IMRC (Integrated Movement Research Collective), Croatia

Body to Body
Performers: Nerea Lasic, Nikola Orešković.

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Magnolia (or Defiance)
Performers: Vesna Mačković, Sivlia Marchig.

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Croatia Creative Encounter

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Croatia Creative Encounter

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IMRC (Integrated Movement Research Collective) is an integrated contemporary dance group founded in 2012, in residence at the Croatian Institute for Movement and Dance.

In Croatia, Unlimited Access is delivered by HIPP, the Croatian Institute for Movement and Dance, an organisation pioneering and enhancing infrastructural support for independent contemporary dance and mime in Croatia.

IMRC (Integrated Movement Research Collective) is an integrated contemporary dance group founded in 2012, based at the Zagreb Dance Centre and supported by HIPP. Its premise is that dance and movement are not conditioned on certain physical given abilities, but that physical expression, experience of dance and performance of it belongs to everyone. It is currently the only inclusive dance group of its kind in Croatia.

We asked Iva Nerina Sibila, artistic leader and choreographer with the group, to tell us more about their work.

What is IMRC and how was it set up?

‘IMRC developed from educational weekly workshops in Croatia, in which we started for the first time to work with the idea of mixed physical ability in dance. I had already participated in some Candoco workshops, and we had also brought some teachers over from Spain a few years ago, including Jordi Cortes Molina. Developing a performing group was a logical step, and a necessity. We had to go out from the closed situation of the studio and bring the idea to a wider audience. Non-disabled dancers joined out of their own interest for the work, and disabled performers came from workshops. We currently have six dancers and two works in performance – a short piece, Body to Body, and a longer duet, Magnolia (or Defiance).’

What is the situation for disabled artists in Croatia?

‘My encounter with disability is only through this work, and the situation is not good. In performing arts, there is only one performer (other than IMRC) producing work on stage. There was a very interesting art festival here recently – Extravagant Bodies – that introduced international artists to our scene and it caused a lot of scandal. Generally, education for disabled people is very difficult here, and access to public transport or institutions is bad.’

Can you tell us about some of your current projects?

‘We have monthly weekend workshops at Zagreb Dance Centre which fortunately is fully accessible and we are a resident project there. As artistic leader, up until now I was leading most of the workshops but Tatjana, who has been with the project from the beginning, is slowly taking over. We have also had dancers who work in contact improv and physical theatre, giving workshops for our participants. Through Unlimited Access, we have had great opportunities for workshops with Candoco and Jordi Cortes Molina, and our dancers Tatjana and Sladjan took part in the Creative Encounter in Portugal last April. We have performed in Osijek and Zagreb so far, and our performance on 31 May is part of Unlimited Access at Zagreb Dance Week. We will then go to Rijeka too, so our schedule is slowly getting busier, and we are very happy about that!’

What do you find most powerful or interesting about the work you are doing with IMRC from an artistic / dance perspective?

‘I find it difficult to talk about this, from the inside. But thinking about our performance pieces … Body to Body started as a very simple situation in which Tatjana, Sladjan and Nikola were presenting their way of moving to each other, and trying to find common ground. Not an easy task, since each of them is an amazing mover but from totally different backgrounds. So I decided to put their “raw” physicalities together, as a “battle”. Tatjana is a contemporary dancer, very explosive and strong. Nikola comes from capoeira, and Sladjan (who is a wheelchair user) from jazz dance. As a sound-scape we just used drumming, and what we got is bodies in high risk movement challenging and confronting each other. It has lots of energy, a bit of a “wow’ effect. Unfortunately Sladjan is injured now, so we introduced Josipa and reworked some parts for her. The second part of the piece is a duet for Nerea, a dancer with cerebral palsy, and Nikola. It is a slow duet, just a line from horizontal to vertical – no narrative, pure dance. We worked from her body, observing and discovering, and I have to point out that every movement was a battle that she won with enormous determination. So it’s strong and moving.

Magnolia (or Defiance) is more complex in concept and dramaturgy, and much more demanding to watch. The main input and idea came from Vesna, who is a writer and painter, and her experience of disability, long immobility, pain, and creativity, as well as a fascination with Kazuo Ohno. In contrast to the first piece, in Magnolia movement is very limited, restricted. It’s mostly a manifestation of specific mental or emotional states that we were trying to dig into. It is a duet, and Silvia and Vesna spend a lot of time alone, pushing each other’s voyage from a distance. From the very first rehearsal, it was obvious that they have a special chemistry together and that in close contact they produce poetry. So, we went the “hard way” and tried to create a zone where each of them fully emancipates through very personal sensitivities and issues and towards the end they kind of flow into each other. As a dramaturgical framework we stayed with Kazuo Ohno’s works and used him as a mediator, so the music we use is quotations and some movement flashes. The fascination was not with Butoh, but his transcendence in movement, the transgression of identity and deep mental zones from where his dancing arises.’

What do you think could be most interesting for the audience who sees your work?

‘We are absolutely working on trying to change perspectives. We are trying to push that. Our artistic strategy is to go for strong and high energy physicalities and very different dancers, who really enjoy movement. In Magnolia we are trying to go a bit further, directly addressing issues connected with disability. This shift of approach is possible since the initiative and the first idea for this piece came from Vesna, who is disabled, and who decided to put her experience on stage in this way. We are trying to produce precise and strong choreographic images, with lots of inner motivation from dancers.’

What is the greatest challenge you are facing?

‘At the beginning, we worked very hard to reach into the disabled community and to present our workshops as something they can connect to. In Croatia, contemporary dance is totally marginalised anyway and wider audiences don’t really have a clue what we are talking about. So that is our main challenge along with finding a way to bring disabled people to the workshops, to organise transport, assistance, venues … The other issue is, of course, finances. Until this year, we were working with no budget at all. This year, we received a small grant so we can do the work and give a few workshops outside Zagreb.’

And what has been your greatest success so far?

‘I think that more and more disabled people are recognising IMRC as a platform where they can start to work and experiment their own ideas.’

IMRC is led by Iva Nerina Sibila (artistic leader) and Amela Pasalic (producer). Our current dancers are both disabled and non-disabled : Nerea Lasic, Josipa Lukinović, Sivlia Marchig, Vesna Mačković, Tatjana Vukadinović, Sladjan Livnjak, Nikola Orešković.

Iva Nerina Sibila is a dance artist, educator and critic, from Zagreb, Croatia. She works with Integrated Movement Research Collective – IMRC for dancers with and without disabilities, the Institute for Catastrophe and Chaos (interdisciplinary feminist performance project) and Trafik theatre. As a critic and dance writer she is active nationally (Kretanja, plesnascena.hr), and internationally. She graduated from the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds.

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