An hour spent in the company of Australian choreographer and dancer Marc Brew and his Brazilian collaborator Natalia Mallo is one of sheer joy: they are warm, engaging, witty and articulate. I caught up with them during a break from rehearsals ahead of their performances of May Be at Tramway’s Unlimited Festival to talk about the dance process, disability in dance, and how their show turns on Brazilians.
Lorna Irvine: So, how did you two meet?
Marc Brew (chuckling): Natalia was my stalker!
Natalia Mallo: Ha, ha, following him down streets…No, it was at Unlimited Festival in 2014. I was there as a Brazilian delegate, to find some opportunities to invite British and Britain-based artists to Brazil… I am a dance programmer as well as artist, but I can’t stop wearing my artist’s hat. I saw Marc dancing and thought, ‘This is the guy’- I saw a short piece called Remember When and it had an impact on me. I found it very different to other dancers’ work. I wanted to bring him to Brazil, not only to see his work, but start something together.
MB: The British Council then supported Natalia and I, also Creative Scotland. We did a residency in the Museum of Image and Sound, that was also the first time I met Gisele Calazans (his dance partner on May Be) and we had four days together. There was a chemistry between Gisele and I straight away.
Using improvisation, the pair found the process a smooth one. As with so much of Brew’s work, there is a focus on intimacy and trust. Calazans often lifts Brew from his wheelchair. I asked about the process.
LI: Do you work from a theme, motif at all?
MB: In this case, it was around how Gisele and I connected. We wanted to discover each other- how the other moves… We just explored ideas about meeting, connections, and how we can move together.
Gisele had never worked with a dancer with a disability before, but she’s so strong, she could lift me… she throws me around. It usually takes years to build that trust, but we got that immediately.
With this piece, the focus is on ‘liquid’ relationships, the idea that they flow and have a similar pattern.
NM: If you look at the big picture, they all seem to follow the same structure: meet, get closer, closer- then it all breaks down. How do you stay together?
LI: I was interested in the sound, BSL, lighting, etc being another character, almost, and the idea of inclusive nature within the work.
NM: We spoke about maybe an access tour- providing access for someone who is visually impaired- it could provide context. It’s a way of bringing contemporary dance to people who have not seen it.
MB: It’s a way for someone to have a more sensory experience, visual, sound etc. We have a live band, as well as audio description- Natalia added that, so it adds textures. We see that in theatre a lot,but not so much in dance,so that was exciting.
LI: The focus on relationships in the piece, tell me a little bit about that.
MB: Above all, it’s like a kinda mating ritual. it goes from that initial attraction- of eyes meeting… when I see Gisele in a club… the passion, moving towards fighting and rejection.
NM: It’s sexy.
MB (impishly): People who came to see it in Brazil- couples- said, ‘We have to go home and make love now!’
NM: It was unintentional!
Having seen some of the piece in rehearsal, I am with the Brazilian audiences… it will make you melt in your seat, and break your heart a little- a sexy, witty and deeply moving piece with a gorgeous live score, lovely singing from Mallo and shifting narrative.
MayBe is at Tramway on September 17th and 18th (Part of Unlimited Festival)