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Moreno Solinas trained as a dancer and choreographer at the London Contemporary Dance School, graduating in 2009. He soon began creating choreographic work in which collaboration was at the heart of the creative processes. He also nurtured his passion for singing, which has become an integral part of his dance work and understanding of the moving body.

Since 2007, Moreno has created dance performances in partnership with Igor Urzelai. Together they want to reclaim theatre as a place for assembly, by acknowledging the present moment in their choreography and exploring the cathartic properties of live performance.

Igor and Moreno are among the founding members of BLOOM! dance collective and have also been curating and disseminating dance as part of Hiru Dance Org. They have toured their works extensively in Europe and the USA, receiving a number of awards and recognitions, including the Rudolf Laban Award 2010, top-20 Aerowaves (2011, 2013) and an artistic residency at the Prix Jardin D’Europe. In 2012, Hiru was selected as a nominee for the ‘h.Club100′ by Time Out London in a search for the most entrepreneurial, influential and innovative people in the creative media in England.

Moreno has been a Work Place artist since 2011, and is also part of Escalator Dance, an Arts Council England (East) initiative. As a choreographer, Moreno’s work has been supported by organisations including The Place (London), CSC-Bassano del Grappa(Italy), Cambridge Junction, Sin Kultural Centre(Budapest), BAD Festival (Bilbao), and Jardin d’Europe.

Igor joined Moreno for this Q&A.

When you were a child, were there ways of moving about or using your body that made you particularly happy?
M: That’s a really hard question! I did quite a bit of bed jumping and bouncing, and I was really into shape-shifting creatures, like Transformer-style things, so a lot of my playing had to do with running around, flying and having various kinds of superpowers. I really liked being horizontal in the water and spinning around, that sense of confusion was really nice. I wonder what that was though, if it was purely the sensation of spinning in the water, or something else.
I: Being a dolphin?
M: It might have been, or some kind of sea creature, yeah.

Was there a particular dance or theatre show you saw that made you want to become a dancer yourself?
M: Actually, my dancing didn’t come from seeing shows, but from a slight hyperactivity as a child, and a pure joy in dancing to music. My parents thought it might be a good idea to channel that energy into some kind of dancing, which brought me to Latin American dance. I didn’t see any ballet or contemporary dance until quite late, and the first show I remember finding inspiring I must have seen when I was 17 or 18. It was by an Italian physical theatre company, and it felt like a show that could change people’s experiences somehow.

I was still doing Latin American and enjoyed the dancing, but I got very bored with the competitions, having to dance always with the same person, and dancing the same routines over and over. Looking for other options I fell into jazz, then ballet, then into contemporary dance. It was my first attempt at improvisation, and using dance as a creative tool or medium, and for me that was really eye-opening. Just the possibility of moving without learning the steps was brilliant.

Who are the dancers, choreographers or theatre-makers that you most admire? 
M: Influences vary so much, but we keep going back to Jerome Bel. I think that’s to do with the simplicity of his work, the straightforwardness, and also the logic and the association of ideas: I find it very inspiring and very essential. I could mention so many people that we’ve learned a lot from: we did a choreography workshop with Ann Van den Broek and hearing her talk about her creative process was great; again that had to do with a tendency I see in our own work, to strip down or take away anything that is not necessary. A piece that was inspiring was a solo by Alma Soderberg, who is one of our peers: she made a very simple solo in which she moves and sings, creating the image and the sound of the work. The people we admire are all making what they want to make, without too many compromises; they manage to make the space they need and the support frames they need to do that.

Are there particular impressions or feelings you’d like people to take away from your work?
M: There’s always a desire in our work for an exchange or a communication with the audience: we never invite people simple to witness something which happens on stage. So human connection, or the warmth of the encounter between an audience and a performer. And I hope the work reminds people that we actually are freer than we think, to just do what we want to do, be what we want to be.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
M: Whenever I’m reminded to take a break, or that I need to slow down, that is good advice.
I: Last night, for example. I had to get very angry.
M: Yes, last night. . Thinking about your work at half-past midnight when you need to be up again by six am isn’t alway the way. This is very useful advice for life. This job, this profession, requires so much investment that it’s tricky sometimes to balance your artistic life and personal life, but it’s good to keep an eye on that.

