Born out of Movement
Metaphern begleiten Anna Nowak schon recht lange. Es ist also Zeit sich damit auf performativer Ebene auseinanderzusetzen. Gemeinsam mit Anna Mendelssohn und Karin Pauer hat sie das Stück "Oceans of Notions (swimming) entwickelt. Im WUK Magazin Interview gibt sie einen Einblick in den Entstehungsprozess.
In Oceans of Notions (swimming) you focus on metaphors and abstract ideas, like motherhood, death or freedom. Why have you chosen this focus?
Anna Nowak: The idea of Oceans of Notions was born in 2014, around that time the word “post truth” or “fake news” were fresh and electrifying topics. In 2015 the right wing party , Law and Justice, (PIS) took power in Poland, their language is full propaganda and hidden narratives that serve a certain political purpose. I experienced a lot of sensational, emotionally charged language in the media: “floods of immigrants flooding our lands”, “Poland as a bleeding, dying person”, dehumanising opposition or minorities of all kinds. That was provoking and made me very conscious of how we use and misuse (abuse) words, how we set up frames and narratives, and as a result, how we actually shape our realities.
This let me to the idea for an embodied reflection over abstract topics. I was interested in HOW we think with language, how our sensations and experiences of the world connect to thinking and language, how our thoughts are formed by those “lived” experiences of the world.
The politics is too complex and too abstract to be directly experienced, I think. That is why I chose to work with the concept of metaphor.
I have been busy with the topic of metaphor since a long time. As a child, when I was supposed to speak of abstract things, like e.g. emotions, I would “think in images”. Our language and the way we think are metaphorical in their nature, specially abstract ideas, like freedom or love, are most of the times described in terms of other phenomena, which we know from the world we live in.
You work together with Anna Mendelssohn and Karin Pauer. How can we imagine this collaboration? How do you work together?
Anna Nowak: Word collaboration is very on the point here. Anna and Karin are two outstanding performers and creators. The concept and the methods came initially from me, however, we develop all the materials together, the texts and the choreographies, we reflect and question the methods and together look for solutions. It is up to me to come up with a plan for the day, to guide and give the work a final directions, however we are all in the same boat, rowing, rowing, rowing, down and up the stream, exchanging our competences and roles on daily basis. Anna and Karin both carry a lot of artistic luggage (toolboxes), that they very generously share in the process.
Sound and music are a crucial parts of your performance. How do you and Stephan Sperlich develop the music for your piece?
Anna Nowak: I have known Stephan since 10 years now. We found ourselves in very versatile artistic contexts. We always understood each other well, I think we share a lot of taste and intuition when it comes to music and sound. At the beginning I had a very clear idea of using concrete sounds that evoke very specific associations, like a construction site sound or orchestra tuning. We departed from there. The work was a lot about transforming these sounds, gliding across what we can name and identify and what becomes very abstract, emotional music or simply becomes something else. Stephan is present, with us, in the studio a lot. He watches. He has a great intuition when it comes to choreography. One might say, he thinks very choreographically in his music making. It is often about intuition and playing, until the music “feels right”.
In the announcement you state that the performers move „gracefully, stressfully, angrily, weirdly and worldly“. How do you translate emotions and affections into a dance piece?
Anna Nowak: At the beginning we always started to move from a “complicated place”, metaphorically and literally speaking. I asked Anna and Karin to imagine concrete situations for them to move in, e.g. places like buildings, rooms, landscapes. Sometimes they were very concrete, like a tunnel, sometimes very surreal, imaginative. They were also asked to work with sensations connected to substances or objects, a rope or a tree, quite naively and intuitively in a way.
We started from imagining the spaces or objects, in stillness, with closed eyes, in detail, eventually translating the sensations into movements qualities or states.
These qualities were often very beautiful and specific, sometimes almost like pantomime. Sometimes too literal or hard to read or relate to, we kept some of this materials anyways.
Eventually the work became very much about performing the texts. Almost all texts came up during movement explorations, they were “born” out of movement. They became a kind of a “thought choreography" and they needed staging, sometimes they needed simplicity or stillness. There came in simpler tasks, like moving with grace, or grasping with your hands, or “being dust”…or just “dancing the emotion of freedom”.