Day 3. Poetic landscapes and Heritage survival

European Performing Arts, Performing Arts Residency

Everybody is starting to get used to going early to bed and waking up very early in the morning. I think I speak for everyone when I say it’s a nice change from our unhealthy sleeping habits.

The day began with Biloura Collective who stepped out from their role in the organisation to lead their workshop. They started by stating the importance in their creative process of staying with oneself for the whole process to then open up to the others and the space. The workshop began in the floor, paying attention to our breathing, as if we were lying down in a beach. From there we suffered a series of transformations, all of them linking into each other, that allowed us to warm up our bodies and voices and connect with the others and the space. Once this finished we had to look for the music within ourselves and start dancing to it, until we found someone else who was dancing to the same rythm. Groups started to form and became bigger and bigger until we were just one big group in a ritual with singing, shouting and dancing. This finally led into a song.

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We finished the first part of the workshop with very high levels of energy.  In the second part of the workshop we were asked to think about a moment were we had realised that something we thought was personal was actually cultural. We started by looking at each other in the eyes and touching to create a closer intimacy. Then we went onto work on what Biloura call “poetic landscapes” which consist in improvisations that start from each person and their relationship to space. It was beautiful to see how interactions were created in each group leading into stories, often quite comic. The key was to really find one’s own action before interacting with the others and to be aware of the focus of the scene.

The lunch break went by as usual in the courtyard with some sunbathing, others writing and others doing acrobatics or trying to learn them.

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The creative session of the afternoon was at a completely other level than the previous day. We worked in different, bigger groups to keep creating material and all three scenes that were presented were much more organic and had a a lot of depth. All of them somehow turned around the themes of play and the grotesque. The first was a beautiful scene full of symbolism in which the feminine burden of tradition was passed on through generation. The narration used storytelling and objects, which created a rich visual and sound landscape. The second scene used children games to talk about violence, in the style of the Lord of the Flies. The turns and timings were perfect and it ended as it began, giving the sensation of an infinite circle of violence.

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The third scene worked on the idea of “I have something that you don’t have” linked to culture. It finished with a powerful scene in which Vita tried to teach us the Eastern beauty of sorrow and the desperate cry of mourners, in which you weren’t sure whether the crying was real or a joke.

As one of the artists, Iva from Theatre of Inconceivable said, after all we saw yesterday the question that remains is how do we survive this heritage that is ours as much as our audiences.

 

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Day 2. Improvise, improvise, improvise

European Performing Arts, Performing Arts Residency

Day 2 has started with the workshop of Tanztheatre A d r i a n L o o k. The session started with some games to get warmed up which quickly got the group very excited. Then we started with improvisation techniques. First we explored movement qualities improvising on levels of movement, from floor to jumping; on sizes; on heaviness or lightness; on types of movement (swing, throw, drop, collapse)… and then put them together in a phrase. Then we watched a scene of Adrian’s last performance, The Art of Failure, which was a duet around the theme of someone asking for help and someone giving help. We then had to improvise on this same theme in duets. Two or three duets were performed for the class contemporaneously, following Adrian’s technique. It was great to see the amazing diversity of interpretations of the subject, sometimes even turning it around.Finally we used Pina Bausch creative technique in which she gives tasks to the dancers. We had to choose from a list of tasks such as “Fall out of love. Literally” or “Three pigeons sitting in a bench thinking about life” or “Create the most beautiful movement on earth and give it to someone else” or “If a fridge could speak” (referencing our kitchen fridge, Friga Kahlo, which is never silent). Again, it was very interesting to see the phrases of each person and how they worked onstage together, creating a narration even if you didn’t know what they were about.

We had lunch again provided by the cooking group of the day, in which I was included. It was very chaotic with people from different countries each having their own way of doing things and wanting to make their contribution. Still, I think we had a good result.

The creative session of the evening was very productive. Each of the groups that we had decided the day before presented some material to the others at the end of the 2 hours. The most interesting for me was seeing how each group had gone from nothing to having a piece to present, what the creative processes had been.

The first group started from a series of questions related to heritage like “How do you adapt?” which led them to the theme of Communication and from the circle position in which they were sitting and their feelings at the time which then resulted in a scene in which trust was reached through play. The second group started from the idea of “culture-cringe”, those things that had led the artists to abandon their home countries and cultures. The resulting scene was a sort of freakshow with a lot of historical weight, musical instruments and the use of many languages. The third group started from a pop-song, Michele by the Beatles, the heritage of the future, but sung in Croatian. The scene deformed this song in the passing of the burden of tradition through generations of women. In the fourth group, of which I was part, we started with some key words such as ritual, geology and oral tradition and created an improvised scene with different elements (storytelling, clapping, singing, moving) and a series of rules that guided the improvisation.

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Every piece was completely different from the others and showed only a fragment of the whole creative process and the artistic heritage of each participant. This is what made them powerful. We got caught in the discussion of the impressions and the intentions behind each scene and the session went on long after 18:00.

We still had some time to get ready before dinner in the bar next to the space. We’re still getting used to Italian quantities of food so some of us took a walk after dinner around Alice Superiore. Second day of the residency has flown by!

 

 

DAY 0. The Groups Are Here!

European Performing Arts, Performing Arts Residency

The groups are finally here and CLASTIC is ready to take off!

