Androniki Marathaki

Posted on July 20, 2019

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Androniki Marathaki interview by from stage to page

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Androniki Marathaki photo: Kostis K

Could you briefly introduce yourselves?

My name is Androniki. When introducing myself, I prefer to use the term dance-maker rather than choreographer since the latter doesn’t accurately describe the way I work.  I also find it difficult to answer the question ‘Who are you?’, just like when I had to respond to this when invited to introduce my work at the Dance Day of the Athens festival. For me, this is one of the most difficult questions to answer since I am not one thing or something stable.

 

What do you want to question with your current project?

Questions concerning dance, the state of dance and the state of choreography are present in the new project that I am about to start.  I wonder how the state of dance can be staged without dying out in the process, because I do feel that every time dance is on stage it gets ‘killed’ somehow. This might seem similar to the question ‘If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it falling, has it fallen?’; yet these kind of questions have been present in my work throughout.

In the current project, I intend to work on two different ‘worlds’ that of words, numbers and symbols (language) and what I term as the whole. The latter is closer to experiencing dance and in this project I will be working on how these two worlds can be combined.

I feel that there is this desire to explain dance through the vehicle of language by theorists or academics; explaining things through texts that belong in this world of academy/ philosophy/ practice and theory/ practice as research etc. And maybe this was important for dance- to be acknowledged in this accepted way- but I feel that now, there is a need to relate anew with dance and the theory of the dance. I am not even sure that dance is something that can be explained, although I catch myself having the need to explain myself through language, (through signs), too.

 

Why do you intend to start with this question?

I don’t start my project with a question to answer. I want to comment on these two worlds I mentioned before and for sure question(s) will emerge in the process: according to which medium(s) I will be using this time or how the work will declare itself. Often my answers are my choices. And choices allow each work to emerge and exist on many different levels: who is performing, how many performers, how is this relating to society- in which way, how much money will be spent on this or the other…

For me, dance belongs to the world of no subject. It is experience, an experience on its own accord. You forget it is you, dancing. But when this experiencing is placed on stage, it gets killed. When this happens, it even seems to me as if what I see was accidentally placed on stage. I really want to discuss this in my work, yet so far I have been finding indirect ways to address it through different themes and subjects. In this future project I finally want to explore the subject of dance on its own accord.

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Love & Revolution: Part III/ the anomaly of the least, photo: Panagiotis Maidis

Do you want your question(s) to become the audience’s question(s)?

In this particular project I will share my questions, I will be discussing this with the dance community and art spectators during the process of its making.

 

Do you think audiences are looking for a message?

No, I don’t think spectators are looking for a message when they come to watch a dance performance. They are there to spend their time and they are even sometimes influenced into choosing particular shows to go to. There are so many performances in Athens; last year 300 performances, this year already over a thousand. And because there are so many performances, there is little time to reflect on these and spectators are aware of this.

Anyhow, there is an odd relationship between the art-works, how we perceive them and the art market. It seems that creativity is a selling point these days, although in my view being creative is common sense, it is not some special thing. We all have a desire to be creative and present our work and there are so many festivals that were created through our creativity and our desire to present our creativity. Then one wonders to who’s service is this freedom of expression that produces so many performances? How is this notion different if compared to 20 years ago?

 

What is the action you want to propose with this project?

There is an object- a moving platform- that is central to this project. I will have the opportunity to engage in research with several performers so that knowledge and information in how we relate/ behave with this object will be mutually arising. The most interesting part of this project for me is this research and I find that this way of working creates a network of its own.

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it’s not about if you will love me tomorrow_Part 1 photo: Alekos & Christos Bourelias

Are you interested in the individual?

I am interested in individuals and the ways with which they relate to the world. In fact their versatility in ways to connect with the world is how I ‘understand’ people; some are more obsessive, some are more flexible. So I am particularly interested in the individual not as a discrete unit, but in their capacity to relate.

 

Do you have a specific method?

