Last day of Bmotion festival in Bassano del Grappa has hosted some young dancers and choreographers and an important show signed by 2007 Venice Biennale Golden Lion awarded Chris Haring whom I interviewed  for the magazine I write for. This interview is with Ivan Ugrin, a young croatian dancer based in Amsterdam that presented a solo choreographed by Liat  Waysbort.  Some of the shows staged in Bmotion are part of a project focused on the contemporary scene in Holland. The show we talk about in this post is called “Please me please” and it was first time ever performed in Italy. Pics by Michele Memola

In this piece the character tries to be accepted  but at the same time it’s a kind of a tension between  the individual needs  and  the will to be accepted. The movements you do tell something already expected, like someone that could be on tv, they are really well known movements . Just to give an immediate impression?

Ivan Ugrin:  “This piece comes from a communication between Liat  and me, we worked together before and for me she’s someone who I found connection with on a lot of different levels, in a way she’s a person I want to be like when I grow up, let’s  say. We understand each other in a lot of level I totally agree  with  how she sees  dance, I agree with what she proposes, what she thinks dance should be and what should look like. When we went to studio we went on pleasing stuff then we just looked many other aspect we can be pleasing in a way,  so first she was the outside eye. A lot of it came from my imagination and some of my preferences and how I move so I suggested stuff  that had a context  but out of context and in a different  context, so we were figuring out what can be pleasing and when people recognize some stuff and triggers    imagination and memories . So we went to these imaginary place, in the choreography, where this thing happens and  we do it. There is a part wich is very sexual like I shake or from the back looks like I’m masturbating let’s  say but I’m not: for me everything I treat as movement  in a way it’s not my responsibility if you read it like this but as soon as you read it like this then I have you with me. It’s all a mechanism to take you with me or to keep  your attention and in a process of this you get pleased and you go with me.”

Because I recognize something  familiar so I look  at you.


In this piece there are many elements  that are from classical dance, contemporary, jazz dance and what we see on tv. Many times this kind of mixture of styles is used to express a kind of freedom and a very open  research. In this case it seems  to me they are used to express a kind of belonging to the society.

“It’s  true. There are a lot of informations in the piece but one of the layers is feeling an image and I’m also triggered by what you, as audience, might find recognizable again as pleasing, so I try to fit a perfect image at points like when I decide.”

So it seems to me to understand  that the main interest in building this piece is pretending to please or to do something  the audience expect  to watch:  you have “scanned”  all the things that can be recognizable and very popular.

“That’s one of the layers, that’s just a mechanism I can take you with me but there is something else I just want to do because I feel good and when you see me feeling nice on stage and feeling good in what I do, it makes you feel  good and say: he’s having a lot of fun, he seems very pleased with himself.”

Is there a way to express something deep, very stranger or very opened with a very well known language? Has it the same possibility of a great research?

“It’s like some that I go through when I do the piece one of them is trying to fulfill a perfect image, whatever a perfect image might be, it doesn’t matter,  and failing to do this so not achieving this image it puts me in a very vulnerable place and it happens few times. I try to fulfill an expectation  of what I think it’s acceptable  and what I think  you might  think that it’s acceptable and people also like to see failure on stage because it makes you human.”

Well, it depends. I think that that the more someone is perfec t the more he has worked and  done an effort , and this really moves me : when I see perfection it means that you worked a lot.

“But also what do you find perfection to be: it’s very personal . In doing this piece we are going from a certain standards, certain physicality what I think you might find satisfying and I don’t know if I succeed, you know.”

Even because you don’t see yourself how  you do it, we see you.

“Exactly: I try, it’s an attempt, I try to please you by pleasing me by pleasing you.”

Many times contemporary dance is very symbolic language and it’s very suitable for something abstract: you’re alone on stage and  the piece is about the relationship  with the others . Do you think that some messages can be better delivered to the audience with a symbolic  language or with a more conventional  language? In this piece you use conventional movement in an abstract concept because you talk about the society the relationship with persons  but you are alone.

“People are more exposed to conventional stuff so it’ s easier for them to understand something  that is very conventional. It’s just another recognizable tool like being conventional  in an unconventional surroundings it’ like taking one thing and putting in a different context. It’s just another way to keep you with me but, again, I treat it as a movement without history.”

When we watch you we feel like something funny or something nice to see but what you are talking about it’s something  sad because you want to be accepted and it’s something about the missing of communication among people. Many times nowadays we talk about the problem of communication  among people and in this case it seems  to me that it’s difficult to keep the contact between people because it’s like  you try to keep the attention and try to touch them and keep them with you but you’re always alone.


So the problem today the communication:  something very  difficult, articulated or even just the contact wich is something simpler, but it’s more difficult to keep : we are always alone even if we are all connected.

“This part of the piece is more an objectification:  I’m selling  myself in a way, at one point I want to be accepted, I don’t care if I’m accepted but at the same time I do. You could say that in the end the final image it’s like I’m really really trying, in a masking light: “what about this? Do you like me now? And what about this?” Even if it’s funny it’s a bitter sweet in a way, like if you want to go on stage and hug me or something like this like: “it’s gonna be fine!”.” 

You walk around  the square , the “stage” and you put a limit to this place wich is always smaller and smaller. It’s like if you’re creating a kind of a place that could be like a prejudice or narrow minding, like if  you were drawing the limits of social convention. You also play the part of a man, of a woman, of the monkey, people and animals  that are all social but many times we have to fight or, anyway, get in touch with different habits and mentality. Do you think that creating this draw, walking around, can be a kind of a limit ( because inside u can put everything )? What if would be there the “right” things and not problems or  prejudice?

“You mean that conventions are bad or something like that?” 

Usually they are bad…

“If you look at, for instance, classical ballet it’s very conventional  but it’s one way.”

And it’s beautiful…

“It exists and you want to see ballet, it’s beautiful but it is conventional ,it’s what we all know. It exists and why would I ignore it? It’s as valid as contemporary dance or something very exhibitionist or conceptual. I think that both of them are valid, you ask yourself: do I want this convention? Do I want to fit in this? Do I want to be a part of  it? You always  have a choice, I mean, hopefully u always have a choice.”


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