Taranta Atelier Maristella Martella


Taranta AtelierMaristella Martella

“Reaffirms the idea of dance as a healing practise”.

“Liberating and relaxing. It gets to a point where you begin to throw away your safeness, the safe moves, the self-awareness”.

“I do not need to dance as an artist. I just need to dance”.

                                                                                            (Kerensa Dewantoro)

“Bye Bye! Have a good trip!”

                                                                    – “Alone, but together”.


Go on a trip is always a great experience. Especially with good company. Especially in wonderful places. Like Southern Italy. Where Maristella Martella, among other participants, invited me, and where I had two wonderful evenings exploring ancient and powerful traditional dances and rituals. On the 19th of June, an exciting journey began. Zoom windows opened and eyes, pupils, lips, hands, and feet were vibrating on the screen. This vibrating continued, even intensified on the following evening, the 20th of June. It did not even subside when Maristella stopped dancing for a few moments and sat down. The participants continued to turn round, and round and I do not think that at the end of the workshop, with Zoom closed, the windows would have closed for good and stopped vibrating.


“It is always about love, to be together”.

During Maristella Martella’s Taranta Atelier workshop, I realised that I never thought about how many ways I can sit in front of my laptop. That I can sit behind it and look upside down into the camera. Or that I can not only sit but dance. And when I dance how the others see me? I mean, all they see is what I am showing them, which fits into this little square or window here on Zoom. Of course, if I go farther from the camera, they will see my whole body moving, dancing, and enjoying the music. But what if my room is not that big? If I do not fit into that little square, if the others cannot see me properly?

Then I realised that I did not need to see the presence of the others to feel it, to know that we are dancing together, that we are listening to the music together. When I was spinning, and the others were spinning with their laptops and phones as well, I felt that the whole Earth was spinning, because we were dancing together on different continents at the same time. We went on a trip together indeed.

“Bring yourself and your heart! And perhaps a foulard!”

Together, but each of us created our own ritual. At our own pace, with our own feelings and our own foulard. In a room, in a rehearsal space, in a workshop, on a table, or the floor. So, Kerensa Dewantoro – teacher, and theatre-maker from Indonesia, whom I asked about the trip from the perspective of her own window.

Before the workshop, have you had any previous experience with Tarantella or any ancient or traditional dances and rituals of Southern Italy?

No, I did not know of it. Though I grew up with an aunt who was part of the Garabandal movement where little girls went into trance when they saw the Virgin Mary. That is what it reminded me of. Absolutely fascinating to discover and I think that I do it in my daily life. Reaffirms the idea of dance as a healing practise.

Did you have any concerns that this dance/movement workshop will take place on Zoom?

Not at all. I have done many workshops on Zoom. In a way dancing in your own home can be quite freeing compared to dancing in a real space. Though I miss it. There is something liberating about dancing in the space you usually dance in. For me, this is the space I dance and create in, and even perform in. Everything is there for me.

How did you feel before and after the workshop?

It was extremely late in Indonesia. Which is good and bad for me. It is hard as a single parent with all the goings-on of daily life to steal time, so dancing in the middle of the night was perfect, and quite liberating. Though I did not realise it was so long. Towards the end, about 12.30 am I started to feel tired.

Did you dance alone or with the others?

Well technically alone, but I did not feel alone on Zoom.

What about the real presence of the participants and the empathy created by them at a proximal movement workshop? Can such an atmosphere, some sort of unanimity, a field of action and reaction be created during an online dance workshop? What is your experience regarding this?

It is human nature to adapt. Many of the concerns theatre has had (lots of discussions in Indonesia on this regarding the change to online platforms) are irrelevant. The real theatre will come back and online will still continue. The big problem with online performance here is that people treat Zoom as a documentation tool rather than as another performer. Things change. The biggest thing missing is the touch the facilitator might have given, the smell of others in the space as they sweat, the out-of-body experience or two-body experience of being frenzied but being aware, the whispers you might make to someone because you like what you saw. But I am less judgemental of myself in an online workshop. I take what I can take for later use and practise. Sometimes in group workshops, and it is good and bad, I more judgemental, place more pressure on myself, I am aware that there are others better than me and this is truly an unhealthy mindset to be in for creating. But also, I really do want to note, that as I live in a developing country, financially the benefits of doing it online far outweigh any negatives, and the training and the inspiration still remain just as important as in real space. I am pretty certain that for the facilitator, there are a lot more doubts. People have not learnt to adjust expressions when watching the screen to give energy to the facilitator. Faces often look blank (even though they are thinking). I have been teaching on Zoom for 1.5 years, doing other workshops, and have really appreciated animated people, smilers, etc… which is why I am so animated. It is just habit.

