Departures and Arrivals

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SCRAPE - INTERVIEW WITH JOVANA Rakić
Rita Natálio



Rita Natálio : Can you tell us more about “Scrape”, your most recent work premiered in June at Bitef Theatre with Station support?

Jovana Rakić: “Scrape” is my first piece with a strong visual impact, instead of an inner deep research as in previous works. I started from the observation of homeless people and migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and other war zones, who wanted to cross the corridor to Europe. The first input to me was the way they were dressed up, with several layers of clothes, specially children which I could remark when giving a workshop for children at a refugee camp in the border with Croatia. In the highway, when getting home after this workshop, I couldn’t tell who was crossing the road, boys or girls, young or old, they were just “figures” completely covered with jackets, socks, trousers, backpacks, blankets, etc, that later I could identify as children.

These people were “stuck” in life, in a certain situation, which I could observe in the reality of my process of work. In a way, I could see that the body that was constantly producing in order to be visible in capitalist society, co-existed with this abandoned body of the homeless and the migrant who were somehow suspended in time.

I guess "Scrape", in it's creation process, was about this difference between two worlds - us and the others,  the migrants and the "European" -  but also about the "other" in the margins, which is something I could feel by being a Balkan artist, a status that usually wants to reach the European context but is too “different”, too “oriental”. This time, I felt that roles were switched and I was the one looking to these migrants as different. I was also overwhelmed with images and videos from the internet. It is true that most of us are digital or semi-digital generations affected by everyday’s pictures, but if you take the time to really go for specific pictures it is so diverse...

Choreographically, I started then a research about a body that has a kind of a distortion in movement, to escape certain human forms or natural ways of moving. I wanted to create an atmosphere that is kind of thick and dark, where each performer activates loops of movement and scores. I did this research in dialogue with Marko Pejović‘s research ‘‘Four Discursive Points of Dance Practice“. Pejovic comes from psychoanalysis and is also a dramaturgist. I used his research as inspiration, four points or criteria that can generate multiple combinations and ways of creating a work: 1) the body, 2) the other, 3) the politics of moment, and 4) the performative structure.

Rita Natálio: What words are important for your choreographic practice? In the beginning of your previous work “Species” you propose the ideia of “camouflage” and dancers introduce a reflexion about the “inner self”. What other words are important to understand your work?

Jovana Rakić: I think each work is different from the other, I really try to understand the conditions of each research. In “Species”, I worked with 4 young dancers that had finished their studies in dance and were unable to work, because of unemployment issues in the dance field. “Species” was their first professional work. But I must say that what excites in my process of work is something like Jonathan Burrows once said: when you loose all the best ideas about your work, that’s when choreography happens.

Rita Natálio: In terms of dramaturgy, one can say the there is a direct relationship between process and dramaturgy, isn’t it? The way each player is placed during the process determines the way dramaturgy is created.

Jovana Rakić: Definitely, I agree that dramaturgy comes from the reality of the process of work, like it happened on “Scrape” or “Species”. But thinking about my previous work, I think that what is common in my work is "choreography". As wide as it can be it excites me. For instance, in “Choreography for the Imagination”, one of my previous works, I start form the concept that choreography is happening in the mind, lead by a guided meditation. The performance is completely related to how I talk, the way I guide the audience through the meditation, the pauses between words, silence, the rhythm of the words, music,  my accent, etc. So, I think I can say that my work is really focused on choreography as a base.