Wednesday, 18 July 2018

INTERVIEW: Andre Kamienski on his new double bill 'An Evening, A Beginning'

In conversation with The Insanity in Dancing about his upcoming double bill, Andre Kamienski talks about his commitment to feminism, his intrigue with conspiracy theories, and his desire to reveal the intimacies and emotional baggage with which our bedrooms are all too familiar. KAMIENSKI.'s two new works, BED and X is M00explore two aspects of creation– emotional and analytical - delivering both pleasure and challenge for audience members. KAMIENSKI.'s double bill entitled An Evening, A Beginning premiers at Blue Elephant Theatre on 19-21 July: "witness the beginning as we take you on a journey, starting in a bedroom and going all the way to the M00n".

1. KAMIENSKI. is known for its combination of performing and visual arts. What intrigues you about multidisciplinary dance?

I believe dance is a visual form. I have always had my doubts about collaborating with musicians, for example, so often one overtakes the other and becomes neglected, or a background to the primary. When dance combines with visual forms, it complements the other and makes it a whole. In my head, dance runs like a series of images, which are always intertwined with light, set, design, and projection. It’s never just about the body. I always ask myself: “why would you just create an image, when you can make a universe?”

2. Can you tell us a bit about KAMIENSKI.’s commitment to feminism and equality?

When I graduated in 2015, I started noticing how different my experience was compared to my closest friends who graduated with me, and who were female. From little things like the ratio of being invited to auditions when you’re a man compared to when you’re a woman, to bigger scale things, like expectations of levels of fitness and technique. I wanted to have conversations with these friends, I wanted to listen, to understand, to question these things. 

KAMIENSKI. dancers in rehearsal (PC: Noel Shelley)

Then, looking at some repertoire by other companies, especially in classical ballet, I noticed that partnering always followed the same format, where the female is always the one who is lifted, supported and partnered. So I wondered whether there are companies that break from that format - and what I found is that the most popular ones, with great amount of funding and following, were breaking the tradition by always making a full male cast, sometimes even putting some of their male dancers in drag. I was inspired to create a company where the partnering work doesn’t follow the traditional pairing format, and where the company is a full female cast. 

I am committed to being an ally for women in dance and in life. I voice my concerns on the matter to other men in the industry, and learn how to not become a part of the problem. Women have raised me, trained me, made me the person and artist I am today - to know that there is so much inequality out there and ignore it would be a very wrong thing to do. 

3. Tell us a little about your choreographic process for BED and X is M00n.

It has definitely been a challenging process as the two works are so different. X is M00n is full of many changes, counts, connections, and the idea is that there’s ten smaller pieces within one. BED on the other hand is a work where I cry in every rehearsal no matter how hard I try to keep it in, it’s so personal it kind of hurts every time. 

Choreographer Andre Kamienski in rehearsal (PC: Noel Shelley)

But apart from the typical “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS HAPPENING” moments from time to time, I have had an incredible choreographic journey. That is all thanks to the wonderful talent I have worked with and their full commitment to the project. None of it would have happened if it weren’t for the dancers’ invested energy in this journey. 

4. What motivated to you draw upon ideas of partnership, connection and intimacy in BED

I was always afraid of making work that was personal. But when I looked at Tracey Emin’s My Bed, and how brave she was to put herself out there in such a raw way, I knew there was always something in my head that in a way needed to get out. 

So then I thought of a bed, or a bedroom, and how much actually happens there - our beds are very familiar with our laughs, our tears, our intimacy... I think our rooms know us inside out. So, from there I thought: “how can I expose all this? How do I transfer all this emotional baggage from my room into choreography?” and the story kind of wrote itself, and the two dancers in the work have done a beautiful job in finding their vulnerability in exposure. I’m aiming for a work with no lies. 

5. What have you enjoyed the most about creating the double bill? 

I think the most enjoyable thing in every creative process is working with people who trust you - no matter how crazy the image in your head is, they commit to giving it 100%. Every second spent in the studio with the company dancers has been the most beautiful experience, which I will never forget. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by them and being offered their commitment to my creation. I know that without Karianne, Harriet, Amy, Tuva, Gabriella and Abigail the show wouldn’t exist. Every second spent with them is a blessing. 

KAMIENSKI. rehearsals (PC: Noel Shelley)

Also, working with my collaborator, Afra, who is a visual artist, is always a joy as she gets my thinking and transfers it into reality in such an effortless way. 

6. What can we expect from the combination of physics and movement in X is M00n?

What inspired X is M00n is my late night studies about conspiracy theories, moon landing, and whether it all links together. 

Then I realised physics has a lot of movement in it - from the force of gravity, through the passage of energy like in Newton’s cradle... there’s so much we are not paying attention to. There will definitely be more than plenty to explore! Be ready to witness a rather unusual journey. 

7. Lastly, what one word of advice would you give other young male dance artists in the industry?

Look around, be observant and listen. People have incredible stories to tell - get inspired. 

