Interview with Marija Scekic a.k.a. Histeria NOVA, part 2: Climber in Contemporary Dance

by deborah on 10/26/2011

This is the second part of the interview with Marija Scekic. Read the first part here: On New Media and Science in Dance

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Photo above:  Little Tragedy, choreography and dance by Marija Scekic
Photo bellow: Human Error, both photos by Nina Durdevic


Your choreographic process often includes working with musical scores by contemporary composers in free jazz or electronica. Could you explain to us how do you collaborate with composers/musicians?

MS: In Croatia I mostly worked with my brother Zoran Scekic (author of Geometrical Scale Systems – a revolutionary solution to a mathematical problem in music known as «preservation of Phytagorean intervals») and my long term friend Ranko Šajfar (electronics). The process between the two is as different as it can get. With my brother I use specific system of notation that I have developed over the years (sinetografija) to better explain the choreographic structure to him or other non-dance professional collaborator.

Also, my brother was never present during dance rehearsals so I was „forced“ to develop a tool, a shortcut to the point of the idea behind the choreography. With Ranko, on the other hand, I discuss a lot about the idea, we go through entire story, feelings, moods and atmosphere, we look at the choreography and music as one „audio-visual entity“ and we also try to create the world of sounds that could best fit the world of thoughts in my head. Luckily, the world inside his head is very much like mine (I’m not sure, though, if this was good or bad :). With interactive sound composers from Canada is again, completely different situation.

Mostly because of serious lack of financial resources to bring them all to Croatia but also because at that time (2005), new media and interactive technology artists were not really „hanging out“ in Croatia so I was stuck somewhere in virtual cyber space communication between my Canadian media collaborators and my Croatian dancers. That was really difficult, I must admit. I felt my body was stretched above Atlantic Ocean with one foot in Europe and the other one in Montreal. This was really most difficult, I must admit.

What is your major source of inspiration, Marija?

MS: Nature is my main source of inspiration. I have always admired nature and have huge respect for wild life and people working for protection of our natural and cultural heritage. It is within great vastness of Canada, big depths of Adriatic sea, top of Velebit mountain or within isolated dead-looking fields of volcanic rocks, lava and ice here in Iceland where I am most connected to my work.

This is why I must refer to Theo Jansen once more. His kinetic sculptures are perfect example how human mind and nature can go far beyond science, art and technology and create a completely new form of life. A living organism, a life of its own. That’s a real beauty for me. This is what inspired me to become a choreographer and to create something that has a life of its own, that I can „meet and drift away from“. This combat has always been my main mission in dance.

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One Reconstructed by Histeria NOVA (c)
Photo by Sandra Vitaljic (c)

What challenges do you need to overcome, so that your vision is executed without too much artistic compromise?

MS: I need to stick with my artistic vision no matter how difficult it is. I never believed that life is about dance although I never stopped dancing since I was three years old. Life is much bigger creation then organization of body movements and spatial planes. Major ideas that I was trying to promote with my artistic work for the past 10 years in Croatia were talking about the importance of human dignity, artistic integrity, preservation and conservation of nature and enhancement of humanized technology.

Unfortunately they were faded out by other values at most of the Croatian theatres but luckily for me, not by the audience. With time, I lost interest in offering projects to theatres around Croatia but got even more interested in becoming part of a bigger scale picture which promotes same or similar life values. Meanwhile, a dedicated group of artists, institutions and modest but loyal audience was created. Because of them, I will tend to return and bring my new artistic visions.

Could you tell us more about dance your trainings under title Crollateral Movements?

MS: The name Crollateral Movement stands for creative learning outreach educational program that is an integral part of every artistic production by Histeria NOVA Artistic organization. The program was designed to foster exchange and collaboration among artists, institutions and professionals across the Globe and to remain dedicated to research and development of Human Tech Performance in Croatia.

It is basically a program in dance that consists of two things: a regular program in dance and interdisciplinary “art & science workshops”. It is this model of education (where dance creator is the main focus) that I have proposed to Iceland Academy of the Arts in June 2011 when the position of an Associate Professor at the department of Theatre and Dance has been offered.

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Marija Scekic while preparing for the Little Tragedy
Photo by Branka Sutalo Vukadinovic taken from private album

You are becoming a passionate climber, and there is a false rumour about you in Croatia that you usually spend a half of the year living in the mountains and the rest choreographing and dancing in the city.

MS: Every rumour carries some truth inside. When I was living in Montreal, New York, London and Berlin my experiences were not the same. It was easy for me „to go with the flow“ but in Zagreb, I was rather bumping into everything and everyone instead of flowing with the mass and sharing my artistic vision.

If it was not painful, it would be hilarious experience; kind of tragedy and comedy at the same time. My close friends started to make fun with me on that account and after a while, I did too. And it is only in the nature and around my family and friends where I was able to receive support to continue with my work.  

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Modulation by Marija Scekic, Histeria NOVA
Photo by Andrej Car

What’s next?

MS: At the moment I am in Iceland where I have offered and introduced my „meet and drift away“ dance program for dance creators. The program is based on the idea of Mid Atlantic Continental Ridge passing through Iceland and dividing it into American and European ground and therefore using Iceland as a volcanic but solid ground to „meet movement with technology“ and strengthen the current program with few new courses in movement anatomy and interactive media technology.

I am happy to have met Karen Maria Jonsdottir, former Program Director of the dance department who should be given credit for initiation and creation of the current dance program at Iceland Academy of the Arts. Meanwhile, I am looking for new opportunities and professional challenges where I can grow as artist but also, and most important, as human being.

Marija, Thanks a lot!