Born in Argentina and trained by Alain Platel (Les Ballets C de la B), Gabriela Carrizo co-founded the Belgian dance-theatre company Peeping Tom with Franck Chartier. Based in Brussels, Carrizo is associated with KVS (Royal Flemish Theatre) and has collaborated with many European dance companies such as NDT (Nederlands Dans Theater) and Lyon Opera Ballet.

Peeping Tom: Gabriela Carrizo and Franck Chartier
© Jesse Willems

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

Gabriella Carrizo: The first question we had to face was about the Moeder tour in Japan which was supposed to take place in March. At that time, we had not understood the severity of the crisis. Eventually, Moeder tours in Japan but also in Aix-en-Provence were both cancelled; a wave of cancellations followed for all tour dates of Kind in April, May and June in Europe. Starting from May, we were also due to work on Triptych, which is a revival of three pieces created for NDT (The Missing Door, The Lost Room and The Hidden Floor), but here again, we have had to postpone rehearsals. Finally, we were thinking about a special event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Peeping Tom Company in KVS in December. Our intention was to stage the "Vader / Moeder / Kind” trilogy and to offer workshops, a concert and a party, but we do not know if this will take place as KVS is planning to open again with smaller performances for next season. Today, everything remains quite uncertain, some dates will be rescheduled, some will not, and we are still waiting for many confirmations. Still, we tried to compensate for the absence from stage by giving free and full-length access to some of our pieces on our website. 

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

Franck [Chartier, Peeping Tom co-founder] has been very productive and took advantage of this period to work on the preparation of the opera Dido and Aeneas for Grand Théâtre de Genève to take place in May 2021. As for me, I went through different moods, sometimes finding it difficult to deal with the feeling of uncertainty. Mostly, I've taken advantage of this period to question my creative work. During the lockdown, I was asked to give online classes to students at the Institute of the Arts in Barcelona and that pushed me to analyze my past works, to understand how we dealt with certain problems, to explain how we worked on conscious and subconscious associations of ideas. I had the feeling that I was reopening a photography book and to rediscover it with fresh eyes. I wanted to structure a methodology which could be taught to arts schools but I also feel that this questioning process will be helpful for me for future projects. I also took advantage of this moment to think about our studio, which opened its doors in Brussels at the beginning of the year with the intention of making it a living space. We hope to organize workshops, but for the time being, that's not possible. In general, I have questioned myself on the ideas I was working on before the crisis and wondered if they were taking on another dimension or, on the contrary, current events were making them banal.

On a more personal side, how were you affected by the brutal interruption of activities?

The brutal interruption we have experienced has several characteristics. Firstly, it is not an interruption that we decided, planned, for which we had a planned outcome. It happened suddenly and in a coercive way. Secondly, it was not a “calm interruption” but rather a moment full of emotions: fear, uncertainty, frustration. Last, it has been a collective experience. This is therefore a particularly interesting moment which resonates with many of the topics on which we work with Peeping Tom: the unconscious, restriction, anxiety. I am curious to see what will come out from this crisis, how will this collective living experience will be expressed in the creative work that will start again next week. We create a lot by using the improvisations and the experience of our dancers who are actually “performing creators”. In addition to this, it will be interesting to observe the strangeness of all the safety protocols that we will implement, which will surely generate different physical behaviour. We are not yet aware of everything, the world is changing and new things are coming to the surface every day. It feels like we are on a drifting boat, not yet in sight of land. 

How will you be taking part in the post-lockdown resumption?   

We will be part of Grec Festival of Barcelona in July, which takes place in an open amphitheatre, and will start rehearsals in studio next week with testing protocols and quarantines for the artists coming from abroad. We should have performed Triptych but we have had to shorten it into a Diptych, partly for safety and logistics reasons but also because we are starting rehearsals a month later than expected. This creation should make a lot of sense for the audience because it stages a closed space, with characters experiencing anxiety, internal conflicts, looking for an exit. The characters are like us now, they are drifting, but to a potential discovery. We might also take part to Kalamata Festival in the end of August, which also takes place in an open amphitheatre, and that would require an overhaul of the piece because the stage will not offer the same technical possibilities. This context also gives a lot of sense to projects we have in new spaces: in the opera house for Franck and in KMSKA Museum in Antwerp (where we have an artistic residence). I find the atmosphere in museums and the monumental spaces very interesting (the background of my piece Moeder was a museum).  

Will you work on a new trilogy or a new cycle soon? 

It is too early to tell. A trilogy of emotions, perhaps?...

Translated from French by Laurine Mortha and David Karlin