Ahead of the premiere performance of ICK’s touring show PARA | DISO Revisited, Glamcult caught up with dancers Arad Inbar and Helena Volkov. In their remake of youPARA|DISO (2010), directors Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten break away from the usual definition of paradise and question: what should we expect from something we value so highly? When we separate paradise from all of its prejudices, it turns out that there is no simple answer. During the performance, six dancers follow their individual paths to paradise and seduce one another with their slogans—“I am futuristic, I am cosmic, I am generous, I am divine, I am pure, I am exclusive. Together with the dancers we enter a paradisiacal white transparent world.”
Could you tell us a bit about your upcoming performance PARA | DISO Revisted?
Arad: youPARA|DISO (2010) is the first piece I saw from ICK when I moved to The Netherlands in 2010 to study dance. So for me that makes it particularly emblematic. As the name suggests, we are talking about paradise, or rather we question it. The piece was called youPARA|DISO, so it is very much about our personal concept of paradise. Each dancer portrays a different element that the makers thought could define paradise: ‘pure’, ‘cosmic’, ‘divine’, ‘exclusive’, ‘future’ and ‘generous’.
What is different about this from youPARA|DISO (2010)?
Arad: We are a whole new cast so each person brings their own flavour into the piece. As opposed to the version from 2010 (when the piece was created from scratch), we had the chance to reflect on existing material and bring our own colour to it. With distance and perspective, we could link it again to the time we live in now and revisit the changes of contemporary society. It is like a cover of a good song—hopefully something like Whitney Houston covering Dolly Parton.
You each represent a different characteristic such as generosity, purity etc. What is the difference between each of your journeys and thus, your performances?
Arad: As I mentioned above, we are each researching and going through our own paradise. It is personal as much as a collective odyssey. All of the elements are like the recipe of paradise, thus, we are each fundamental in this journey. We wouldn’t exist without one another.
How do you relate to the characteristic you play?
Arad: I am featuring ‘exclusive’. Linking back to our co-dependency in the piece, for me being exclusive has to do with existing within a group. I wouldn’t be exclusive if I were alone. I chose the statement ‘I am exclusive because I am ephemeral’; what I find very exciting about movement is that the essence of it is almost impossible to grasp. It disappears as soon as it happens. In that sense, there is something very exclusive in performing live. I also love being exclusive, I think socially it has this elitist connotation but I just see it as a way to embrace differences.
Helena: I am Divine by choice. That’s my personal statement.
Being part of this performance, has your definition of the word paradise changed? Do you think it will change for your audience?
Arad: I feel that we are trying to encounter paradise on earth in various forms. If I would need to define paradise it would be through sensations and moments—it appeals to your senses rather than being a physical place. I hope that the audience will experience any paradisiac sensation!
Helena: Definitely! When I was asked for the first time to give my idea or feeling of Paradise, I had none. I had only cliché images in my mind to which I couldn’t relate myself. Now, as we are heading towards the premiere, I realise that paradise does not have to be a Utopia or a place… it could be a moment or a feeling—a wish. I really hope that the audience will at least be triggered to ask themselves this question, and that by itself will be the beginning of change.
The costumes look amazing, could you tell us a bit about them?
Arad: I love the costumes too! We each have two outfits; it was very important to Clifford, the costume designer, that the costumes would be only one piece. We start wearing all white, I have a tiny dress—it’s like dressing for a steamy underground nightclub. We finish with an all silver sequin body suit; it’s a very special experience to dance with this shiny second skin—the costumes definitely complement the piece. The set is all white with silver fabrics, which together with the costumes have a strong impact on imagination.
Helena: Each one of the dancers has a strong identity in this version of paradise. This being strengthened not only by our state of mind, intention and physical statement but also by the appearance, which adds another edge to these entities.
“Immeasurably blissful and horrible at the same time”—what is horrible about the way paradise is portrayed in this performance?
Helena: The isolation. Here on stage we are in paradise, in a blissful bubble—excluding you to be part of it. Immense beauty, which raises almost overwhelming power and constant failing. The Ideal?
Arad: I wouldn’t say horrible. The piece is physically demanding so I can see how, although the movement vocabulary may seem beautiful, the struggle that we go through brings us to a state of almost desperation; but once we surrender, we experience ecstasy. I feel like in the piece we are in a limbo, we are confronted with the paradox of paradise vs. earth: this whole white space that could refer to a hospital or a mental hospice. Madness in the most blissful place.