Milan’s Game


An international team of top-class dancers are heading to the Fringe for a Duet with a difference


Hello guys, first things first, where are you all from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
Xavier: Hi there! So we’re all from different parts of Europe. Delicia is from Thessaloniki in Greece, Samuel is from Mallorca in Spain but has lived in the Midlands most of his life, and I am from Porto in Portugal. We all met when we were training in Bath, where we each graduated in either Dance or Acting and where the collaborations began in which AllouAqui was born. Since then we have stayed in Bath and Bristol, which is where we make our performance work.

Can you tell us how your company AllouAqui came together?
Delicia: Well, both Xavier and I graduated from the same contemporary dance course and were both interested in pursuing a career in performance and choreography. Having worked together during the course we knew our aesthetics, ideas and visions matched and complemented each other so I think it was inevitable that sometime we would start collaborating through the form of a company. AllouAqui’s story started with a book by Milan Kundera which sparked the idea of creating a duet inspired by one of its stories. We started playing in the studio and soon decided to make a duet to be toured around England and possibly Europe. Noticing how well we work together we decided to set up a dance theatre company and that is how AllouAqui was born. The duet gradually developed through sharing and performing at different platforms and through the involvement of theatre director Samuel De La Torre who soon became the third member of our company.

SAMUEL DE LA TORRE

What is, would you say, the quintessence of the company’s creativity?
Samuel: Since the birth of the company, Delicia and Xavier have tirelessly worked to create work that merges movement with text. Dance-theatre is a world that has been so brilliantly explored and exposed, and a world that will never cease to amaze. AllouAqui’s creativity emerges from the simplest of life’s experiences. We use these to blend with our fantasies to create a world where all possibilities are available. We are driven by our experiences imagination and instincts and by a desire to play with the edges of our creativity; to explore the subtle and the extreme; and to disrupt the logical and the instinctual. Our creativity relates and retells the story of so many in our audiences, and exposes realities that are strangely easy to watch. The different cultural training and upbringing of each artist brings unique quirkiness through visual imagery that combines in such a way that delivers in our creativity. It is also important to consider our literary inspirations that opens our minds to so many more avenues and themes as well as the cinematic world that stimulates some of our visuals used whilst creating.

DELICIA SEFIHA

Delicia, you have performed all across Europe as a physical theatre performer and dance artist. Do you find the cultural styles of performance alter across the Continent as with its languages?
Delicia: I think in Europe every country and city has its own specific dance and theatre scene and I think it is natural for people who live in the same place and share the same sociopolitical concerns, the same language and the same cultural influences to also develop their own performance style. This is something I love about Europe’s performance scene. I remember watching a dance performance in Amsterdam thinking how much it didn’t fit the scene in England. I felt as though if it was performed in England, it wouldn’t have been received as brilliantly, but in Amsterdam it was a success. Having said that I also believe we have a lot in common, especially nowadays that each European country hosts so many different cultures. Our company is formed by a Portugese, a Greek and a Spanish artist living and working in England. So there you go, one company; four different cultures! There is definitely a common ground, but each country has to offer its own spices, and this is something we all love about creating work in Europe.

Where, why & when did you make the leap from Acting to Direction?
Samuel: Directing had always been a fear of mine; even before going into actor training. I felt it was always a little too out of my comfort zone, and never something I could achieve, having previously worked with some brilliant directors and witnessing their incredible skills. I guess self-doubt is the biggest enemy. It was in my first year of training that my tutor spoke to me about directing and if I had ever given it a try. I suppose it was at that moment that a seed was planted, and that my vision for directing began to develop. However, it was only after an invitation to assistant direct a production, that I really began to take the leap into directing. It was this experience that led me to join AllouAqui. The whole process with AllouAqui has definitely been a collaborative one, with choreography, text, sound and other elements all combining into one. I could not have done it all on my own, and the incredible creative vision of both Xavier and Delicia are unparalleled. However, I have definitely enjoyed taking a step back from performing on this one, and hope it is a vision for the future.

You’re performing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; what are you bringing to the table?
Delicia: We are bringing an exciting mixture of movement, theatre, text and improvisation. A blending of the real and the surreal and a game between the ordinary and the unexpected. We are bringing two characters that reflect the paradoxes and the peculiarities of romantic relationships. Two characters that love, hate, ignore, support and overpower each other as they transform themselves and the space around them. And we are bringing a lot of humour!