I did think I had a specific method just after my Masters at Central School of Speech and Drama in practice as research. I was then working on practice and relating my work to theory; the kind of theory that was accepted, meaning that I was advised to use Heidegger rather than Jung for instance. My current method is: observing the way I relate to the world, looking for the kind of knowledge that helps me understand it that then becomes the core of how I understand things, and so on. It is a rather rhizomatic way of dealing with the world.

There are three main elements that I am interested in, placed and shifted around differently for each work: 1. Each work needs to be like a body- emotional, material, spiritual; all three levels relating with the world. When the work is shared with an audience, it needs to be able to relate in all three levels. 2. Presenting a ‘living’ system that makes the work, that still has empty space in it. 3. Approaching the Beautiful, if it feels good. I read somewhere: ‘How is a good breast? It feeds? It feels? Then it is a good breast.‘ I thought that this is similar to how I approach my work. I am really interested in form but I also feel it needs to have empty space; like poetry where there are empty spaces in between, like dance.

 

Do you consider yourself funny?

No. I don’t. I would like to be.

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it’s not about if you will love me tomorrow_Part 2 photo: Alekos & Christos Bourelias

Are you interested in text or sound in your work?

Although I have never worked with text so far, I am thinking of maybe using text and voice in the upcoming work. I would like to investigate this in the future. Up to now I start with matter in a practical/concrete way, not with imagination. I find that there is so much material in movement, there is already a lot there; the body is a conductor, a channel.

And of course I always work on creating the press release text, the words that talk about the work that will be presented; which is altogether another kind of work.

 

Are you an artist?

I think that my friend Lefteris Naftis is an artist. He is a sculptor but he is not interested in sharing his work with people he doesn’t know. He takes his boat, finds marble and makes sculptures. Just like that. He seems more of an artist to me.

I am concerned both with how one says that (I am an artist) and how one presents herself and their work. I guess it depends on how you define yourself within a particular context or the way art is presented in it, but I am concerned with I how I do all this. Making work doesn’t automatically make me an artist. I have not yet found how to relate to everything in this artist way. I don’t live like that yet.

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‘ A Masturdating’ photo: Panagiotis Maidis

Is your work set or improvised?

What does this mean? Is it set in how it is perceived by spectators, is there is a set form of something or it has to do with how a performer perceives it as set or improvised? We think of improvisation as something that has no form? Deborah Hay would say: ‘There is no time to improvise my dear… ‘ and I used to get angry when she said that.

I am looking for ways to set things but in ways that they can still stay ‘alive’. I actually set more what has to do with the perception of the performers, similarly to setting a score or tasks. Since apart from setting a task, you can set a pathway to follow with your perception while doing the task; I am working on finding tasks that can be very specific and indefinite at the same time.

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it’s not about if you will love me tomorrow_Part 2 photo: Alekos & Christos Bourelias

Do you have a daily practice?

Yes, I practice Chi Gong- the five animals. It is one and a half years that I do this every day; I find it and loose it, meaning that I now accept that some days I don’t do this so well or I can’t concentrate as much. I realized that the more specific I am with things, the more space I find revealed inside or under them, and this is how I finally understood what Deborah Hay meant.

 

Do you create scores?

Not really. I used to write and draw a lot, but lately I avoid it. I don’t know why. To keep notes, becoming clearer, using language more accurately. Maybe I now prefer not to write because I don’t think things should stay- I don’t even think the Acropolis should stay, there is a fear of decay and death in our culture. Still when I watch videos of my past work, it is very interesting for me to see that I can see things that I couldn’t see before.

 

Do you believe in less is more?

Yes, I love this expression. Deborah Hay also says: What if  less is more? I keep finding this in many places.

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‘A Masturdating’ photo: Panagiotis Maidis

What is your attitude towards your medium?

My choice of this medium defines all of the other choices I make. I choose dance because it belongs to this ‘whole state’ I mentioned before. I find difficulties in the world of language. We have this medium, we have the opportunity to make dances. This medium exists without any need for further explanation, both for the art work and the spectator. Why do we feel the need to explain dance (its structure, costume, dramaturgy, beginning, middle or end) ?

