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.