Xavier, you are doing the choreography for the show, can you tell us about your training & experience?
Xavier: My journey as a performer began when I was a little boy, living in Portugal and watching my mum boogying to her favourite music! It was this that led me to attend training at Balleteatro in Porto, a dance and theatre school in my hometown where I trained in contemporary, improvisation, physical theatre and ballet. From then on, I couldn’t stop moving and learned quite an array of different dance styles. I then moved to Bath in order to continue my training and focused more on contemporary dance. However, I have always been interested in merging theatre with dance, and so I always focused on this during my training here. It was here that I met Delicia, and so we started the company AllouAqui, and together we choreograph and create work, which is how Milan’s Game came about.

What is the biggest obstacle you overcame while putting your show together?
Xavier: Throughout our creative process, in no doubt has the classic problem of ‘artists with no money’ been an obstacle for us. That being said, we have been extremely fortunate to have a great relationship with our university and the space we have been able to use there for rehearsals. Our biggest obstacle however, will always be our continual alterations for sections we create. It has now become almost routine for us to create sections, then revisit that section some days or weeks later, and recreate the whole scene again. When time is of the essence, sometimes it is not the most efficient way to work, however, it definitely should be seen by us in a positive light, as it ensures that we are meticulous in everything we create.

Do you feel you are match-sharp for the Fringe & if so, why?
Samuel: This question is some-what difficult to answer for me or for us as a company as this is our first time visiting the Fringe, let alone performing at it. That being said, we have worked tremendously hard for this piece and have done so for a while. We have performed Milan’s Game at various festivals and testing grounds which has shaped, refined and driven our performance as a whole. We’ve received feedback in a variety of ways, through speaking to audiences, via Q&A’s, online comments and also through reviews, which we feel have all added some grounding to our making process. So in a humble yet empowering sense, yes I feel we are match-sharp for the Fringe.

What disciplines are we to expect from the show?
Xavier: We, AllouAqui, play with a range of disciplines that focus on visual and auditory story-telling. In Milan’s Game definitely expect a lot of contemporary dance, blended with spoken text, improvisation as well as other theatrical elements that we are keeping as a surprise.

What are the magic ingredients to a good duet?
Delicia: I don’t think I can give a successful recipe that will work for everyone but I can certainly tell you what works for us. I think the most important is the relationship between the artists and performers, in this case, Xavier and myself. We both have the role of choreographer and performer and this could be something tricky as we have to agree to make decisions. Luckily, we are very good friends and very honest to each other. There is nothing we hesitate to test or to experiment with and there are no restrictions. One of the rules of our collaboration is to always express when we do not like something and to never get offended when one of our ideas gets rejected. As a result we go on stage and we are performing something we both love and the audience can see that too. There are certainly many difficulties when, in a duet, the choreographers are also the performers, so we are really lucky to have Samuel with us. Being with him in the studio means that we are constantly testing what we make and receive his reactions as well as his suggestions, advice and direction. There are many other elements that contribute to the composition of a good duet, like the idea behind the piece, the space, the timing, the movement language, the relationship with the audience and the list goes on and on. But to me it seems that if the relationship of the performers does not work none of the rest matters. After every performance we hug each other and say how much we enjoyed performing together; there is this lovely feeling of sharing your energy and passion with someone else. I value this more than the applause.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the street…
Samuel: At 10am every morning this week at Surgeon’s Hall, come and spend your breakfast time with Milan’s Game! It’s a 45-minute, thoroughly-entertaining absurd comedic reality that exposes a couple’s relationship as they try to keep their momentum spicy.


Milan’s Game

the Space @ Surgeons Hall

19th – 24th August (10.00)

www.allouaqui.com

An Interview with Sacha Copland

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From the genius that brought her Back of the Bus to the Fringe, comes a brand new & delicious tasting dance show


Hello Sacha, first thing’s first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
I am from New Zealand, 2 islands shaped like a question mark at the bottom of the world. I grew up in a tiny village called Kirwee in the country in the South Island. there was a lot of space! I have just arrived in Edinburgh after premiering chocolate a week ago in Wellington. I have just been awarded the 2019-21 CNZ Choreographic Fellowship and I am about to go and rehearse on a bus (The Red Bus for Back of the Bus).

