Natasha Avra dance company-Natasha Avra

Posted on July 17, 2011

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SELF INTERVIEW

Q: Say a few words about the two solos you choreographed and performed in 2011.

A: In January, I choreographed and performed a 30-minute piece entitled Stratifications; it was about focusing at inside landscapes, in a course of ‘ruminating’ experience. In May, I made Reallocation, a 25-minute piece about my need for fresh correlations of thoughts and feelings through memory and experience. The new element in my work is the use of oral texts from essays of contemporary thinkers: Pascal Bruckner and Sigmund Bauman, respectively.

Q: Why solo?

A: Because I need to follow my personal movement vocabulary, my own themes for choreography, and my personal choices about everything that concerns artistic production. It’s like I am feeling the creative space in me, private and inviolable.

Q: Couldn’t you work like that at the Kei Fyssa Dance Company?

A. I could, partly, but it wasn’t enough. I felt I had to differentiate myself, to reach out, to work exclusively with my individual thoughts and ways.

Q: Which work of the Kei Fyssa Dance Company do you appreciate the most?

A: TheArtTower recycling project. It took place in July 2004 at Agios Georgios Lichada’s, a village in northEuboea. Artist Alexander Pfaff and art educator-curator Maria Aggeli organized the event, where fifteen students of the elementary school and three members of the company (Elina Papadopoulou,Elina Logaridou and Maria Poulada) danced around a sculpture made of recycled objects.

Q: From 2005 until 2010 there was more than one choreographer at the company. How did this work?

A: Elina Papadopoulou and I wanted to have diverse chorographical points of view and approaches in our productions, so we asked the members of the company (Eva Bournia, Maria Poulada and Elina Logaridou) to create works the way they wished.

Q: Were there a common approach?

A: No, I don’t think that’s necessary. There were works that had a running theme, but not in a narrative manner, and others that were more abstract.

'reallocation' photo- Dimosthenis Misentzis

Q: How did audiences receive these diverse approaches in the same performance?

A: Most people liked it a lot. Other dance artists said that the company didn’t have a common language and that showed a lack of unity. They believed that it would be better to have one choreographer.

Q: In Distances (2009), all five members of the company worked together in the making of one long piece. How did you go about doing this?

A: It took us a good number of meetings to decide what the theme would be. Each one of us undertook a part which she worked for a short time. We met again presenting what we had created to the rest and discussed it. We repeated the process. We agreed and disagreed, we made choices, it was an on-going process. I believe it was an important experience for all of us: what we like, how we support this in the group, whether we find common points between us, how much we compromise with what is easy, convenient and available to us or go further looking for what we really want. We had to find ways of working as a group, wondered whether we needed a specialist in dramaturgy, if our material constituted one unit. One month before the performance, we found ourselves in a more profound relationship with what we were doing; I think it was a step forward for the group. Even though unpredictable incidents happened the last minute, which brought changes to the work, we managed to reach the end. It was very interesting that each one had a different approach, different movement vocabulary for the same thing. The final product didn’t have a twining in a linear way. There were five points of view for Distances articulated in a core theme that had been accepted by all of us.

Q: Are there any other works of the company you wish to talk about?

A: Speedfate (2010, choreographed by Elina Logaridou, Maria Poulada and Olga Tzimou): Aesthetics of the 1930s, with an atmosphere of silent movie theatrics in black and white; Mind the Gap (2008 by Eva Bournia and Maria Poulada);. Three Songs of Henry Purcell (2007 by Elina Papadopoulou); Tangled in the winds, which I initially choreographed in 2005 and reworked, with Elina Papadopoulou, a shorter version in 2008 for the Platform of contemporary dance at the Athens Music Hall.

Q: Before 2004?

A: Two Traditional Songs (1992), a piece dedicated to an Iranian activist defending women’s rights, who was blown up in her car.

'reallocation' photo- Dimosthenis Misentzis

Q: Are you satisfied with you work with the new company?

