To accept or to refuse? A wall is built, another one collapses. We inevitably encounter these two dynamics when we bid, “welcome” to the unknown, or to change within ourselves. To welcome or to reject? Through the poetry of the body, WelCOME expresses, at the center of a world in an uproar, our experiences dealing with this question, whose answer punctuates every individual's development, as well as the development of every community.
WelCOME questions the feelings of being welcome and being rejected
Interview Anan Atoyama
Marc Ribault: Anan, what is at the origin of the WelCOME performance?
Anan Atoyama: One sentence really struck me when reading a travel article by a Japanese woman, who came back from an unsteady region: “I received innumerable "welcome"s expressed by the residents. I felt a lot of pain at that moment.” Whereas "welcome" generally conveys a feeling of peace, security and human warmness, it turned into sadness in the ear of this Japanese woman.
I imagine that she felt this word of welcome as an invitation from the inhabitants to share their history, to become the witness of their situation, without being able to act or change whatever it is. This word "welcome" had therefore sounded out as the symbol of an inevitability of existence, as the symbol of the gap between the condition of one human being and others. This reading reminded me of the ambiguousness of the word "welcome,” and the various emotions that arise out of it. It seemed interesting to me to explore its rich symbolic meanings through a performance.
M.R: How did you work on this piece with the dancers?
A.A: I believe that our individual and collective stories are stored in our flesh, and often we don't listen to what they have to offer. It is this precious gift that I am trying to bring out from the dancers with whom I work. This requires you to bypass the mental in order to let the unconscious and memory speak through the body. Beyond the social and cultural layers that shape us on all levels, I’m looking for the power and the hidden voice of the body.
And then, I work with the dancers on the notion of " being" as opposed to "appearing," – expressing emotions and feelings in a minimalist and concentrated way. My work on the body is influenced by my own culture: the Japanese one.
M.R: Why did you choose to use boxes made of wood on stage?
A.A: Boxes can both protect us from a hostile environment, and stop us from accessing a place of shelter. It is the symbolism of the wall, in which humanity’s history is steeped, that plays the two roles, protection and dismissal, simultaneously, depending on the perspective. They also symbolize construction, and paradoxically, downfall. One inevitably encounters these two notions when wishing welcome to the unknown or to the change within ourselves.
Finally, the material of these boxes, wood, has a very strong symbolic significance for humanity. In numerous cultures, the tree is a carrier of kindness, protection, and shelter from passing and changing times. But it is also a symbol of permanence and toughness. These mental associations interfere with those surrounding acceptance and refusal, which are themes of WelCOME.
Anan Atoyama rend hommage à Kazuo Ohno et traduit à nos contemporains sa vision de la danse.
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