Jan Rozman: Interview about dance
What does dance mean to you? What role does it play in your life?
That’s a difficult question, because I didn’t dance much. My friend dances like crazy. But I don’t know how to answer … Dance didn’t really play a role for me. I would like to dance more, but the times were different than. (86, retired)
It’s relaxation. But it didn’t really play a role for me. I just wish I could dance well. (56, teacher)
Especially in this year I see dance has taken over my life 100%, everything revolves around it. What I read, watch, work, when I listen to music, edit videos, I dance, I train … I can’t really be still. After 20 years or dance really became so integrated it’s hard for me to distinguish what is life with or without dance. It’s really intertwined. Dance gives me a fulfilling sensation. Of course not all of it, some things you do for the money, but some things really make me happy and I really do it with pleasure. Working with particular people … It represents happiness, makes me whole, I can realize myself through it. (28, dancer)
I really appreciate dance, all kinds of it. And I danced a lot also. I really like to dance actually. (86, retired)
It plays a role. I was dancing as a kid because I was not good in other sports so my parents enrolled me in ballet class. That served me well. And the older I get I see dance as an area where I can be really relaxed, I don’t expect anything from myself when I’m moving and it gives me freedom. (24, musician)
It means a lot. And I like to dance. I move like an octopus. And I do it just to stay in contact with my body, to move. I used to dance in a group. Dance is in my family, my mom’s a dancer I never wanted to see dance as sport. It’s a primal medium. Thinking about dance as art, it is of course art, but I never liked dance performances and standard dances even less. I like acrobatic break dance a lot. (28, designer)
It’s different things in different time periods. Currently it means more again. Honestly, it’s a crucial part of my identity. I would like to be separated from it, but it shapes how I understand thing. I wouldn’t necessarily want that, but there it is. And when I try to go about things differently I realize that using dance would probably be better. It’s the most natural thing for me. I can process thing better through it than through other things. I make things more original with dance. I realized that for me dance can be in the movement of the camera. Or making love. Or walking down the street and the walk can suddenly get a dance spirit, it can become dance. For me it’s not really closely connected to the body, the body is not crucial. But it is about a holistic feeling, things merge, it’s complex, it’s about spontaneity, creativity, freedom … It’s about flow and music. For musicality. The rhythm, melody, dynamic, different qualities … Talking about this I’m becoming excited and I feel how my heart opens. So it’s also about feeling, sensations. Personally, I feel something through it. (dancer & choreographer, 35)
It means a freedom of expression and I use it to kind of express my emotions, states, thoughts … As a kind of writing, but it’s actually movement. (saleswoman, 28)
Why do you think people dance?
Ah why, they want to hang out and see each other. There’s more things. Maybe if you like someone. You see and hear them. It’s nice. The feeling is nice. (86, retired)
I believe it’s a kind of entertainment. But it’s also knowledge. Some of my friends started dancing when they were already old. And it’s also a form of socializing. (86, retired)
We should maybe ask ourselves that more often … Hm … Personally I believe there is a certain relaxation, letting go of something, allowing yourself something. When you go into a club at night and see people come there to relax and to dance. Not to worry how you should look or be, what are the social norms. But you come there, it’s dark and you can’t really see well and people get relaxed and are who they really are and just dance. There’s probably also a kind of ritual function that we forgot about. But I know something awakens in you when you really allow yourself to dance. To listen to the rhythm, to move your body … Than you understand something new. It’s a kind of liberation. In Brazil people allow themselves to dance much sooner. The DJ puts on a song and people start to dance. No questions asked. I guess the white people though education and Christianity killed the body cult, which is still present in other cultures. (28, dancer)
I think it’s a natural human trait. Than it only depends if you are interested in it or not. If you dedicate yourself to it. We dance because we’re human. Because we move, because we react to things, interactions, emotions. The body moves according to your experience. (24, musician)
It’s a sort of communication. Relaxation. Creation. (56, teacher)
The function of dance is to feel the body, the movement. And somehow express yourself through rhythm and movement. To express sensation, compassion. But it probably developed from rituals. I dance to show myself a bit, to dance, to party a bit and to relax. That’s an important function. And to flirt. When I dance with someone than it’s also about touch, rhythm, flow with another person. It’s fun, it’s like a game. I connect all these features. (28, designer)
I think it similar to why we sing, paint, build or assemble Legos. I think it’s the human need to play and to be in contact. In dancing you are in contact with something or someone. It’s a way to cover our needs. Playing, expressing something, contact – with other, with the divine, with yourself … Dance also functions as a filter for madness, kind of. In a sense of a carnival. You can dance things out … It’s a filter, a catalyst. (dancer & choreographer, 35)
It’s a primal response, almost like walking. I think that we function very intuitively as children, but then the society shapes us and puts us ‘on track’. We then forget about our impulses. I think when you dance you go back or you liberate yourself from the societal tracks. And you come back to your comfort zone, back to your primal responses. (saleswoman, 28)
How will we dance in the future?
