Just for the record: Patrick de Bana, Nov. 6th, 2017
Patrick de Bana – just for the record.
Since a number of years I have been admiring Patrick de Bana’s work. There are a number of factors which make me admire him so – but to be quite honest with you, I’d say that his way of looking at things and situations fascinates me most…
Patrick de Bana - just for the record: Nov. 6th, 2017
You may remember that I wrote on my introduction page “ it is all about dancing and looking at things differently” and I have been asked quite a few times during the last months “Why differently ?”. Just for the record: this is an expression and I mean “differently” as “with more perception, with more feeling, with more intensity, with more love, with eyes that are wide open and an open soul – unprejudiced, with an openness - like Mr. de Bana - that is not influenced by “rules” that we have learned and acquired, sometime in the past”. And we all have surely learned many of them… “
His personal ways of “telling a story” are the ones that appeal most to me. Apart from his own very special dance language, he does not tell us a story in the “classic way” – you don’t have to read books about history and romantic fictive characters to be able to understand his work (like it happens in many of very well-considered English ballets – which I, personally, am not so fond of). The stories he wants to show and tell us just flow organically – because they are connected with his intensive and deep way of feeling things and transforming them into art, “translating” them to ballet language… Dance tells it all, no need to grab to the support of a theatre play or a movie screenplay. When the feelings are intelligently (should I rather say “artistically”?) put into motion and dance, audiences will understand them, even without previous knowledge of history or romantic stories… This made me thing of two things: his brilliant “Marie Antoinette” and a “cute” scene of a very “silly and forgettable” film called “Pretty woman”. The one in which she (Julia Roberts) is flown to San Francisco, to visit a performance of “La Traviata”. Even not having a clue of what it is all about, the (language of) music and the libretto are so perfect that when the Opera is finished she is weeping, completely emotional and says to an old, very fine lady who is sitting next to her: “It was so good, I almost peed in my pants!” Some of you may be thinking “what is this vulgar expression doing here?” and I have to tell you – it simply helps me show how a work, when it is good, in its own language (let’s be honest, the language of Dance is not the same as the language used by an actor, or by a singer or by a painter or by a sculptor), requires no further educational background than your own feelings, perception and openness.
We met in a nice Café/Restaurant downtown in Vienna and stayed there for some hours, talking about dance. To be quite frank, I enjoy enormously writing for my columns in “attitude” but I surely love these “talks” which bring me so much, personally. As I always say: “Never stop asking questions!”
After greeting each other and talking for a while about what I wanted to do with this interview, my way of asking things and working, I could not resist a question that had always made me curious:
“Patrick, have you ever done a ballet by appointment? I mean “by order”? One in which it had already been decided what it was going to be all about?”
He looked down as if trying to remember the past (I always enjoy paying attention to some eye movements: “Neurolinguistics – an outdated method I am not 100% in accord with – taught me that) “Yes, once… no, twice. And both times in China. First it was “The Song of the Earth” (not Mahler’s piece for the National Ballet of China): nearly “undanceable music” but I was so lucky to be able to work with people blessed by such musicality, my teacher Truman Finney and Nacho Duato! They taught that there are notes which not written down on the score… even less on sheet music. In fact they taught me to listen to silence!” The other time it was “Jane Eyre” for Shanghai – and I wondered what the Chinese had to do with this Brontë-piece and why they wanted that – that was also shown at the London Coliseum for 5 performances and made me the first “foreigner” winner of the Lotus-Prize in China.
And I caught myself listening to the wise words and music of Simon and Garfunkel “The sound of Silence” – but I did mention that!
“How does your creative process start? A thought? Something you need to express? A piece of music that you have just heard and inspires you?”
“Ricardo, I am going to tell you this because you are Brazilian and I am sure you will understand that – I do not feel as a “creator”: I honestly think that I am a sort of “Medium” as if I was “chanelling” throughout my creative efforts and phases. I put myself on “the second place” while I hear to music – and then I see “pictures”!
I was mostly touched by this statement and, after some time while writing this article, I could not resist but look once again at the definitions of “Medium” and “Channeling” in the English Dictionary:
Medium: the intervening substance through which sensory impressions are conveyed or physical forces are transmitted.
Chanelling: the practice of professedly entering a meditative or trancelike state in order to convey messages from a spiritual guide.
I was more than impressed…
I do not feel that words like “substance”, “sensory impressions”, “meditative” and “spiritual guide” are coincidences for someone who was born in South-America and spend a great time of his teen-ager years reading Khalil Gibran, Hesse, Castañeda, listening to Jean Paul Rampal’s flute and Mozart, Schubert and the brazilian “Sound” in a deep contact with nature… But we’ll into that some other time…
Back to the creative processes Patrick added: “I begin strongly to collect information about the subject – books, different kinds of information and surround me with them. I need their energy. Then I start preparing myself. I need Peace and Quiet and then the “pictures” begin to appear – I see them nearly as “slides”- my “task” is to turn the “slides” into a “film”!”
Since we had decided on this interview there was a most fascinating question that intrigued me! “When I used to dance I loved being onstage but hated working on films or on TV. On stage you always try to make it different, better the next day. On film – it is there FOREVER. Framed forever – even if it was not good. I was very impressed when you started “reworking” “Marie Antoinette”… “
He knew exactly where I wanted to get to – we cannot deny that we spend some hours of deep empathy – and said “My work is alive, it keeps changing, as I do. I do live, I do breathe. So does my work. Always in motion.”, adding “Naturally there are chances of correcting things here and there. The biggest change though was that the girls are now “en pointe” but for me that was the easiest part of it all. They just left their “demi-pointe” to be “en pointe”.
I cannot resist but remind you that “en pointe/on point” in English means: relevant!
We talked a lot about Countries, especially Brazil and Austria (and their very contrary visions and understanding of dancing) and singers like Chico Buarque, Maria Bethania and Caetano Veloso and some others – but I just mention this in order to reassure you that I had the privilege of talking to a citizen of the world… a real citizen of the WORLD: and this rare quality became even more important nowadays.
“Lots of for 2018… Partly in very “exotic countries – that are very dear to me – mostly in Middle- and Far-East!”
My sincere Thanks for such a great time, Patrick! (P.S. to Patrick: already trying to get another copy of "the book" for you!)
Ricardo Leitner / attitude-devant