Can you tell us about your training?
I trained at the New Zealand School of Dance and I’m one of their ‘distinguished graduates.’ When we were training we danced all day every day except for Sunday.

How did you get into choreography?
Since I was a kid I have always been into trying to tell stories and express the mysteries of life through choreography. I made all the farmer boys in my class be in the first ever dance show I choreographed when I was 8.

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The cast of Chocolate

You’ve got three famous dancers (dead or alive) coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starters, mains & dessert?
Pina Bausch, Douglas Wright and Alain Patel. I would cook home made bread for the starter, mole for the main and chocolate tart for dessert, served with delicious wine and whisy and inspired by Java’s Artisan Series (RISE, In the Wine, The Creamery, Chocolate and……)

Can you tell us how Java Dance Company came about?
I just started making shows and then needed to establish Java formally because it just kept growing. My first ever show was called Espresso. In 2008 we made the hit Back of the Bus and we’re still performing it all over the world! It somehow always seemed inevitable.

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What are the creative processes behind actualising your show ideas?
We experiment a lot!!! The dancers sing, the musicians dance, we tell stories, we play games, we use text to improvise movement. For Chocolate we had a residency that included Mexican masterchef (with prizes and time limits), a cacao ceremony, importing a tiple (12 string guitar) from Colombia and lots of dancing!!! We worked as Chocolatiers for a day. We did an installation where we filled a room with cacao husks and the audience ept saying they felt like they were in a dream… it has all fed into CHOCOLATE!

Your Back of the Bus has gone down extremely well in recent Edinburgh Fringes, why do you think this was so?
I think people like unexpected things, they like travelling, they like being included. Back of the Bus sweeps the audience off their feet and it turns out people like being swept 0ff their feet!

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You’re bringing something new to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; can you tell us about it?
CHOCOLATE might just be my favourite of the 20 full length works I have created (I’m not that old I have just been on a rampage!). I love it when the audience taste Chocolate together, I love the huge transformation that happens in the work. It really captures both the bitter and the sweet of chocolate. Its high contrast. There’s beautiful dance and some post sugar rush grit. And melted chocolate is involved…. and chocolate cello, lush live music, dancers singing, the romance of chocolate, unbridled consumption, the ancient beauty of cacao. There’s a lot in there!

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This is your latest work in the Artisan Series, can you tell us about the earlier productions & how does Chocolate fit into the same scheme?
Chocolate is the 4th of the Artisan Series! We started with Bread in RISE (and 40gs of flour fell slowly onto a dancer, honey poured over lovers, water gushed from walls and the audience mixed and kneaded it all). It was like the land before time. In the Wine was about Wine making and village politics and smelled delicious (Darchat Award for Best dance 2016), The Creamery explores mob mentality and warring neighbours. the audience wear cheese hats and its hilarious! Chocolate is the dessert and its more personal somehow. Its about what is closest to your heart and how insatiable our wants and desires are. And maybe there’s whisky still to come….

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Can you tell us about the creation of Chocolate’s physical stage?
It’s staged in the round at Assembly’s new venue The Bijou! The audience has to take their shoes off for the full experience. Cacao immersion. you’ll have to come to find out more!

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell Chocolate on the streets of Edinburgh, what do you say?
You get to taste Chocolate in the lushest ways you can imagine, live music, dancers who can dance, act, sing and play the charango, musicians who can dance and delicious Chocolate sponsored by Chocolate Tree and the Wellington Chocolate Factory!


Chocolate

Assembly Rooms

 Aug 1-24 (14:30)

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www.javadancecompany.co.nz

 

Shirin Majd: Kooch

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The Edinburgh Fringe is all about talented performers, & there can be few in the city this August as talented as Shirin Majd & her ensemble


Hello Shirin, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
My background is Iranian but I’ve been living in Australia for the last 8 years.

Why the big move?
One of the reasons that I moved to Australia with my family is to become a solo singer, which I couldn’t be in Iran to perform publicly as a soloist. But I started my musical training and pursued my singing career in Iran.

