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Monday, November 7, 2011


"Turning back, rewind, deconstruct, go backwards, invert, look from the other side.
Bodies are the fundamental part of this work where physicality and poetic images are joined together into the stage. There is a clean and elegant stage that introduces us to a hypnotic world, in a changing universe because of the lighting. This light limits and enlarges the dance floor. Six interpreters who transform the place with their energy, they make it alter and calm. Back comes
from a fragmented body, which hobbles and links until reaching the fluency of the wave of the dancers.

Back is a regression to the body, to the simplicity, the purity of the movement into the stage."
(Back, from The Company Dossier)

"Puddle" by M.C. Escher (1952)

On the occasion of its recent participation in the Dance Week 2011 in Sofia, Bulgaria, with its great spectacle Back, we’d like to talk about the Spanish Dance Company OtraDanza and about Asun Noales, the dancer and choreographer who created and lead it with passion from 2000.

This International Contemporary Dance Festival, so close to us not only geographically but also in terms of style and content, the first and the only one in Bulgaria nowadays, has taken place from 2008 with participation and an unprecedented success of public and professionals in our neighboring country. The primary objective of the festival, to line up with what's happening in the context of European contemporary dance and the enthusiasm and professionalism with which the organizers and sponsors are developing it deserves all our applause and consideration. In addition to creating an environment for a restless and curious youth is breaking with the old cultural patterns of the past. In this last edition (September 2011) besides the Spanish Company, has attended the Compagnie Alias from Switzerland with his work Saidways Rain, Niv Sheinfeld, Oren Laor & Keren Levi of Israel with Big Mouth, Blanca Li from France with Kif Elektro and the Bulgarian companies Derida Dance with Asa and Ballet Arabesque with Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

OtraDanza: The Company

In the words of the Company itself:

OtraDanza is a dance company whose objective is an artistic collaboration that adds value to the form, opening new windows and views of dance.

OtraDanza is a new space of proposals; a platform that unifies efforts for the common enjoyment of our passion: dance.

OtraDanza is a shared view – to show our enthusiasm about the body as a primary language in creation; our desire to transmit through the ethereal trace of the flesh those dances.  We want to diminish the line that separates the audience from the dancer, to show that each choreography is a shared journey.

OtraDanza has shown pieces such as Llebeig, Tierra, Frágil, El Gran Banquete, Sacra, Tan lejos, tan cerca, Mater y Ara.

Back: A look back through serenity and maturity.

The sight of a naked male body and the game of lights led by another dancer on stage, is the welcome offered while the audience reach their seats. The beauty of this body reflected in various mirrors, (including a huge one that occupies the entire floor), make the viewer to enter into a sea of ​​energetic movement and mesmerizes the audience for about an hour. "I've searched a moment for the body since long time ago. -Asun Noales says. Body as a primary tool in my work and body as a vital instrument to create the language to communicate with others."

Back is a song to the physicality of movement, articulated but fluid at the same time, where the organic and the formal beauty come together to enjoy contemporary dance with capital letters. "It's a return to a more abstract and pure dance. The joy of the composition and precise work, craft and laborious, like I understand choreography."

Six dancers are the superb cast that plays the choreographical game that invades the stage space with different structures that change, sometimes at breakneck speed, while unresting the eyes, or startling them, by the complexity of freight and caught, and the timing thereof. "I reflect myself on them, helping me through their personalities, and getting into their innate movement. I went to the simplicity, to search for the natural, avoiding the excessive and artificial. Getting to know better my performers, physically and psychologically allows me to drive them better and take the best from them. The motivation in each rehearsal it is important to work properly with a group. And to make the piece flow."

This whirlwind of movement is blurred by a few solos where one can enjoy the personal energy of each dancer and that serve as breathing not only for the piece but for the viewer's sight, like that breaking moment when the dancers show themselves like tired persons, and chat among them.

A special lighting designed by Juanjo Llorens who through the eyes of Asun Noales's choreography develops an impeccable job, subtil and unconventional, accompanies and promotes an environment where the images are multiplied and reflected, where space is narrow or wide, where the beat of the dance is dormant, and cradled by a music born to create a synergy that goes far beyond the sincere and honest look of the choreographer. "The reflection on the linoleum is constant. It's like dancing on a huge mirror. I did not want to use audiovisuals although the projection of light is quite innovative. It creates an almost futuristic atmosphere."

The show ends with the reflection of another body, this time a dressed female: a perfect end for a show that will get deserved applauses wherever they go, like those received on the night of its premiere at the Centro Parraga de Murcia.

