Happy Island by La Ribot

Happy Island by La Ribot

 Meet two interpreters and create a specific job for them. This was the purpose of the trip of the consecrated artist María José Ribot to the portuguese island of Madeira. Henrique Amoedo, director of the company Dançando com a Diferença, who works with disabled artists, invited her for this purpose. Once the choreographer and spanish dancer stepped on this volcanic island in the middle of the Atlantic the project changed: "I was touched by the nature of this land and all these people, so I decided to be part of the production and I immersed myself in the creation of a work with the whole collective", explains La Ribot to EL PAÍS.

Among the volcanoes, banana plants, vineyards and sugar cane, Henrique Amoedo created in 2001 a dance project for any disabled person to achieve the dream of being a dancer. Artists with Down syndrome, blind or autistic, amongst others, bring to life high level performances with which they attempt to change the general view of disability. This is demonstrated by his motto: "We dance with the body, regardless of the body we have". Every year they choose high level dancers like Paulo Ribeiro, Rui Horta, Clara Andermatt, Rui Lopes Graça or Tânia Carvalho, with whom they create great projects. The year 2018 was La Ribot’s turn.

So far, audacity was the ingredient that, in the pieces of Amoedo, was lacking. I dared to address sensitive issues with disability, such as sexual and family relationships. The best option for this was to invite one of the revolutionaries in the field in the last 25 years. "Only La Ribot could conceive a work with the level of audacity we expected. Her way of approaching sexuality, her presence and representation of the performers’ bodies as an aesthetic element and the individual power that she gives to each artist on stage. These were elements that Dançando com a Diferença needed to get to the next level", explains the director.


The path

Island, isolation, autonomy, desires. These concepts reached the artist's mind as she looked in wonder at the volcanic beauty and tropical vegetation of Madeira. So, the idea was clear: in her work she talked about the island and how this company works to realize the dreams of its members. Therefore there was no better name for this piece than Happy Island. "The goal was to convey the beauty of the island, these dancers, the beauty of their existence and their desires", says La Ribot.

Between November and May 2017, the spanish artist was in and out of the island to observe and thus extract the poetry from the members of the company. Sometimes she just sat down to talk and the others asked her about her deepest desires, so that they would interpret themselves. Getting married, having kids, being dance teachers, traveling to New York were some of their desires.

All these ideas that the choreographer transferred to Happy Island through two parallel stories, talk to each other and happen simultaneously. The first, in the same stage are five interpreters, four with Down syndrome and one with physical disabilities. The choreographer's deep research on the challenge between the human and the artistic is present. The second, a film directed by Raquel Freire is projected in the background. Here we find the whole group inserted in the wonderful millennial forest of Fanal, in the north of Madeira. The reason? An homage to that land and those people. Location and individuals become one.

The official debut of this new piece of La Ribot took place on September 5th at the La Bâtie, International Festival in Geneva. But in Spain, the launch will take place this Wednesday, September 12th, as the start of Ídem, the international festival of scenic arts, at La Casa Encendida, in Madrid.


Author: Sofía Merino L.

source: elpais.com