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Monday, 16 February 2015

Márta Ladjánszki (H)_interview by Orsolya Bálint (KÖM)

Peeling off the layers of a personality in a dance portrait

The dance performance JOSHA – a portrait choreographed by Márta Ladjánszki (HU) gives us the unique opportunity to go deep inside the intimate world of a dancer and maybe discover something about ourselves through watching her, on the first Performing V4 – Biennial of VARP-PA Residents in Prague, on the 27th of February, at 8 p.m. in PONEC – the dance venue. Márta told us how she created the fictional figure of JOSHA from herself and the dancer Joanna Leśnierowska (PL), using pure female energies and intuitions. 

You are the choreographer of JOSHA - a portrait, what was your inspiration to create this piece? 
I wanted to invite Joanna Leśnierowska, the soloist of the performance to work with me. We have known each other since ages but from a different perspective. I was interested in her performer side and her emotions.

The peformance's motto is "The body is the physical aspect of the personality visible." Does this refer to people judging too easily from the looks of a person?
I believe that every body is as perfect as it is. The problem arises when we start to compare bodies to each other. I love each body’s structure; this is what I was working with since I started to create. First I chose my own physicality, then I also invited partners (walls of bodies at the beginning of Withering ecstasy – body is not taboo in 2007 or the trio of naked bodies in silent witnesses also in 2007). My intention was always to let the body structure be seen how it works, changes, creates forms and to imagine feelings while all this is happening. 

How many layers deep do you need to go into a personality when you are making choreography? 
I need honest artists around me who are ready to peel off their layers with my help. It is really hard to find these artists, personalities, or people, as most of the time we are all hiding ourselves behind facades. I need pure energies and professionals in their field.

What attracts you in exploring a personality? 
Simply I believe that the most exciting thing is to discover our own self through watching somebody else.

What more does a danced portrait tell about a person than mere looks?
JOSHA is created partly from me and partly from Joanna. It is a fictional figure, but both of us are truly in it. Yet if you watch the piece, you imagine it is Joanna’s struggle and her own world. She gave herself and her professional work and I gave my eyes, movements and structure to create the character and the piece itself. I also have to mention Zsolt Varga (music) and Tomáš Morávek (light), whose help and male power was also needed to create something which became our common creative process.

Have you worked before with Joanna? 
No, we knew each other from a different field. Joanna came from theatre, shortly we met in Vienna back in 2003 and when she got the chance to lead a theatre in Poznań she invited my piece a mi madre and from this point on we kept our eyes on each other. In the last few years we regularly met on platforms around the world and once as we were sitting next to each other on a bench somewhere abroad watching a dance performance, I saw ourselves from outside and realized that these two women (she and me) should make a piece together. And I asked her at the final party. She said yes. Easy!

Does it have a special importance that the solo dancer of your piece is a woman, not a man?
Yes, I think I am a female creator. I know my body very well and I create from female energies, intuitions. But I truly love male bodies as well, and I also enjoy working with male performers (especially naked ones :-)).

You had two of your regular contributors working with you, Zsolt Varga (music) and Tomas Morávek (lights). When did they join the creative process?
Early enough. In the case of JOSHA, it was the first time in my life that I got a chance to work abroad on a different way than before. I could spend 1-2-3 weeks away from home, somewhere else, where we could truly focus on the work and each other. Zsolt is a great open-minded musician and composer. I got to know him like 15 years ago, since then we worked together on different projects. For me it is great that someone knows what I think and how I feel, even if I am not able to express it on the language of music well enough. And what is most important, he is one of those unique musicians/artists, who spent twice half a year doing my hard Horton-technique based training to be flexible enough, to be able to work as hard as a real dancer and in the meantime to play the saxophone (or anything else I asked him to play on). He is a real and a true performer and it helped me a lot being free to ask him to be on stage and listen to the dancer as well. Tomas I met I guess around 2005-6 while I was constantly applying to Jarmila Jerabkova Competition in Prague (one year I won, the next year I traveled back to premier a new piece, the third year I won again, the fourth year I went back to have a premier, and the fifth year I got an invitation to make a whole evening there). He was the technician of the house and I was impressed how seriously he worked (even on the smallest project). JOSHA was the first piece where he composed the light for me and we were lucky to spend a period in Bratislava to work especially with lights in theatrical situation (thanks to VARP-PA program :-)). Our collaboration was such a fruitful one that I asked him to make the light for Széki Luca and UNTITLED - a meditation in one act as well. To tell the truth, I love to work with male light designers, sorry girls…

You have created this piece originally in 2012. How did you refresh it for the Biennial and did you implement any changes?
I don’t like to make changes, as I think if I change a piece a lot, I should rather make a new one. At one point it was a question if Joanna wanted and could dance it again at all, as her life became so busy of organizational works. I was afraid I would have to replace her, which would have resulted in a very different piece even without any movement changes. But luckily she can make the Prague show and I am truly happy that she can discover what it means to refresh the piece and this character. She changed not just physically but also mentally, but we did not alter the steps and the structure at all. We already had the chance to work in January, so now the movement frame and the timing is back, until the show she only has to take care about her physical strength and we will meet in Prague a bit earlier to make some final rehearsals. I can’t wait!

What did the possibility mean to you to be a resident of the VARP-PA program?
Freedom to work with whom and how I wanted to work with. It meant time and focus and it was really important for all of us who took part in the creation. The financial support was also helpful, although it was not enough for the whole process, additional funding was necessary to fulfill the project.

Have you ever been in this residency program before?
Yes, in the pilot year in 2012 with JOSHA. And we enjoyed it a lot!

Who would you recommend the VARP-PA program to?
Anybody who wants to work in the frame of Visegrad co-operations, who would like to use this residency for researching something (as it is not an obligation to make a final work, which is great), and who would like to get to know the other countries’ artists and artistic life, since through the program there is chance to get in touch with them as well!

What other countries do you regularly work with within V4?
As the artistic director of L1danceFest and L1 Association, I have been visiting dance platforms in Slovakia, Czech Republic and Poland as well in recent years and L1 Association is in partnerships with V4 members every year.

What do you hope to gain from participating in the Biennial in Prague?
I am looking forward to present my piece in PONEC – the dance venue for the first time. (Several times I was performing in Duncan Center’s Theatre, once in Studio ALTA.) I wish to show my art to the local artists and audience and to be able to raise the attention of international programmers as we would love to travel with this piece as well.

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