Interview: Luca Silvestrini Q&A Nov 06

Friday 17 April 2009

Luca SilvestriniPhoto: Benedict Johnson

Luca Silvestrini is the Artistic Director of Protein Dance, performed Big Sale at The Place, 7 – 18 November 2006.

Since moving to the UK in 1995, he has performed with the Featherstonehaughs, Aletta Collins and Transitions, amongst others – and has created several fast paced shows with Protein, including
The Banquet, On the Couch and Publife.

This year he was the choreographer for the Big Dance Class and a Place Prize finalist… So what makes him tick?

Big Sale is on at the Place this week. Tell us why we’d be mad to miss it…

How can you miss a Big Sale?!

When did your interest in dance first start?

Since I was a little boy, I used to copy dancers on TV as all my family looked
on, a bit confused. I then began attending dance classes at 15.

Did you train in dance – and where?

I started in Italy and completed my dance training at Laban, where I danced with Transitions Dance Company in 1996/7

*Can you remember the first dance company you saw – & what impressed you
about them?*

I am not quite sure if I remember the first dance company I saw, but I clearly
remember a piece based on Samuel Beckett by French choreographer Maguy Marin. It was in the early eighties and that show really exposed me to dance theatre
for the first time; the physical and the emotional were so powerfully entangled
and the whole experience was so total. The discovery of the work of Pina Bausch has since shaped and inspired my interest in choreography and theatre.

Who or what are your main influences?

I am mainly influenced by the complexity of human nature. I am a passionate observer
and what happens around me has an impact on my thoughts and feelings. And of course
I am influenced by those with whom I share a creative process, dancers and collaborators.

What’s your favourite book?

A recent one – The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

And music?

Hard to answer this – my range goes from Bach to Madonna

And Film?

There are two films I tend to return to: Louis Bunuel’s The Exterminating Angel and Fellini’s Orchestra Rehearsal. Both movies are surreal and apocalyptic, just as I like it!

And I am a great fan of the TV series Six Feet Under.

What is your usual starting point for a new work?

I tend to start from a big theme of subject that I feel I need and want to explore.
Although each creative process is ultimately unique, I generally come up with
questions and tasks that I am going to share with the dancers in the studio.

*In the last few years your work has featured relaxation tapes, evolution theory,
health clubs and pubs – is there a common theme you can identify?*

As I said earlier, it’s about human nature, from the origins to the present
time. The work represents, reflects, ridicules how vulnerable and pathetic we
can be in our daily quest for personal power and control over the growing and
contradicting demands of contemporary life.

How does your Italian background shape your perspective on British culture?

I was told that I am curiously good at commenting on British culture, I am not
quite sure why, I have not trained specifically. I guess it is easier for a foreigner
to notice and criticize certain cultural and social traits of the visited country.
I adore all it is considered to be British, and there is still so much I do not

Have Protein performed it Italy? Is your work received differently there?

Yes we did – mainly it was Publife. They loved it – the show contains a certain mood and certain situations that
the Italians identify as ‘typically British’!

What do you enjoy most – site specific work (as in Publife) or more conventional theatre spaces?

I am interested in both. Each of them offers me different challenges and creative
opportunities. I love the unpredictability of site specific work and the magic
of a theatre space.

*As part of the Big Dance this summer you choreographed a piece that thousands
of people performed at the same time all over the UK. How did that feel – and
what were you doing on the 16 July?*

Hugely responsible of course. Fantastic though – it does not happen every day.
More than a piece, it was a choreographed short dance class, accessible to everyone.
More than anything else, what I loved about it is the fact that almost 9,000 people
danced the same routine at the same time in 37 different locations around the
country. I attended the London gig on the Millenium Bridge and the atmosphere
was electric. So great to see people of all ages and abilities getting together
to enjoy dance.

*You won the audience vote to get into the Finals of the Place Prize. Did you
enjoy the competitive atmosphere of the Finals? It almost sounds like a Protein
Dance scenario…*

Yes it could be a Protein scenario, meaning do not take it too seriously! It
was a competition but it was not competitive. At least it was not for me. At
the end of the day you are offered the chance to make and present a piece of
work that, in my case, functions as research and campaigns my future touring production.
You win even if you lose.

If your life’s work hadn’t become dance, what might it have been?

Who knows? Certainly something both creative and dangerous.

What’s happening next for you?

Big Sale will continue to tour during Spring 2007. Next year I will focus on development
through a Rayne Fellowship for Choreographers. I will also run two large international community projects in Greece and France.
Protein will return with a new touring production in 2008 to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Protein Dance, 'Big Sale' 8-18 Nov, The Place. Photo: Benedict Johnson Links

Details of Spring tour 2007 coming soon on

Big Sale video clip

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