Treasured in the Dark takes the audience on a journey of sensing human and non-human presences. With his own body as the vector, Thiago Granato becomes a medium through which a trans-communication takes place. Ambiguous sounds, floating hybrid objects, lit shadows, and anonymous presences all come into being. In a sequence of mutating scenes, each punctured by a sudden and total transformation, the performance offers a metamorphic perspective for making sense of existence.
Treasured in the Dark is the first solo in a trilogy that is a choreographic piece of research based on different imaginary collaborations between dead and living choreographers, as well as those not yet born. This trilogy is part of the project entitled CHOREOVERSATIONS, which combines research, creation, and production.
The CHOREOVERSATIONS project mainly aims to create a network of relationships between the participating artists and their public, empowering discussions about history, heritage, authorship, property, translation, transmission, incorporation, and presence in contemporary dance.
»Choreoversations is a choreographic research project that I developed at Akademie Schloss Solitude during my residency there (2013/2014), in which I was looking for new ways of thinking about dance and doing choreography. When I was there, I spent some time reading and watching conversations between artists, and it made me wonder how I could translate the logic of a conversation into choreography. So I decided to develop a work methodology that could invite different artists whom I would like to work with and that could unfold itself as a research, creation, production, and education project, challenging the way I was used to produce my work up until then.
The idea of making a trilogy where I could invite dead, living, and not born yet choreographers to collaborate with me brought up a multiplicity of interesting questions regarding authorship, appropriation, emancipation, and different ways to relate with dance history and the projection of the future.
This project also talks a lot about the capacities of the dancer as a creator and maker. As you might notice, I work with invited choreographers (real and imaginary ones), but nobody signs the choreography. I work as a director and performer, proposing and creating all the experiences (in the process, becoming a kind of metachoreographer of everything). It is a different way to organize the creative process in order to challenge established hierarchies and see what kind of questions it would produce during its development.
Since the beginning, I have shared the work methodologies of this project with other artists and students in the contexts of workshops, work situations, and lectures, where I always invite them to appropriate my tools and use them for their own artistic interests (this is the »education« aspect of the project).« – Thiago Granato
The following email exchange is extracted from an impersonation game, during the creation process of Treasured in the Dark, between Lou Forster as Tatsumi Hijikata and Thiago Granato as Lennie Dale in spring 2014. Lou Forster is a dramaturgist and theoretician from Paris who worked with Thiago at Solitude at the beginning of the research. He helped him think about how to approach the dead choreographers. One of the ways Thiago proposed to him was to do this e-mail exchange which became an interesting way to do historical research about these choreographers since they needed to check the information available about them in order to create the content of the »fake e-mail conversation.« It turned into a methodology since it became the reason for digging into their history. In order to answer an e-mail from Tatsumi Hijikata (Lou Forster), Thiago had to find the right information about Lennie Dale to keep the conversation coherent.
… I’m happy to hear your voice.
I feel disabled, working separately from you, not knowing about you. Communicating through this machine that feels haunted by the unrealized desires of the inhabitants of a transparent world. No air to breathe, no smells to sense.
I, who caught a cold by looking at a stone, need to escape from the cellar of the freedom of my ties to Japan. You saw Kazuo Ohno dancing in Brazil. This made me dream of a tropical butô. I dreamed of organizing the meeting of amazonian insects and the soiled pigeon.
You asked me if I believe in reincarnation … Dear Dale, I only feel alive when looking at a landscape with no humans in it. One can feel alive only when blood escapes from one’s veins, when one’s eyelids are closed.
I was a dog and one day I said I would transform into a human being. I had this intuition during a night of fever, alcohol, loneliness, that made me feel dead. And you dear Dale … do you believe in reincarnation?
Do you believe in life?
Your words are so intriguing that they made my senses work in an anachronistic way … I could follow each transformation you described and smell each interesting landscape that these transformations were showing. I closed my eyes while you were talking and my imagination made my body fly … low and smooth in between each scene … No matter through which machine we communicate … no matter from which different realities we try to get in touch with each other …
Just a second, I will get a cigarette.
One of the nights when I was in jail in Brazil, in 1971 during the dictatorship, I had a kind of weird dream: I was riding a white horse, absolutely naked with very long hair, followed by an enormous group of people that looked at me with astonished eyes.
Exactly one year later, on the same day that I had this dream, I dreamed again the same scene! When I woke up, I was convinced by a very strong belief that this dream was not a dream, but a souvenir of a moment that I lived in a different past life, in an old age. Since then, I strongly believe in reincarnation … It doesn’t mean that it really exists, of course … But I carry with me this strong believe that it was not only a simple dream.
Well, life has shown me that not everything we believe exists … and some things that really exist cannot even really be perceived. But, we are talking about belief, right?
Yes, I believe in life and I can tell you that life is nothing more than a cabaret!
At least mine.
Looking forward to hearing more about your transformations …
All the best,
Every time Thiago had a question about how to proceed during the creation process, he thought about the question that he would ask one of the choreographers. Then he took a card from Brian Eno’s and Peter Schmidt’s game Oblique Strategies.
Each card that he took had a very specific phrase that he had to relate to with his question and obliged him to create a proposition out of it. It helped him as it gave him a lot of the directions even if all the directions were created by his imagination.
Extracted from an imaginary work section between Thiago Granato and the specter of Tatsumi Hijikata and Lennie Dale through the game Oblique Strategies:
Thiago Granato: How do you perceive changes?
Tatsumi Hijikata’s card: Distorting time.
Thiago Granato: How do you distort time?
Tatsumi Hijikata’s card: Look closely at the most embarrassing details and amplify them.
Thiago Granato: How do you play with time?
Lennie Dale’s card: Ask your body.
Thiago Granato: But what if my body doesn’t answer?
Lennie Dale’s card: Make it more sensual.
Next performances dates:
Venue: HAU Hebbel am Ufer (HAU3)
Address: Tempelhofer Ufer 10, 10963 Berlin
Dates and time: 18.06 – 08 pm and 19.06 – 07:30 pm.
Venue: Schauspielhaus [8:tension] Young Choreographers’ Series/Impulstanz
Address: Porzellangasse 19, 1090 Wien
Dates and time: 22.07 – 09 pm and 24.07 – 08 pm.
Concept, direction and performance: Thiago Granato.
»Invited« choreographers: Hijikata Tatsumi (Japan/1938-1986) and Lennie Dale (USA-Brazil/1934 – 1994).
Direction assistance: Sandro Amaral.
Sound designer: Gerald Kurdian.
Light designer: Jan Fedinger.
Artistic adviser: Carolina Mendonça and Lou Forster.
Costume adviser: Marion Montel.
Objects: Thiago Granato and Sandro Amaral.
Duration: 50 min. (no intermission).
Production: Sandro Amaral and Thiago Granato // Co-production: CND – Centre Nacional de la Danse (Paris/France); Cullbergbaletten Sweden, through Life Long Burning, Cultural Program of the European Union 2013-2018 // Artistic Residencies: Akademie Schloss Solitude (Stuttgart/Germany); WASP – Working Art Space & Production (Bucharest/Romania) ; BUDA Arts Centre (Kortrijk/Belgium); Centre International des Récollets (Paris/France) // Supported by: JES – Junges Ensemble Stuttgart (Germany); CCN – Centre Choréographique National (Montpellier/France); Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers (France); FID – Fórum Internacional de Dança (Belo Horizonte/Brazil); 4Culture (Bucharest/Romania).
»Lauréat du programme de résidences internationales Ville de Paris / Institut Français aux Récollets« – 2015 (Paris/France).