Interview with Iskra Sukarova: I am researching a new moving vocabulary, which I want to share with the audience
Just as the modern Macedonian woman imagines, so is Shukarova herself. Honest, simple, subtle. Feminine. With nice manners. With internal balance. Full of empathy.
The name Iskra Shukarova for many is synonymous with the avant-garde in contemporary dance. She has a rich career behind her as a prominent soloist at the Macedonian Opera and Ballet, as a choreographer, and in the last decade as a pedagogue. Since May last year, he has been a full professor at FMU. She specialized in contemporary dance at the Superior National Conservatory (1993) in Lyon, France, and completed her master's degree at the Laban Center in London, UK (2002). She says that many times she had a dilemma whether to continue her career outside Macedonia, but she decided to stay here, believing that there is a need for development of the modern dance form in our country. You just took responsibility for developing this form, and obviously it did. In her free time she enjoys walking on the quay near Vardar or in a park with her two domestic puppies, Kara and Astra.
Remained active during the pandemic, two student dance films were made, which were presented as part of online-the CSR program "Center - Core", where does that beautiful huge energy come from?
- During the pandemic, the teaching at the Faculty of Music Arts at UKIM, Department of Ballet Pedagogy, contemporary dance, continued online and we had to adapt to the new situation, which was a great challenge. The subjects I teach are in the field of contemporary dance, which includes practical exercises. Faced with the new situation as a professor, it was important to give direction and the teaching to flow. The challenge was how to apply the dance practice as part of the regular online classes, as the students followed the lessons from home in a limited space and still had to show the exercises we were doing.
We talked to the students about the reality and the situation, which frustrated us all. We decided to find a stimulus in the constraints and work with the compositional tools at our disposal, based on the methods of Rudolf von Laban (Shukarova completed her postgraduate studies at the Laban Center in London, where she studied the methods of the dance theorist. .з). Thus, we devoted ourselves in detail to the study of dance theory according to Laban, where the factors of time, space and dynamics are studied. We used the basic technology available to the students, and that was their cell phones with which they recorded materials. The aspect of improving communication in the new situation and digitalization was also important. The fourth year students and I decided that the graduation should be in the form of a dance film and we worked intensively on getting their ideas in a suitable final format. It is interesting that the topics they deal with are part of being in a confined space during a pandemic, longing for nature and fusion with it. The final result was very interesting and as their mentor I am very satisfied, because there is nothing more beautiful than to see a student showing a diploma thesis, especially in such a difficult time. I believe that the creative impulse can always be expressed and that even sometimes the moments of crisis stimulate us to face the weaknesses and to find a way to express ourselves. I try to convey to the students that the compositional tools serve to define the movement and of course I suggest to refer to more media, focusing on interdisciplinary approaches in the performing arts, which includes contemporary dance.
KSP "Centar-Jadro" had an online program for art events during the pandemic. Because with the students from our program we did not have the opportunity to present their works on stage, we still managed to present the final diploma thesis on the platform of KSP "Center - Core".
At the very end of last year, at the Children's Theater Center, the premiere of presтavata "Why am I here", on which he worked as a choreographer. For those who have missed this magic, let's take a closer look. How did it go, what message did it bring?
- I was happy when the director Srdjan Janakijevic invited me to work together on the play "Why am I here", based on a text by Constance Orbek Nielsen.
Srgjan and I worked on the opening of the "Manaki Brothers" festival in Bitola in 2019. And this time for this play we found ourselves with similar views regarding the movements, the text and in general the overall visual design of the play. The Albanian-language children's play "Why am I here" started with a story in a picture book, which had more pictures than text. It was a challenge for us to shape the play based on the pictures. It was the journey of the two characters through the play, who sail in a small boat, looking for the meaning of their existence in the cruel world.
Srgjan and I managed to convey to the young audience an ecological message, because we have really reached the final stage where it is already too late to act, but we have a responsibility to convey that message to the youth. For me, the experience of working in the theater again after a whole year was a great excitement. Unfortunately, something that was everyday became a distant experience. I felt how much I missed working on stage with people and the smile on my face came back, especially when I watched the actors and their desire to play at every rehearsal. Working on stage at the end of this year was the biggest reward for me.
Actors Blerim Dardishta and Amar Shapka, then the set designer Enes Deari and the producer Bajrush Mjaku, as part of the team, worked with great enthusiasm every day to realize the performance, which took place on December 19 last year, at the Children's Theater Center (premiere was realized with all observed protocols regarding the pandemic, n.z). Finally, for me, the reactions of the audience, the children's laughter and finally the applause made me most happy, reopening hope for good things in the theater.
