Victor Jacono on Movimento

Movimento Appointment 1

For the first Movimento Appointment, Victor Jacono tackles the concept of “Unison” hands down – which literally refers to a point in which dancers dance together on stage, performing the same moves at the same time – Victor proceeds to de-mystify the word and explore where it can be found around us. It is common knowledge that the watching of Unison soothes the eye and creates a sense of pleasure in the audience. Victor Jacono attacks the “why?” Is it because it reflects the way our neurones work collectively?

Victor Jacono has contributed his expertise, kindly offering it in aid of ŻfinMalta and Heritage Malta’s initiative of introducing dance to a wider audience; allowing them to recognise tools of choreography in dance and in life (the natural, the urban, the mechanic).

Who are you (now)?

Professionally, I am a theatre maker and educator. As a young student, I was lucky to meet and work with artists and scholars that allowed me to develop a deep knowledge of the art, rather than just accumulating a baggage of stage techniques. They ignited in me an interest in all aspects of the human being: biology, neuroscience, history, anthropology, sociology, complexity … So I have come to look at theatre (and contemporary dance for that matter) as sophisticated technology with which we can model life. This technology allows us to look at ourselves and our relationship with others, psychologically, socially, politically, ecologically. It allows us to look at how we are, also at how we were, but perhaps more importantly in our day and age, at how we can be. Otherwise, on a more existential level, I am just a life contemplating life with inquisition and wonder.

What relationship have you had or do you hope to build with ŻfinMalta?

The relationship with ZfinMalta is one of creative dialogue and exchange of knowledge. Dialogue between experts from different artistic fields, but also with experts from other fields of enquiry, enriches the experience of our respective disciplines and journeys of discovery. This is the mutual understanding with which Paolo invited me to start collaborating with ZfinMalta. During the first discussions and practical sessions, both Paolo and the dancers of ZfinMalta have been very generous in their response to my inputs. In particular, we have been looking at choreographic tools in contemporary dance, at the fundamental aspects of performance composition. We have been discussing how we can make these tools more accessible and recognizable to spectators, to enhance their appreciation of contemporary dance. At the same time, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to look again at our creative processes from different angles, to look at the challenges we face, at what we do not know. I feel we have set upon a very promising journey of creative discoveries, and I always look forward to the next encounter.

Tell us a story about you and dance.

Actor-training sessions with John Schranz involved intensive work on action and movement. One of my weak points as a student performer was moving organically. I was tall, thin, and moved like a puppet without strings – that is how John described it, affectionately. One day, as we were doing collective vocal exercises, a bat flew inside the studio and kept making circles on top of our heads, as if it were somehow entertained by the sounds we were producing, and I could not take my eyes off it. Strangely, when we passed onto a more individual and action-based exercise, the bat stayed and kept flying in circles above us. Instinctively, I somehow started modelling – not just imitating, you see, but modelling – the bat’s circular flight. Even with feet rooted on the same spot, it was something I felt the need to explore, in detail, with every movement, with my whole being. And then I heard John shouting out in delight, ‘That’s it! Yes! The puppet is gone!’ The animal, organic, had emerged, if but for a few moments.

How would you describe your relationship to movement (if you have one at all) ?

Movement gives me a sense of being alive that is so important for me, in all aspects of my life. Generally, I find it difficult to just sit still or to concentrate on one thing for a long stretch of time. My mind wanders off and jumps easily from one thing to another, which can help creativity of course, but can also hinder it and other aspects of life when it is less mindful and more compulsive. Anyway, I need to be and feel that I am on the move. Then, I have come to appreciate movement as a sign of life, and to work with it at different levels in my art. If you think about it, from the microscopic level of electro-chemical activity in the brain, which subtend what we want, how we feel, and how we act, to the macroscopic level of vibrant cities, ecosystems, and galaxies, wherever there is life, there is movement. We can recognise recurring patterns of movement and that is how we make sense out of life. It is in our nature to predict these patterns, but sometimes we can be pleasantly or unpleasantly surprised when a pattern changes and it catches us off guard. We see this happening everywhere, and it is with this knowledge that we create in the performing arts. There is movement in bodies, in space, in light, in sound, in music. There is movement in stories, which are so important everywhere in our lives. Well, there can be stories without words, but not without movement. In choreography, just like in the theatre, we set things in motion, we transform, we break down, and we compose movement, in the same way lives, relationships, societies move, transform, break down, and recompose. Ultimately, we look forward to engaging the spectators in our dance, for them to move with us, in their own way. So, personally and artistically, I would say that my relationship with movement is complex.

What are you planning to present on the 17th October at MUŻA as part of Movimento?

On the 17th October we shall be looking at a particular aspect of choreography, that is unison. In simple terms, unison happens when different dancers perform the same movements at the same time, which can be very pleasant to watch, of course depending on how this tool is used in a given choreography. But in our session, we shall explore different ways of looking at unison, and of how to make sense of it when we recognise this particular pattern of movement in contemporary dance. And for those participants who will feel up to it, although it is not obligatory, we shall have the possibility of experiencing it in action, in a fun way. No dance experience required, by the way, to put your minds at rest.

Which three gestures/movements/action verbs do you think will encapsulate this event?

All – together – now

Stir – Sense – Synch

Recognise – Stir – Synch

Recognise – Express – Synch

Dr Victor Jacono teaches acting and performance production at the MCAST Institute for the Creative Arts, where he continues to build upon his international experience as a theatre artist, researcher, and educator. In line with his doctoral studies at Roma “La Sapienza”, Dr. Jacono combines his work in culture and the arts with an interest in the workings of complex systems, especially the brain, to develop creative instruments that can be adopted by artists and non-artists alike.

Tickets for Movimento sessions, at the price of Euro 10 (Euro 8 for concessions and Heritage Malta members) may be purchased from all Heritage Malta museums and sites or online from here.