“Encounter” is what the performance is about. Can five individuals with a mind of their own truly meet and connect? And to what extent is their encounter influenced by the fact that three of them have Down syndrome?
Lisi Estaras develops a choreographic pattern of dance phrases and frames that are the result of associative thoughts and impulses. She does this together with professional dancers Nico Vladyslav (les ballets C de la B) Anna Calsina and three Platform-K dancers, Kobe Wyffels, Hannah Bekemans and Fernando Amado. Lisi translates the associations and improvisations into an abrupt and energetic dance language. She calls this way of working/thinking „the monkey mind“.
For Lisi, it is the first time that she works with people with a disability. She is truly fascinated by the internal life of Kobe, Hannah and Fernando, the three dancers with Down syndrome. But some barriers may have to be broken down in order to understand their way of looking at the world. Is it possible to make contact? To connect?
The creation is inspired by the book Autoportrait by Édouard Levé. In this book, Levé sets out his entire life, more or less at random, in a string of thoughts, statements and observations: “I am not beautiful. I am not ugly. I will never seduce somebody who wears Birkenstocks. I don’t like the big toe. Maybe I have talked to somebody who had maybe killed somebody. I like to say thank you. I would like to communicate without using words or gestures and just perceive everything that was in the brain of my interlocutor.”
Visually, Lisi felt inspired by the work of several photographers. Especially the raw, physical and sometimes absurd images from Diane Arbus were a direct source of inspiration for the visual language that Lisi developed for the dancers.
Monkey Mind is an intensive encounter between five dancers. They go beyond the expected and do not shy away from breaking conventions or even taboos.
Duration: 60 min.
A production by Platform-K. In coproduction with les ballets c de la b and CC De Grote Post. With the support of CAMPO, Cera, City of Ghent, Province East Flanders and the Flemish Authorities.
Fernando Amado, Hannah Bekemans, Anna Calsina, Kobe Wyffels and Nicolas Vladyslav
Music, Sound design
Marij De Brabandere
Lisi Estaras and Ido Batash met in 2012 during the creation of C(H)OEURS directed by Alain Platel. They found a strong sense of affinity in the materials and ideas and certain ways to approach movement and physical states. Occasionally while working in the studio together, people would refer to them in a humorous way as “the Jewish connection”. These brought them to the question: Is there such a connection? What is the cause of our affinity?
In this piece, dancers and choreographers Lisi Estaras and Ido Batash question their own contradictory and ambiguous feelings towards their Jewish identity. Together with two other dancers and a soprano they try to find the essence of who they are as a (Jewish) collective.
Anxiety, awkwardness, impulsiveness, confusion and ambiguity are recurrent themes in the work. High energy as a possible trigger and the different movement/states/expressions qualities to arrive to a unique language of physical poetry. The body is allowed to talk by itself as it is the carrier of the emotional and physical history of the creators’ ancestors, identity and self. It is this process that may bring them to the core of who they are.
Duration: 60 min.
A production by Monkey Mind Company I Lisi Estaras. Developped at Co-laBo/les ballets C de la B with the support of CAMPO Gent. MonkeyMind vzw received a financial aid of the Flemish Government and the City of Ghent. Thanks to Alain Platel/les ballets C de la B, De Grote Post Oostende, MASH Dance House Jérusalem.
Concept and choreography
Lisi Estaras and Ido Batash
Yohan Vallée, Tamar Honig, Avidan Ben Giat, Ido Batash and Lisi Estaras
Helmut Van den Meersschaut
Hildegard De Vuyst
Administration, Production & Tour Management
MonkeyMind Company I Lisi Estaras is a Belgian contemporary dance company based in Ghent and founded in 2018 by dancer and choreographer Lisi Estaras.
For over 20 years, Lisi has been dancing with les ballets C de la B. In that period of time she also developed her own work, under the umbrella of les ballets. She created and danced in Iets op Bach, Wolf, vsprs, pitié!, C(H)ŒURS and tauberbach by Alain Platel, Tempus Fugit by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Learning how to walk by Benny Claessens (NTGent).
Over the years she created her own work and in collaboration with other artists: Bartime with Einat Tuchman (Campo, Ghent), Cocina Erotica and No Wonder with Constanza Macras (Schaubühne, Berlin), Leche (Passerelle, Kortrijk) and A distancia (Teatro Real, Cordoba, Argentina). For les ballets C de la B she choreographed Patchagonia, Bolero, The Gaza Monologues, primero-erscht and Dans Dans, a coproduction with het KIP (Ghent).
Lisi also makes choreographies for theater and coaches other companies. She worked on Hiob by Sandra Strunz (Theater Bonn), Das Brennende Haus by Emilio Garcia Wehbi and Maricel Alvarez (City Theater Bern), Het Hamilton Complex by Lies Pauwels (hetPALEIS, Antwerp), Collective F (Dampfzentrale Bern) among others. In 2015, she created the solo La esclava with choreographer Ayelen Parolin. In 2016, she created the performance Monkey Mind with three dancers with down syndrome for Platform K (Campo, Ghent) and the solo The speech for dancer Irene Russolillo (Festival Equilibrium, Rome). In 2017, Monkey mind feest for Kaap (Dansand Festival, Ostende), When I see a strawberry I think of a tongue in collaboration with Serge Aime Coulibaly, Sara Vanderieck and Mirko Banovic (Kaap, Grote Post, Oostende; Théâtre des Doms, Avignon) and The Jewish Connection Project (Festival Machol Shalem, Jerusalem). In 2018, Lisi premiered two works, Hillbrowfication in collaboration with Constanza Macras/DorkyPark and Sapiens for the Ballet Contemporaneo Teatro San Martin in Buenos Aires.
In recent years, the work of Lisi can best be described as an ongoing research into her ‘MonkeyMind’ dance language, which came into existance rather accidentally. By pushing the velocity of movement, she discovered a strange disconnection between her brain and body: the body was faster than the brain and as a result, they went their separate ways. “Monkey Mind” refers to the endless chatter in your head when you jump from thought to thought, emotion to emotion, like a monkey from tree to tree. Rather than being in the here and now, the Monkey Mind focuses on one thought after another.
In the subsequent creations Patchagonia, primero-erscht and Dans Dans, Lisi used this specific state of being to create movement material for others which gradually became a dramaturgical structure of the entire performance. During the creation of the production Monkey Mind for Platform-K (Ghent), she discovered new opportunities for her dance language thanks to the very specific interaction with dancers with Down Syndrome. She experienced that they approach dance and movement rather as a stream of thoughts with very basic instinctive movements around recurrent themes as anxiety, distraction, awkwardness, impulsiveness, confusion and ambiguity.
Lisi’s research in kinesthetics, empathy and mirror neurons led her to the exploration of the world of art (dance) brut, outsider art and its artists; the compulsory activities, the necessity to create an idiosyncratic world, giving shape to primal impulses, became sources of inspiration for her choreographies.
In February 2019, the first production of MonkeyMind Company/Lisi Estaras – The Jewish Connection Project – premiered in Ghent, Nieuwpoorttheater. Currently she is working on a new creation called SONICO which will premiere in March 2020.