A: Yes, I am, although things are not clear yet. I’m rejecting previous approaches, work in different ways. Space- and time-orientated choreographies appealed to me a lot in the past – the element of chance, a mathematical approach in composition, a tendency for analysis. This direction in my work supressed other fields of creativity that now attract my attention – for example, kinaesthesia and idiosyncratic movement. I seek to work on themes that concern me, such as human behaviour in common everyday things, and how they can be transformed in an artistic way through abstraction. Abstraction as a form of art allows one to relate with your work in a neutral way, to try and find in your piece what s/he wants.

Q: How do you embody your experience as a dancer in the making of piece?

A: Embodiment is a multifarious term that interests me. As a dancer, I transform myself into an embodied mind, I realise .There is embodied knowledge in me, which is manifested through my research on choreography. I avoid overanalysing and obstructing stored experience by trying to preserve a holistic image of the work. I’m experimenting. Having danced in various choreographies, there is an analytical understanding of how a piece functions.

Q: Could you describe what would your ideal dance company do?

A: I am dreaming of two productions annually, with numerous performances in Athens, elsewhere in Greece, Europe and further afield, in addition to working with schools all over the country, offering workshops and educational programmes for dancers, holding interactive performances, and having time for research. It would be nice to have an administrator, who would take care of financial matters, contact venue owners, promote dance and artistic events, and plan tours. A spacious, bright studio for rehearsals, classes, informal performances, discussions and lectures. A library open to the public holding dance videos, books and periodicals.

Q: What is your view on employing a professional manager at your dance company?

A: It’s a full time job to organise the annual production at a professional level. If there’s a professional who can undertake that, fine, but only on a hands-off basis. In other words, s/he will have no say on performers and collaborators, on choreographic matters, on how the production is to be advertised or where it is to be held.

Q: Restrictions have been proved very creative on many an occasion.

A: That’s true. If I was hired by an Opera House to make a piece for the company, I would work within the limits of what they would ask me to do and try to use any sort of restrictions in a most creative way. It’s different if you run your own dance company: it is the time and place to do your own thing without compromises, to develop your individual artistic point of viewing dance. That’s why I have founded the Natasha Avra Dance Company.

Q: Can you describe how you work in the piece you’re currently composing?

A: Improvisation takes me to places from which I gather moments or small fragments of various comprehensive movements. I take notes and then leave them aside, until I complete an initial structure which relates to my theme. The next step is to combine, work out the path movements from my notes and start placing them in the structure. At this point, an interaction between structure, theme and movement units takes place. I don’t define the final product in advance, but I have an idea of it. I allow the interaction to bring forward unknown aspects of what I started with. I orientate my thoughts in theoretical subjects that concern me and I would like to relate them with what I am doing. I make a series of rough plans. I ‘read’ during the rehearsals what is being done and ‘travel’ with it to all possible dimensions: social, ideological, architectural, aesthetical, etc., looking for hidden treasures that surpassed. After a lot of filtering on the rough plans, I make big and small changes, new choices, try new combinations of the elements. 

Q: Have you ever been paid as a choreographer?

A: Yes. For my first piece (Two Traditional Songs) with a dance company that up until then did not pay its choreographers; and by the municipality of Athens for the solo piece Small Proportions performed at the chorographical contest Rallou Manou.

Q: Have you ever thought of bringing to an end your engagement with dance and choreography?

A: I‘ve never thought of doing something forever. What makes me do things for a very long time is the ability to define myself as a dance artist from zero point two, maybe three, times in a period of twenty five years. That works for me, and I continue the same way.

Natasha Avra worked intermittently as an independent choreographer from 1992 until 2003. In 2004 she co-founded with Elina Papadopoulou the Kei Fyssa Dance Company, which closed down in 2010, and in 2011 she founded the Natasha Avra Dance Company.

reallocation

 

Natasha Avra Dance Company

Artistic Director- Natasha Avra

 horavra@yahoo.co.uk   http://www.natassaavra.hostoi.com

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