Alessandra Cianetti: Rita, you finally arrived at Cloughjordan Ecovillage after a two-month walk and dance across the UK and Ireland. One Last Dance – An Chéad Damhsa must have been a very challenging process on both a physical and emotional level! I remember that in our interview in May, that we did before the project started, you wrote down your wishes, expectations, and fears for the coming project and I wonder how your walk up north changed your perspectives and expectations on the reasons you started One Last Dance in the first place.
Instant Dissidence: Yes… One of the things that I wondered at the beginning of the walk was whether I would actually be able to physically do it. And there were moments where my body was very sore, I had blisters, and even once a muscle injury on one of my legs. But I am pleased to say that I did do it! And it felt like I was some kind of super woman because of a great sense of self-reliance: I kept looking back on the map and thinking ‘I’ve travelled all these miles with no vehicle: just these 2 little feet’. And so my two feet felt powerful in a way that they had never felt before.
Something else that I wondered at the beginning is how it would feel to ‘carry’ with me the movements, stories, and difficult feelings around Brexit of all the collaborators. And every time I performed the work because I was embodying each missing collaborator, it did feel like a reliving of each emotional experience. So yes, it was incredibly emotionally exhausting, but at the same time I felt very connected to each collaborator throughout.
One of the things that I really wanted to do with this work, on a personal level, was to transform certain feelings of sadness, resentment, and anger at having my status in my country of 25 years changed without a say in the matter. And I have to say that, as the walk went on, that did happen. By the end, particularly when I crossed into Ireland and looked back at the UK from the ferry, those feelings did change into feelings of gratitude for the many amazing years I had in the country, and the perambulating dance finally started to feel like my final love letter to the UK.
Alessandra Cianetti: In our post-project conversation you talked about the process of creating new performative collaborative pieces while walking. You also mentioned the process of accumulating those experiences in an ongoing and growing piece that collated all the actions created with the collaborators along the way. Would you mind to tell us a bit more about the creation of the performances and the final piece, and how your collaborators were involved in each stopover?
Instant Dissidence: In hindsight this endeavor was really crazy. Because not only was I touring two countries on foot, but I also collapsed the creative and the touring processes into one.
Usually, when dance is toured, the work first goes through a devising process and only once it is set does it go on tour, so all you need to do is to perform it. But in One Last Dance – An Chéad Damhsa I was creating and performing the work at the same time.
The process would start with a meeting with a collaborator in the morning, creating a duet with them during the day’s walk, and then arriving at the venue in the evening and performing it. Then I would usually have a day where I would walk alone (no collaborator), and during that walk I would transform the duet I had created with that collaborator into a solo. Then the following day I would meet the next collaborator and create the new duet with them. And just before that evening’s performance I would quickly rehearse, for the first time, the transformation of the previous collaborator’s duet into the solo that I had devised during the previous day’s walk. And so on and so on. So it was incredibly intense…
Alessandra Cianetti: Rita, you have just settled in Ireland and I would love to know what are your thoughts on what the future holds for you (apart from a well-deserved rest!).
Instant Dissidence: One of the most interesting things that occurred as I approached Cloughjordan was that I began thinking less about Brexit, and more about climate breakdown. I suppose this reflected the fact that my moving away from the UK was also a move towards the eco-village of Cloughjordan where I now live.
This shift then solidified itself when my final collaborator (Julie Lockett, a resident of the eco-village) expressed, during our walk, that she would like to create a duet that linked Brexit and climate breakdown, as she believes that these two are interconnected happenings. And so the final duet in One Last Dance – An Chéad Damhsa, does exactly that.
And, interestingly, in doing so, it points not only to my future as an ‘eco-villager,’ but also to the future of the work of Instant Dissidence, as I am interested in creating new work that raises climate breakdown awareness.
We are currently in the process of editing the film of the entire walk so yes, some resting is taking place, but I look forward to the end of the editing process to have a proper rest!
performingborders is a ONE LAST DANCE – AN CHÉAD DAMHSA partner. The online platform will follow Rita Marcalo’s journey from Guildford (UK) to Cloughjordan (Ireland) through the publication of Rita’s reflections during the unfolding of her journey, and two interviews with the artist – one at the beginning and one at the end of the project – by Alessandra Cianetti. More information will be available soon on onelastdance-ancheaddamhsa.tumblr.com
Instant Dissidence is a UK/Ireland-based company directed by me, Rita Marcalo. It is my way of bringing different artists together, in different combinations, to realise different ideas: through Instant Dissidence I invent ways of offering other people art experiences. My practice began in dance/choreography but eventually I became more interested in communicating concepts than in sticking to a particular art form. I began collaborating with others to create work in different media, and today I bring in people from different areas to solve creative problems. Instant Dissidence’s is also a socially-engaged practice where the company foregrounds the role that dance/choreography can play as a social engine: we are ‘artivists’ who believe in the power of connecting art and social consciousness.
Featured image credits: Tamsin Drury