 

Is your work open or closed?

I would like it to be both at the same time. And it depends on the spectator, how they see it; according to some my work is closed, while for others it is open. I consider myself closed as a person, so I guess my work is a bit like that, too.

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Hi Jack. Hijack! photo: Panagiotis Maidis

How do you treat the body in your work?

I always start with the body, the specific person that will be doing this. I define one element precisely, either time or space. Everything else needs to be functional in reference to what is happening to the performers’ perception. In the last durational work, I used sound to activate specific parts of the body, specific chakras in the performers’ bodies (the chakras for sleeping or being awake). Other sound frequencies operated as a kind of placebo effect, helping the performers continue with what they were doing.

 

Time?

In the last project, all the rehearsals were three-hour rehearsals non-stop. It was a practice. It was three hours, so that the performers would reach a specific state. We discussed the task of the practice and then they would do this for three hours while I had no right to intervene. I knew from the start that I needed a long duration for this work, so I kept this constant three-hour time frame from the beginning. The difficulty was how to move from one state to the next, how to find the way to move between states throughout this three hour frame. Things were also divided in threes and then divided further in smaller bits, so that time and space would open up while more sub-tasks were inserted into this process-practice.

Time and space influence the task and the way consciousness works. I don’t mean with regards to what is seen, but in the ways performers remain functional within the task or  condition. In ‘Hi Jack. Hijack!’ we had two performances. In the first one a kind of utopia emerged in the way messages were transmitted between all the performers, it was in such harmony. The next day there was so much conflict, you could only see people and you couldn’t see the environment; they did not manage to be both human and be the environment at the same time despite the fact that it had happened in the first show.

 

Space?

I am influenced by the place where the work is presented. I find that there is a lot of subconscious information that is perceived by spectators; in fact both performers and spectators are influenced by the space. I can see this after presenting my work in a garage, in an industrial space, at Stegi (Onassis Cultural Foundation). Place is very important to me too and I chose the space where it will be better for the emerging work. Regarding space, space and time are the same, they are interconnected. In architecture space creates time. In dance time creates space.

 

Lights?

The lighting design in ‘Hi Jack. Hijack!’ was also a functional choice. We worked on how the lights could influence the dancers’ perception.

 

Costume?

In ‘Hi Jack. Hijack!’ performers were wearing underwear so that the skin and the sense of touch would be more accessible.

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Hi Jack. Hijack! photo: Nysos Vasilopoulos

Is your work Greek?

Yes I guess it is, because I grew up here. It is not consciously so.

 

Is there a Greek dance scene, that you can identify?

I am quite new in the Greek dance community and I observe a lot of differences. At this moment, I don’t really see any similarities between the more established artists. At the same time, I consider that we are all courageous and bold. I find that we are all quite stubborn- we each have something we are interested in and we go for it. So possibly the identifiable traits of this Greek dance scene would be stubbornness and audacity? Maybe this is a good thing, maybe it’s not. At the same time, we seem influenced or drawing information from dance developments abroad, yet seem to mistrust what is produced here. And artists that have toured their work abroad, are already more easily accepted and supported.

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it’s not about if you will love me tomorrow_Part 2 photo: Evi Fylaxtou

Do you feel you have sometimes failed?

Yes.

 

How has that affected you?

All people fail. We succeed in some, fail in some. I feel I sometimes fail both as a person and as maker or in teaching or in relating to people- it is a bit scary, but its ok.

 

Do you want to wish for something?

I would wish to find ways not to be afraid. I wish to be close to the sea, to be closer to nature, to see it more often. I find cities difficult but I am not someone that deals with change easily.

 

Thank you.

 

andronikimarathaki@gmail.com

Androniki Marathaki videos

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Hi Jack. Hijack! photo: Panagiotis Maidis

 

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