Robert Steijn small


Two years ago, in a gallery in Helsinki I tried to hypnotize my audience by only moving my hands and fingers. Unconsciously my torso started to twist, and my feet wanted to move all the time in the opposite direction of my hands. I felt moving like a snake, with my legs as the tail and my hands as its head. Two months later an Ubanda- priest in Sao Paulo told me in trance, that he saw the snake in me, he predicted me that in the future the snake would dance on stage, and I wouldn’t be there anymore. He asked me to get more soft, to receive the energy of the snake in my body. I decided to make a little snake dance in my next performance, an outdoor event in the forest. Afterwards the audience was excited about what happened, they told me that they saw a big snake appearing out of the bushes, coming very close to me, the moment I started my first movements. In the snake poems, which I made for this performance, the snake was capable to fly. It felt weird to me, because in my opinion a snake belonged to the most grounded animals I knew. So I googled if a flying snake would indeed exist somewhere, and I stumbled on  a mythical one in Mexico city, named Quetzalcoatl. I decided to go to Mexico city to study the statues which embodies this Aztec and Mayan God. In the first week of my stay there, I gave  a workshop and met Ricardo Rubio. The moment I saw him moving, I saw him and me, encircling each other as two snakes. So I wanted to work and dance with him and invited him for my residency in Skogen.

Ricardo and I both like to talk when we dance on stage. The way I dance seems to become more exciting when I tell the audience the stories behind the movements. When I find words to explain where the movements come from, or where they bring me mentally. For a long time I considered myself as a dancing storyteller. But I am done with this kind of stories, because  it confirms too much the way our mind usually works, also outside the stage. All the times we make up stories, to understand who we are, to justify our actions, and to describe how we personally understand the world around us. Our minds tend to be narrative, in our desire to give a certain sense towards our lives, and the choices we want to make. And soon you understand that every story is also a construction, following the laws of making a coherent fiction.

I still want to talk while I am dancing, but I want to start to talk from a poetic mind because this one avoids the narrative lines of understanding. In a poetic universe you can perceive an intangible truth in between the lines, in the tension between the different elements, words, images, rhythm.
Ricardo and I write mostly on our own, but now we are confronted to write together, as if we create a poetic dialogue between us. This hybrid text universe will be full of confessions, negotiations, and contemplations, all referring to what will happen between us in the studio and on stage. The Paris based composer and installation artist Robin Meier helps us with transforming these spoken words into a poetic soundscape. He will help us to record and dub our texts and conversations, and he will rebalance and refocus the qualities of these voice-fragments, so they can get transformed into a more an abstract sound – he can describe this better  – but for sure we are intrigued in digitalizing text-recordings in such a way that they can process themselves into other planes of abstraction.

Two bodies:

With Ricardo I am looking forward to use the format of a duet to investigate the concept of love in its most bare form between two bodies, stripped down from any personal expectation or social convention. Let’s investigate love as a physical exercise in giving and receiving different energies to each other. I am curious how by touching the other, we can inform, influence and provoke each other. We know the healing principle of sensual touch, not only towards the person who is touched, but also for the person who touches. What will happen when we let our bodies speak by themselves without any interference. Will we discover other choreographic forms of love making than the already known ones of our daily lives, like the movements of cuddling or the very much scripted  drama between the genitals as the main protagonists. I hope so.

Ricardo comes from flamenco and I am influenced by shamanism, so we both experienced already an approach of dancing that plays with the concept of the soul. The shaman usually starts to dance to support soul-searching or soul travelling. In flamenco one can dance to resonate the melancholy of a tormented soul. In our research I ask myself how our bodies will behave when we discover that it is actually a dialogue of ours souls, that want to get together. What will happen when our duet reveals the magnetism of two souls who want to become one. Magnetism is a force we can’t escape, the moment we awaken it. Will our bodies still struggle between curiosity, resistance, or the fear or desire to surrender to each other.
Since some years , I doubt if the falling in love generates a movement of flying or of dying in the body. Now, I think, this is really a matter of the soul. Perhaps it is the soul who wants to fly, while the body feels as if it dies. The main question is how to embody this in a dance that matters, not only to us, but also to the others.  Once I wrote- for another show  “Don’t spit on me, because I am the saliva of your thoughts, I am you and you will be me”. Will the duet become a solo for one moving body, when we become two snakes, intertwined in a tantric universe. Time will tell, life will tell and hopefully also art will tell.