Interview: Riccardo Buscarini on his new work - No Lander

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Riccardo Buscarini. Photo: Benedict Johnson

We caught up with choreographer Riccardo Buscarini to talk about the inspiration behind his new piece No Lander which has its London premiere at The Place next week (Wed 28 October).

Your past works shown at The Place have been so varied! With Athletes a stark, visually arresting piece all-female piece, you won the Place Prize, The Plusies showed a more playful side, then you brought your autobiographical solo 10 tracks back to the stage. How does No Lander fit in with your past work?
All my works start from personal suggestions, the state I find myself in. No Lander is definitely coming from one of those places. Different states, moments in life have different needs and therefore produce very different works.

Let’s talk about the music. It’s always played a huge role in your past work…
I have a love/hate relationship with music. I am very fascinated by its communicative power. A sound can change our perception of a specific scene or situation. For No Lander I wanted the body to be the main focus of the spectator’s attention and the main medium of communication. In the work is the body to create movement and to generate sounds that are then captured, manipulated and that transform the territory where body finds itself in. “Soundscape” and “landscape” are synonyms in No Lander.

How is this piece autobiographical and why is it important for you to be telling this story now?
Being a migrant myself [Buscarini is from Italy], I feel deeply touched by the themes of home, identity and belonging, which all seem very present in our contemporary society. What is happening in the Mediterranean at the moment has also had a great impact on my reflections.
In the past three years I have been moving and travelling from place to place quite a lot. So I started imagining they could be the seed for a new work. I have always wanted to make my personal tribute to Homer’s Odyssey too, which has become the aesthetic framework and one of the main inspirations for the movement. The work does not follow the epic’s narrative though.

Why was it important for you to have an all male cast?
My Place Prize piece Athletes featured three women. I wanted to go to the opposite side this time. The imagery I am using for No Lander – heroes, soldiers and sailors – needed an all male cast too. Moreover, in the work the dancers build a unified group in which we do not see strong individualities but different facets of the same identity. This is crucial in the work. I was also interested in exploring masculinity and its movement nuances of course.

So this piece is about the sense of belonging, the sense of home perhaps. Why do you think it is so important for us to feel like we belong somewhere or to something?
It is not important to “feel like” we belong to something, somewhere or someone. In the past few years I have come to believe that we inevitably do belong to something, somewhere and someone. It is just a matter of realising it and accepting it. I believe this search is important, because it is a part of our history and our identity. At times, inexplicably, we refuse to belong, we avoid giving in, we do not allow ourselves to stop for many reasons. We keep on travelling, as if we are lost at sea. The title No Lander, for me, represents that unresolved clash between the primary desire to find a shelter for ourselves and, at the same time, the will to escape from it.

You have travelled the world, where do you feel most at home?
I haven’t travelled the whole world, but that is definitely my plan!
“Home is where the heart is”, it’s not a place, but the feeling you have when you are most at ease. I can have that when I am with the people I love, or the thought of them, anywhere.

This sense of belonging is quite topical as we see terrible stories from migrants trying to escape their homes at all cost. Is there a bigger message to this piece related to this?
Although the work stems from very personal suggestions, as I said before, the current situation in the Mediterranean is present in my thinking and references to it appear in the imagery of the work. It is a horrible, very complex and delicate situation, of which all of us are responsible. I can’t say that No Lander attempts to offer an answer to it, neither a statement on it. It would be too ambitious and I wouldn’t feel honest. I like to think that the piece rather invites us to ask ourselves the obvious – and yet so crucial – questions: what is home? where is that place of comfort?

Do you choreograph on your own or is there elements of collaboration with the cast in this piece?
My creative process is always based on an agreement with my collaborators: I offer my vision, they offer their commitment to it. I always share the starting point of the work – even the ideas behind a specific scene or movement – and I ask them to commit to them through their own creativity. The process is a constant exchange between my ideas and my collaborators input. The final decisions are in my hands though!

What emotions or response do you hope an audience member would have after seeing No Lander?
It’s an emotional and meditative work. It is silent and subtle, sometimes tender, sometimes tense. I don’t know what to expect from the audience. It it so pure, so bare. It is an experiment for me. I am curious about their reaction. What I desire most is the piece to create a strong state in the spectators… and that the piece will stay with them.

What are your favourite places and things to do in London?
For a good coffee or a warming glass of wine, I usually go to La Gourmandina, Lambs Conduit Street. I used to live just above it, and now the owner Marie is like a friend. I love this cafe/deli for its welcoming atmosphere. Another good place – best brunch ever- the Grand Cafe at the Royal Academy.
Best spot for history in London: Westminster Abbey (I’ve been there hundreds of times!) and for a romantic, decadent walk: Highgate Cemetery.

Catch No Lander at The Place on Wednesday 28 October. Find out more & book tickets at

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