PARASOL Logbook I
With PARASOL – a dance group of the TQW we have started a hybrid artistic training project aimed at young dancers. Each year, two renowned choreographers will work on a piece for three months with a group of five young dancers selected by them. The PARASOL Logbook will provide insights into the work processes of the group at irregular intervals. The texts by artist and writer Gianna Virginia Prein and photos by Marcella Ruiz-Cruz accompany the rehearsals for the performances with Ian Kaler in spring 2022 and with Alix Eynaudi in fall 2022, but also document and portray the project and its participants: Alex Bailey, Camilla Schielin, Júlia Rúbies Subirós, Shahrzad Nazarpour, Theresa Scheinecker.
7 + 8 February 2022
Describing what has yet to take place: writing a commentary on PARASOL means watching rehearsal processes every now and then, and so witness a piece that does not yet exist come into being.
How many times can a spontaneous smile be repeated? Or a look that searches, that does not yet perform? – How much of this will disappear over the course of the rehearsals?
The process begins with approaching and getting to know one another. Over coffee, in an art museum, on post-its, the dance floor, another’s shoulder. Here and there, gestures from different backgrounds, types of training and preferences inform the exercises on the rehearsal stage that is as yet devoid of props. So far, there is only input and communication, no common history exists from which a language of movement might have arisen. Communication is a key term that undergoes countless changes in my notes on the rehearsals in the studio and the research trip to Kunsthistorisches Museum. Also: try. And: collect. The performers’ backgrounds are varied, the feedback rounds are mainly about perceived connections to each other or to one’s own body parts – and the moment shortly before this sensation, this hunch. All the more exciting when these as yet somewhat contained attachments are revealed through the movements.
18 February 2022
When does the lifting of the eyes adjust to the rhythm of the rest of the body? How thoroughly do the smallest details need to be rehearsed in order to create an overall picture that doesn’t appear arbitrary?
A few weeks later, two huge makeshift screens have been set up in the studio. Hand-knotted ropes several metres long, strongly reminiscent of lead lines, are lying next to printed macramé instructions. Alex holds a McDonald’s paper bag under my nose, having put some hay into it – a little immersion trick or joke. The postures during the improvisation exercises have become more stooped, and the spontaneous smile has turned into an almost familiar wink; the group has already been with the horses. Character traits seem more recognisable, the movements towards each other somewhat consolidated. Signs of reacquaintance are still visible, however – or is this because of the new props? Ian puts the oversized, hand-knotted ropes on his shoulder and, with the upper part of his body wrapped in a halter-like fashion, lies down between Camilla, Theresa and Shahrzad, having a try at rehearsing.
24 February 2022
The hands are reddish and swollen. It’s cold in the stable. CALYPSO, MIRRA, ALIBI, DANNY THE STREET and REY MYSTERIA meet DINO, the old stallion (these might well be the names of the dazzling cast of a John Waters film). Contrary to the assumption that riding is central in dealing with the animals, nothing much happens on the backs of the horses; the interaction mainly takes place on eye or hip level. Because when you’re sitting on the horse, you cannot see their face.
The exercises in the stable overlap with those in the studio, except that the four-legged friends don’t always play along. The more stooped the posture and the more varied the sounds and movements, it seems, the greater the animals’ willingness to be guided through the dual alleys without making contact, for example. Their charming stubbornness and their effective lack of interest, as they stop abruptly, are like caricatures of the highly motivated and delighted people fussing over them. With eyes closed and hands on the warm fur belly, the artists’ own breath is carefully adjusted to that of the animal in one of the many guided exercises. The effect is surprising; everybody enters the final round of reflection in a calm and mindful state: above all else, you learn a lot about yourself and your own restraints when you open up to a horse.
Gianna Virginia Prein works as an artist and writer. In her trans-media practice, she examines overlaps of physical and technological phenomena with posthumanist concepts. Degree in Scenography at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Linguistic Art and TransArts at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, and Print & Time Based Media at the University of the Arts London. Publications e.g. in Spike Art Quarterly, in the catalogue for Tanzplattform 2018, on viereinhalbsätze.com, in Jenny; as well as various artist books – most recently MOTION SICKNESS together with Katrin Euller.