DDF News — 18 May 2024

DDF Blog: Q&A with Marco da Silva Ferreira

DDF Blog: Q&A with Marco da Silva Ferreira

Embodying our call to dance out loud at Dublin Dance Festival 2024, the first show spotlighted on our blog is an energetic, rebellious and dynamic choreographic confrontation that reclaims folk dance for a contemporary context. Inviting its audience to question, explore and reimagine their relationship to the past through a joyful and vibrant ensemble show, CARCAÇA asks pertinent questions about what we want to preserve, and what we want to forget.

I sat down with choreographer Marco da Silva Ferreira to learn a little more about the show.

Tell us a little about you and your practice.

I'm Marco da Silva Ferreira, I live in Portugal, and I can’t imagine myself living anywhere else. Dance has always been my guilty pleasure since childhood, but it was hidden by heteronormativity, leading me to deeply immerse myself in sports until experiencing burnout around the age of 16. Afterward, I slowly shifted my focus to dance, and through it, I feel I rediscovered myself and perhaps my inner child.

Tell us a little about the origin and creation of CARCAÇA. What was the impulse behind making this piece?

CARCAÇA refers to a bone structure, a shape from a dead animal that informs us about the past and how these beings were organized and structured. In this piece, I use dance as a tool to explore themes of community, collectivity, and identity, blending the shapes of the past with the present to understand how personal identities shape collective identity. I was curious about combining traditional Portuguese folklore references with contemporary youth collectives, exploring the tendency towards loops and cycles and bringing historical times closer to our awareness to prevent falling into detrimental habits.

CARCAÇA takes street dance, hip hop, and club culture as a starting point to explore traditional European folk dance. What relationships have you discovered between the different dance styles over the course of the creation process?

CARCAÇA features 10 dancers and 2 performers using body and choreography to delve into identity. While the dramaturgy is historically based, it can also be perceived as reflecting universal contemporary human societies, especially in Europe. Rather than seeking similarities or building concrete ideas about differences, my motivation stems from personal reflection, considering my own geographical and cultural positioning in Portugal and Europe, as well as the overwhelming influence of American pop culture, which often draws from Afro-descendant cultures. This led me to explore traditional Portuguese dances to reflect on cultural symbols, construction, and political interferences, recognizing both the cleansing process from the patriotic authoritarianism of the dictatorship era and the proximity of hip hop and street dance culture, which often embodies resistance against exclusion and minority status.

What do you see as the purpose and place of folk dance in culture? Has your perspective changed as a result of making this work?

Folk culture serves as a powerful means of connection to our physical surroundings and to others, transcending age, opinions, and interests. While it can evoke both bright and dark moments of society, it continuously communicates codes and symbols, passing them through generations. Through CARCAÇA, I've come to appreciate the importance of folk culture in grounding us in reality and fostering connections beyond our familiar bubbles, reminding us of the richness and complexity of our cultural heritage.

Working with a large cast of musicians and performers, how did different perspectives influence your reconstruction of traditional folk dances?

Focusing on dance enabled me to create a fictional encounter between time and place, with the body serving as the primary vehicle for this exploration. This process allowed me to consider how different dance styles intersect and transform, from house dance steps evolving into folk dance moves to the significance of body positioning in conveying ideas. Rather than aiming for a singular truth, I sought to understand the cultural constructs shaping my artistic creation, recognizing the multitude of influences and the ongoing process of cultural transformation.

What are you looking forward to experiencing during your downtime at the Festival?

I've never been to Dublin, so I hope to explore the city and gain a deeper understanding of its political context. It's not surprising that a piece like CARCAÇA, which addresses themes of democracy, borders, and heritage, can serve as a lens through which to comprehend the socio-political context of each location where it's presented.

What does Dublin Dance Festival (or other similar festivals) mean to you?

Festivals like Dublin Dance Festival serve as hosts for diverse artistic expressions, fostering connections among people and bridging cultural gaps. They provide a platform for artists like myself to pursue our passions alongside others who share similar values and inspirations, sustaining a vibrant artistic community that allows me to continue creating meaningful work in Portugal.

If you had one sentence to encourage someone to see CARCAÇA at Dublin Dance Festival, what would you say?

Prepare to be moved by both dance and political reflection.

CARCAÇA runs at the Abbey Theatre on the 21st and 22nd May.

DDF Blog Curator: Saoirse Anton

Saoirse Anton is an Irish writer, performer and producer.

As a poet, she has performed extensively in Ireland and the UK, including appearances at Dublin Book Festival, First Fortnight Festival, Big Love Festival, Green Gathering, the London Irish Centre, Lost in Leith, TactileBosch, Cardiff Queer Fringe, the Clifton Street Festival, Waterstones Cardiff, Dunamaise Arts Centre, Dyddiau Du & the Silurian Folklore Society, Railway Gardens, Elysium Gallery Swansea, and the Circus Village Cabaret.

She released her debut pamphlet, Confetti Catching, in February 2024, written while Production-Poet-In-Residence with NoFit State Circus on their production Sabotage in 2023. Selected poems have been published in Rise Up and Repeal, an anthology from Sad Press Poetry, and in Cardiff 75: Writings from the City, an anthology from Parthian Books. She was commissioned by NoFit State Circus to write a poem for their 2022 Clifton Street Festival. She has been commissioned by Studio 9 animation studio and RTÉ (Ireland’s national broadcaster) to write two short poetry films for children, An Oíche is Speisíalta (2020) and Navigating the Rough Seas (2022), and she continues to regularly write for the studio.

She provides mentoring and consultancy to other writers and artists through her Sounding Board Sessions programme.

As a theatre critic and writer, her work has appeared in a monthly column on, in The Reviews Hub, The V&A's TheatreVoice podcast, TN2 Magazine, Youth Theatre Ireland Magazine and on her own site Sitting On The Fourth Wall. She has been invited to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe on several occasions as part of the Network of Independent Critics, has appeared at Bram Stoker Festival in Dublin, has represented Youth Theatre Ireland at On The Edge Festival in Birmingham, and has facilitated theatre criticism workshops for Youth Theatre Ireland and National Dance Company Wales.

She holds a BA Hons (first class) in Drama Studies and English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.

When not writing, she performs with the Sparklettes Hula Hoop troop and works as a freelance producer.

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