Marta Arjona and Mei Casabona – Quadrant

[Lee la entrevista original en Español]

Interview by Eva Campos Suárez to Marta Arjona y Mei Casabona
(Translation by Eva Campos Suárez and correction by David Menéndez Auckland)
Febrero del 2018

First of all, thank both of you for accepting this written interview.

We have enjoyed some of the shortfilms directed by Marta Arjona since the first edition of [C]Screen Spring, so we know her already: you will be a veteran in the festival (laughs)!

When did you two start to work together as a film director (Marta Arjona) and choreographer (Mer Casabona)?

MARTA: When I was doing 3rd year of the university, I asked Mei to help me with an exercise. In that time, she was my (dance) teacher and we made a little experiment in the beach that we could say was our first videodance together. A year later, I had to do my End of Degree Project and we made FREIHEIT together, our first big project. Since then, much more!

MEI: Yes, when Marta was studying, she asked me to be her cast in several occasions, and I took it literally. As she was my student in dance class, in our encounters with the camera, I let her direct me. I thought she needed to learn how to direct a dancer, to know how to ask what she wanted to transmit through the camera, so in the future she had tools to work alone, without me as a “teacher”.

This year you have brought QUADRANT, which from my point of view is a very interesting docudance about the abandoned alabaster quarry of Coma-Ral (Sarral, Catalonia), very suitable with the new category that we have included this year. How does it come the idea?

MARTA: In 2017, Sarral has celebrated 100 years since the opening of the first modern alabaster atelier in the community. I loved the alabaster quarry for a long time and, when Mei saw it, she imagine QUADRANT there too. Truly, that place is very symbolic for a lot of people and also it gave us a 360º vision very interesting.

 

MEI: The piece, previously created to be on stage, talks about the duality between men and women, always without forgetting that the performers are teenagers. That’s why I found interesting to try that subject with them, because at that age they start intimate relationships with the opposite sex. I think that dance helps to treat normally this kind of subject, that said with words might make youth feel inhibited, but which are very important because they will forge the way they are and they understand the human relations in their adult life. The location -an abandoned, stoney, rough, cold place- and its history -it was exploited in a time when the machines were limited, worked by men, etc, fitted very well to transmit all those concepts.

I have heard that this is the first time that you have shot with a drone, how was the experience? Would you repeat? Mei, does it do the difference when you create the choreography?

MARTA: Of course we would repeat, we will! The videodance format itself allows you to direct the look of the viewer where you want and, in this case, the drone gives you new perspectives that in a theater are unimaginable.

MEI: Sure, I love the transformations in the choreography when you see it from perspectives and angles that you would never see directly as audience (of a traditional theater)!

If I am not wrong, this is the first shortfilm in which Mei takes the direction, how did you live it? A curiosity?

MARTA: I would say that she has always been directing by my side… As FREHEIT, NIGRA or X-TREM have been projects of both of us and where both have directed and shared.

MEI: Yes, considering that most of the pieces have been created before being filmed, at choreographic level, I felt them strongly mine, and let Marta transform them. It is sometimes hard because, for me, they make sense just as they are and suddenly changing the order, the focus or deleting parts is not easy. You need to understand why, the sense that she gives to the “new piece”.

Tell us a bit more about the loving dancers that have participated in your shortfilm: the civic dance space DansAra seems to be part of your team.

MEI: I am dance pedagogue and I work in DansAra. I am in contact with boys and girls daily and I try to share with them what dance is for me, and I believe it’s a privilege for them to do projects like this and open their minds, that they get to know other fields from the dance world.

I have seen you on TV3 (Catalan TV) talking about your shortfilm and it seems to have been selected in several film festivals (besides ours), some of them being international. How do you manage?

MARTA: Apart from yours, we have 9 international selections and among them a first prize in Brazil. Actually, it has been amazing because in other projects, the process has been much slower, but in this case, we hadn’t launched and we had two selections. So every time we get a new selection, the happiness and the satisfaction for the done job is very big.

MEI: It’s always rewarding that your job is valued and I think what’s beautiful and important of this is that we speak more about dance. It’s difficult that dance arrives to people and being selected in festivals makes it a conversation topic in our village, in people’s houses, in the school, etc, and it becomes part of their lives. That they understand it as a art form and communication, not simply as an activity that you do after school, like practicing a sport or learning a language…

That’s all for now, thank you for answer me and I hope we can collaborate in a project as a producer or screenwriter!

If you want to know more about Marta Arjona and her project DansPXL

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