by Eva Kolarova.
Literature Informs the Dance
Literature has always been central to my life, beginning in early childhood. From the time I was quite young, my father would lay a novel on my bedside table and expect a conversation in a few days. He fostered in me a love of Czech literature and science fiction, which we had in abundance. But he didn’t believe in bookshelves, which constrained and ordered; instead, he preferred to erect towers of literature across the house.
For me dance was never about simply creating movements. My inspiration came from the books I read and the emotions I revisited in my journal entries.
I view dance as a very complex form of artistic expression that cannot be restricted to a single aesthetic. As a choreographer, I want to synthesize a number of approaches including video, writing, music, and other mediums.
Writing as a Tool
I thought to use writing in this particular project as a tool to tell my story, the story of Iris. Because dance is abstract, it is difficult to convey a specific story without the help of words. In Blue Dependence, Iris’ addiction is expressed to the audience viscerally through dance though we cannot truly comprehend her struggle until we get a glimpse into her journal, the most intimate form of self-expression.
I am fascinated by the interplay between dance, which is a form of raw human expression, and writing, a more articulate and tangible medium. It is commonplace for a dance piece to be so abstract that the audience has no idea what the show is about. Instead, I seek to bring concrete narratives to modern dance to explore contemporary subjects. Incorporating writing serves this purpose and enriches the stories I try to tell.
The Importance of Journaling
I started journaling when I was about ten years old as an outlet to make sense of the challenges of my life. I’ve kept up the practice as when I re-read my thoughts, those journal entries allow me a glimpse into a state of mind, a slice of time that immediately comes to life when I read them again- and I do because investigating myself from those times yields truths: about myself and the world.
I continue to practice journaling every day. I am an emotional person, and journaling, much like dance, is a way for me to externalize thoughts and feelings that can become all consuming. Expression, whether through writing or movement, is integral to my wellbeing.
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My Creative Process
My creative process tends to begin with a search: I look for a theme that inspires me, or I identify a specific subject I want to explore. Often I find and collect these ideas from everyday life and my own experiences. I keep track of them, take notes, but like with writing, some ideas make it to the choreography and others remain in waiting for another project.
Once I know my subject, I start creating the whole project in my mind down to the choreography. I try to find as much material, information and points of view I can about the topic, trying to imagine all the possibilities how I could incorporate this idea in dance performance. Then I create a basic structure to follow and fill with movements and other aspects.
Finally I seek out my team of artists, dancers, a composer, light designer, stage designer, etc. with both a precise idea in mind but still one that is elastic enough to make me open to my collaborators’ ideas and opinions. I believe their input benefits the structure of the project.
And this is still only the beginning as it is still months before the production comes to the stage and meets the minds and hearts of audiences. That is the time when it- my vision, my love for story and the story as it maps onto the body- truly comes to life.
Photos by Vanessa Fortin and Romain Lorraine.