would you describe the relationship between music and movements?

 First of all, I think that movement and music come from the same source, heart and soul. There wouldn’t be music if there were no feelings and there wouldn’t be dance either. Movement and music are ultimately connected to each other, music is moving and movement can look like music. One inspires the other.

Best places you ever been?

I am not a big festival person. I’ve been to quite a few good parties all over the world but I certainly can’t remember all of them. Regarding dance events, in particular, I would say Diggs Deeper, House Dance Forever, Juste Debout, Paris-Berlin Dance Festival, Cercle Underground, Footwork Frenzy, Funkin’ Stylez, and many more.

With many thanks to Madeleine Schulze & Berlin Diggs Deeper
For more information please see the official website and Facebook fan page.
Original article in Mandarin contributing to Red Bull please see the link.

Spanish dream, Deltebre Dansa!

It is said that if you can dream it, you can make it. And this is how the Festival Deltebre Dansa began: with a dream. Since he started his studies and the artistic career as a professional dancer and choreographer, travelling has always seemed the only way out. But, ‘why should this be always like this? Perhaps I could reverse the situation and make people come to my land,’ he thought. Here they are, with a great event in our hands. It has been 13 consecutive years of hard work.

What about the most challenging situation at the outset of the process?

 It was the venues. In any case, the challenge has ended up becoming one of the main attractions of the Festival. In every edition, the Festival carries with it an ephemeral city. An entire city of Performing Arts is created out of the blue in Deltebre, which is an idyllic setting at the heart of the Ebre Delta. And after 15 days of pure intensity as a capital of Culture, everything disappears again.

Local people understand Performing Arts as an important tool that help people think and express. We have created a questioning audience.

Any impressive people or stories you have encountered inside and outside of dance field, that you would like to share?

Overall these years we have come across many impressive and beautiful stories both inside and outside the dance field. As an example, in 2016’s edition, one of the women’s associations of Deltebre gifted us with an artistic action. They had been knitting for months lots of metres of colourful fabrics in order to decorate the trees of the Festival’s Performance & leisure spaces.

What do you believe, regarding the mission of Deltebre Dansa or performing arts?

Dance is motion and motion is life. Dance is the most flexible way of communication we can articulate, a dialogue without words that is able to express it all. The great advantage of Performing Arts is its capacity to connect several fields in order to create new languages. And in this sense, the Festival Deltebre Dansa is working very hard to create a space where different disciplines of movement can be intertwined and create new forms. It is time to switch our attention from the pure disciplines to the mixed fields.

How did you get into dance?

As simple as seeing breakdance competitions on 70’s TV programs. But also getting mesmerized by movies like DIRTY DANCING or 80’s video clips of MICHAEL JACKSON and MADONNA. I only could think that those are REAL people… and I was wondering why not to try to be one of those who makes their passion and profession a way of living. Since I am a hard worker person … and a little bit stubborn… I made it happen after some years!

Who or what inspires you?

Even if it sounds strange what I am going to say that is the truth: when I was a kid I lived a lot in the mountains, very close and merged to nature. Seeing certain natural beauty acting (rainbows, trees moved by strong wind, insects and animals doing their thing, rain and colours of the sky) gave me further more than inspiration, it gave me admiration for the beautiful things of life and seeing the world as a full option of possibilities. I feel merged with nature, and my inner nature is movement. I feel calm when I dance, I feel my mission in this world is taking place when expressing my feelings and emotions in this particular way.

Festival Deltebre Dansa 2017, #nativenomad | Summary video about 13th edition from Vèrtex Comunicació on Vimeo.

What’s your vision for performing arts for next five years? What would be the next coming innovation in your perspective?

We are living nowadays a very strange moment. At all levels. I think something strong has to come from this general chaos. I am not sure what will it be the innovation in the future, but I know it doesn’t bring us anywhere positive to keep on feeding that selfish attitude accompanied of ignorance and little interest for other existing things. We should think differently if we want to adapt to the new changing conditions and to rebuild empathy and respect. Therefore works with lots of honesty, simplicity and sincerity has a lot to bring to the upcoming spiritual needs.

