Ray (Theresa Scheinecker) in conversation with Gianna Virginia Prein
The five PARASOL participants have completed their first rehearsal phase working on Ian Kaler’s Ecto-Fictions and performed it. Gianna Virginia Prein, writer and artist accompanying this year’s group, used the summer break for piecemeal conversations with the participants about rehearsal processes and practices. Ray’s experience with street dance raised questions concerning the connection between the body and urban space.
Gianna Virginia Prein: In a few words: How do you feel now that you can concentrate on your own artistic practice again?
Ray: I can’t wrap my head around it yet and still need time to process. I’m curious to see what will pop up when I return to my usual practices and which of the new approaches have consolidated. I want to make a habit of the “soft” quality of movement that played an essential role in the rehearsal process for Ecto-Fictions.
GVP: Where do you see overlaps between breakdance and contemporary dance?
R: I’ve always had a hard time categorising myself. No matter what styles I trained in (popping, breaking, free running, acrobatics) – I never felt comfortable pigeonholing myself to any of them. Instead, I’ve come to see myself as a person who moves. My goal is to combine everything I’ve learned regarding movement experiences into a unified whole. I try to dissolve boundaries and discover my individual form of dance through different approaches – a lifelong project. [Laughs.] I love the power, the energy and the dynamics of breaking, but I’m no less fascinated by the “softness” of contemporary dance. Combining the two elements has always appealed to me.
GVP: I see a similar contrast of strength and softness in your Instagram posts. You place your movements in architectures there. This reminds me of VALIE EXPORT’s actionist Körperkonfigurationen (body configurations) of the 1980s. Nestled on a curb, for example, or bent on the stairs of the Palace of Justice, she adapted to the urban space in her photographs. For me, this was “the female* body” treated as a foreign object in certain public, more precisely, patriarchal domains, no matter how much it integrates itself. Her positions are acts of marking rather than disappearing. As a result, I feel that she challenged the attempt of integrating, of “participating” as such. How did the way you “stage” yourself in your photos come about, and what was it that interested you about it?
R: When I tore my Achilles tendon, I was put out of action for quite some time. During that period, I couldn’t move the way I’m used to, so I turned to the style of tutting more and more. This style involves creating geometric shapes with your arms and hands – a dance that creates illusions.
Buildings and architecture offer a lot of inspiration, as they have clear shapes and edges – lines – geometry. They are made by human hands, but the human aspect is missing. I find it exciting to position myself through a “shape” to capture the “dance”.
GVP: In contrast to photography or the slightly drawn-out moment of a short video, time passes visibly on stage. In real-time. What was it like for you to deal with this immediacy and duration in the scope of PARASOL?
R: I enjoy being in a process, dealing with a topic until something develops from it, analysing everything and breaking it down. I no longer have to show off my “hot skills” as soon as I am on stage – it goes deeper. It was challenging because I tended to want to do too much, always more and more. But it can be enough to just walk across the stage or simply stand.
Theresa Scheinecker grew up in Upper Austria and has been living in Vienna since 2010. She studied psychology and psychotherapy and dedicated her life intensively to various forms of movement – in particular, the styles of breaking, popping, and tutting, as well as acrobatics. She spent part of 2018 in the USA to immerse herself in the freestyle community of hip-hop culture. Since 2020, she has also been exploring stage work. In 2021 she was a participant in various research formats at ImPulsTanz.