EB: How did you work, Cristina?
CC: Well, “A Line_up” started off with the formation of the choir. And then it is exactly what you were speaking about, Lea, that I strongly disagree with the assumption that contemporary dance is not entertaining. But for me entertainment is perhaps something else. Because entertainment as it is understood nowadays is visible in the moment and it’s consumable in the moment. But if you look at the word ‘enter’ and ‘tain’, you actually don’t enter anything and you don’t retain anything. I would speak more in terms of pleasure, desire, fear, interest, intellectual turmoil… are you, so to speak, physically, intellectually engaged. To me, that is entertainment. And I think contemporary dance does that. For me, it has the edges to do that. The very moment of feeling something, but you cannot grasp it, for me is the best entertainment ever. But you know, you cannot consume it. It is not for me to have.
EB: Where did the musical “A Chorus Line” come in?
CC: I looked at the most blatant example of where dance loses this patina of the incomprehensible and enters the economy of success. Making money is in the musical, where they speak, dance and sing. It is a fixed format, it is actually quite stereotypical. But there is one musical that broke this format, “A Chorus Line”, from 1975. It was interesting to me because it was a self-employment project by dancers who were out of work. They got together to put on a show to self-employ themselves and because they had this urge to dance. But instead of just working on the steps and the composition of dance on top of a score and a script that is ready when rehearsal starts, they began by sitting around a table and telling one another their life stories. Their life stories then became the narrative of this piece. They dance three times, the rest of the time they talk about themselves, about being gay, about being a single mother… and it became a major success! Fictionalised autobiography became the show, which then, two years later, Pina Bausch began to do with her Tanztheater Wuppertal. Using fictional biography to sell yourself is what Facebook is about now.
EB: Are you now showing a musical?
CC: It was interesting: When I said I wanted to do a musical, I immediately sold 17 shows on big stages. But my intention was to put something on the stage that has a different affect than the tragic life-stories which they tell in the original. I wanted to twist it, to tell other stories. And I wanted not to speak of it, but to dance it and be it, for real. And that would eventually move the audience on a level of affect and they would be tricked into an experience of a third kind, you know. But it’s been a very difficult project, because the analysis of the original was very, very interesting, and we wrote our own fictional biographies. But in the end, you have this beautiful dance, which nobody understands. So I tried to dress it up, I sugarcoated it with pop songs and visual effects. But in some places, the only part the audience loves is this sugarcoated one.
LM: I like this, playing with expectations. I enjoy giving the audience something that I know they want, but then I just procede from that to something else, what they might not want. I think that’s also a nice thing.
EB: You are seducing the audience to go somewhere where they didn’t want to go in the first place, but then you show them a way to enter it?
LM: Yes. But I don’t have such a struggle like Cristina to give the audience something that is really entertaining. I still can find my way to do it, or to disturb it, to irritate the audience, like: is she serious about that or not?
CC: All of the issues that we are talking about are cornerstones for the time that we are living in, and they are hard to carry on stage. Because of this habit and non-practice of taking entertainment seriously. To take it seriously, you know. When did this happen, that entertainment became something brainwashed, where you don’t have to engage, where they don’t have to take a position?
Background Photos: Yero Adugna Eticha
Background Video: Lea Moro, ccap