Any words you would like to share with our audience?

Of course. I would like to remind people that dreams can come true, but not magically. It is all a matter of hard work, persistence and thrill. As an example, the Festival Deltebre Dansa is a project that reminds us that we must bet on that in what we believe because this is how we managed to transform a small dance workshop into an international festival of Performing Arts.

With many thanks to Frantics, Festival Deltebre Dansa & Roberto Olivan
For more information about Festival Deltebre Dansa please see the official website.
Original article in Mandarin contributing to Red Bull please see the link.


Ephemera Dance Company Presents ‘Kairos’

I have met a lot of incredible human beings in Berlin, and Katrina Elizabeth is one of those who influences my understandings of choreography and dance. Trained as a contemporary dancer at the San Francisco Conservatory and the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, she is a mover first and foremost. She believes the body, this fleshy thing which we are stuck with is our most intelligent guide and friend throughout this life. Through poetry, movement and music she aims to trigger dormant cracks and corners of her body into memory, into movement. She calls this, embodied memory.’ Most of these memories are complex, grey areas-the grotesque. This year, she starts the experiment into working with others in this grey area, by creating the dance company Ephemera Dance Company. As artistic director, she collaborates with an amazing team of women to trigger their memories of the border, the places in between.

I believe the body, this fleshy thing which we are stuck with is our most intelligent guide and friend throughout this life. Through poetry, movement and music I aim to trigger dormant cracks and corners of my body into memory, into movement.ーKatrina Elizabeth

Elizabeth was motivated to found her company by a lack of compassion and rhetorical shortcomings she witnessed in her life as a professional dancer. As a dancer she often found herself being objectified by the choreographers I worked with. Most of this objectification was unconscious on the part of the men and women she worked with. Objectification it was, nonetheless. EDC is her venture into treating the body and memory with utmost care, a research into vocabulary, into the body, into the triggers which a life in a dance setting can hold. To value the collaborators as people first, and movers/musicians/filmmakers second.

Why did you choose to create a females only environment for your company?

EDC is a women’s company because we work with embodied memories. Often these are quite ugly places to go into. First and foremost, I decided to work only with women in order to create a safer atmosphere. Secondly, I think in dance (as with most fields) women are treated differently than men- in terms of everything from movement vocabulary to salary. I wanted to make a women’s company in order to create an opportunity for women in the arts. Finally, I am a fan of the female figure (female-identifying, by which I do not mean genetically female necessarily but anyone who identifies as a woman) I believe identifying as female changes the way we move through the world. I am a big fan of this movement, I call it, the fembody expression.

What is it mean to you for being a female in your professions?

I’m going to be unpopular for this answer…I think it’s tougher for us ladies. There are so many more women in dance that it is inevitably more competitive for us to get jobs. Furthermore, as a choreographer, I have repeatedly seen male choreographers move ahead of myself. Sure, they are brilliant, but often I think, as in most professions, there is a subconscious bias that moves people away from seeing and appreciating a woman in a high-level position.

Kairos Trailer from Ephemera Dance Company on Vimeo.

Ephemera Dance Company is my act of resistance. It is me telling the dance world that it IS in fact possible to create a safe, successful, and professional environment within a dance context.ーKatrina Elizabeth

What’s the concept behind your latest production?

The Greek word “Kairos” means the ‘opportune time.’ It is an alternative to chronological time, instead, it is the amalgamation of meaningful moments. “Kairos” is a collage of memories. Six dancers, six poems, six stories. Each dancer moves through her own score, sometimes encountering others on the way, in trios, duets and group choreographies. With “Kairos” I worked with the brilliant electronic musician E.L.L.I (Katja Kettler) who created an original score for the show. This score integrates elements of text recited by the dancer. In “Kairos” we investigate the borders between movement and text, memory and body. It is playful, heartbreaking and poignant to look into the embodied memories of these brave women.

How does the creating process go with your team?

