Spain’s up-and-coming choreographer Marcos Morau named his company La Veronal, after the sleeping pills used by famed British writer Virginia Woolf.
An avid fan of Woolf and a former photographer, Morau has never been a dancer. His company, founded in 2005, doesn’t just consist of dancers ― its members include photographers, actors, writers and filmmakers.
In Morau’s works, dancers don’t always dance to music; they often dance to narrations, and sometimes pure silence, donned in unexpected costumes such as white fencing gear.
|A scene from Spanish troupe La Veronal’s “Shortcuts” (SIDance)|
The troupe presented “Shortcuts” ― an abbreviated rearrangement of their longer pieces, “Russia,” “Iceland” and “Siena” ― in Seoul on Monday, as part of the ongoing Seoul International Dance Festival (SIDance).
The dance is an artistic attempt to establish an analogy between dance and geography, somewhat similar to Pina Bausch’s “Cities and Countries of the World.”
But Morau says his work is much more abstract and imaginative. In “Russia,” for example, Morau explores the themes of severe weather, fear, loneliness and death in strict movements reminiscent of Soviet gymnasts; however, it does not necessarily argue that Moscow is a lonely place or a place that should be feared. The choreographer asks the viewers to focus on the movements of the dancers, and the feelings that they provoke.
“Pina Bausch inspired me and probably many other artists,” he said during a press meeting in Seoul on Monday.
“But Pina Bausch went to these cities to create the pieces with the people of the cities. She focused on how these places affect our lives and how we can read these places.
“But I am completely the opposite. We don’t try to represent the places. For me, it is very important to take a distance from a place that I am creating a piece about.”
In an excerpt from “Iceland,” dancers dance to a solemn narration instead of music. In spite of the absence of music, the dancers’ movements are strangely rhythmic. It is as if they are dancing to some kind of music that only they can hear.
“We are working on the body language and vocabulary and we think that the music is inside the movement,” the choreographer said. “In my pieces, dancers often work with the rhythms and they are trying to fight the silence. Our goal is to find a rhythm without the music.”
Having done photography and drama before entering Europe’s contemporary dance scene, Morau tries to incorporate visual, literary and theatrical elements in his dance works. In his piece “Siena,” dancers wear white fencing jackets, almost like characters in a play or a movie. He pays special attention to the emotions shared by the dancers in relation to the space, lights and music.
“In this particular piece we are trying to focus on the body language of the paintings of Raphael and Caravaggio,” the choreographer said. “And the dancers are wearing fencing gear because I think it is the sport that is most similar to dancing. In fencing, you have to hide your face to fight. And when you hide your face, the only thing that’s important is your body.”
When asked about his philosophy in dance, Morau said he tries not to only focus on the movement.
“I’m interested in the movement, but not only in the movement. For me, there is something more,” he said. “I like to put abstraction of movement in a context that you can read and find a new meaning.”
By Claire Lee (email@example.com)