Saturday, 24 June 2017

Dramaturgy Alone: Chen-Wei Lee x ART B&B @ Edfringe 2017

Together Alone by Chen-Wei Lee x ART B&B
Venue 22: Dance Base / Time: 21.45 (45 mins)
August 4-6: £10 (£8) / August 8 & 9, 11-13, 15 & 16, 18-20, 22 & 23, 25-27: £12 (£10)
Box office: 0131 225 5525
Q&A follows: Answers by dancer and choreographer Chen-Wei Lee and Zoltán Vakulya where indicated

What was the inspiration for this performance?
Chen-Wei Lee: Zoltán [Vakulya] and I admire each other’s artistic point of view but had never worked together before. His training is very different to mine, so I thought this could be a very interesting clash between us.
Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas?

Zoltan: Absolutely!
Chen-Wei: Yes, and with no doubt. Art often reflects our times, and whatever situation our society is in. Artists always bring questions to the stage, within their own performance format, to describe these times and situations. The stage is a platform to speak the artists’ thoughts. 

Viewers might agree or not. They might appreciate or doubt, but that’s how the discussion gets started. It’s a discussion with the public through an act that brings awareness and attention to the people. I think there’s no better place or way to have interaction with the public. 
How did you become interested in making performance?
Zoltan: I really enjoy the process of crafting a performance. It happened to me first when I was 17 and lucky enough to be able to direct a small but full-evening theatre piece in Hungary. It took me very far; I realised how hard but how exciting it is actually. Later l saw several dance or dance-theater performances, and was amazed by how the different layers can come together in one evening. It made me sure about the need for creating more!
Chen-Wei: I started as a dancer, whose role is to interpret the ideas of others but at the same time produce a different way to interpret through my body and my understanding. 

I gained a lot of experiences from working with different people, whom I admire and respect, as well as people about whom I have doubts. That triggered my curiosity about myself – if it were to be me doing this, how would I do it?
I believe that to be an artist you have to be creative, curious, passionate and compassionate, and of course have good taste in many things. I guess I do have those qualities, and that’s why it leads me to create and to speak for myself.
Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
Chen-Wei: We gave ourselves a task: to never let go of each other from the start to the end. We are dancers and like to move freely, so that immediately created huge limitations and narrowed things down. W

e discovered a lot about how we can keep on moving and create a different way of dancing, and how to communicate. You see that in the piece through the physicality. Sometimes we help each other, sometimes we’re against each other, and sometimes we need to negotiate.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?
Chen-Wei: This is the first dance that Zoltan and I have made together. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
Chen-Wei: We don’t want to tell people too much because that kills their imagination. It’s important that they find their own explanation. In this duet it’s just the two of us, but what happens and what we experience onstage parallels society: how we deal with people, how we use each other, how we have to collaborate. 

The relationship is always changing. It has difficulties, and moments of being smooth and nice, but just like relationships in real life it’s not going to last forever. 

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
Chen-Wei: Our nudity in the duet came about through the creative process. We talked about what we should wear and tried various things. We have this floor-based part we call “Rock.” It’s very slow and difficult, like we’re tangling, wrapped together as tight as possible. You see a lot of muscle tension, how we’re using force to carry each other, but we found that even if we covered ourselves with just thin fabric the dance lost that strength. 

You just didn’t see it. When we tried it nude, everyone said it was so beautiful to reveal yourself in that way. People really appreciated that we were so honest, so open with ourselves. You see what we have, and that’s what we have. Of course if you want to see it as provocative I cannot affect your mind. But now we couldn’t imagine it any other way. It’s absolutely not sexual.

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