Can you tell us about your training in the arts?
At age 10, I began learning classical guitar and then at age 17, I began studying classical singing and joined the choir of Tehran Symphony Orchestra. I went to Armenia to participate in Hasmik Hasagorchian classes and later attended summer courses at the prestigious Universitat Mozarteum Salzburg, studying with Professor Alessandra Althoff and Barbara Bonney. In 2010 I went on to study Opera and music at the Johann-Joseph Fux Konservatorium and at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz, Austria for one year. Since I moved to Australia, I continued my education in classical singing with Margaret Schindler and Lisa Gasteen. I graduated in Master of Music Performance (Classical Singing / Opera) and Master of Vocal Pedagogy at the Queensland Conservatorium. I’ve also completed Diploma of Sound Production.

Where did your appreciation of Jazz come from?
14 years ago in Iran my teacher gave me a new song called “Summertime” by George Gershwin from Porgy and Bess Opera. This is a popular song between classical and Jazz singers. I really loved it and I started listening to different version of the song. While digging, I came to Ella Fitzgerald’s version and then my appreciation of Jazz got stronger and continued till now.

What does your perfect Sunday afternoon look like?
In Australia, with the sunny and nice weather, I would like to be on the beach with my family, friends or alone; listening to lovely music and reading my book.

You’re performing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; what are you bringing to the table?
I am really excited about my performances in the Edinburgh Fringe. I will perform my new project called “Kooch”, a multi-art performance based on Folk songs (we chose these songs in different languages such as Farsi, Turkish, Spanish & English) which Mastaneh (composer and one of the creators) and I gathered them. I will sing in western classical style on jazz arrangements of folk music along with a dancer, videos and visual art. This will accompany us to interpret the meaning of the songs.

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Can you describe some of the musical styles from Iran?
We have traditional style music (Dastgah and Magham), and singing folk music as well. However, these days like other countries the pop and fusion music have become more popular. Personally I like fusion music based on Folk or traditional Dastgah.

What is the cultural landscape of Iran in 2019 – are women more readily accepted there as performers there?
In my last visit 5 years ago, I noticed that women are more involved in the music industry compared to the time I left Iran but since the government rules are still against women’s freedom to sing solo or play instruments, the government can ban musicians from performing. Iranian women are always active and they are fighting against the rules, which restrict their freedom as a human being.

Who are you collaborating with & what are their roles?
Sydney Cabioc is my Show Manager for these performances, and Mastaneh Nazarian is the composer of Kooch project. Iraya Noble (dancer) and Douglas Kemp (guitar bass) are our Edinburgh-based guest performers joining Sweet Sound Ensemble, along with Saxophone, Guitar Electric and Percussion. I will also introduce my next project and music in this performance which are composed by Mahyar Alizadeh and Basir Faghih Nasiri.

What is, would you say, the quintessence of Nazarian’s creativity?
I have been working with her for more than 3 years now. I think she is really creative and she has this ability to explore her feelings in her compositions and arrangements. She captures a unique and personal narrative style.

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You know a good show when it happens, what are the special ingredients?
I think the special ingredient for a good show is a good artistic idea, which can have a perfect impact on the audience and engage different art forms to achieve a better result. Then, I’d develop that idea by working with a professional crew whom have similar contemplations. As an Artistic Director/Singer, I am always looking for opportunities to collaborate across cultures with exceptional artists from Australia and abroad. I believe in the energy of teamwork.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell your show on the streets of Edinburgh, what do you say?
What is “home” for you? Come to the show, Kooch, and hear Shirin Majd and her ensemble perform a special and beautiful arrangement of folk songs from around the world. Enjoy a fusion of opera, dance, jazz, and visual arts presented in traditional and new songs from the Farsi, Turkish, Spanish and English languages. Enjoy an evening of travelling the world without leaving the excitement and comfort of the Edinburgh Fringe!

What does the rest of 2019 hold in store for Shirin Majd?
I will have a tour around Australia in October and November of the Kooch project, which is really exciting. I will publish my new Album, “Secret,” by the end of 2019 which is in two languages, Farsi and English.


Kooch

Paradise in Augustines

Aug 19-20 (19:20)

kooch fringe

www.shirinmajd.com