JOURNAL is a process diary, monthly digest of choreographic work as well as containing reflections, dialogs, notes and contemplations. It subscribes itself to diverse formats and forms, changing as it goes along, and shaping itself out of the requirements of the moment at hand.
What is this pas de deux about?

Dear friends, I am often asked the question of what is something about; what is this piece about, what is this work about. Since that question in itself is either somewhat bulky or somewhat substantial, it seems to me that the answer to it is always strongly linked to the capacity of receiving it. Because it is often about more then it is expected to be and at the same time about less then pressured to be. So in this November writing, let me try to go for it and to see what it is all about, taking one of my favourite formats – a pas de deux, and this is the one titled Tiento, that I created last year for the program of the Open Day at the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb.

“When experiencing the pas de deux in performance,
I often come away with hoping that the audience was captivated by our ‘conversation’
as much as by the excitement of the physicality. It is so satisfying when the pas de deux goes well.”
Cynthia Harvey, retired principal dancer

Dancers Asuka Maruo and Duilio Ingraffia arrive at the ballet studio of Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb. I am already there going through the music. It is our first rehearsal for creating this pas de deux. My first suggestion is to structure space; it is going to be a narrow, long trail, deep in length and compressed in sides. It is a simple image of a corridor, a passage, a tunnel, a bridge – approaching and departing, going back and forward, transitioning. So we start with that idea as an anchor. Instead of setting up movements or steps I am asking them to try to just go through the dance, trusting that as they go along, bit by bit, breath by breath, the dance will reveal itself gradually. A few hesitations, some simple questions answered and we are good to go. Start with the stillness in you, I say, with breathing in and out, feeling the presence of the other.

Give some moment to the music, I say, let the sound embrace you and then just let it proceed its way. They both nod softly, thinking, gathering focus. After a minute or so they are ready and standing. Two figures in space, silence, beginning, music appears from the background faintly.

And then the first movement appears, maybe just a hand, a slight lean forward, there is an impulse that arises, inner viscerality of the other giving the first suggestion, there is a form that emerges, a leg lifts or balance shifts, body spiraling, a hold arrives, issuing some reaction, catapulting to the outside, and then both arms holding, encompassing, going in again, exploring tension, a body in wave suddenly, but not completely overtaking, out of somewhere: arabesque – adjusting and organizing its arrival and departure, then grounded again, a need to open up to the space around, some simple steps, somebody turns and now there is an energy shift, sudden activity from allover, reacting in different directions, not much control, giving in to the whirling around and here we are, breath, calming for a second, eyes, face, feeling the mutual idea, yes, yes, let’s go for it, one is falling in to it, the other one assisting with structure, reacting to that upswing of the inner logic, it presses forward, so much space around us, like bursting out in all directions, with thousand arms, as this one that appears, as this gaze appears, eyes searching far out, pulling that of the outside in, absorbing it all, and then the body reaches further again, ideas are overtaking, discerning in a second, following that impulse that was somehow already there, serving that thought that we had, but here is another one, not quite defined jet (did we finished a previous one?), letting the memory fall apart, just surfing on traces, on margins, and then eyes again, grounding, mutual arrival, very clear intention arrives, familiar structure for a moment, soothing, rounding, assuring, just enough to feel the breath with confidence, body aligns in itself again, ready to open further, some simple steps, maybe a palpable feeling of vulnerability, a bit shaky on the inside, fluctuating but not hindering, then a grip comes, body carries it forward with conviction, as assured dialog, a firm orientation, momentum that replicates itself forward, myriad of forms and gestures, all now making appearance, making itself visible, gripping the surfaces of the structure and then slowly again fading away, disappearing in itself, dissolving, body empties out its traces, body which is now gone, until the next juncture where there is weight again, presence again, mood again, texture again that vibrates another form briefly, and jet another, and the next one, horizon of forms, shapes, volumes, gaps and lines, all sustaining and enduring, confirming that we are here, together, present.

Music subsides, first dance accomplished. Asuka and Duilio are laughing softly as they relax, we all smile and giggle a bit in that funny conspiracy of doers and makers, playing with elements, so easy and so not easy at the same time. I am having some wishes, some preferences that might sharpen out some moments; like expressiveness or narrative that I saw arriving here and there, so I am suggesting to understand it as a trace, as a shadow, and then to release it gently with the new movement that appears. Another one is to have a confidence in the moments of halt, of the breath – allowing that tranquility to reload the dynamic of the dance, creating more spaciousness in time. The final one is about an outer edge of any articulated movement, it would be great that the movement reaches its full potential before transitioning to the next inner idea.

Asuka and Duilio embark on the second round of this dance, and then third, and then forth and so on, accumulating that experience of creating it afresh, reliving it again and again, confirming its contractions and releases – letting the outside gazes fall upon them freely, as there is nothing to be compared, just something to be observed, almost as one would watch a delicate ripple in time. It is not about being impeccable or pressured as it is about being transparent and lucid.

As the three of us see it, that dance could go on forever – appearing out of nowhere and going endlessly. It just so happens that there is a visible portion of this dance here, at this particular corridor of space, at that particular day.

Published: 08/11/17

I am often asked the question of what is something about; what is this piece about, what is this work about. So in this writing let me try to go for it and to see what it is all about, taking one of my favourite formats – a pas de deux, and this is the one titled Tiento, that I created in October 2016 for the program of the Open Day at the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb. Written by: Marjana Krajač