Teaching Performance Art

From ECC_ European Cultural Center for Performance Art_ Newsletter 23/2/2022


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Lecturer Q&A: Nicoletta Cappello


We are also excited to introduce you to the new members of the ECC Performance Art Lecturer Team: Nicoletta Cappello, Emily Orley, and Tina Mariane Krogh Madsen. You can find more information on these ladies on our website, but we will also introduce them to you one-by-one in the newsletters. Starting off this month: Nicoletta!


Nicoletta is a performing artist, educator, and doctoral researcher at UdG and UniCT. In her work, she is interested in studying processual forms and exploring the common ground between Performing Arts, Performance Art, and Embodied Learning. Her pieces experiment with participatory, intermedia, and immersive formats and invite the audience to collaborate as another performer by actively moving their bodies.


In a few words, please describe your artistic practice and background I am interested in studying the common ground between theater, dance and performance art, as well as in working with processual forms. I am a professional theater maker trained in movement-based performing at RESAD Madrid and Folkwang Universität der Künste oriented towards performance art. My conceptual and dramaturgical work in the last years have focused on developing strategies for movement-based audience’s participation, both in local and in virtual context. How does COVID-19 impact your work and what are your strategies to deal with it? Covid-19 gave me a very suitable time and mediatic framework, with the need for resilience and higher risk taking inside unknown conditions, for free experimentation both in teaching and in creating performance. During the first quarantine I started “Let’s Get Physical”, a movement-based performing training, running online weekly , that didn’t stop to develop into different shapes till today. Thanks to the overall increase of mediated communication over the Covid-19 period, I gained plenty of new insights about what was possible in performance, and above all about artistic community building, and about interactive and intermedia performance formats. During the COVID-19 I also devised my first online live performance piece “Stato Vegetale” that won a prize from the prestigious Teatre Lliure Barcelona and was presented in national Teatro de La Abadía. Since then my creative practice opened to virtuality as a main research environment, that marks a direction for my present and future projects. What is your approach to teaching performance art/what do you want your students to take away from your class? My focus in teaching performance art is to encourage students to discover and pursue their own artistic idiosyncrasies starting from the relation with their bodies, as the most evident manifestation of their uniqueness as people and as artists. I invite students to pay attention to their physical action, and mostly to the periphery of that action, to involuntary movements/words/gestures, and to what emerges uncontrolled from their bodies (and minds), because it’s speaking of their personal obsessions, of where they want to go. I offer reliable tools to read and follow those signals as breadcrumbs on their continuous path of artistic self-discovery, and to take them as a compass for an enjoyable and meaningful creation process. What is the most important thing the emerging generation of performance artists should learn/be aware of/do? Continuing what I said, I believe that performance artists should learn to listen to their bodies, to their bodies' claims, stories, opinions, memories, suggestions, and points of view, through thoughtful perception and aware movement. I feel that the body is where a sense of shared truth can still be perceived and cultivated. The body-side of culture is traditionally silentiated, unheard, dismissed, repressed, humiliated, marginalized and devitalized from the dominant colonial and patriarchal rationalism, and ultimately from ourselves as a part of it. My advice to emergent performance artists would be to literally listen to their body’s voice not as a path to virtuosity, but as a shortcut to shed light on their most forefront visions and as a gateway to materialize their most essential contributions. Listening and discovering their body's discourse, articulating its words through embodied reflection, vibrating its messages through movement, and amplifying them through dance, psychophysical attitudes, and gestural performances transformation. What is the most important thing our world/governments/cultural policy needs to understand about performance art? I think that the government needs to understand the incredible democratic educational potential of performance art. By questioning established systems of representations, by blurring the limits between spectator and creator, and the frontiers between daily and artistic life, performance art offers an optimal playground to rehearse forms of sharing power in a co-creative way. I think that performance art should be taught and researched from School, and that it should vertebrate Teachers Education. Why did you choose to join ECC Performance Art? I chose ECC Performance Art in the first instance as a student, when I experienced a pleasant sense of condensed and extended learning. I was learning a lot of useful concepts and techniques in just a little time and at the same time I was experiencing a boost of creativity that exceeded the single classes, positively affecting my daily life throughout the whole course period and beyond. I felt I belonged to a creative community having similar concerns, care and curiosity for each other’s work. I chose again ECC as a lecturer because I wanted to contribute to this fertile learning space by offering my own knowledge. I share the ECC mission and vision, and I am excited and honored to be able to contribute to build them by being a part of its team.

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