We will perhaps resist against this repression of dance. I see two possibilities, which don’t necessarily exclude each other. Some people will allow themselves to dance and realize dance is something really primal, something that demands more time. Maybe now that’s already happening with all the guided workouts and the fitness culture, yoga, zumba – people are dancing more and more. But there is also a group of people, which will forget about dance and neglect it. Let’s see what the future brings. (28, dancer)
In the future there will be like space dancing. We’re all going to be in zero gravity space dancing. (24, musician)
In the future, I don’t know, another genre might appear. (56, teacher)
In the future I believe the dance will get reduced. I hope we will still dance in clubs, due to covid, you know. And maybe dancing in couples will come back because of that. You will need to bring your own partner to the dance, kind of. But I’m sure dancing won’t stop. Nothing can displace the pleasure of dance. Maybe sex … (28, designer)
People will dance alone. Or put on some sensors and dance in their imaginations. Wherever they will want to and with whoever they will want to. That sound very sci-fi. On the other hand there seems to be a trend of primal, natural. People are looking for alternative ways to live. So perhaps we will again just dance around the fire. But if I think what would really be cool; people would be really uninhibited, a dance would be an entry point, together with therapy. And I don’t mean not uninhibited in this American individualist capitalistic shamelessness. But on the contrary, how to be with yourself. And I believe dance can be great for that. Also the dance that we watch. I think in an almost therapeutic way it is important to dance in front of someone, that someone watches me. And perhaps this is how the outside view even came into dance. Because the witnessing is important … It has a function, also in a social, party-kind-of context. (dancer & choreographer, 35)
If I draw a parallel with the present I would say there will be less human contact. I don’t know … On stage I think people won’t appear anymore so often. Perhaps we will have robots, transformers. (saleswoman, 28)
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What situations make you dance?
Hm … It’s music for sure. In an artistic sense if something strong, something with an impact is said I could get an impulse to dance with that. To make a solo. That wouldn’t be a direct answer but more following a stimulus of the proposed content. And kids! They dance a lot and it’s quite contagious. For me dance is connected also to sens- and sex-suality. (dancer & choreographer, 35)
I was learning how to dance in a dance school in Celje, dancing in couples so we went dancing there. Swing, waltz, tango … (86, retired)
Making a new piece/show is kind of a drug and there is a special sensation when you perform it for the first or the second time. You’re nervous and tense but very relived after it’s done, there’s happiness and pleasure, maybe even fulfillment when you make something new, when you create something and that gets its own life on stage. But I enjoy many different situations, but this one is probably the strongest. (28, dancer)
When I hear good music. Something that makes a dance atmosphere. (56, teacher)
It’s usually concerts, the ones I attend or play. Listening or playing music live. Or where there are other people dancing around me. Then I kind of automatically join. In everyday life it can also be that I get some good news, then I would ‘stomp around’ a bit. (24, musician)
It’s music. The right kind of music. Selected for the moment. A melody, a vibration. That could be at home or in a club. When the clubs were still open. I have to mention dancing in a couple. I see it as a kind of ‘civil sex’. We lack that. (28, designer)
It’s in my mind. I dance differently in different occasions. When I feel this impulse inside I let go, without overthinking. Then I just dance. It’s probably also influenced by the people who surround me. If I feel the people are open it’s a lot easier for me than for example when I’m with people I don’t know. It’s really about the environment. (saleswoman, 28)
How do you think dancing is different now from what it was?
