That you should be free…

‘That you should be free to argue, explain, clarify, debate, offend, insult, rage, mock, sing, dramatise and deny’

These words are not mine. They belong to Neil Gaiman’s credo (full—very much worth a read—version here:

It happens very often that other people seem to have the words for what we want to say. Artists, for example. That is why it is so vital to see, facilitate, make art. It allows our humanity to flourish. Our shared humanity, that is. Because other people, through books, plays, paintings, music, dance… are able to help us express, or feel, or think, or question, or… so many other things.

That is why it is vital that no censorship ever comes near art (or anywhere else, for that matter). And that is why I felt sick during most of the performance I witnessed tonight at the London Coliseum. It started with a visibly emotional Daniel Proietto explaining why he was not to perform the first half of his solo. Audience members booed and shouted for him to get off the stage during his performance the night before. It was, it transpires, openly political. And so a decision was made with the management to not perform it tonight. A decision said “management” seemed to stand by even when the present audience members noisily complained.


Then I thought I understood what the particular audience of these performances was after. They seemed to scream “entertain us” at every clap (clapping at a dancer doing a split? really?). So yes, entertain us, do not make it political. Actually, even better, do not even have an opinion. Don’t make us think.

It felt hopeless. I felt like quitting dance tonight. What is the point? You don’t get many dance artists openly making a statement and when they do this is what they get. By the way, I told him already, but I want to say the biggest thank you to Daniel: for making the work, for his candor when explaining the situation, for his dancing later on… it always feels from the heart.

And so I think, looking up to him, that maybe it is not time to quit, but to fight, with gentleness, and candor, and with art…

But somehow, in the back of my mind, Mukhamedov’s “humorous” ending seems poignantly appropriate, and all we seem to do is let the stage curtain come down on our necks…

On not becoming a fury (or…?)

Today I went to an event, an “in conversation with…” organised by the University Women in the Arts (read more here). The event was with Sue Parrish, artistic director of Sphinx Theatre, and I came out of it inspired and empowered… So I thought I’d share some ideas with you (whoever you are)!).

We first heard a lot, from a truly humble attitude, about Sue Parrish’s life, fascinating, honest, funny, “fortunate”, although she encouraged us all to stop saying that, there’s too strong a tendency amongst female artists to say that, she argued.

She talked about working in the 60s, when you were supposed to “look like a doll who doesn’t speak”, and how a lot of them became furies: continuously outraged. She explained also that this is not a very good attitude towards employment, which I immediately recognised as both true and heartbreaking: why should fighting for something make you unemployable? Unless of course it is because of the state of your working area.

She, or I should say they (as she recognised having met more furies along the way), did a lot of amazing work, and still felt like an outsider in a world dominated by men. They were always, as she put it “punching above their weight”.

She also said it is important to listen to young women. I’m not sure if I still count as to be listened to, or to listen, but I am kind of ready to do both if anyone is interested and wants to speak!

When I told her I was in dance, she said “oh wow, it’s even worse for choreographers”. And those few words gave me strength, especially after going to another event where someone within the dance world said that there was no such problem in contemporary dance (that there were as many female choreographers as male, or more, no contextualisation given…) and that all there was to do was wait 100 years. This aligns with the fact that sadly I have been feeling more and more that I get inspired from theatre way more than I do from dance right now, with a very few illustrious exceptions, but that needs a whole post on its own.

Thank you Sue Parrish and University Women of the Arts. I think I might already be a fury, but I don’t mind belong to that group if you all are there with us.

I’ll finish with some of her advice, which I think is so perfect and so applicable to pretty much everyone that I need to share it:

Study, train, read, see what’s going on around you, you cannot break the rules if you don’t know the rules, have mentors, have confidence, be empowered by knowledge and information.

Working questions

As I sit down after finishing this very intense week of residence in France, I wonder what it is exactly that happened here. I know I made a 12 minute work in about 4 days, with three amazingly generous and patient dancers. I know we were received with open arms and open minds (which are usually more important) by a group of people from Le Performance, that laughed with us, gave us plenty of coffee, were probably scared at the amount of chocolate we ate, and finally shared with us their work and ours.

I feel a bit like I have vomited through this work a lot of things that were brewing since my trip to Palestine in November. I also feel like nothing can reflect what is really going on there. Words like appropriation and entitlement creep up on me, and I cannot quite shake them off, and maybe I just shouldn’t. Then I remember the people that I met there, the ones that told us to speak about what we saw, the one that told me not to forget them. And I feel like, even if it is too small, this might just be a grain of sand for the storm we need right now.

If you are reading confusion through my words, then I am doing my writing well, because that’s all there is in my head right now. I fail to see how anyone can feel anything else in our present world.

I then wonder what the role of theatre dance might be right now, what can we do, what can we shout or whisper… With how insignificant and how gigantic we can all be, and how amazingly stupid we can act when we worry so much about things that don’t matter, and, you know the phrase, become silent about things that do.

There are no answers here, I’m afraid, only working questions…

To Federico…


It’s been ages since the last time I wrote in here… I know, but indulge me…
I have just finished a project, the always invigorating and exhaustingly beautiful Estancias Coreográficas, and I am right back on our next production: Vespers.
Vespers is a mixed bill where DDG will host CienfuegosDanza, a Spanish company headed by the one and only Yoshua Cienfuegos. They will present The Public, inspired by the homonymous Lorca play.
From DDG, I will direct Blood Wedding, also a work based on Lorca’s famous play.
Today marks 80 years since Lorca was assassinated, because of who he was, personally, artistically, politically. He was silenced that day but he still speaks strongly through his work. He was passionate about doing theatre that mattered, about taking it to the people.
We embark from the respect, the inspiration and the passion that his work instils in us, and we only hope to be worth at least of writing his name in our programme as a homage.
Today, more than ever, I think that art, dance, needs Federicos, to be personally, artistically, and politically (socially!) invested in the work. Principles, like the ones who got him killed, are easily abandoned. It might be with half the bread and a book, but it will be with all we can give it.
Forgive the enthusiasm (or not, or join in), sometimes you spend two weeks with amazing people, generous people, intense people that work passionately on what they believe in, and you cannot help but get contagious of the little Federico in each of them.

The joy of new beginnings

It has been a couple of very exciting (and exhausting) months. And they have been full of new beginnings for me, mainly new job and new country!
The great Raymond Chai told me before I left London that sometimes only the idea of a change in your life will affect your energy and the way you dance, and he is so right!!
But not only that, I have experienced something that had last happened a long time ago: I’m learning a dance form from the start: Flamenco! Took my first class a week ago and another last Tuesday. The excitement of not knowing what comes next, how the class will develop… It really keeps you on your toes (no pun intended ;)). It also adds new perspective to your dancing in other forms (ballet and contemporary for me).
Also, after a life of training to not make noise… I am enjoying stomping sooo much!!
Then I witnessed another kind of beginning: I have started pointe work classes for the students (not to make them dance on pointe, but to strengthen their feet and legs) and two of them had never done pointe before. I went with them to the shop to get their shoes fitted (and almost fought with one of the ladies who didn’t seem to know how to fit pointe shoes… But that’s anoter story). Their faces changed completely the first time they put a shoe on, and also when sewing the ribbons and elastic and during the first class. It is energising to see young dancers beginning new things too! (I am aware that I’m sounding really old at the moment, forgive me ;))
Clearly this has been a theme lately, and during this week I learnt what Diwali is and got to celebrate it with two lovely people. Apparently during Diwali you are supposed to start doing something new. Maybe we should all find a way to do that sometime!