The sound space is composed by the amazing Canadian cellist Zoë Keating, with whom Asun Noales has done other works such as "Llebeig", created for the Ballet Theatre of the Generalitat (BTGV) or "Lost & Found" video dance performed in CCC L'Escorxador d'Elx. Her music takes the viewer through delicate atmospheres, sometimes passionately rhythmic and always suggestive.

Unpredictable, chaotic, free, shocking. Back is a game between reality and fiction.

Direction and Choreography: Asun Noales.
Assistant:  Kike Guerrero.
Dancers: Fredo Belda, Carmela García, Kike Guerrero, Saray Huertas, Erick Jimenez, Conchín López.
Music: Zoé Keating.
Lighting: Juanjo Llorens.
Technical Direction: Carlos Julián Contreras.
Stage Scene: Luis Crespo.
Costumes: OD.
Photography: Germán Antón.
Hairdressing: Eleuterio.
Management: Raúl Coves.
Contributors: Elike.

Premiere March 12th 2010  CENTRO PÁRRAGA, MURCIA.
Duration: 1 hour.

We could ask some questions to Asun Noales, who answered them with honesty and generosity.

What does Asun Noales see when she looks back?

I see a lot of life, many years of intense activity, work, delivery, instinct and above all much happiness.

What does a choreographer committed to her work see when she looks back?

Learning, development, maturity, settlement, and that passion that use to flow intuitively. Now I reflect on it more and more, without losing the spontaneity, but with much more calm.

After a dense career in which you have not stopped working, how do you value the contemporary dance scene?

Particularly contemporary dance and dance in general, have always had to struggle constantly for a minimally decent treatment in the art scene. Step by step there is more and more talking about our work, very well-educated people are fighting for things to be valued and to place them in their proper place, but there is always more to do. The current crisis, cuts everywhere and culture, and dance as the poor relative within culture, suffers this situation directly. It's like when we grew a little we're pushed three little steps back. In our profession one can feel that people are tired. You have to work, to think and invent new ways of working. I think we're into the big time of social networks, the communication between people from different cities and different ways of thinking. It's time to create links and artistic collaboration. It's time to move and not stay at home depressed. From there we can get very interesting things. All critical times throughout history, have sharpened the wit of man and things have happened. We don't have to be afraid and we must try to find new ways of working.

What role do you give to physical theater, increasingly present in contemporary dance creations?

The physical theater sucks a lot from dance, in fact I know many actors who call themselves dancers but very few dancers who have the vanity of call themselves actors. I think both disciplines go hand in hand, dancing without theatrics, without an emotional intensity, without an atmosphere that surrounds it makes no sense to me. But I do not separated it from what to me involves dancing. We label everything too much, but in a hand program you can read dance, theater or music.

What prompted you to create OtraDanza?

The urgent need to continue my creative project after closing my previous company Patas Arriba. I could not stop, I had to go forward. I felt it was like starting from scratch, after six years of hard work, again I had to start a new path, a new way of working, more independent now, another adventure, another new travel and that was how came OtraDanza, without fear to restart and reset.

How does the company work?

We work by productions. Although these last two years, from our own productions and the comissioned ones from festivals such as the Medieval of Elche or from Theatres such the Chapí de Villena Theatre, the Company has felt a very fluid rythm of work, almost without interruption. But this, unfortunately, is not normal. Now we are about to start our new production and we will combine that with the tour of the shows Back and Ara.

Are you a stable company?

We try to maintain some stability in our work, but for now we cannot give the dancers annual contracts, though a minimum production structure has that continuity throughout the year.

Do you work always with the same team?

I try to do it. I love my dancers. The more I work with them, the easier the communication, understanding when to propose a variety of materials, patterns, scenes, qualities. It streamlines the work while it is increasingly clear and rich. There is a team of performers who are with me almost since the beginning of the Company and others who have been adding and subtracting. Both Ara and Back have six performers on the scene. Besides the dancers, I have been collaborating several years with Juanjo Llorens, my light designer, Luis Crespo my set designer and Kike Guerrero, my right hand working as an assistant, dancer, driver and what it takes, a big help.

How do you focus the training of the company?

The training is varied, we work the body through Yoga classes, Girokinesis, contemporary techniques, classical dance, body contact, etc... My dancers come from different styles and I like that daily training is somewhat varied, novel, fresh, to face then the long working day.

What new looks on Dance have you discovered since you create OtraDanza?

Working with the movement and with Dance always provides you new perspectives into the Human Being, his energy, his language less rational and more wild. Each process is a new discovery.

You say that you think each choreography as a journey, what is the starting point of this trip?

