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Blog for dancers, choreographers, critics, pedagogues

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22.7.2020, 15:15:39   |  Photo: Zuzana Žabková  |   Category: Dramaturgy, Space & context, Interdisciplinarity, Process of making, Art & Society, Other

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Labyrinth of emptiness

Key words:
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Roberta Legros Štepánková, one of the artists who attended this summer Cluster Residency in the Castle in Žďár nad Sázavou was keen to talk about her research and working process together with her partner Matthieu Legros. While talking about their work, core materials, points of departures and their collaboration we were meandering around the question how to orient and navigate the body and mind in the labyrinth of emptiness.  

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Interview with Roberta Legros Štepanková and her partner Matthieu Legros


ZZ: Where are you now, where are you two in the process of creation, in which moment, where I’m meeting you now? 

RLS: I have the feeling we are in the phase before the finalisation of the piece, but there are still questions, and possibilities to add something, that editing out, so maybe also skipping or erasure of something. And in the process… Our premier was planned to be in Jun but it was postponed, and in August we will have a general and it is not finished yet even if to of things are clearer now, it is still in the process. 

ZZ: If you can talk a bit more about the problem or topic or subject, what you where now researching on? 

RLS: The subject of the research is a search. I’m always interested somehow searching into my experience and to do it not only by reflexion, but  to do it physically, so researching in the physical material. I have been for couple of years interested in the space. In the inner space and the outer space. This fascination of the space was also in the beginning of this piece. It manifested as a fascination for the empty space. What it is, can we call it empty, are we allowed to call it empty? This is something what we know from mediation or from eastern approaches and maybe some part of the inspiration was coming from there, from some literature and some practices. But also emptiness is something inherent to the space or the notion of the infinite. Sometimes the empty is substituted for the infinite, infinite space. Maybe it was more intuitive, but very early in the process there was a notion of the labyrinth. And I remember that sometimes in the beginning of the process I wrote down:  Maybe the empty space is an infinite labyrinth. And then I wanted to have a look on the labyrinth and research it a bit more. And I started to search on construction of the labyrinth, the stories about labyrinth, but also not too much that I would call myself specialist in it, it is still more intuitive work.

ZZ: How were you proceeding ?… If you call an empty space a labyrinth, what kind of practices, what kind of tools you used, how this notion of the labyrinth as an empty space, how this lead you into process of working on the movement and sound material? 

RLS: Now when you say it, the empty space in the labyrinth is almost an oxymoron or almost a paradox. Because when we imagine labyrinth, it is full of roads, which are leading you somewhere. 

ZZ: And a labyrinth is also a decision making. It is also about what kind of path you are choosing and how you orientate in the labyrinth, in the emptiness. If you call labyrinth empty space, what kind of path you were choosing in the process of work?

RLS: Now when we talk about it, now in this moment I feel it is almost an opposite, or an encounter of opposites... As you say in the labyrinth you make many choices, it is a constant tension of where do I go, Am I right am I wrong. Meanwhile in the empty space you don’t have to worry so much about it. 

M: But for me, The labyrinth is a way to meet the empty space. 

ZZ: Because there is something about navigation, how you actually choose to make decision, or what you follow, how you orientate, or how you navigate in this empty space? Because if you say in the beginning that you orientate in the emptiness, whereas in the emptiness you feel like you don’t have to be pressed by something what you have to choose. Are you then using intuition, or what kind of tools help you to navigate through it if you consider it to be hollow, or empty?

RLS: There are two lines, what decision do we make in the piece, or what decision we were choosing during the process of creation. And there I feel that I always somehow .. I read something or I look at something and if it resonates that I know  I use it in the piece. And there I use the intuition, because I don’t do the choices by rational processes. And when I started to look on the labyrinth and there were these different characters. I was suddenly attracted to some of them, because they spoke to me. And even before I was curious about labyrinth I was reading a book which was speaking about two voices in the body. One voice which is more of the thinking mind and the other one more in the body mind - very deep, intuitive, almost like primitive energy. And I had this strong experience when I could hear these two voices in the body. It was in one workshop where I had time to work on my own. And these are like the pieces of experiences that are coming together and i don’t know really why, but I deeply trust that they're the right inspirations for the piece. It is very much intuitive work. 

ZZ: Speaking about these characters, could you maybe name them, or why they were so much resonating with you? 

RLS: So for example talking about these two voices, which I very strongly experienced like the front and the back of the body, almost two personalities being one being. 

ZZ: Almost like having one head with two faces. 

RLS: Yes Janus, The god with two faces, he is the representation of the unity of two opposites. 

He is also the god of the gates or the doorways, That's the passage where two opposites come together. Related to this I felt very strongly the character of Ariadne, how she is romantic, dreamy, event naive, in love with. And it relates with the frontal body which is very soft, also in physiology that this frontal part is more tensile more elastic and the back part is related to something more bound, more round, which is related to the character of Minotaur - which represent the past, what we don’t see. 

ML: With these three characters, Ariadne related to the sky, Minotaur related to the underground, and the third one is Daidalos, the architect, the constructer, he has the ground under the control. 

ZZ: How are these three in relation? 

RLS: They don’t come to the confrontation, this is something for the further development of the piece. But how they are now is for this moment enough. 

ZZ: If we speak about … two face god and Ariadne, how do you work with this in the space, meaning movement material, how you translate or embody these characters? Or what are the tools you are using? How these characters speak to you? You are both of you working with the sound or voice, and voice is kind of resonation of the empty space. How these characters resonate in the emptiness?

RLS: There are different entries for me, how to embody the character, one which you mentioned is the sound and the text making. Sometimes one day it is the sound and text how I enter and that informs the dancing body. Because to leave the quality in one modality can inform the dancing body. 

ML: Yesterday you were saying the contrary. 

RLS: Ye, definitely it works also the other way vice versa. It is actually very natural for human being, how these two modalities are interconnected. And it was great to have time to research on it. 

I started to rehearse and the voice came naturally to complete the character, another layer of it. I allow to be in very intimate relationship with the character. I allow my self to have time, to be carried by the character, to leave it live from the inside. 

ZZ: And I see you are speaking about the time, about temporalities you are using, that you kind of leave the space. How you orientate in the emptiness or for some decision making you also take time together with the audience. 

RLS: Yes I think to work on the empty space. Now we can be more categoric and we can divide it to work on the character and to work on empty space. But in reality they merge together and taking time as very important during the whole process, knowing the necessary time for the beginning for the ending for silence or stillness and I feel there is still a lot of opportunities with it in the dance and music also. 

ZZ: Maybe speaking about you two. Because you also said that Ariadna is in love with. How you two are in love with what you are doing? How you two work. Because you were speaking about the body followed by the voice and what is Mat doing and how you relate to it? 

RLS: In the very simple way we meet together and we say let’s work and we start working. And I think it is Mathiew’s influence in this. When I start I would like to speak, analyze… 

ZZ: So you are taking the Daidalos position :)

ML: I’m totally instinctive 

RLS: I’m efficient, And always when we improvise I want to name things and write them down. 

ZZ: Is your work a mutual listening? 

RLS: Yes, very much and Indeed more and more, we can talk about characters, emptyness, about the space, but today I felt that we can let go  the structure so we can come back to the listening.

ML: That was super important these days, because eI was busy with technic and I was not able to observe so much what came now in the process 

ZZ: So you think you found a certain way how to orientate in that labyrinth of emptiness? 

RLS: Yes and no, to make it not so easy. I think we found a great way to collaborate, that’s the really important basis and I mean I wouldn’t say that is finished but I feel that it is a very alive material and we can work it more and more but also i feel to have a pause :) 


Thank you

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