It has been a long day of arrivals but finally we are all here. It has been a very long day for all of us. Our artists have arrived in early flights all the way from London, Berlin, Belgrade and by car from France. We have shown them around the space and the hostel and they are all very tired but very happy to be here!

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The organisation team has spent the afternoon around Ivrea and the villages in the Valchiusella valley hanging the posters to promote the final performance taking place on Friday at the ZAC in Ivrea. It was hard work and we lost temporarily one of our members but we managed to make it back safe and sound for dinner.

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We cooked a fantastic Italian welcome dinner in the courtyard for the groups to get some strength for the workshops which start tomorrow with I Patom Theatre.

Finally we begin!

DAY -1. Everything’s (almost) ready

European Performing Arts, Performing Arts Residency

This morning I woke up to this view from my room in the hostal we’re going to be staying for the rest of week.  On clear days you can see on the right the “Bella Dormente”, a mountain in the shape of a sleeping woman. Hopefully I’ll be able to post some pictures of that too.

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Today has been even more intense than yesterday as we have spent the whole day wiping windows, cleaning floors, moving tables and giving a fresh hand of paint to the barrister to get everything ready before tomorrow.

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It’s been a lot of work but the space is looking great and are ready to receive the European performing art groups that have been selected for the residency.

I Patom Theatre (France), A d r i a n L o o k Tanztheatre (England), Heynaz (Germany) and Theatre of Inconceivable (Croatia).

Tomorrow will be very busy between spreading leaflets of the final performance in the nearby villages, picking everyone up and getting everything ready for the welcome dinner.

CLASTIC begins tomorrow and we can’t wait to meet all of our participants!

 

DAY -2. We have finally arrived in Valchiusella!

European Performing Arts, Performing Arts Residency

Biloura and me have already arrived to the headquarters of Biloura Collective that will host CLASTIC to make the last preparations before the groups start arriving on Saturday.

The headquarters of Biloura are located in Alice Superiore, a rural village in the valley of Valchiusella in the Italian region of Piedmont, next to the border of Aosta Valley.

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The valley, which is surrounded by the Alps and trasversed by the Chiusella river was formed thousands of years ago by the accumulation of great masses of ice. A half an hour ride from Turin, the village is a beautiful natural site inhabited by a mixture of traditional villagers, young people looking to get away from the city and spiritual communities, which keeps the village a lively and dynamic place.

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Biloura and me have been working the whole day to get everything ready before the start of the residency on Saturday. This morning we went Cuorgnè, one of the biggest villages in the area, to get all the supplies for the week. We have bought all our fresh products in the local market as we believe is important to support local commerce. I thought it would be impossible to fit the food for 15 people for a week into Biloura’s old Panda but I must say that their loyal car has surprised me.

We got to Biloura’s space just in time for lunch in the outside courtyard. The rest of the day has gone buy very quickly cleaning and organizing the space to make sure is ready for the arrival of our artists.

It’s going to be a very intense week and we can’t wait to welcome all the groups!

DAY -3. And so it begins

European Performing Arts, Performing Arts Residency

I have just landed in Milan from Madrid and the CLASTIC residency journey begins! During the following week I will be writing updates on the fantastic project that I have been able to bring to life thanks to the co-organisation of Biloura Collective and the funding of the Faculty of Arts & Humanities of University College London.

CLASTIC is an intercultural, interdisciplinary residency of artistic exchange that brings together five performing art groups from five different countries to live, share and create together for a week in the glacial valley of Valchiusella, in the Italian region of Piedmont. Since this year has been designated by the European Commission “2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage” the residency will explore what cultural heritage means in the current historical context when Europe is living through a process of social, political and cultural fragmentation.

I had the idea of CLASTIC last April while taking part in a series of workshops among theatre companies brilliantly organised by Teatro dei Servi Disobbedienti in Poverarte Festival in Bologna, where I did my Erasmus a year ago. I have just graduated in European Social and Political Studies from UCL, a degree with a very international base of students, and I have taken part in performing art workshops in the UK, Italy and Spain so my first thought was to extend this approach to artistic exchange to the European level. Having lived through Brexit and seeing the general rise of nationalism in Europe I thought that an initiative that worked across borders would be a political statement about the future of Europe that I wanted to make.

I found Biloura Collective, who I had met during the Festival, to be the perfect partner for the project. An intercultural, transdisciplinary group which has worked for years in international networks of performing arts, they shared my idea of a European residency of artistic exchange and had the experience and the space to help me organise it.

The 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage gave us the idea of working around the theme of European heritage in the performing arts. I liked how the initiative presents cultural heritage as a meeting between the past and the future. I therefore wanted to see how the past traditions of the participating groups were re-configured when coming into contact with traditions from different countries, in the present time, out of their birthplace.

This is where the idea of the name “CLASTIC” came about, while having a conversation with my friend Giudi Green, a performer herself, who has also been an immense help to the project.

 Clastic rocks are composed of fragments, or clasts, of pre-existing minerals and rock. A clast is a fragment of geological detritus, chunks and smaller grains of rock broken off other rocks by physical weathering. Clastic rocks are formed over time through a process of sedimentation in which the fragments in suspension solidify due to the external forces acting on the fluid in which they move.

The idea is to make CLASTIC Residency (which incidentally takes place in the Moraine Amphitheatre of Ivrea) just one of these external forces. A force that brings together a diversity of fragments of past European heritages and identities and binds them into new, solid communities of artistic creation that can persist through time.