The desire to discover a new place, my trips are very different. I like to jump from one country to another. The way to prepare the itinerary, choose a place or another for my new journey, is very much determined by the events of my life, the emotions I am experiencing at this time. There are a lot of me and my environment in each of my shows. The search for music, for what I have my husband Germán Antón, a great musicologist, who advises me on this matter, creating portfolios that after a while I select or discard. The research for the qualities of movement that I imagine in each scene, always starting from something physical or dynamic. When all ingredients are in the studio, gradually this puzzle that is the choreography starts to born. I discard things that finally do not work in the creative process.

Do you know which is the end of the trip? Or do you let the paths that you've initiated surpraises you?

You know by intuition, but until you get into the kitchen you do not know if that destination will dramatically change its course. Surprise is one of the most interesting and magical in all creative process. Sometimes when you get stuck on one point, is when the work grows and becomes more interesting.

How do you add the audiece in your work?

In our last works I have not been on stage, and I am the most demanding member of the audience, if I do not like what I see, if something doesn't move me, although I've seen it twenty thousand times, it can hardly move somebody else. I have to feel that the show is closed. That everything is in place. Transitions, the moments with an Impro, everything should be clear enough. And the times I've been inside it happened the same, if there is a globality in the work, I feel it's finished to show the public.

What is the ideal audience for OtraDanza?

We have not named yet the ideal audience, everyone in the world worth to me. From the virgin viewer who has never seen dance, ready to discover it, excited, surprised or angry at what he sees. I would like that the viewer was always awake and develop his imagination with our shows. I also appreciate the experienced viewer, who can take from OtraDanza a new perspective on dance. Any viewer is good, the important is that they exist. These two last years we have traveled a lot, we realised that when a show works, it works for most viewers of any country in the world.

From all the works you've done with the company, which one stands out when you look back?

It is really difficult to answer this question. For me each of them are moments of my life, with the experience that has meant to create them, sharing a lot of time with the staff anecdotes, experiences on stage. I'm keeping all my travels, each one has for me, its outstanding moments.

Back is the beginning of a trilogy, where do you expect this new journey will take you to?

To myself, this trilogy is helping me to know a little more about myself. It's a journey into the inside from the inside. Back was the body, the movement, the detail, the energy of each performer, the sum of individual work that culminates in the group and makes it global. Ara is the moment, the time, the past, present and future, is the ephemeral of the instant, the absence of now. The third part will be the search for a meaning of life and art,  the the best and most direct way to know and respect us and I am lucky to be able to communicate myself through it.

In Back there is a very detailed treatment of space and light, how would you define it?

NEAT. I Back there is a conscientiously work on detail and all movement is framed in a geometric light, clean, angular, defined, linear. As if the space and body were connected at their joints and limbs. Juanjo Llorens and I enjoyed this process as children, that week of work at L'Escorxador de Elche was very inspiring, there we always have the good fortune to make our premiers with the calm that requires staging a new production. The stage, very simple, consisting of a floor mirror, a white cyclorama in the background and a mirror cut into pieces for the first and last scene. Escher's work was with me in the beginning of the process and the whole kaleidoscope of images that duplicate, overlap, transformed into a reflection of something else, became the application of mirrors within the stage space. The space reflects everything that happens in the scene. That reflection doubles, triples, amplifies the intention of the bodies, their shapes and choreographic games. The puting on the stage of Back was a discovery and a great experience for the entire artistic team. When we got to the stage and began to illuminate it, what we saw surprised ourselves.

How interpreters alter that space?

The space and lighting, as in many others of my shows, act as a zoom. Depending on the scene is as if we could bring the viewer into the details or we could suddenly offer him a grand scale dimension, creating a huge open space. The choreography is designed for those spaces. Sometimes I imagine the scene with its light, as if they get into small rooms, as if I cube them, so the performers are already working in that space knowing what they will find when they reach the stage.

How have you incorporated the excellent music composed for the piece by Zoe Keating to the work with the dancers?

Zoe Keating is fantastic, I hope she returns to Spain soon. His music gives me a lot of freedom while creating a dense, heavy, almost lunar atmosphere for the play. We were getting Zoe' themes before and throughout the process. I told her via email about the scenes aspects of the show and she sent me compositions. It's very easy to work with her. She's just generous and genial.

Have you worked with her in the rehearsals?

No, it was all done at a distance, I would have liked, but his schedule is very tight. She lives in California, so the distances don't help and we could not bring her because our budget. In the future we'll try again.

Have the dancers brought their own looks back at the show?

Many times my dancers don't know what goes through my head. At the beginning of the process I don't like to reveal them many things. In fact I start working some parts, disjointed, without order, in a very chaotic way. Through guidelines. And in Back, rewin very rarely exists. Under the choreographic work progresses, I will revealing my ideas, I don't want their body overact and in this way I get much more transparency in the work, it is not affected by any idea or any character, is much purer.