And what advice would you give younger dancers or choreographers? 
M: Ask for what you need. It’s really important to understand what is it that actually you need from others: sometimes lack of confidence makes you not ask for what would help you, but if you’re not able to communicate that, no one will help you. Also do it your way; do not assume there is a predetermined way of doing things.
I: That includes sending an email to somebody whom you might want to come and see what you’re doing.
M: It works on all sorts of levels – because generally, people who can do something for you, either on the artistic side or the practical side, will interpret your enquiries as a sign of will to develop, and that has a chain reaction. Also, be surprised about what coolness might look like, or success, or communication. Keep some sense of being who you are.

Outside of dance, what inspires you?
M: Cinema, because of the way it can create an experience for the viewer, by playing with point of view, and changes of atmosphere and detail. And visual arts – sculpture particularly. There’s something I enjoy about the three-dimensionality of sculpture that gets lost in a painting.

What music do you dance to when you’re not working?
M: I really love dancing to Spanish and salsa music.
I: Ah, your salsa roots.
M: Yeah, my salsa roots. It just feels so nice to me.

What does being part of Work Place mean to you?
M: One of the main things is the trust that is associated with The Place trusting us. That trust within the wider dance scene can be very hard to access, because there are so many people trying to make work. Also, the fact that the support is very tailored to what we need is great: The Place take responsibility for the work being carried out in the best possible way.

Igor Urzelai trained as an actor, but his interest in the moving body, and the immediacy of action as a vehicle for meaning, ideas and desires, drew him towards dance. He trained at the Real Conservatorio Superior de Danza in Madrid, before graduating from London Contemporary Dance School in 2009.

Since 2007, Igor has created dance performances in partnership with Moreno Solinas. Together they want to reclaim theatre as a place for assembly, by acknowledging the present moment in their choreography and exploring the cathartic properties of live performance. 

Igor has been a Work Place artist since 2011, and is also part of Escalator Dance, an Arts Council England (East) initiative. Igor’s work has been supported by organisations including The Place (London), CSC-Bassano del Grappa (Italy), Jardin d’Europe, Cambridge Junction, SÍN Cultural Centre (Budapest), Yorkshire Dance (Leeds), BAD Festival (Bilbao), l’animal a l’esquena (Girona) and Workshop Fondation (Budapest,) among others. 

Moreno joined Igor for this Q&A.  

When you were a child, were there ways of moving about or using your body that made you particularly happy?
I: I wanted to fly, so it was the movement that was the closest to that. I lived in a group of flats that shared a garden with a little hill, and I would stand at the top of the hill, in the autumn, and wait for the strongest wind – the wind in the Basque country is very strong.  I would stand against that strong south wind, and whenever the wind would stop let myself roll all the way down the hill. I remember doing this with my sister, seeing who would roll the furthest down, without making any effort. I really remember that feeling of flying and then landing.   

Was there a particular dance or theatre show you saw that made you want to become a dancer yourself?
I: As a teenager I didn’t get to see much dance at all because where I come from, we get dance, but a lot of it is based on very traditional culture. So I remember being in a very small party in the mountains one Sunday, there was a shepherd who ran a bar on the weekends, and I really remember this moment when there were people playing traditional instruments, and people dancing around. After that, I started as a folk dancer. But when I moved to Madrid I saw quite a lot of theatre, although my very first contact with dance was when someone showed me a video of Pina Bausch’s Cafe Muller – and I was really shocked by it!  

When I was around 14 years old, I stopped dancing: I would mostly dance in competitions, and for me it meant dancing alone. I was in a folk group, but I was really missing interaction. So I moved into theatre for many years – when I moved to Madrid it was to do a drama degree – but doing that degree, it became clear to me that I was more interested in the action than in the words. Working on movement and expressing yourself through the body encouraged me to dance again. Even though theatre made me realise that dance was my medium, I still question what it is that I want to communicate, what it is that I want to bring across.  

