Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Núria, it is a Catalan name. I was born in Barcelona in 1993, and it is where I grew up and started my passion for the art of dance. My parents enrolled me in a catholic school with very conservative educational guidelines, and I stayed there for thirteen years. I owe to my dance education the balance that I earned as a child, pre-teen and teen to have a more artistic and liberal way of living, to learn different ways of thinking and acting in front of unknown situations, and to help me be the person that I am today, living in a completely different society than I ever imagined I would, here in Brooklyn.
When did you first begin to dance?
I was five years old when one of my best friends was talking about her ballet class during our recess at school. As soon as my mom picked me up that day, I asked for her permission to go with Ana to her ballet class and try it out for myself. Luckily she rolled with it!
How do you engage with your dance practice, being an international dancer and having experience performing in different spaces?
I have been treating my dance practice as my daily therapy and meditation routine. There are some people that need to read, walk or meditate on a daily basis. For me, dance rehearsal, creative time and physical exhaustion are what get me out of my head. It’s when I let go, when I leave everything behind and I allow myself to have ‘me’ time: to be me without any barriers. I allow myself to be in the space and time to feel at home even if home is more than 6000km away, six hours ahead of me, it is my sanctuary and where I let my feelings move in between my organs, find a new space or escape my body.
I have learned throughout the years that the only common thing when I am performing in different spaces is me within my dance practice. It seams pretty obvious but just changing habitat can make you feel a certain way, and when it is part of your daily task in your profession, you learn how to keep yourself clear with who you are, where you come from, and how this space and audience can allow you to get to the most of your self for your performance.
What do you like most about collaborating on a dance project?
When I collaborate in a project I seek for artistic symbiosis. I love when the creators are able to bring the best and worst in me, when they challenge me to play all my cards in the project so they can select which ones are more relevant for that exact idea, when they help me stay true to my dance, to the goal of the piece. I love when there is a movement addition from every single part involved in the project from choreographers, directors, dancers, lighting designers, musicians, costume designers - when everybody brings their little piece of persona to the project, it feels like a community, it feels that we are all in this together, at the end of it every human being wants to be supported in life and with a family, either biological or not, by their side.
What do you think the medium of dance provides over other forms of artistic expression?
Dance for me has always been my form of expression. I have never been diagnosed with speech delay, but I truly believe that I have not mastered to express my deepest thoughts and feelings through words because of the type of education that I received as a child and teenager. Every single thought or feeling that was inside of me that could not get out through speech, I was able to let it go through movement. Movement is crucial when talking about the form of dance, most of the times it happens live, so it is able to show the present issues of the artists, it is not something that we can save in a physical manner to watch later, it is something that is it ethereal but at the same time it stays with you as an audience member for as long as you want, can handle it or remember. It is magical to know that you have an opportunity to see, feel, hear and (sometimes) touch that expression that is coming out of the artist’s body as a movement form, at the same time that this dancer is feeling it or opening its doors to let it out for us.
Do you feel communicating through a physical language is different to a verbal one?
There are only so many things that can be expressed with the existent words on our vocabulary, instead our movement vocabulary is as ample as you want it to be. Our bodies are the tool to physicalize the concept that we want to communicate, and with the addition of rhythms, volumes and textures we give the audience the possibility of infinite understandings, we let them choose the words behind our physical language in that exact moment of the dance.
How did you become involved with MICHIYAYA Dance?
It just had been 3 months since I finished my education and I started embarking into auditions. I saw a post on the internet about a project titled ‘Project V (5)’ and as I was reading the details and information about the project and choreographers, I knew I had to attend the call and meet these people. So I went to the audition (in October 2015) and that was it. I was one of the first 10 dancers who participated in Project V (5), the first evening length performance that MICHIYAYA Dance produced, not being MICHIYAYA Dance yet. After that, Mitsuko and Anya invited me to be part of the new company and help them with the process as a founder company member and, later, rehearsal director.
What are your plans for future projects?
I just finished my fourth season with MICHIYAYA, with the world premiere of /wē/ at The Theater at 14th St Y and I am ready to embark in this new journey with them. I am ready to keep creating, to keep inventing vocabulary that can express what still today our society can’t seem to find the right words for it. I will be doing some solo work on my own, some researching to create a new personal piece and I will keep collaborating with some of the companies that I did projects for in the past, as well as opening my artistry to whomever wants to invite me in. I will continue to focus my energy on educating the new generations based on the tools that seemed so important from our professors for us to learn but that at the end of the day did not prepare us for real life. For the life of an ongoing artist, for a 21st-century-type-of-life where nothing is stable and everything that you had planned for changes every minute.
What have been some of your favorite projects to date?
Looking back at my artistic professional life, I can say that I feel very lucky with almost every project that I collaborated with so far. But If I had to mention some of them, I would definitely say that one of my first professional performances, when I was still in school, it was during the 100th Anniversary of Antoni Gaudi’s UNESCO Heritage Monument La Pedrera in Barcelona. I loved to participate in a celebration of art, sharing my dance practice, as a Catalan citizen, in my city, Barcelona, for something that is innate in me, that I have seen and breathed my whole life, the design and architecture of this amazing Modernist monument, built in the 1900s. Since I moved to New York (in 2013), and started working professionally as a contemporary dancer, I can say with no doubt that Project V (5) by MICHIYAYA Dance, was a changing point both in my personal and professional life. Project V (5) helped me understand life through another lens, probably Anya’s and Mitsuko’s point of view, as well as the other 9 dancers that I shared the process with. It was my first close approach to ‘North American’ society’s issues, concerns, history, daily preoccupations. It helped me deal with my own rocky relationship at the time, it broke me down, and it made me a stronger, empowered woman. And last but not least, Ama de Casa by Suku Dance Lab. Through the process of placing myself in the life of a Dominican Grandmother who emigrated to the states to ‘have a better life’ it also took me into an introspective investigation of why I came to the states, where I am versus where I thought I would be when I first moved here, and how I wanted to continue my life here, or reimagine my life somewhere else, something that I am still thinking of at the moment.
What do you think being a dancer in this generation means to you? What is it you want to tell through dance and performance?
In my opinion, being a dancer nowadays, is not just entertaining job. We are speaking up, we want to be heard and most important we want to help to create a change, for the world as well as for the dance profession. It is so important to create art that can get to everybody, not only to privileged people. If we are speaking for everybody it needs to be attainable for each and everyone of us, people need to feel relevant, people need to feel that they matter, that they are not alone in their actions and most important people need to feel that they can relate with us, the dancers, with what we are trying to express, trying to fight for, speaking the truth as we understand it. Being a dancer in this generation it is not just a profession, is a way of living, it does not stop in our office, the dance studio, it is present in every single action of your day and for that we need to keep talking to people about it, we need to help people understand that it is not something we do just for fun, because we just like it, we need to make them understand that it is okay to get remunerated for a job that besides work is also something that we are lucky to call our passion.
Interview by Saffron Lily featuring Núria Martin Fandos.