Dance group Rootlessroot was created in 2006 by Linda Kapenea and Jozef Frucek. While removing themselves from empty forms, they translate intensity into dance and movements of animated stories that react to our common experience of reality. On their latest show, Eyes in the Colors of the Rain, three bodies meet and collide on stage. They are divided and united in an effort to break the structure in search of a place where movement becomes emotional expression.
-When did you meet and what made you decide to become a team?
We met in 2002 in Belgium, but we probably have already met much before. It could not be an accident. The chance would be very small. We were linked together to crash into each other by cosmic force. There was not other way then but to create our own company Rootlessroot through which we could form and realize our dreams. And we have also decided to move from Belgium, one of the centres of performing arts, to periphery to recreate our own identity as artists and human beings.
-Has this collaboration influenced the way you see dance? Do you feel you have assisted each other to evolve in your art?
We are now together for eight years and we work together on our own pieces for four years. Since we met we dance together, sleep together, eat together. The fact that we come from different parts of the world with different cultural backgrounds is very helpful. It leads us to a kind of cultural and emotional conflict that can lead us into something interesting. The more we work, the more we understand that dance itself is limited and can’t express much. Only the free body of a wise performer is able to talk and communicate, not an emptily trained dancer’s body.
-Υοu are open to work together with artists outside your discipline, like for example, actor Yorgos Frintzilas. How important is for you the idea of developing a creative dialogue through collaborations of such kind?
We do not consider ourselves purely as a dance company. Of course we like to move, dance and shout, but more then that, we are interested to create performance that can move people emotionally, that can tell a story we would like to share. For that reason we choose people/ performers that can help us realise those visions on stage. This time it was Yorgos Frintzilas that made us imagine and envision a character that we were looking for. He is a perfect John of Apocalypse. He is lost, fragile, intelligent and very sensitive. Someone who could tell you a story, you could believe.
-Your choroeographies provoke strong emotions to the audience: surprise, desire, fear even displeasure or anger. Would you ever dance for the sake of movement, without a deeper meaning or feeling?
Performance must be political, must reflex the world we live in. Performance cannot be isolated and exist in vacuum. We try to express and share the ideas and stories that motivate us, mobilize us and drive us into action. Otherwise there is no point to do anything.
-Ιs it strange to move in a way that makes you look ‘odd’, in an ugly or funny way? We do not question any more aesthetics, we do what we feel and what must be done on stage. If we look strange, ugly or funny that has very little importance for us. We do not create or teach in front of the mirror.
-UNA performance, presented in Athens in April, was a game of limits, both yours and the audiences’; reality chased by voices out of control, exploding movements, criticism on social control, innocence and sexuality regardless the age. Do you aim to ‘stretch’ our perception on things?
UNA performance was very successful for us. Every time at least half of the audience was crying or hating the piece so much that they had to make a special talk about it. Some art curators even suggested forbidding this show in Belgium and France. How funny to hear that! On the other hand we do not force ourselves into any special state of mind. We think we are building a language of physical expression that is chaotic, raw, in opposition to what surrounds us both culturally and politically. Our approach is born from our belief that the time of heroes is not gone – the body can still express our innermost desires, our feelings and our vision.
-Υοu teach a seminar called ‘Fighting Monkey’. What’s the link between dance and martial arts? What kinds of animals would you be?
We repeatedly crash ourselves into joy oriented fighting to rediscover our forgotten mental and physical potentials to find again ourselves pure from any empty aesthetics.If we could define ourselves as animals we would probably be greedy pigs, clever monkeys and running horses.
-What’s the main concept of your upcoming appearance in Athens?
This time we try to reach deeper into the physical and emotional possibilities of the human structure, recreating and destructing material related to John’s apocalyptic vision. The political and economical function of our Christian religion and its primal function to manipulate and create social control.
-Αt a time of an extended period of crisis there is still a lot of unexpressed anger. How can you dance despair?
Every crisis brings new dynamics. We start to think in different way, we try to survive. We look for other pathways to realize our dreams. If there is less or no money to create and produce art work (and this can be the situation in Greece for the moment), this situation can lead us basically to two different directions. One of them would be a journey to deeper corruption, to satisfy the rules and needs of profit and economical survival. And another one could be a purification of what we want to do and how we want to do it, even if there is very little financial support and we might not become rich or famous. And obviously modern era of developed capitalism will try to cut as much as they can from Education and Art. But I believe that real fighters will survive.