József Trefeli & Mike Winter’s play UP is a part of ONE DANCE WEEK program. Interested in what they are UP to, we have exchanged a few words with the magicians of dance technique. Look what happened…
anna: Hello from DJambore.com. Can’t wait to cheer up with your play “UP”! I have watched some short videos of it and I have decided that the play is very positive – mostly because of the colorful costumes and because of the upbeating music. 🙂 What is “Up” actually all about?
József Trefeli: UP presents an intelligent approach to altitude combining quirky efficiency and nonchalant spectacle. A choreographically well built, physically challenging and demanding contemporary dance performance that awakens the audience to the theme of elevating the spirit. Using influences of male action and reaction, rhythm and risk and emphasizing virtuosity and originality, UP promises a purely uplifting experience.
In the videos I haven’t seen any women performing… Are there any female characters in the play?
József Trefeli: No, you won’t see any female performers in the performance as we decided that for this piece we wanted to work with a cast of all the same gender. We wanted a cast who would all be around the same height and weight so as to allow everyone the same capacity to lift and be lifted. We basically chose to use men because as we are both men, it was much more practical when we were the only two together in rehearsals, since financial restrictions meant that we could not have the whole group together for the full duration of the rehearsals. If Mike and I were women, then UP would have probably been made for 6 women.
“The aesthetic challenge (of Up) is designing lifts with an emphasis on evident male strength, effortlessness and grace, entrancing the audience with the power and skill required to achieve these feats.” Which are the things that give men strength?
József Trefeli: Solid parenting; anabolic steroids, whey powder and protein shakes; smoking an authentic Cuban cigar one weekend a month; the love of a good woman, or man; dog walking; 4-hands Thai massage sessions; gluten free porridge; voluntary work cleaning elderly people in care homes; ginger-sprinkled pineapple chunks and kiwi, celery and beetroot smoothies; regular income; regular bilingual poetry recitals; regular bowel movements; classical ballet…
OK, I get the idea. 🙂 As a man, what do you look for in a dancer?
József Trefeli: Each project requires a different set of dancers. In UP there were a number of requirements including – though not necessarily in this order – partnering skills; the strength to lift and the desire to be lifted; the capacity to work as part of a team; the technical ability to understand how to perform in all directions with an audience all around you; and definitely no fear of heights.
And what about you? Tell me more about the hidden selves of József Trefeli and Mike Winter (Mister Winter)…
Mike Winter: József and Mike have nothing to hide. They are a couple of open books, one borrowed from the library and the other bought “used” on Amazon. They are more than happy to meet and greet with people before or after the performance and discuss life, love and the arts. Mister Winter, however, is an overly muscularly developed alcoholic narcissist, who will invariably sit alone in a corner of a theatre foyer before, during, and after a performance; with absolutely no interest in the paying public who might be interested to engage with him. The hardline is that he is quite simply an arrogant bastard, but Jószef and Mike tolerate this attitude purely because they, like so many, are seduced by his sheer creative genius… 🙂
Ha-ha-ha! The price they have to pay when you are genius! If you have to create a play called “Down” what your concept would be?
József Trefeli: “Down” could be about training dogs not to jump on people they don’t know. “Down” could be about the joy of dancing in duck and goose feathers. “Down” could be the sequel we make for only women. Effectively, we were constantly aware of a potential “Down” performance whenever we were contemplating elements for UP, because it enabled us to be certain that what we were ultimately dealing with was indeed never down but always up. We are most grateful to down, because without it, we’d have not had our UP.
Could you, please, give us some examples of music videos with stunning dance performance?
Mike Winter: Of course, like so many people, we would have to say Christine and the Queens “Tilted”, it’s just such a brilliant production. Michael Jackson’s “You Rock My World” shows Michael at his absolute finest, so smooth, so in control. And Christine and the Queens’ Heloïse Letissier’s solo for “Saint Claude” is such a nice homage to Michael’s “You Rock My World”; what is particularly relevant here is that she concludes “Saint Claude” in pretty much perfectly the way we fantasized about being able to conclude UP, but which was not technically possible for us to achieve in live performance with a limited budget. We also like the dance in FKA Twigs’ “Two Weeks“, which enviably also has a similar closing image, and there’s also a reference to Michael; and her “tw-ache” of course. And also of course Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies”.
Thank you so much and see you soon!