BWW Interview: Diego Funes On INTERIOR DIALOGUES At Gelsey Kirkland Arts Center 4/7
De Funes Dance is thrilled to share its newest full-length program, INTERIOR DIALOGUES. This trio of works includes two world premieres, "Fragments," and "V.," and an encore presentation of "Crisàlida". The writings of Friedrich Nietzsche in "Fragments," and Virginia Woolf in "V," and the music of Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla in "Crisàlida," combine with the literature of our own personal histories to reveal the interior language of our minds. INTERIOR DIALOGUES is conceived and choreographed by Diego Funes in collaboration with the dancers.
We sat down with creator/choreographer Diego Funes to talk about the upcoming show!
Who were some of your early influencers as dancers and choreographers? What inspired you to start dancing?
I grew up in the world of competitive gymnastics. After I retired, a friend of mine invited me to take a ballet class. She thought it was going to be a good way for me to stay in shape. It was love at first sight, I became completely infatuated with ballet, I wanted to learn more and more every day. Early in my career I was extremely inspired by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Jiri Killian, Frederick Ashton, Kenneth MacMillan, Pina Bausch, Mats Ek, Alvin Ailey... Dancers, wow so many, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Irek Mukhamedov, Ana Laguna, Gelsey Kirkland, Pina Bausch and so many others.
What inspired you to start your own dance company?
I needed a vehicle to express my own voice. A voice that keeps changing/evolving every day.
Your work is described as highly athletic. What are your thoughts on the shift in dance to incorporate more movements from the world of gymnastics, and how does this affect your work as a choreographer considering your experience in gymnastics?
Indeed, my work is pretty athletic, and when I was younger there were more gymnastics elements. In my current work, the athleticism comes more from the manipulation of each of the dancers' energies as well as mine of course. I have my conflicts with the overuse of gymnastics nowadays, I feel that gymnastic "tricks" have become a crutch, an easy way out when you don't know what to do. If it's a way of narrating the story, I'm up for it, but usually they're space fillers.
Considering all versatility required of dancers today, do you have any recommendations for young dancers in terms of training?
Young dancers need to train in every possible technique. They have to be prepared to compete in today's world. Never stop studying - the growth never ends. When you feel you have learned everything, it's time to retire. I'm over 40+ and still keep learning every day. The challenge is what keeps me going. Young dancers should always strive for more.
What can audiences expect from Interior Dialogues?
"Interior Dialogues" is a very personal piece for all of us involved in it. Audiences can expect a journey through emotions, time, expression, incredible movers who will give of themselves to the work. Each one of us coming together to tell our stories.
What inspired you to create this piece?
Life has inspired me to create the three pieces that constitute "Interior Dialogues" -the incredible art of Virginia Woolf, the teachings of Fredrick Nietzsche, the music of Astor Piazzolla, and how they have affected the dancers and me. In today's world, I believe it's really important to be true to who we are.
Unlike theatre, a dance performance is often created with company members in collaboration. Can you discuss the process?
Creating these works with the dancers has truly been one of the most amazing experiences. We have developed a symbiotic understanding that has made it truly unique. I'm especially grateful to my rehearsal director and one of the principal dancers, Louisa Pancoast. She's so in my mind that we barely need to talk to each other to know what's next. The honesty and humbleness of the dancers is something I truly treasure, plus their incredible talent.
When creating a new program such as Interior Dialogues, how do you go about selecting the score/musical program and how this inspires the movement?
For "Fragments," the first piece in the show, the idea came first, then I researched for music to accompany the narrative. "V." was different, I was listening to the score and started moving with Louisa. That was all. We are both huge lovers of Virginia Woolf's work. "Crisálida," the final piece, the incredible music of Astor Piazzolla, plus my Argentinian heritage brought it to life. It is a very personal story for me and the music really conveys all my feelings.
Do you have any hopes for the piece following the presentation at the Gelsey Kirkland Arts Center?
I hope to keep presenting it probably in pieces, not as a full length, for the immediate future. There are some very important festivals we would love to be a part of so working on that.
Following Interior Dialogues, what's something you'd like to stage in the future?
My next project is to showcase "Rendez-vous," my first short film. I shot it last summer in Paris, so I'm very excited to premiere it soon. Beyond that, I want to keep making short films and developing my next show about the struggles of immigrants in today's world.
De Funes Dance encompasses the multifaceted teaching & choreography of Diego Funes. While highly technical and athletic, Diego Funes' choreography is distinguished by its shading and intelligent dynamic choices-something that Funes emphasizes in his classroom, as well. The sincerity of Funes' work is also present in the way he conducts his class, creating an environment that, while challenging, is a space of open experimentation. The passion that underscores the work of De Funes Dance creates both classes and performance experiences that reach to the core of the music and the soul.
Diego Funes' choreography is inspired by the art of storytelling through dance. Sometimes, the music inspires him directly or it may be generated by a story or an idea. His style is very technical, but also free, relaxed and unconstricted. It's a type of choreography he describes as extremely musical and fluid, but also intense and challenging. It's never about being on the surface, but finding the core of the music, creating color, levels and diversity.
He was inspired by the Russian masters as well as such modern era choreographers as George Balanchine, Jack Cole, Jerome Robbins, Michael Kidd, Paul Taylor, Jiri Killian and William Forsythe. Following his own varied career in the worlds of classical ballet, contemporary dance and musical theatre, Diego learned to form his own voice, combining different styles and textures into his movement and conveying deeper emotion beyond the harmony between movement and music.
His work employs ballet technique, but he does not rely on technical acrobatics. He prefers to work with the virtuosity of his dancers and the way they interpret the movement and music, emphasizing beautiful lines and quality of movement.
His choreography is realistic and unpretentious and never repetitive or complicated just for its own sake. For the viewer, it is never a passive experience. It may sometimes draw the viewer in or keep them at an emotional distance, but the experience will always be memorable.
Diego's students and dancers experience a better understanding of the relationship between music and movement, which leads them to become better dancers and greater artists.
Find De Funes Dance online at https://www.defunesdance.com.