Creature: the characters

'I hope I can get the audience to feel Marie's emotions within themselves with my performance'.

Tue, Dec 20, 2022

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Claudio Cangialosi - Creature

Creature is a fascinating character because he has so many facets. He is treated badly and is very tormented. He also has a certain schizophrenia. Everything could also be happening in his head. He is not sure whether he sees what he sees, whether he feels what he feels. At the same time, he is a childlike figure. He is naive. No one has ever touched him. When Marie does give him attention, he thinks it could be the start of something more. Not something sexual - he is not like that at all - but he is raving about what it would be like to have a relationship. And as a result, he loses the pedals when Marie approaches.

Like Giselle, Creature really tells a story and I love that kind of performance immensely. In Giselle, I danced Albrecht and I completely lost myself on stage. I love Akram Khan's work because of his attention to detail and especially the intention behind every movement. Akram does such fascinating things choreographically, but what makes his movements especially strong is that you perform each gesture for a reason. It is not movement for the sake of movement. Everything has meaning.

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Ruka Nakagawa - Marie

The beginning of a rehearsal process is always tough because you have to learn and count so many steps and at the same time you have to find a way to get into character. Mavin Khoo has already told us a lot about who Marie and Creature are. Marie is a very strong woman. Last year, I danced the role of Giselle. She was also strong but in a different way; She was a kind of leader in her village, in the group of women around her. She was always at the forefront, while Marie was cleaning in the corner. She does her duty, day after day, and no one really sees her.

For a Western audience, it may not always be clear where Marie's feminine strength lies. So you have to look at her through the lens of an Eastern feminism. She is so pure, a girl still. No one has ever touched her and she doesn't quite know how to respond when they do. At the same time, she has the strength of a grown woman who has it in her to care for others. She may not say much, she may not reply, but that doesn't mean she just accepts everything. I recognise myself in that. I am Japanese and in our culture we may not protest as much, but that doesn't mean we don't have opinions. For example, if someone hurts me, I'm not going to demand an apology. I just put it aside. That's stronger than if I were to enter the conflict, I think, because then I lower myself to the level of the person who hurt me.

There is so much in this performance that people will identify with. Marie wants to protect Creature, she finds him cute, like people can love their pets. The Major, on the other hand, scares her. He touches her in a nasty way and he looks at her in a way that frightens her. This is a feeling familiar to every woman. What we are trying to achieve with this play is that people experience emotions. It's like Akram Khan says: maybe the audience won't understand everything, but people should feel all sorts of things. I generally cannot express myself very well in words. That's why I started dancing, that's how I convey things. I hope I can get the audience to feel Marie's emotions within themselves with my rendition.

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Claudia Gil Cabus - Marie

All classical dance pieces are essentially about love. Creature, however, is not a romantic love story. Marie loves Creature like a mother, or like a sister. Love can have so many sides and it is good that another side is also highlighted for once, but that does make it a bit tricky to dance. Giselle was a real love story, though, and I could easily connect with that. I recognised the love I had already felt for partners myself. This is trickier, it's a delicate balancing act for me. I don't have children, so I mostly try to imagine how my mother approached me as a child. Her gestures, her caresses... those inspire me.

It is very nice to dance work by Akram Kahn. Every gesture has meaning and really comes from within, from the psychology of the characters. That attention to the intention behind the movement is the strength of Akram's work. I also feel connected to Marie, even though she has a very different personality to me. She has an immense inner strength. With our Western eyes, we might think she is rather weak because she remains so quiet, but we have to switch off that look. It is nice that Akram and Mavin give us an Eastern way of looking at things. Vincenzo Lamagna's music too, as with Giselle, is again particularly atmospheric.

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Philipe Lens - Creature

I see Creature as a kind of Frankenstein's creature, a cyberborg-like creature (half human, half machine that is) composed of different body parts. He lives mostly in his own world. He imagines things that are not there, has episodes of paranoia. In my eyes, he is a grown man who has a childlike way of thinking. Mentally, he is like a ten-year-old, there are still so many things he needs to discover. He is very lonely and isolated. His community pushes him away because he is different. That will be the hardest thing about this role, that I will also have to isolate myself a bit to be able to perform Creature. I am a methodical dancer. I really have to go into depth and try to figure out how someone would react in their situation. I imagine in certain scenes that he has spent 10 days alone in solitary confinement and goes completely crazy.

Mavin Khoo also does reach out to me to explore that madness. Then he says: 'Imagine you have a ring in your ear and you can't get it out with the best will in the world. How are you going to show that with your body?' You then have to try to convey something like that as naturally as possible. It is dance natural - that's the language we use - but the animalism, the madness, the psychosis: I want to show that as convincingly as possible on stage.

I hope that spectators will learn something from Creature. That they can appreciate people who are different, for instance, for who they are. For me, Creature is also about how we deal with people who cannot swim with the flow. For example, I have a brother with a disability. He is 28 now and lives largely in his own world. At birth, doctors said he would never be able to walk or write or talk. But in our family, he was always treated like a normal person and thanks to that loving nurturing, he can do all that now, in his own way. My brother is definitely an inspiration for me in this performance.

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Photo's: Filip Van Roe

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