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Anda, Diana: Interview with Diana Niepce

Anda, Diana is the new creation of choreographer and dancer Diana Niepce. In this piece, Diana assumes her body as a revolutionary place, showing that any body can take that spot. The body that becomes Diana is born from the relationship with the other two bodies on stage (Bartosz Ostrowski and Joãozinho da Costa), expanding itself in the intimacy of the contact between them. This intimacy remained in the private sphere but does not belong exclusively to it. Diana Niepce makes the audience feel the intimacy of the bodies-that-are-touched, reminding us that, in one way or another, we are also those bodies. Quoting the dancer, “it’s not about looking for my body in the other’s, but about meeting the other”. Bodies are bodies because they inhabit a common sphere of understanding and perception and this is possibly the biggest statement of the play: a body is not alone. Anda, Diana is on stage at Teatro do Bairro Alto until April 24.

Rodrigo Fonseca – At the beginning of the play, those figures reminded me of acrobatics. The way you positioned yourself, your arms, almost always hanging down… Was this related to some imagery from your past?

Diana Niepce – Throughout the play, the ideas of non-gravity and three-dimensionality are quite present. There is a journey of the construction of the body, a dead, rigid body, that I build through theirs. In constructing this body, I use images that have something sculptural about them. Goddess-like figures emerge, Christs. These figures create tension, they reconstruct my body. And, yes, many techniques come from the circus/new circus, which I want to work more in the performative field. The piece has a long, durational time… I wanted to work on the verticality of the body, of the body that is verticalised, of the body that generates tension and that, at the same time, is fragile. The body’s fragility is rather poetic. But in everyday life we don’t allow space for it to be born, we don’t have access to detail… This happens in intimacy. Anda, Diana is also about falling, about the body that falls – I fall many times during the play.

RF – During the performance, there is a constant interplay between the two dancers on stage, a game of weights and counterweights, of back-and-forth. You are always the wheel, but your base changes constantly.

DN – It’s a game of tension, of counterweights, of opposing forces. This happens in an unbelievably detailed and millimetric way because the risk is very present. In my work, I have been exploring the extension of bodies into each other. I have been working on these tensions for some time. Even in my last play, this trace was already present. The bodies in Anda, Diana do not work in isolation and, when they separate, they leave the spectator in an uncomfortable place. Of course, my body has the language of the past, as a dancer and acrobat. My new body is a great fusion of techniques. This piece is also a diary (published by Sistema Solar), written in a very raw, exposed, violent and sarcastic way. In the play, I tried to create an oneiric atmosphere, with its own time, so that the audience could experience the body that is being built.

RF – At the beginning of the piece, the music has a metallic, obscure and intimate profile. But when you are alone, standing in the centre of the stage, the music is transformed and the atmosphere becomes more delicate… We hear birds tweeting.

DN – There is a recurrent ambiguity in the play: is it violent? Is it poetic? In the play between the three, there is also the idea of submission, of domination of the bodies… My body finally dances when it completely separates itself from theirs. Anda, Diana explores the image of the dancing body. This play’s music imagery is inspired by the sounds produced by an MRI. Have you ever had an MRI?

RF – No.

DN – The MRI produces a deeply electronic sound (trum trum trum). It sounds like a war environment. When you have an accident, the first test is an MRI. This starts from the idea of how sound inhabits this space, a space that can be seen as a somewhat frightening journey. Gonçalo Alegria (sound) has extensively used descriptions of these experiences that I wrote about in the book. And, yes, the sound of birds is present in MRIs! It serves to relax you. This play is particularly important to me because of my body’s reshaping. But I’m also interested in the reformulation of other bodies: what is the body that dances? What is the hierarchy of the performing body? These kinds of questions have been with me for some time. My body is a transformation of the previous dancing body. It is not obvious to a dancer how to work it, nor how to work with me! They never quite understand what my level of fragility is, there is a lot of fear of falling! I’m quadriplegic, there is a great level of risk in the things I do, but I’m interested in exploring it. The risk puts us in a state of contemplation that opens a new way of looking at the body.

Rodrigo Fonseca (1995, Sintra) studied at Escola Artística António Arroio, has a degree in Art History from FCSH/UNL, and a post-graduation in Scenic Arts from the same faculty. He travelled through Central Europe and the Balkans, lived in Italy, Greece, and Brazil. His artistic work lies on the music and the body, between the skin of his feet and the skin of the surface floor. He organizes and programmes the festival Dia Aberto às Artes in Mafra and is a founding member of the cultural association A3 - Apertum Ars. He is one of the founders of CusCus Discus. He participated as a musician in CusCus World Musik Radio 196.7 FM, Brussels (Festival Vivarium, 2019), Lisbon (Desterro, 2019) and Marseille (La Deviation, 2020). He participated as a performer in the show PARAANDAR, Festival Snow Black 2019 (Moita), and in the event A TROPA BELADONA (2019), ADAO - Associação Desenvolvimento Artes e Ofícios, Barreiro - productions of A Bela Associação.

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