On the singular, the collective, and performance

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KAAP’s Dansand! is back! From June 30 to July 2, the contemporary dance festival will bring together up-and-coming performers in Ostend. In this interview, dancers Maria Ferreira Silva and Stanley Ollivier discuss their respective research processes and performances.

Stanley Ollivier shot by Miguel Soll

Maria Ferreira Silva shot by JP Bichard

Can you tell me more about your research process?

Maria: I’m still in the first phase of opening up this project. But what led to it over the past years was my attention to my own artistic practice and the topic of plasticity.

<img class="editorial-image-50-left" src="https://assets-global.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/648c72ba769ab4d6144cb8fa_differentclassJP%20Bichard_DSC05340-min.webp"/>

<img class="editorial-image-50-right" src="https://assets-global.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/648c72b957ea33947eb95e41_differentclassJP%20Bichard_DSC05343-min.webp"/>

What do you mean by plasticity?

M: I initially looked at the notion of plasticity through neuroscience, namely brain plasticity. As a dancer, I started wondering how certain patterns get inscribed on the body, how to expand movement vocabulary, and how to think about movement. I got interested in the potentiality of one neuron connecting to another, creating a physical connection, and how it continues into a broader network of connections. Brain plasticity is the capacity the brain has to create, change, and undo them. So I started looking at it through the performative and the choreographic. It’s from a perspective of awareness of it, a change of perception in this biological function. I’m also looking at the notion of plasticity through other fields of research like mechanical engineering or philosophy.

<img class="editorial-image-50-left" src="https://assets-global.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/648c72ba2d9281bfe0d32483_differentclassJP%20Bichard_DSC05289-min.webp"/>

<img class="editorial-image-50-right" src="https://assets-global.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/648c72b8ff838cccde1a7c9f_differentclassJP%20Bichard_DSC05313-min.webp"/>

How do you approach this notion in your performance? 

M: One way is through durational work. Wild Explosion of Radical Softness - work sessions is a proposal to come and work in gallery spaces- and open-air spaces where the work takes place with the support of a viewer. This is what’s going to happen in Oostende. It’s a work session of three hours where I expand and keep working on the movement material in front of an audience. It’s a way of continuing the process while being in a performance setting. It’s also a method for the creation process of Wild Explosion of Radical Softness - a solo for the theatre space that I will be working on next season.

 

Stanley, can you tell me more about your own research?

Stanley: My performance is titled Spine of Desire: Wounds without tears, out of one skin in diamonds and shit (Working Title). We are at a very early stage as wellThe research process was born from several conversations I had with artists and friends about the need to imagine new and sustainable ways to create while taking care of yourself. The two terms we’ve been exchanging are care and energy. Energy, as in the multiple energies that make us, that we absorb and transmit to the group. The energy that affected us through time.

How can we represent and give back in a respectful way? What do we really choose to embody in these times, and which practice are we going to use to get there? 

<img class="editorial-image-50-left" src="https://assets-global.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/646cc50bdc79002f6a1285d1_Ollivier%20Stanley%20(c)%20Miguel%20SollDC_Ollivier-Stanley_low_46favo.webp"/>

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And how do you define care in this project?

S:  It’s really about envisioning and building a guarded space, reflecting on the forms of support we have, creating those safe spaces as a community, and giving back to the community we identify with. My co-performers and I are different. We breathe, see, and live differently. We are part of distinct scenes, cultures, and communities. And I think that brings up interesting questions: how can we represent and give back in a respectful way? What do we really choose to embody in these times, and which practice are we going to use to get there? 

One of the tools we found to take care of ourselves is the celebration of the self. It’s about working with joy, playing with choreographic rules to hype the group and recovering well-being. For this new trio for DANSAND!, we have to create something completely new for us. We talk a lot about emotionality and how we can express that through performing without being dramatic about it: being very vulnerable, intimate, and finding light inside the chaos.

I can take a short piece of material, I can give it all. I can give it a past-present-future. I can give it another dimension. Or I could give it nothing

<img class="editorial-image-50-left" src="https://assets-global.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/646cc50aaf43f229dd856f01_Ollivier%20Stanley%20(c)%20Miguel%20SollDC_Ollivier-Stanley_low_23favo.webp"/>

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M: I’m curious to hear what you mean by emotionality.

S: It has come from my own experience as an individual, a dancer/maker, and all of the different emotions I met through this path. How I can trace and express them through dance and theatricality. I was really inspired by interludes, intros and outros -  short pieces of music that produce emotionality, sonic interstices that allow musicians to be their most vulnerable and reveal the spirit behind the project. They’re short, but so full of sentiment, which always intrigues and transports me. I can take a short piece of material, I can give it all. I can give it a past-present-future. I can give it another dimension. Or I could give it nothing.

It’s really about giving attention to the relationship that is always happening, whether I’m on stage or not

<img class="editorial-image-50-left" src="https://assets-global.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/646cc50a95ea414c72080a67_Ollivier%20Stanley%20(c)%20Miguel%20SollDC_Ollivier-Stanley_low_39favo.webp"/>

<img class="editorial-image-50-right" src="https://assets-global.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/646cc5096341cc7effc12ae8_Ollivier%20Stanley%20(c)%20Miguel%20SollDC_Ollivier-Stanley_low_18favo.webp"/>

What about you, Maria? How do you relate to the notion of care as a performer?

M: Stanley mentioned care and community, but in my practice and project I would go maybe more into the relational. Within plasticity, I look at the singular within the collective. Singular, not as in individual, but as in what each person has that is unique.  Understanding the relation within the collective is about giving and receiving, about the visible and the invisible, about decentralising, creativity, and agency. So for me, it’s really about giving attention to the relationship that is always happening, whether I’m on stage or not.

<div class="editorial-banner"> <div class=“editorial-credits”> @stanley.ollivier / @maria._.ferreira._.silva / @kunstencentrumkaap <br/> More info about the performances of Maria Ferreira Silva and Stanley Ollivier via dansand.be."</div></div>

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