Modul-dance experience. By Leja Jurišić

Summer 2010, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Goran Bogdanovski (Kino Šiška, Slovenia) invited me to present my proposal of a new dance work to dance house partners of the European project modul-dance. He explained me the project and I said yes. The possibility to research, create and tour the piece among the participating houses sounded great. I immediately knew what I want to propose. There was a solo piece I wanted to do for some time now. My debut choreography was a solo, and I felt, that after several collaborative and group projects, the time was right to return to this format. I even had the perfect team in my mind for the work.

The end of September 2010, Lyon, France
Meeting of the representatives of all 22 dance houses participating in the project and artists which were invited to present their proposals. Three Days. During the day we had conferences and in the evenings we watched performances at Lyon Dance Biennial. It was great to meet in person all the artists and all the representatives. The construction and goals of the project were presented. All 22 artists shortly presented their work and proposals. Interesting people. There was a little stage with the screen where we saw mainly videos of performances that artists present. The conference hall with a little stage! The idea of talking from behind the desk didn’t appeal to me very much, as the stage is much more the place, which I know and understand. I decide to do my presentation in a format of presentation- performance. This is what I do and what I do best. Good choice. I got some nice offers for creating my new work. What I liked the most was that after the presentation we (the artists) had our own desks where presenters could come to meet us and to show their interest.

With the feeling of being taken care of as an artist, even kind of belonging, and more, getting offers for creating a new solo piece we flew back to Ljubljana. I felt very sick on the plane. Never happened before. No worries.

October 2010, Ljubljana
Reporting the news to my artistic team: we can have enough time, space and money to make a creation through moduls offered, checking dates with the modul-dance houses for research and residencies, mailing materials etc.

Sun was shining and Clearblue was positive. Checking it up with the doctor. Yes I was pregnant for a month and a half. Tears came out when I had seen a little white spot (heart) beating on the screen. I was happy. Crazy happy. We hadn’t been “working on it”, but I was prepared to have a baby. Though, I immediately started calculating days, months … First child. No clue about whatsoever, what does this mean for a dancer’s body and work and life? Until what month could I work? When can I start again after the child is born? The possibilities I got to create the solo were out for the season 2010/11. My child will be born in May 2011. And the modul-dance contract? I had two years to finish the creation that I proposed. September 2012. Ok. I was more or less sure I could do it. But it felt so very far away. I decided to make the first Modul-research, during the pregnancy. We set the premiere date to June 2012. The first dates were set with Dansens Hus in Stockholm.

February 2011- Stockholm, Sweden
Petra Veber, the co-author and set designer, Žiga Predan, manager, my almost six months old belly and I arrived to Stockholm in the beginning of February. Winter in Slovenia was snowy and cold. But it felt like spring compared to the Swedish winter. The temperature was super low, snow, cold-wind blowing all the time. It was great to have a cosy flat 10 minutes distance to the studio. Studios were big and warm. People from Dansens Hus were taking good care of us and we had everything we needed. During the day we worked in the studio, afternoons and nights at home. Group work mainly. Afternoons were nice. Reading, debating, writing: The sense and non-sense of the European union, the meaning (less) of revolt, the role of art as a counterculture, the commercialisation of the meaning of manifesto were some of the topics that had arisen having an American avant-garde music score as a starting point at the times of the Western economic crisis.

There was another crisis going on – in the studio. Since my work is very body orientated I like to search for physical extremes. My body felt completely alienated to me, I didn’t know my limits anymore.

May 2011
Mila is born. Overwhelmed!

May 2011 – January 2012
The baby is beautiful and healthy. Though she is breastfeeding a lot and almost not sleeping at all. I am happy.

I was thinking about the creation a lot. I didn’t have the time and space to read or write at all so I watched all possible performances I could get on video while breastfeeding.

Considering my body, I feel like a grandmother. It is January. I should slowly get in the physical condition. I agreed to work in a short collaborative project to get me starting again and get fit. Six choreographers and dancers were in the show. Work and premiere in Brussels, a quick tour to Zagreb, Ljubljana and Lyon. Everything finished until April. I can work for only a few hours a day but it helps.

February is full of meetings with my team to finalise the theoretical concept for the solo. We were reading a lot of avant-garde theories, from futurist manifests to Valentine de Saint Point and with the topic of revolt to Julia Kristeva.

We set the dates for the residency (second modul) with Hellerau Dresden for April and with Tanzquartier Wien for coproduction in May with a premiere 1st of June.

April 2012- Dresden, Germany
In Slovenia there were riots on the streets, big financial cuts were being made everywhere. The future did not seem bright at all when we arrived to Hellerau. There, things started to look better immediately. The theatre is like a cathedral. Audience was tripled in three years. We had a studio right above the flat, which made it really easy for me to work and still spend time with my baby. There was only two more months until the opening night. We locked ourselves in the studio and it started. After so many months of being “a mother24/7” I got a push, which made me work almost day and night. In Hellerau we produced and developed very strong material. We decided to include part of a very provocative text- the Anti workers Manifesto (1974) by the infamous filmmaker Jonas Mekas. I didn’t regret it. It is something to honestly think about if we are looking for a change. Consequently we also found the final title: Ballet of Revolt. There I had the first showing but the material is so physically demanding I nearly collapsed. They were my first audience. They liked it and I liked it too.

May 2012- Wien, Austria
The month of the finalisation of the project in Wien. It was another few weeks of great and progressive work. The artistic team of TQW immediately, the second day of the residency, wanted to see the material. I was quite surprised and hesitating since everything was still very rough and I still needed time to gain strength to pull the piece through. There were long sequences of very demanding choreography, the shouting of the above mentioned manifesto … Nevertheless this early showing brought us very close together. We had great discussions and meetings after, with many people working in this dance house. In the end it seemed as if every single person working at TQW is interested in dance and art, which is great. We were fixing the last details.

I don’t know how it was with all the modul-dance artists, but we had a chance to work at three dance houses where the conditions for work were very good and the artistic teams warm and collaborative. We had all the support from them and during these weeks we also got to know each other at least a bit on a personal terms, which makes the experience even more worthwhile. There were times, while organising the moduls, when some misunderstandings occurred, negotiations sometimes took long … but in the end we all managed to get the ideas and realisations straight. And it felt like collaboration.

On the other hand I miss the connection with other modul artists. The first meeting in Lyon was the strongest in this sense.

Goran Bogdanovski, the initial link to modul-dance was supportive and understanding through the whole process. Kino Šiška organised the modul-dance festival as part of Co-festival in Slovenia where we pre-premiered the solo performance 27th May. Large stage. The next day we were back in Vienna.

We premiered Ballet of Revolt on the 1st of June in TQW. Just as planned. Successfully! Just as we’ve wished.

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