Speaking of "Why am I here", through pun - why are you here? What binds you to Macedonia?
- Many times I had a dilemma whether to stay out. However, I decided to stay in our country, because I simply thought that there was a need for development of the modern dance form, which was in its infancy in 1993. I am referring to the period when I returned from France, after my specialization in the field of contemporary dance, and I felt that I needed to share my experience and knowledge with our colleagues. I simply took the responsibility to develop this form in our country. At the same time in that period I was a prominent soloist in the Macedonian Opera and Ballet and I played in the regular repertoire, where later I was the artistic director in the period from 2002 to 2004. At the time when I specialized in contemporary dance, there was no internet and no information about contemporary dance in our country, except for some guest performances by troupes and choreographers from abroad, who set up a repertoire of modern ballet.
Contemporary dance is evolving and today we have dedicated experts in the field, who contribute to the development of this dance form. It can be said that there are already new generations of educated students and young authors, who have gone through and are going through an appropriate education that they can then pass on to future generations. FMU-UKIM and the Department of Ballet Pedagogy brought to the right path more staff who are ready to transfer adequate knowledge in the field of contemporary dance in our country.
How do you imagine the modern Macedonian woman?
- I appreciate the honesty, simplicity and subtlety of a woman. Above all, manners and good upbringing. A smile and a nice word mean a lot.
I think that a woman's stature and posture are important. Everything can be communicated at the right time and in the right way. Maybe it's time to learn to listen more and try to find the balance - the inner balance - as a mode of living. To feel the need of the other. To remain feminine and to love ourselves as we are, with all our imperfections.
What do you always say to your students??
- I urge students to continue to do what they want and at the same time to remain their own. The program of ballet pedagogy studies at FMU-UKIM gives students the opportunity to find themselves as future pedagogues in classical ballet or contemporary dance. In May last year I was elected a full professor at FMU and what I can say as someone who has been present at the department since its inception is that contemporary dance students come with experiences of Latin dance, hip-hop, modern dance. My word is that the program for contemporary dance is open for candidates who did not study at the ballet high school MBUC "Ilija Nikolovski - Luj". In this way, these young people continue their academic degree, upgrading to highly educated dance pedagogues. As a professor who teaches contemporary dance practice, I point out that it is important for them to find their interest and pedagogical approach, taking into account their previous dance experience. As their mentor and professor, I direct them to strive to upgrade their knowledge and fusion of most dance directions, which they would further define in their own style. Of great importance is the study of the theoretical aspects in the performing arts, which in accordance with the practice prepares the future staff in the educational system in our country. In short, I encourage students to find their voice as solid individuals, and then as professionals, imparting the knowledge gained. I also believe that the education system is facing reforms that we need to be ready to implement and implement in the future.
Does the word feminism annoy you?, do we need it and why?
- To give my interpretation of the importance of feminism, I will refer to the works and work of the choreographer Pina Bausch, who is one of the many choreographers who deal with this topic as a segment of her work. Bausch's work marks an important era in the history of contemporary dance, more precisely in the direction of dance theater. One of the main themes of Bausch is directed at the woman, who is portrayed as a social being meeting the limitations of the system and the position of the woman in it. She interprets the power of women, which stems from Bush's personal nature, primarily as a woman and choreographer who intensively creates and emphasizes the female question in the eighties and nineties of the last century. Not only Bausch, but also many other authors in modern and contemporary dance show the female aspect through the dance lexicon. I would also like to point out the Canadian choreographer Marie Schweinard, whose work is characterized as performance art, emphasizing the power of women. Schweinard defines in detail the aspects of the female body and the masculinity present in it, breaking the stereotypes imposed by the system. Through the work of the already mentioned authors, but also a number of others, the art of dance influences the emancipation of the female body by breaking the imposed stereotypes.
What makes you most happy lately?
- I look to spend as much time in nature as possible. I am happy when I walk along Vardar or in a park with my friends Kara and Astra, who are domestic puppies. During the isolation and the pandemic I can say with certainty that the animals are here only to help us humans. They send us messages every day, people communicate with us, and yet it is up to us if and how we will see and forward those signals. I am happy when I communicate with them. I am glad that I managed to adopt a few puppies that were left without mercy.
I like to practice yoga and dedicate myself to my daily routine, exploring new movements. I am thinking of something I would like to present as part of my choreographic practice. I'm researching new moving vocabulary and would like to show it and share it with the audience one day.