Who are the dancers, choreographers or theatre-makers that you most admire? 
I: People who are dedicated to continuous inquiry for the art form and for their own work. I admire peers and the people we work with: I guess the reason we’re interested in working with them is that we admire what they do. We met Simon Ellis through Work Place, and have invited him to work with us in different roles, I admire him very much. But there’s a whole list of people: definitely Jerome Bel. Peter Brook, Dario Fo, and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker/Rosas. I could go on.  

Are there particular impressions or feelings you’d like people to take away from your work?
I: We talk about commitment a lot: our commitment to the work, and to that moment of encounter with a viewer. And commitment to yourself, to get where you want to get or do what you want to do. Empowerment, or empowering: different works carry this differently, the work might be more energetic or more conceptual, but there is always something I hope to bring across and this includes empowerment, to feel free to do something, or not do something, or not have to be too special, or simply to be fine. And generosity – or maybe generosity is not the word. Some sort of sincerity, because I don’t like secrets, I don’t like lies.   

Is there something you’re particularly proud of doing? And something you’re really embarrassed by?
I: Often, the same thing I’m proud of is what puts me in very embarrassing situations, and that’s my sense of really sharing, of not holding back many things. I share everything, and it puts me in very difficult places: I end up doing terrible things that I could think twice and choose not to do. 
M: This happened to us recently: we worked for a month on a new idea, then shared it with a small audience of professionals, and we experienced that mixture of being pleased – proud – that we were showing our work in a really fragile state, but embarrassed because we put something on stage that could easily be judged as cheesy or shallow. But embarrassment is a funny thing: we have thought about it as a way of touching something that you actually care about, something that is tender.  

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
I: Something I recall at many points in my life is: don’t care what others say. Learn from it, but at the end of the day if what you’re doing is satisfying you in different ways, if your heart is beating for it, or if your instinct is going in a particular direction, trust what you feel. It might be a dead end, but finding out by yourself is the best way.  

And what advice would you give younger dancers or choreographers? 
I: Don’t be afraid to retain your difference.
M: Very true.
I: You might feel like what you are doing isn’t what people want to see, but don’t be afraid of retaining what makes you unique  

Is there someone – a non-dancer – that you’d love to go out dancing with?
I: I don’t know why, but Woody Allen.
M: Oh, that would be great!
I: He can be probably very difficult but I think dancing could be a great way of meeting him.  

Outside of dance, what inspires you?
I: Although we don’t use music in the most straightforward sense a lot in our work, I realise more and more how much I get inspired by music and its directness. What it is to listen to music by yourself at home, or on the streets, or going to a concert – I get very inspired by concerts and how people relate to what they’re seeing and listening to.
M: There’s something about the convention in a concert that is so understood by people: there are no questions about what is my place in this, what am I meant to look at, and that’s so nice. 
I: Moreno mentioned cinema, I also get a lot of inspiration from cinema, in a different way: it’s a lot more voyeur, you get very intimate to what you’re seeing.  

What music do you dance to when you’re not working? 
I: I still dance to folk music, I enjoy it very much to warm up, even in the studio. But I also like being surprised by the immediacy of music: I have many weeks’ worth of music on my computer and often I just play shuffle, I really like doing that.   

When you’re working in art, that is devoting yourself to something you love, how do you make sure that what you’re doing isn’t self-indulgent?
I: I always ask the question: why is it important that I do this with people, share this with an audience? I guess there is a lot of expressing our own desires or feelings or ideas, so why is it important for me that this audience stay and see it? I think it’s very, very important to keep in mind that what is happening is together, and to keep inquiring how that is relevant for each work or each idea.   

What does being part of Work Place mean to you?
I: A sense of belonging. It’s very easy to feel lonely, not in an emotional way – we were talking earlier about retaining difference – and in moments which are a bit more demoralised, The Place gives us somewhere to come back to. Having their trust is very important. And it gives us a lot of logistics support, helping us gather a lot of resources for the work, and good conditions to work with the people we want to work with. 


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