The public will remember the Bulgarian artist Ivo Dimchev who presented his radical solo Lili Handel as part of IstanbulREconnects Program organized in 2006 by Bimeras. Dimchev, who is the recipient of French Critics Best Performance of the Year Award in 2008 with Lili Handel, returns to iDANS with another powerful physical/vocal performance.In the improvised concert/performance Concerto which undoubtedly requires extraordinary physical dexterity and virtuosity, Ivo Dimchev’s voice subtly travels between the extremes of affects, yet neither laughing nor crying, always remaining in a poetic liminality crafted by the artist and his musical collaborator Emilian Gatzov. Dimchev captivates the audience who feels prompted to ask, “Ivo, how many bodies can you embody?”For more information about the artist you can visit http://www.ivodimchev.com
Ivo Dimchev responds to questions concerning his artistic trajectory, the questions he explores in his works, and his take on choreography.
G.E:Welcome back to iDANS! Your solo performance Lili Handel, which received an award for best performance in 2008 in France, was presented in the IstanbulREconnects Program organized by Bimeras in 2006. What has changed for you since Lili Handel? What questions were you exploring previously, and what are you focusing on in your recent work?
I.D: In Lili Handel I was more busy with the performative body in relation with society. Now I’m interested in theatre/art/culture as reflection of itself and reflection of the natural social theatricality – I mean the theatrical qualities of the social roles, norms and relations and the possibilities of not just copy/paste them on stage but transforming and intensifying them with the languages of theatre.
In your performances I catch myself thinking that “the era of the talented virtuoso is back”. You are quite versatile and your captivating performances combine text, movement, speech and song. Could you tell us a bit about your artistic trajectory? How did you arrive at this unique take on performance?
My individual trajectory is defined by the 3 main passions when I was teenageer: dance , theatre and music. Since 10 years, I’m looking for the way to experience them simultaneously and in relation to each other. Now it’s all mixed up in a way that for me personally is hard to divide them again and of course it is not necessary.
The voice and singing play an important part in your work. What is the significance of the voice for you?
I have been always singing , long before I got closer to theatre and dance. So the presence of it is not questionable, it’s just the most natural thing for me.
Generally speaking the art of singing is the main element of each culture. If you consider a person as a small model of the society he lives in, you can look at each artist as a small model of the culture he exists in, just depends for which aspects of this culture he is more sensitive upon.
Technically for me singing is a very physical act, it is an organic part of my physical expression. And the knowledge of my body by dance training gives me a lot of understanding of my voice and via versa. About 6 years ago, when I created Lili Handel, I decided for myself that from now on I’m going to do on stage not what I think I know well or I have learned well, but only what I feel good about doing. You have no guarantee that the audience will always feel good watching you, but at least I want to be always sure that I feel good with what I’m doing on stage.
To what extent do you improvise in Concerto? What are the lyrics based on, do you improvise them also as you go along? What are the sources of inspiration?
Concerto is full improvisation, there is no structure, fixed melodies or texts. I have some poetry that I have wrote here and there. So from time to time some of them just come through my mouth on stage, or texts from songs I know, but most of the time I just sing without any text, just sounds, vocals, syllables, parts of words. I needed to have absolute freedom, that’s why I’m trying to go on stage completely empty in a way but very open form inside, and try to follow the flow of what is there, construct something, exhaust it, leave it. Generally I have tendency to over fix/over choreograph things in my other works, so organically I needed a relief , I needed to have an improvised show. It gives lots of freedom but at the same time it is one of my most extreme performative experience, may be because I have nothing to hang on and the intensity of my responsibility during the show is much greater then in my performative acts.
Is Concerto just a concert, or is it choreography? (To quote your own question to the audience in Som Faves).
It really depends what is your perspective when you watch it. You can take it as a concert, you can take it as a dance performance, because I’m moving, breathing, sweating. The quantity of the sound inputs on your physical senses as a spectator will be much greater than the visual inputs probably, but both inputs will go to your body and mixed up there , provoke emotions and define your physical state. Wanting or not you would become my partner in this journey. Every journey has a more or less clear trajectory. Choreography is creating a trajectory, more or less clear. So I don’t see a reason as to why a live improvised concert not to be taken as choreography.
What is choreography for you?
I believe that names and titles in general have the tendency to limit and separate the ultimate coherency of life. We have to be careful how we use them, so they don’t limit our point of view on particular experiences in life. So let’s say, I’m allowed to call choreography everything I want, in case I want to enlarge mine or your conscious perspective on something. But out of the cultural context (defined a lot by names and titles) the word CHOREOGRAPHY means NOTHING.
What are your working methods? How do you arrive at an idea and develop it? When do you know when it is ready for being staged?
When a work has to be done most of the time I start from the preexisting conditions of the context the work has to appear in. It can be defined by the space, the financial conditions, the biography of the performers or their relation with different contexts. (each other, an institution, me, or the work itself). Thats why when I work with other people, specially If I don’t know them, I always start completely unprepared, it is very important for me. When I make a solo for myself it is different, because I have no such distance, so dealing with concrete predefined subjects is more helpful. The audience has a main and definitive roll in most of my work. To be an artist for me is to be in a dialogue. Even if a very ridiculous one. That’s why I don’t want to finish a piece before premiering it first. When I establish the relation between the piece and the audience I can say that the work is more or less staged.