From the Rehearsal Room Part Two

We sat down with Common Ground performers Richard Cilli & Tara Jade Samaya to hear about their experiences dancing with Chunky Move. 

What does it mean to you to be dancing with Chunky Move and what makes a Chunky Move Production unique?  

Richard: Well, this is my first show with Chunky Move so it’s a really exciting point personally for me in my career to be here in this place, in this company, dancing this kind of work. It’s really different to anything I have ever done before and I think that represents an integrity of artistic enquiry and a lot of depth exploration into movement and what it can say and communicate to an audience.

Tara: Beautiful. I have been dancing with Chunky Move for a while now, amongst a lot of other projects, but majorly with Chunky over the last five and a half years and I still feel very privileged and grateful to be part of such an incredible hub of artists that flourish and expand in this orange space. Especially with Anouk, because of her research and her passion in technical and physical articulation of pursuits in dance.

Tara, how has your relationship with Chunky Move and Anouk progressed?

Tara: I feel like as a dancer, and a performer and a researcher you have to be open and resilient and playful, like keep it light and I feel that is the best way for me to continue to evolve my relationship with Anouk. It has definitely progressed a lot in remaining open to how our relationship can expand and not putting anyone in a corner or a set of roles, like completely changing the rules and the laws and I think that is really special because it is very unexpected still because I tend to understand her. But sometimes we laugh because we get to this point three weeks before a show and we start to communicate in different ways, and sometimes it’s confusing, because I think I understand what she is saying but I don’t and sometimes it makes it more interesting because I do something unexpected and then sometimes it can be not so good for the process, but it is definitely entertaining.

What is it like working together on Common Ground?

Richard: It’s great.

Tara: It’s like this already, like finishing off people’s sentences. We’re both systematic in a similar way. I think Richard said to me on one of the first days, he defined how I thought about things. And I was like oh I hadn’t thought about it like that, but I had thought about it in a similar way, like saying an equation in a different language or something. We’re both exactly the same age and had very similar company experience with structure and discipline and consistency of work that we have these ways, that we have worked out how to use our bodies. We know how to voice them and we’re quite logical and quick thinkers and articulate. We both kind of get each other so there is all this kind of information that the room is fed with, that we can pick and choose, like tapas.

Richard: Like Tapas (laughs).

Tara: Pick and choose as we want lots of different flavours and then all of a sudden we’ve got a bouquet, it’s a really rich environment.

Richard: I think to dance with someone for your first time in your thirties its really cool because you each bring a wealth of information and we both think in very complex ways and present our information in very complex ways and are able to hold very complex ideas. I see us both getting really excited and spurred on by the other in that we sort of geek out on stuff I think.

Tara: The room is pretty geeky. Especially with my passionate love for Anouk’s technique, with Countertechnique and how that fuels her creative discussion and how to maintain a healthy body and etiquette around certain moves in rehearsal and performance and then Richard’s new fascination with working those modalities reminds of my first experience working with Anouk is really beautiful. Its reignited these new set of eyes to something and Richard is really good at articulating what’s going on and it’s really nice to feed the room at this intellectual level. Also, we’re really good at multitasking so we’re doing things physically and talking about absurd things which is also something that we can put into the category of Countertechnique and this duality of two things existing at once.

Is this the first time you have worked together? Tell us about the first time you met.

Tara: (To Richard) We performed together in 2004?

Richard: 2006.

Tara: 2006. 12 years ago!

Richard: I think my initial reaction to Tara was one of astoundment and awe. I was amazed by her and terrified of her because she was so amazing.     

Tara: And I probably wouldn’t have shown how amazed I was by him. But I saw his first performance at university and sat in the middle, three quarters back, and just only saw Richard, it was the first performance he did at the start of uni in his first year, and I was like he’s got it, he’s going to go far.

Performers Richard Cilli & Tara Jade Samaya on where we find Common Ground.  

Firstly, what does Common Ground mean to you and amongst it all, where do we find Common Ground?

Richard: I think it’s a timely piece because it feels like in the world the stakes are so high at the moment and this is a response to that saying we might seem very different but we’re all very similar, we all cry. We all

Tara: We all shit.

Richard: Yeah we all shit. We all die.

Tara: We’re all born.

Richard: We’re all dancing. I guess therein lies the really obvious thing that we don’t see, that we’re all really similar despite the differences that we try to highlight all the time.

Tara: Maybe we’ll see it more when we’re kind of like invaded by an Alien race. We’ll all stand together and be like well, maybe we should unite… 

When we have true compassion and empathy for someone else’s state of being and for it to be like endless and equal and continually ever impermanent, I feel like that’s Common Ground. If we can find it.

I also find that it could be holding space, for someone else’s belief, even if they are not your own. Its like in the bible do unto others, that’s an example of it and sharing.

Richard: I think recognising that we do share a ground that we’re not on different territory. That no matter how far apart we may be from another person or another entity, that separateness from them is an illusion or a construction that we have put there in place, that’s not inherent we only choose to believe that. We can find Common Ground anywhere.

What themes are explored in Common Ground and how does it appear in your work?  

Tara: Power relationships. The power to be in be in a relationship, the connection in that and the freedom to be free of it. The masculine and feminine roles within that. The ballet as a hierarchical form of elevation above. Transcending above something. What else without giving everything away?

Richard: I think the overarching theme is duality. Looking at duality between two individuals Tara and Richard and also duality between two nations, two politicians, and also how we got to this point? For things, you know movement, dance, or politics to mean what it does today? Peeling back layers and looking back in history of a time when dance meant a different thing than it does today, it had a different role in society. I mean now it is largely a form of entertainment where in the past it was a way of forming community bonds or even communicating with the spiritual.

Tara: Ecstatic experience, it was even beyond spectacle, it was experiential, it changed and then it became a spectator thing like a sport or a game.  

Richard: Yeah, it seems like there is two sort of major themes, the history of dance as a metaphor for the world and duality, two people as a metaphor for the world in every sense.

Do you see yourself as adopting characters for the piece or do you see yourself as just being yourself as a performer in the work?

Tara: I see two things. One thing that the environment changes beyond what is seen, so we take people into another dimension, which is myself I guess. So the blank, the person Tara, and then I become a kind of blank canvas Tara where I think I take on ideologies of other people.

Richard: I definitely don’t think I take on a character. I’m me. Sometimes I’m me expressing a concept, or being me Richard Cilli using my body to communicate an abstract concept. Sometimes I’m Richard, dancing pretending to be a pineapple, sometimes I’m dancing being a…  

Tara: A rhetorical question.

Richard: Or Donald Trump. So there are moments of taking on caricatures, but ultimately I’m sharing myself in real time with the audience and Tara.

Tara: We play ourselves playing others I guess.

Common Ground is presented at Chunky Move Studio from 26 April – 5 May. Book now here