Welcome to the second series of Theatre Thursdays, which celebrates the very best of dance in Greater Manchester by shining a light on some of the amazing dance artists that live here and the wonderful work they’re producing.
In the first of the series, we’re delighted to showcase DamaeDance.
For the next week, their beautiful duet IRMÃ is available to watch on our YouTube channel, and here on our website, we invite you to find out more about the artists and go behind the scenes of their work in a Q&A.
1. Damae – it’s wonderful to have you as part of Theatre Thursdays. Tell us about you!
We are Alice Bonazzi and Sara Marques – as you can tell from our names, we both are from South Europe, respectively from Bologna, Italy and Porto, Portugal. We moved to England in 2014. In 2018, we founded DamaeDance – a platform created to collaborate, produce and share our artistic vision through dance. Since then, we have been making work, teaching and performing nationally and internationally.
2. Tell us about your dance background.
Alice: My dance journey started when I joined my local ballet school at the age of five. I moved to contemporary when I was 14 and I began studying with Silvia Berti at Mousike Dance Centre – she introduced me to release, floorwork, contact and generally gave me the diligence and passion for moving. In 2014, I moved to London to continue my studies at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, where I had the pleasure of working with Alison Curtis-Jones, Zoi Dimitriou, Fernanda Prata, Maciej Kuzminski amongst others and performing in works by Maxine Doyle and Matthew Bourne. After graduating in 2017, I joined Company Chameleon as an Apprentice Dancer then later as an Associate Artist.
I met Sara at Company Chameleon as an Apprentice. It was a pretty amazing time for the both of us. We learnt a lot and we had the chance to travel around the UK and represent the Company abroad. It was during these months that the two of us started making work together and planting the seed for Damae. After the apprenticeship, I based myself here in Manchester as a freelance dancer, teacher and maker. I’ve been touring and performing with some amazing artists and companies such as Rosie Kay Dance Company, MOTUS, Mercurial Dance and Kapow- Dance Circus Theatre.
Sara: I began with Contemporary Dance at Balleteatro Professional School in Porto when I was 16. There I found new ways of manifesting dance through live art and a more creative dance approach, which opened new doors and possibilities for me to really get to love movement.
Until then, my only contact with dance was through figure skating and community folk dance. This was a way that my mum found to control my energy! In 2014, I took the 11th September flight (thinking that it could be a symbol of change) to join the Northern School of Contemporary Dance and graduate as a professional dance artist.
During my time in Leeds, I went to BBC Young Dancers 2015, worked with Hannes Langolf (DV8) and Kerry Nicholls amongst others. I then moved to Manchester in 2017 to start as an Apprentice with Alice at Company Chameleon. Later I became Associate Artist with the Company, which gave me the possibility of travelling and performing. Since then, I’ve been creating and work together with Alice as DamaeDance alongside working with other artists that I respect and admire.
3. Tell us about IRMÃ, your production that is been featured in the Theatre Thursdays series.
The work is called IRMÃ – sister – it’s an outdoor duet and it’s our very first creation as DamaeDance. The piece explores the realm of close relationships and how they affect the way we look at ourselves and our surrounding environment.
It’s very much about representing how true connections are made by navigating ups and downs, overcoming obstacles together and how challenging it can be to let somebody in. As women, we also always found it important to represent the complexity of female relationships and also to challenge the way in which women’s bodies and emotions are portrayed on stage.
IRMÃ takes inspiration from our own stories – that’s why we like to describe it partly as a self-depiction of our bond and also a celebration of sisterhood through dance. It’s a piece that is very close to us.
4. What is your choreographic process?
That’s a good question – we are still very much trying to define it, and we constantly try to find new ways and new stimuli. So far, our first creative tool always seems to be improvisation, partnering and contact work, but we tend to change the creative journey and choreographic process with what we feel that the piece needs.
For example, this year, when we started redeveloping IRMÃ, we felt that some emotional connection should have been researched deeper before starting a physical exploration. We used other stimulus like card games, mind maps and questionnaires in order to allow the physical choreographic intention to happen.
It’s a process of continuous discovery and adaptation – challenging at times, but we love it.
5. Why does a dance community in Greater Manchester matter to you?
Moving to Manchester changed everything for us, as we found a vibrant, supportive and inspiring community of artists from very different backgrounds. We met artists that made us connect to music and an underground art scene, which triggered unexpected collaborations with some amazing inventive minds.
Company Chameleon gave us incredible support when we started making work, not only mentoring and guiding us but also offering their space, which is SO essential for young artists and companies. Over all, we feel like the artists here in Manchester are really working together to build a stronger dance community and to make the city a mark for the contemporary dance scene in the UK. We like to think that DamaeDance is also contributing in making that happen.
6. Where can people find out more about you and how can they keep up to date with what you are doing?
If you always want to be up to date with what we are doing you can visit our new website www.damaedance.com. You should totally check out ‘MAY WE..?, our new digital programme, developed while in isolation – it has weekly updates and also shows a side of Damae never seen before!
You can also connect via our social media @damaedance on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and twitter. And feel free to drop us a message at email@example.com. It always makes us happy to know what people think and it gives us motivation to do what we do! We would like to say thank you Company Chameleon for the support and opportunity, it is great to be part of this amazing dance family.
Thank you to DamaeDance for been part of our TheatreThursdays series. Head over to our YouTube Channel to experience IRMA, watch here. The series continues next Thursday, when the spotlight will be on Coalesce Dance Theatre. Until then, stay safe x
Image credits: 1 & 5: Stefano Padoan | 2 & 4: Mat Johns
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Thank you to everyone who comes to watch us perform and for all your wonderful comments and feedback!