KAMIENSKI.'s double bill, An Evening, A Beginning, will be showing at the Blue Elephant Theatre from 19-21 July. Find out more here.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

INTERVIEW: Hagit Yakira on Hagit Yakira dance's autumn 2017 tour

Award-winning Hagit Yakira dance presents Free Falling, an open-hearted double bill of down-to-earth dance that’s sensual, striking and a beautiful respite from the hustle and bustle.

Based on a collection of stories gathered through years of working as a therapist, Hagit Yakira has created a powerful and atmospheric mixed bill that eloquently uncovers real life experiences about common uncertainties we share.

In anticipation of Hagit Yakira dance’s autumn tour, The Insanity In Dancing interviews Hagit to find out more about her background and her choreographic work.

Hagit Yakira (PC: Camilla Greenwell)

Maya Pindar: tell us about your time in Israel as a young person, how did you discover dance?

Hagit Yakira: I discovered dance at three different moments in my life. First as a little girl, I always danced, I loved it! Then again in my teens whilst dancing at the Jerusalem academy of music and dance I developed a complex relationship to dance - kind of love and hate relationships to it. And then in my early 30s when I chose choreography as my profession; when I realised that dance is what I have to do. I have to dance, create and make other people move.

MP: tell us about your choreographic processes and methods

HY: I work collaboratively, meaning I come to a process with a subject matter, with a sensation, with an idea. I then offer it to the dancers through different physical tasks, improvisation and group work and see what happens. I direct the dancers to a state of mind and a teamwork which I wish to convey on stage - I try not to force it on the dancers, but to lead them to it through very demanding and precise physical explorations. In that way there is a constant dialogue between the dancers and me. 
I am an emotional woman; I understand the world through my feelings, sensations, emotions and this is also how I treat my work. It is emotional and therefore and accordingly the creative process is as well. In that way I treat emotions, sensations and feelings as a concept to explore intellectually and physically. To me they are a most insightful source of knowledge to explore and experiment with. 

PC: Camilla Greenwell

MP: what inspired you to draw upon your experiences as a therapist for Free Falling?

HY: The depth and richness of being a human being. What I mean is – is that as a therapist I met many sides of humanity that I was less aware of – different scales of compassion, empathy, struggles, pain, acceptance, patience - it was important for me - still is - to work with these. 

MP: what has the biggest challenge been in the creation of the double bill?

HY: Time and money! This is probably something all the artists who work within the scale that we do have to face. Very little means, not much time but very big expectations.

MP: in a nutshell, what can we expect from Free Falling?

HY: Feelings, emotions, humanity and connectivity.

PC: Camilla Greenwell

MP: finally, which one piece of advice would you now offer a young Hagit?

HY: Do it your own way! Don't give up and always combine it with other things - with life! With love! With friends, food, traveling, books whatever takes you away from dance a bit... Give it everything you can but then know when to give it absolutely nothing!

Free Falling collaborators - 
Sabio Janiak                            Music
Michael Mannion                   Lighting Design
Lou Cope                                  Dramaturge
Elizabeth Barker                    Costumes
Bettina John                             Costumes
Gene Giron                               Production Manager 

Free Falling dancers - Sophie Arstall, Joel Benjamin O’Donoghue, Stephen Moynihan, Verena Schneider  

Find out more about Hagit Yakira dance and the upcoming tour here.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

NEWS: A Short Hiatus in Cambridge

I'm thrilled to say that I have begun my Master's this autumn at University of Cambridge. I will be reading MPhil Social Anthropology for the next year, as a member of Fitzwilliam College. I'm hopeful that I can bring my fascination for dance, and the arts in general, to the MPhil, especially in relation to minority groups (I will keep you updated on this!)

PC: Maya Pindar

So, for the next year I will be winding down the dance writing on The Insanity In Dancing a little to focus on my Masters studies. Hopefully there will still be time for a few articles or interviews in between my studies.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank those who have contributed to and supported The Insanity In Dancing. It has been an incredibly rewarding journey so far, and one I am very much looking forward to continuing again, especially with the momentum of a Master's behind me.

With love,

Monday, 14 August 2017

INTERVIEW: Bawren Tavaziva & Lisa Rowley on Izindava

Following a successful tour of Africarmen in Spring 2017, Tavaziva Dance are now entering their rehearsal period for Tavaziva's new work Izindava. In between rehearsals, I met Artistic Director, Bawren Tavaziva with dancer and Rehearsal Assistant Lisa Rowley to talk about the inspiration behind Izindava, Bawren's memories of Zimbabwe and what we can expect from Izindava.

PC: Tony Hay

Maya Pindar: what are you most excited about for Izindava?

Bawren Tavaziva: well, it’s not what I expected! It’s growing into a much bigger idea. It touches on a lot of subjects. It’s different to my usual choreography- the vocabulary is very different. I’m excited to do something that I’ve really not done before.

Lisa Rowley: it's a completely brand new company, so all the dancers are fresh and have never done Bawren's work before. It's a totally different energy in the studio. Seeing Bawren's choreograph on new bodies will be really interesting- I'm really excited to see how Bawren's vocabulary develops on the new dancers.

MP:  Bawren, some of your choreography is inspired by your upbringing in Zimbabwe. What are your memories of Zimbabwe?