Now everybody dances. At that time it was almost a sin. People would say to me “don’t you have anything better to do?”. We didn’t really have the conditions. I know my parents didn’t dance. But now people dance more. 10 years ago I would still dance if someone invited me, but now not anymore. Everything hurts … Not anymore now. But maybe the dance would vitalize me. It would for sure. It makes a different atmosphere. Makes you feel good. (86, retired)
Now you have new dances. American ones. And dance is now very present. More than it used to be. There is also more music. So for sure that changed. Dances were usually on Saturdays and Sundays in different inns. (86, retired)
I see that the people in Europe are very reserved when it comes to dance. There needs to be a designated space and only than the people allow themselves to dance. What was before, the people were perhaps dancing more instinctively. The wish to dance was coming from the body and it was not sanctioned. When there was an impulse people would move. (28, dancer)
I thought about the times of our grandmas, where the dances where organized and it was an important opportunity to be close to someone, an important social occasion, a chance to meet people you otherwise couldn’t. Nowadays dance has found a different space; there are more opportunities to dance. You can just do a little dance for yourself; there are a lot of dance styles, variations. It developed, great. (24, musician)
Now the dancers allow themselves more. They take more risks in their expression. (56, teacher)
In the past, my grandma (76) tells me with a spark in her eyes, they had these social dances. They were dancing to schlagers, the music was specific, slower. It was live, live orchestras played music written especially for these occasions. That’s quite different from clubs nowadays. Or from the 80s/90s onwards. The situation was more cultivated. People were dancing in couples, there was more charm. And of course that’s also connected to the role of men and women in society – this changed a lot of course. Now you don’t see people dancing in a couple, in a classic stance. It’s more abstract now. That’s the main difference I think. And it’s of course hard to dance in a couple to EDM, trap, disco … People also didn’t take drugs to dance. (28, designer)
I have a feeling it kind of goes with the development of society. On one side there is a big difference in the past 100 years or so, a huge one. But on the other hand there’s maybe not such a difference after all. Also in the artistic sense – things are somehow repeating in an ABABAB pattern through the periods. There is a revolution and then a conservative approach. Revolution, conservative … A mix of these two. I don’t know. I believe the crucial questions in an artistic sense are very similar to what they were. The means are different and it looks different but essentially it’s very similar. Fuck, I don’t know …
Now people go to a lot of exercises, they train for their image. The body needs to look good, people pose. But actually that’s a very narrow understanding of the body. It’s all about the look. Being healthy is more a side effect of it. There’s a kind of duality here. The body is very important, always on display, but I doubt people are actually more in contact with their bodies as they were. You know … Also in terms of movement. (dancer & choreographer, 35)
We are perhaps more rational now. And in the past – a looooong time ago – it was more about instincts. Now we analyze everything and before people where dancing without definitions. (saleswoman, 28)
Do you like to watch people dancing?
Yes. But I get a feeling I missed a lot of things. That’s how it is. It was a poor youth for us as far as dance is concerned. Now people dance more, for celebrations, they dance a lot. People dance more and more. (86, retired)
Yes, I enjoy it a lot. For New Year’s we went every year, for 40 years in a hotel and I would watch people dancing there. This year it’s the first time I don’t go. I’ll rather go cycling. Or maybe the years have caught up with me. I also don’t have a partner anymore … But I really liked dancing others. I see different kinds of dance, different stances; I like to see how people move. (86, retired)
It depends. I like to look at people who like to dance. Then I also want to dance. When someone on the stage is really at it with his/her whole heart and it’s not just about the technique, perfectionism. Something with a soul where you can see that the whole person is involved in that dance, not just physically, he/she becomes one with it, dives in it. Then I really enjoy it. Sometimes I also get into dance mathematically, I like see patterns and shapes, but perhaps that’s already more choreography than dance. (28, dancer)
Yes, it’s great to watch that. I like to decode the dance, the moves of someone else through myself. And I enjoy the feeling of a big crowd of people moving. (24, musician)
I do enjoy it. I enjoy humor. And I envy people who dance well. When I watch I try to put myself in the role of a dancer. I imagine what they go through. (56, teacher)
No. I don’t like hiphop. It’s so naive and predictable. They are an end in themselves. I understand the virtuosity I will never reach myself and I appreciate that but I don’t understand why this needs to be shown. I also don’t like to watch contemporary dance. But there are some spectacular things, some things that can’t happen elsewhere. Some specific authors, but it’s maybe not really dance. It’s more dancing in space. That I appreciate. Also I like dancehall. And ballroom. And vougeing. Because of the context. It’s is a whole performance and it has a strong subculture around it. I have a problem with dances that are very robotic, mechanic. (28, designer)
I really enjoy watching ordinary people, amateurs. I love it. It’s very beautiful. And it’s amazing to see people who don’t look like they can dance and then they really surprise you. That’s pure joy! It’s boring to see dancers who take dance as self-evident. But great dancers who really dance – that’s special poetry. When that happens it’s like watching life. (dancer & choreographer, 35)
I enjoy it a lot. Probably because I can recognize myself in other people. And I think, wau these people have their own world, they are into it, how beautiful. I don’t understand some performances or they leave me with mixed feelings but people dancing make me forget about that. (saleswoman, 28)
Choreographic Turn was made with financial support of Ministry of Culture of Slovenia and with financial and logistical support of Nomad Dance Academy Slovenija.