Marcos Morau is a Spanish choreographer who founded his company La Veronal in 2005. He has worked with prestigious dance companies across the world ranging from the National Dance Company of Spain, Nederlands Dans Theater, Scapino Ballet Rotterdam, Skånes Dansteater and Ballet de Lorraine. La Veronal will be back on stage for Grec Festival in Barcelona in July 2020 with a new piece Sonoma.

Marcos Morau © Vanesa Gómez
Marcos Morau
© Vanesa Gómez

Laurine Mortha: Now that social and cultural activities are gradually restarting, tell us about how the pandemic has affected you...

It was hard because we were supposed to tour in amazing theatres during this period (Athens, Lisbon and others). Some of these dates have been pushed back to later this year or next year, but others were simply cancelled. It has also been tough for my dancers because they are freelancers and could not get paid. On my side, I was working from home on the music, set and costumes of my next creations. At the beginning, I thought that it would be a nice opportunity to think, to get inspired, to go deeper, but after three weeks I had to confess that it was hard to be concrete and to focus when you doubt about the future and when people are suffering around you. I wondered: how can I come back after this? How can I create and provide something necessary to the audience? This Covid crisis has shaken us. 

<i>Pasionaria</i> © Alex Font
Pasionaria
© Alex Font

Has this crisis been an opportunity to think or get inspired? 

The crisis started at the end of a very intense period for me, with a lot of touring. Many people in my company or in the dance communities asked me if I could give dance workshops but I was blocked. I needed to refocus and take this time to think. If I want to provide something new, I need to get inspired from new things. My sources of inspiration are varied and range from high to low culture, which I like to combine. I took the time to catch up, to read all these books and watch all these films I never had the time to read or watch. I read The Girls by Emma Cline, The Loser by Thomas Bernhard, Mi Ultimo Suspirio by Luis Buñuel (my next creation being inspired by Buñuel).... When you start reading Les Choses by Georges Perec, you connect with Houellebecq, then with Emma Cline, then with Castellucci. It was also a moment to digest.  For example, I started a project many years ago on Solaris, the movie by Andrei Tarkovsky. I was 18 when I saw the movie for the first time and I did not understand anything back then. I am now twice as old, and I thought it was the right moment to come back to this idea. In my creations, I put a lot of attention into the space, the lights, the relations between the characters. I am obsessed with details and I always say to my team that the devil is in the detail. I did a show for children recently and I noticed that they were very obsessed with everything. I feel like them!

You are now back in the studio with your company. How does it feel?

We came back to the studio with the dancers in the end of May. Everybody was excited and looked forward to seeing each other and to dancing again, but the bodies were a bit “out”. We still need to come back to the feelings and the quality of movement we had before. After three months without practising, we combined cardio and “brain” exercises, to go back to shape but also to sensitivity. On the first day, we arrived with masks and gloves but we took them off after only five minutes. Now, we are using alcohol and common sense to take care. We know what the risks are but we also need to prepare for a premiere in July, so I trust everybody to be responsible. It is anyway impossible to be 100% safe: even if we avoid touching each other, we remain close, we talk, we breathe and we sweat. When dancers came back to the studio, some of them were full of information, desires and experiences to share. Others were full of fear and sort of blocked. At the beginning, we tried to touch each other with our elbows, but I saw that some people needed to hug each other, to express something. We are not robots.

  

What are you rehearsing now and what is coming up next?

We are working on Sonoma, my new piece which will premiere at the Grec Festival in Barcelona and will tour in Berlin, Paris, London, Italy and Scandinavia. It is a re-adaptation of a 30 minute piece I created few years ago for Ballet de Lorraine: Le Surréalisme au Service de la Révolution. After what we have experienced, Sonoma will be different from what I expected it to be. You can’t avoid it. Of course, we will not talk about Covid on the stage but it is important to reflect on what happened. In all my creations, I try to express my life and my thoughts. Sonoma is about surrealism, so obviously there will be this idea of “how crazily can the world change in two seconds?”. I also feel that I need to be more direct, to go for it. For example, there was a scene where a dancer was supposed to sing to the audience “hello, how are you? I am fine”. Now, he will scream it out. I don’t want to amplify everything but to point at things. My characters will fall down the stairs and not come out of the elevator [as they did in his piece Voronia, created in 2015]. In parallel, we have cameras shadowing us in order to do a documentary of the creation process of Sonoma after coronavirus, to show the audience a different point of view. I am also working on a creation for next year, a theatre piece called Opening Night inspired by the John Cassavetes film. It is one of my favourite films and an idea I had a long time ago. It will deal with the making-of, with what happens behind the curtain before the play starts. It talks about the fear you experience and the way you deal with yourself.


Interview conducted on 4th June 2020