Q&A Noise Control in Vilnius
Silje Solheim Johnsen and Mari Bø were asked some questions about Noise Control prior to travelling to Vilnius.
- Can you tell me more about Dansearena – what kind of company it is and how did you get involved in its activities? Dansearena nord is a competence center for professional dance in Northern Norway. They are working to promote dance as an art form in providing support for dancers in the region. Dance companies may work with them as long as they are based in Northern Norway. Dansearena nord make them selves very available, and they announce deadlines for when you can apply for the different things they provide. It is easy to get in touch with them, and to present a project for them. They are interested in the works of dance artists living in the region, and try to keep themselves updated. As a dance artist it is easy to hand in an application for the activities they do that is relevant to you.
- You work in the north of Norway. What kind of challenges do you mostly face regarding working at the edge of Europe? Something that I guess is a challenge more places, and that is very evident here is that because there are few people living here it is hard to get both funding and audience for something that does not interest a large part of the community. Artistically it can be challenging not to have access to experience much dance art in you own area. You must be confident that what you are doing is of a certain value, without having the opportunity to all the time having a certain overview of what else is made at the same time in Europe. You can sometimes feel like you work on a detached island, having no clue if what you are doing is relevant in the mainland of the art. One way to deal with it is to choose to focus on the audience and community where you live, and work your way on what is relevant and interesting to you as an artist and the community nearby. Of course you have certain responsibility to keep yourself updated of what is going on in the field outside of your area, which is expensive and time-consuming when you live in Tromsø. A lot of educating of the audience can seem necessary as the audience of course does not either have a lot of training in seeing dance, because of lack of opportunity to experience dance. Also travel costs is a killer in the budget, and the time and effort it takes to travel extends what most people realize, also people living other places in Norway, which might exclude us from festivals, professional meetings and other events further south.
- What is the difference between dance audience in Oslo and in further parts of the country? If you notice any. The difference between dance audience in Oslo and other large cities, compared to audiences in smaller towns is hard to explain. Maybe audiences in larger cities see more dance and art in general, and are therefore more willing to be challenged?
- What’s the topic of “Noise Control”? Noise Control seeks to inspire people to be aware of how the experience of music affects the experience of movement. The way the performance is composed might draw the audiences awarenes towards different ways of manifesting through movement what one hears in the music.
- Does your performance depend on what the audience is doing? The performance does not depend on what the audience is doing, but the audience’s experience depends on what they are doing. I guess we want the audience to take some responsibility for their own experience. I would say it is always the case that the performance are affected by what the audience is doing, and in Noise Control, because of the way it is composed and choreographed, it can definitely be affected by the audience to a certain extend.
- When I’ve first read a description of “Noise control” ir seemed to me that this performance was made to encourage people make choices and improvise. Did you have any ideas about that while creating the performance? Make choices (as you do everyday all the time), yes. Maybe not so much improvise. We thought a lot about how to make the audience understand that their experience depended on where they were in the room, and what they chose to look at and listen to, and to go with what they found interesting. The challenge has been to make the audience feel free and secure enough to do so.
- Since audience during the performance can do anything, how did the performers train to feel free even though the audience is moving and artists know that anybody can do anything anytime? Because of norms, and other mechanisms that makes people, and audience in this case behave in a certain way, the audience so far, does not do “anything”. The frames are relatively clear, and I do not think at any point that dancers have not felt free, concerning audience behavior. It would be exciting if this were really challenged, and I might have to answer again, maybe we did not train enough for situations I have not foreseen. The dancers we chose are all strong individuals with a lot of performance experience. They were asked a lot to do “their own thing”, which probably makes them feel free, but I think some times they also felt that they were to free, and could have used some more guiding on what to do. However, now as we have performed Noise Control many times, the freedom of us choreographers not determening what the dancers should do at all points has benefitet the performance, as great moments between single dancers and audiences has appeared, where the dancer read the situation and response to the dance, and get inspired and in a suttle way uses the audiences as inspiration.
- Why did you choose electronic music for “Noise Control”? The premiere happened because the project was initiated by Mari Bø and the director of the electronic music festival, Insomnia Festival, in Tromsø. The experimenting with sound and speakers lies close to the electronic music field. One can say that it was the obvious choice. The opportunities, and the feeling that electronic music was a good fit to the initial idea of the project.
- “Noise Control” is dedicated for teenagers. Why? Did you want to create something for teenagers at the very beginning or did it just come out during the process? Initially it was made with the audience of the Insomnia Festival in mind. The Insomnia-audience might be described as a youthful audience, even though it is a festival for grown ups. Showing it to teenagers both in the process and after the performance had it’s premiere quickly made us realize that the performance responded very well with this group. This we are very happy about, as we both are interested in working with and for schoolchildren and youths, and that is also the audience we have the most experience of working with.
- Is contemporary dance popular among teenagers in Norway? I would say no, and yes. Most teenagers might not have seen much contemporary dance. In my experience, when they do, they often get amazed by it and find it interesting. Many teenagers I meet want to talk about their experience of contemporary dance.
- What role do the Arts take in teenagers’ education at school in Norway? Unfortunately it often depends on the individual schools or even teachers, which only in rare cases means that teenagers get much art through their education. This is if they have not chosen to have a type of art (example an instrument, fine art, dance) as one of the main subjects which one can chose after finishing 10th grade, when you go to college. In Norway we have Den Kulturelle Skolesekken (The Cultural Schoolbag), which is a national arrangement that is to provide all schoolchildren professional art and culture of all types. This can take many forms, but in most cases it means that someone outside of school, an artist or a group of artists for example, visits the school, or that a school class visits an art center, cinema, gallery or somewhere else that art takes place. This is a great arrangement that has been active for a little more than 10 years, and in many aspects it works really well, although this arrangement has initially got nothing to do with the national curriculum, the teachers or the school.