23 feb 2024
zo 18 sep 2022
‘It is not an ordinary performance. There is no beginning or end; you can step into it at any time’, says Pieter T’Jonck in his review in Pzazz. Yes, definitely it is not an ordinary one at all because choreographer Marco Torrice came to Het TheaterFestival to make you dance with Melting Pot. Feel free to join!
Rojda Gülüzar Karakuş
When Marco tells me where his passion for dance comes from, he goes back in time and recalls his childhood in his neighbourhood in Rome. He says: ‘I grew up in a poor neighbourhood and there, to be honest, people were criminalised.’ He thinks for a while, laughs, and articulates: ‘By dancing, I am still the awkward one, but at least the cool awkward one.’
That immediately reminds me of the story of Billy Elliot, a British coming-of-age stage musical based on the film of the same name. Billy grows up in a poor neighbourhood and begins taking ballet lessons during the miners’ strike. It seems to me that, like Billy, Marco uses dance to take his own space. He confirms this and adds: ‘Dance was also a way of avoiding the place where I was born.’ That’s how it all started.
As our conversation continues, we jump in time again and go to the recent past, Marco’s university years. He tells me that he started taking dance lessons while studying philosophy at La Sapienza University. Yes, philosophy! Don’t be surprised. Since I always believe that there is a mysterious connection between philosophy and performing arts, I’m not surprised by what I hear. That is why I ask him curiously: ‘Do you think your academic background contributed to your dancing?’ He doesn’t answer right away, he first considers whether such a relationship exists. ‘It seems to me that there is no direct relationship between the two’, he says. ‘I can’t say that my philosophical education influenced my dancing. On the contrary, I started as a dancer and I believe that my practice in movement have contributed to my philosophical education.’
Nevertheless, he considers what philosophy brings to his dance and adds: ‘This philosophical background helps me to elaborate on my work.’ I want to hear more about his dance and I change the topic impatiently. For him, dance ‘becomes a sort of cathartic place by getting in touch with what you see. In that catharsis, you liberate yourself by moving.’
‘Melting Pot is an ever-evolving dance practice born with the idea to facilitate dialogue and exchange between different styles’, he continues excitedly. ‘It is not born to be watched but to make people dance.’ In addition, he explains the purpose of Melting Pot: ‘It creates a place where the participants can liberate different sorts of feelings and emotions.’ Not only that, Melting Pot makes dance accessible to everyone. He gives an example of this simplification: ‘A long time ago, there was a participant in one of my Melting Pot workshops who was a painter. His movements, when he was painting with the brush in his mouth, were also dance for me. This is exactly what I do in my workshops: to make everyone dance, to find your dance movements together.’
‘At the very beginning of my practice, Melting Pot had a physical connotation because dancers were sweating, and melting in each other’s bodies. Over time, the performance gained a lot of layers. Now, it means that the different elements, like cultures, genders, and dance styles, are “melting together” on a shared stage with six dancers’, he says. I should point out that the cast of participants consists of a mixed group of professional, non-professional, academic, autodidactic actors, and dancers. Marco adds: ‘What is important in the Melting Pot – a place where amateurs and professionals come together – is the value that these two sides add to each other.’
Melting Pot brings together six dancers from different cultural backgrounds and of different styles. Through their movements, participants tell a story where they express, share, and create a space for their emotions. Literally, they are all together melting in a pot.