Ayelen Parolin: Dancing is a joyful chaos

Antonio Mancinelli

She is Argentine by birth, Belgian by adoption and has Italy in her DNA (her great-grandparents were emigrants from the Veneto region). Choreographer and dancer Ayelen Parolin defies conventional definition with the self-assuredness of someone who wants to smash boundaries between different disciplines. Her interests include not only dance but also psychoanalysis, poetry, music, dramaturgy and science. To create WEG (Dutch for ‘path’), which will be staged in Spoleto, she teamed up with physicist Pierre C. Dauby from the University of Liège, “who guided and accompanied me in my approach to chaos theory: I am fascinated by invisible links in nature, by how everything is interconnected”. After reading Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens, she gave the book to all nine members of the ballet to read. The text, together with her previous encounters with shamans all over the world, led her create a series of movements that at first disorientate the spectator “like chaos that assembles in an incomprehensible and collective, yet individual, search for a physical language that, almost magically, eventually reunites everyone in the luxury of existence, the most unstable form of emotional equilibrium”. A swirling, kaleidoscopic polyphony – supported by the music of her friend and accomplice, pianist Lea Petra – which is destined to be a turning point in the artist’s career.

WEG © Diana Lothert

You quoted a phrase by Friedrich Nietzsche from Human, All Too Human: “How can something be born from its opposite, for example the rational from the irrational, the living from the dead, the logical from illogical, disinterested contemplation animated by greed, living for others selfishness, truth from errors?” Perhaps the answer is a ‘weg’, or path: where does it come from and where does it lead to?

I’ll tell you: I wasn’t overly interested in knowing the point of arrival and the point of departure, but in representing what happens in the space between. To give you an answer, I started by asking each dancer to think about what music they felt most connected with or influenced them in their childhood and we evolved their movements from there, creating something that belongs to me as much as it belongs to each of them.



If chaos is the original human element, does it have to be ordered?

Of course not! I was interested in composing a non-linear, fragmentary and open collage for the dancers, so much so that when they sang those songs – which had to come from different styles and eras so as to avoid any similarity – they generated mini-sequences of steps and gestures, interacting with others while maintaining their own inner rhythm and connection with others. This created a strange situation: on the one hand there is a lot of rigour in the final result; everything is calculated, decisive, measured. On the other, inevitably we have surrendered ourselves to imprecision, which we have looked at as a key characteristic of WEG.

The carnival costumes, the colourful lights, the smiling faces… There is a certain amount of joy and fun in this work. Was this your intention from the beginning?

Yes, those elements were very dear to me. This was a return to a different way of doing things that is closer to my early pieces, which were more uninhibited. I wanted to readopt this kind of approach as a kind of manifesto, a way of making a stand. And to say out loud that what I needed was absurdity, fantasy and freedom, especially in a period like this.



Is this a political position or exclusively an artistic one?

In a broad sense, it is also political. It is a hymn to freedom of expression, a rebellion against uniformity, a protest against conventions. But all is expressed in a very light way without making overly serious messages. We are professionals, and one of the missions of dancers is to awaken minds. In this case, we wanted to focus on what gives pleasure and on the peculiar emotional mechanisms that sow joy and well-being in us all. I’m talking about empathy, which is only possible when we can live serenely.



In what mood would you like the audience to leave the hall after WEG?