What elements of your own life experience have you expressed in the play?

In Back I wanted to capture the transition from one step to another, the building, the detail, we can say, to move on, the decomposition of movement to then bring it into its most complex and baroque composition. It is as if to get something you have to go through a slow and evolutionary process. Maybe in Back I transmitted the ant work of a creator, a choreographer in this case.

Where do the poetic images born in Back?

In Back there is also within the abstraction, a very aquatic part. And poetry is born from the most abstract and physical of the human body.

What does Escher's work mean to you?

Obsession, magic, volume, perspective, kaleidoscope and lots of talent.

You do not dance in Back, what makes your work different when you're not sharing the space with the dancers?

When I'm out I think I'm much more rigorous. Simply because being outside you see much more things that sometimes you miss being inside too. And above all, a big difference, I feel much more nervous.

How was your experience in Bulgaria and Greece?

It was great. The situation in both countries is not the best at the moment, but this has not influenced in the fact that both theaters were full of people. In Sofia, the audience stood up. And in the end of the performance the comments were very effusive, as they had never seen anything like that. It seemed a very organic movement and a very surprising puting on stage to them. In Greece they also liked it but the public was quieter, more European, more difficult to surprise.

And now you are going to Peru...  Does an audience with that different characteristics bring different things to the show?

The public has a great imagination, but in essence we are all people with the same feelings and the same essence. But it is true, for example last year we were in Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador and the crowd was really grateful, so warm.

How are they different to the Spanish audience?

The Spanish audience in general does not fill theaters that show contemporary dance, that's a big difference.

Looking from the other side ... Is it painful to look back?

No. The passage of time feeds you, teaches you, makes you live many moments, good and bad, but mostly, as Yves Saint Laurent used to say "The important thing is to last", look back and see what you've passed through, everything you've lived, it makes you fell nostalgic for people who stayed on the road but gives you satisfaction to continue there, dedicating to what you love.

Do you think it is sometimes necessary to look back to understand the moment we are and move on?

Of course. Looking back makes you understand this.

What has been left behind in your career?

I have no feeling of having lost a lot professionally, I never imagined that at my 22 years, when I went to Barcelona to study at the Institut del Teatre, believing that I was very old, was able to get a contract as a dancer, that I could dance with great choreographers and much less than later I would start my own company. I've always done what I've intended, I'm pretty stubborn. I am very satisfied with the fate that I have lived, because this career is full of luck and chance.

What is the current situation of contemporary dance in Spain?

The situation is quite depressing. Our manager, who is facing this reality, doesn't see it clear at all. We're at a critical time. When market requirements reduce the chance of a small privileged group. For 2012 we have entered into the Network of Theaters, which is very good news. But overall, I think many colleagues have spent two years of absolute unemployment, with very little chance to continue. I believe that creativity cannot be stopped because we have a crisis and that motivation is going to be increased and will find another way to survive.

Do you think that demand is still urgent?

I'm not very vindictive, I think things are vindicated by facts, one must move, we make the way as we go, just complaining about we're not going anywhere.

Some of the most important companies and choreographers appear in the trajectory as interpreter of Asun Noales, also creator and teacher: Mudances (Àngels Margarit), BCB, Ballet de Teatres, Lc Bouy, Jochen Ulrich (Köln), Gustavo Ramírez Sansano, Rich Merril and Vicente Sáez. Licensed in Choreography and Classical Dance, Contemporary Dance and Spanish-Classical Dance. She has studied in Institut del Teatre (Barcelona) and Conservatory Oscar Esplá (Alicante). She has formed with teachers like Maria Muñoz y Pep Ramis, Guillermina Coll, Victor Ullate, Avelina Argüelles, Mathilde Monnier, etc. She started her professional trajectory in 1990 with Ballet Joven de Alicante. During six years she has co-directed the company Patas Arriba. Currently she leads the company OtraDanza which whom she has performed several shows such as Tierra (Best Dance Spectacle Price 2009). De Dos or her solo Frágil. In her trajectory appear other important prices such as those she earned in Choreographic International Showcase Burgos-New York, Masdanza Maspalomas, Price of the Scenic Arts of Valencia to the Best Choreographic Direction in 2005 for Sacra/Dícese and 2009 to Best Choreography for Llebeig. As a teacher and invited choreographer, Asun Noales has worked for Summer Dance International, Neurberg Museum in New York, Take Dance Company, Una Danza Joven of Costa Rica, Passarelles of Belgium, Suny Purchase, UMF and BTGV.

Lost &Found
Video Dance created by Asun Noales