We work with a combination of structured improvisations and choreography. We always begin with the text. Each dancer is given a series of questions from me. I then abstract their answers and create poems from them. These poems then become the scores for a structured improvisation. As such, the movement becomes the living explication of the poem. I also collaborate with Kamilla Gylfadóttir on film and through her lens catch a glimpse of where the moment needs to go. With that glimpse, I then fill in the rest of the piece with my own choreography.

Anything you would like to share with youth interested in creativities?

Whatever the creative medium you have chosen to work with, wake up every day and tell yourself: “Today I will define dance/art/music/film/etc. anew.” Do not let the medium you are working in define you. It must be treated as a living being, ever changing, ever ephemeral, ever just beyond your grasp. As artists, it is our duty to try to capture glimpses of the definition of our field. Each day we must wake up and be open to seeing dance (in my case) as a completely new and ever-changing phenomenon.

With many thanks to Ephemera Dance Company & Katrina Elizabeth
For more information about Ephemera Dance Company please see their viemo and Facebook.
Original article in Mandarin contributing to Red Bull please see the link.


monschau&barvulsky presents ‘’Rückenwind’’

 Julia Monschau is one of the wonderful human beings I have met in Berlin. Their latest production “Rückenwind” was incredibly touched. I feel the passion and determination from the world they created. The crowd was supporting with great energy. The production team “monschau&barvulsky” is made up by two female dancers, Octavia Barvulsky and Julia Monschau. Their goal is to create and perform projects manifested of their own artistic visions—inspired by pictures and scenes of daily life. They do things to find new ways abstracting and developing their own language. And they celebrated lives. If someone asks me why we need to go to the theatre, I would say it’s because you feel the sensation to live in another universe.

I wonder what motivates her to create their own piece. She responded, “when you start creating something, you never know where it leads you to discover in the end, or if there is an end. For example, sometimes you finish a piece, and the same idea keeps you still awake at nights.“

She added, the working process is super exciting for her. It opens up new places who haven’t been before. One would never stop learning and ask questions. So to speak, the motivation is to find this new places, to build this different worlds and characters, like a book or movie that takes you in.


What’s the concept behind the latest production ‘Rückenwind’?

Our Starting point for the production “Rückenwind“ was a poem—“Liberté by Paul Éluard“, discussing what it means to us and the personal interpretation of it. After that, we created four characters, who live together in a fictive world/scene. To complete the story, every dancer had to fill up his character with life and a story behind it. In order to do so, we start to think of the character. For example, figuring out how he looks, talk, walk and reacts to the others and the fictive world/scene they live in. Considering that, the interpretation of characters of the poem had a big influence on the story. We worked together with two other dancers, Kostis Spyrou and Nina Baake. In addition, we celebrated with a musician named Tim Leimbach.

How does the creating process go with your team?

Normally we start with different images, that we have and create a whole world around it. For instance, we ask questions such as What kind of characters would live in it? What’s the relationship between them? How’re their personalities? And then, we just go with the flow and play around. We never take ourselves too seriously.

Trailer “Rückenwind” from Julia Monschau on Vimeo.


What is it mean to you for being a female in your professions?

To be honest, we never think about being a female when we create. We don’t see ourselves as female or male because it is not important for creating and developing your own thoughts, feelings and ideas. We create as a human being. We just live. Life doesn’t make a difference between genders when it goes along.

What or who inspires you?

Life, the world and everything. For instance, a falling leaf, the sound, the feelings, the facial expressions of people/animals. How they walk, act, react to each other and behave in situations. If we look behind the curtain, what is hidden? Is it really exist? So to speak, the energy around every particular molecule on the planet inspires us.

Anything you would like to share with youth interested in creativities?

Just do it. Don’t be afraid of expressing yourself or failing. There is no right or wrong. Most importantly, be patient and trust yourself.

With many thanks to Julia Monschau & tomonschau&barvulsky

For more information about monschau&barvulsky, please check their Facebook page.

Original article in Mandarin contributing to Red Bull please see the link.