BT: I’ve always been afraid of the dark. I grew up with fear. The school I went to was built up with fear- beatings and you know… And church as well; even at youth club there was humiliation. That was scary. Under Robert Mugabe’s regime, everyone was disciplined brutally. That is why Zimbabweans don’t speak a lot. You know, there’s no freedom of speech. So I suppose most of my work is based on my own experiences.

MP: and what are your memories of freedom?

BT: the first time black people were allowed to walk on the street in Zimbabwe. Mugabe stopped the racism and segregation. We were free to go in any shop or restaurant. So when I came to London, I was surprised to see a white person sitting on the street begging for money. Where I’m from, a white person always has money- he’s the boss.

Dancer Lisa Rowley in rehearsal at bbodance. PC: Leah Fox

MP: where do you find your resilience and how do you put this into your movement?

BT: I found my strength in music and through movement. I love making music! And perhaps with dance- I find ways to talk about things I don’t usually talk about- verbally. I’m lucky because I can place those thoughts on a stage and share it. So, I try to find music that matches my idea. If I can find the right music, my body automatically finds the movement. The music is the drive.

LR: at the beginning of the rehearsal period, we'll focus only on the steps, without any emotion. At week five, we'll start piecing in emotion and story line as an extra layer. Bawren totally gives us the reigns though- I usually draw on my own personal experiences, so the movement really comes alive.

Artistic Director Bawren Tavaziva and dancers in rehearsal. PC: Emily Winfield

MP: Lisa, can you tell us a bit about Bawren's choreographic process?

LR: it's very much about Bawren being present in the moment, and how he's feeling in that moment. He generally churns out movement step by step. Everyone learns everything to being with, and then he will select which phrases fit each dancer. 

MP: and finally, can you tell us one thing that we can expect from Izindava?

BT:  so, Donald Trump is part of Izindava as well. What I'm really talking about here is Trump’s behaviour… basically, if he was black, would he get away with it? I'm talking about white supremacy- because it’s still strong and it still exists.

Izindava begins it's tour in the Autumn. For full dates and details visit Tavaziva's website.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

ARTICLE: Bloom Festival - An Evening of Jazz - Dance and Music: "rich, current and relevant"

Fri 4 Aug
Bernie Grant Arts Centre
Bloom National Festival of Dance of the African Diaspora 2017
An Evening of Jazz - Dance and Music

Facilitated by Dr Sheron Way, One Dance UK's biennial Bloom National Festival invites an expert panel of jazz dancers and musicians to open a conversation about the complex relationship between jazz music and dance forms.

With its roots in African and African-American social and popular dance, jazz has transformed throughout the last century. From its emergence in the club scene at world venues like Harlem's Savoy Ballroom and Camden's Electric Ballroom in the early 20th century, jazz dance has been refined, formalised and commodified into Euro-American and European ballroom dance forms, like the waltz, the foxtrot and the tango. Jazz reached the UK through recordings and dance artists that visited Britain shortly after World War I. 

The evening's panel included leading jazz double bassist Gary Crosby OBE; renowned tap dancer and musician Annette Walker; revolutionary jazz dancer Gary Nurse; Jazz Dance Lecturer and experienced jazz teacher Joyce Gyimah; professional dancer, teacher and choreographer Jreena Green; and professional dancer Sean Graham.

Evening of Jazz Panel with London Programmer Heather Benson at Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Bloom Festival 2017 Photo by Heather Benson

Interjected with brief performances, beginning with an uplifting collaboration between Annette Walker and Gary Crosby, the evening delved into the richness and relevance of jazz today. Discussions ranged from Black British culture, to the social functions of jazz, to the constrictions of european dance pedagogy.

Jreena Green and Gary Crosby alike highlighted the significance and importance of rhythm, alongside the freedom of non-prescribed steps. It is accepted, that as popular and social music and dance forms, there is a looseness to jazz within its structure. This provides a greater emphasis upon rhythm, rather than in codified steps. Jazz dance quite literally 'sits' in the rhythm. Space is given for improvisation- for the dancer to visually exhibit what jazz music is.

Gary Crosby, Annette Walker and Jerry Barry at Evening of Jazz, Bloom Festival 2017 Photo by Heather Benson

Sean Graham spoke of his spiritual resonance with Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre at a time when non-European dance forms were not widely taught within British dance education. Jazz dance teacher Joyce Gyimah echoed this feeling, with her thoughts on the codification of dance teaching. While jazz moved from clubs into dance schools, Sean Graham, like many of us, turned to hip hop as an alternative to the European options that were available.

So the question is asked: how can we bring jazz dance back to the social space? With the rise of social media and instant gratification, how can we engage with jazz in "real" social spaces, without the restrictions of a syllabus and prescribed steps? 

Jazz, like many other art forms from within other communities, came from a place of survival. But jazz is also a celebration of the Black British journey- it's an expression of joy. As Sean Graham illustrated, jazz still matters because the Black British journey still matters. It is rich, current and relevant.

Find out more about Bloom Nation Festival and book onto other upcoming events in London, Sheffield and Leicester here.

Maya Pindar