How much were you able to focus on yourself, let go of your conscious and immerse yourself in the dancing while tiny windows were vibrating in front of you on the screen?

Like I said it was late, so noise was a factor, then I had technology issues. This was the distraction. I am very aware that when one device dies that maybe the facilitator might be worried I left and that opens up a whole lot of reasons and doubts. That was my distraction. I did not feel watched at all though I suspect that others did watch as I sometimes did too. I loved to see other people’s places, stories, and then what they come up with. It is a great pleasure for me – I am always fascinated by the life behind the artists/ performers. When I found myself too distracted or doubtful at moments, I was doing the right thing, I just turned away and got back into myself.

How did you experience Maristella’s presence and energy?

She was great. Maristella clearly has a sense that Zoom is her friend/another performer rather than a camera for documentation. She worked with it and her energy came through – whether it be hands, feet, eyes, or talking.

How did you find the dancing physically? Was it liberating, releasing, enjoyable, or a little bit difficult, maybe exhausting?

Exhausting. I love dancing, but since I had been working hard all day, at that two hours I felt tired. But at those moments I either slowed right down and could just see ether dance in my mind or took a second to watch which was a great pleasure.

And how did you find it mentally?

Liberating and relaxing. It gets to a point where you begin to throw away your safeness, the safe moves, the self-awareness.

Did you have a favourite movement?

Shaking my head and neck. That day I spent a lot of time editing and had horrible knots in my neck. I also love the rush of blood and dizziness. It is very childlike.

Do you think you will apply this move, or together with other elements of the Tarantella, in the future?

To be honest, I think I was already doing the Tarantella in my own way. I dance like crazy most days. (I am a Balinese dancer and that is not so free). I have also spent a year in lockdown developing dances and making Corona Dance Videos as a diary of my time in lockdown. I want to dance everywhere with anyone and everyone. I spent a large part of my life up until about my 30s being stuck, being afraid to move even though I have always loved dance. And it has been a slow process to free myself, to not care about the ideas of what it means to be a trained dancer, to have technique. I dance all the time; I make these corona dance videos and I am not trying to be anything. They give me pleasure, from creation to exploring, to editing. This year in lockdown has been liberating and the workshop ‘Taranta Atelier’ really has just reaffirmed what I do and the path I am on that moment. I do not need to dance as an artist. I just need to dance. And my son dances all the time too.


Száva Szántó


Reference: Maristella Martella (2021) [Zoom. 19-20 June].

More info about Maristella’s work:

Person being interviewed: Kerensa Dewantoro (DarahRouge)



UpStage and Cyberformance #2 Helen Varley Jamieson & Christina Papagiannouli


UpStage and Cyberformance #2Helen Varley Jamieson& Christina Papagiannouli

“Very interesting, playful, and tempting. Attractive and seductive in its ludic and experimental promises, which generate the desire of engaging creatively with the platform.” (Bianca Mastrominico)

“I am already thinking how I could use it.” (Karen Remy)

“Just play around! Play with it!” (Lila Moore)

Create and present cyberformance using UpStage

On the 14th of June Helen Varley Jamieson, who is a pioneer in the field of cyberformance (live online performance) and is one of the founders of UpStage, and Christina Papagiannouli, who has worked with UpStage for more than 10 years in the context of her E-Theatre project, led a workshop in which they introduced the platform and its tools and gave an introduction to devising and performing online. No previous experience or special technical skills were required from the participants – just a web browser and internet connection.

“The goal is that everybody sees everything the same way, no matter what browser they use.”

UpStage is an online venue for cyberformance (live online performance). Remote players collaborate in real-time, using all kinds of digital media including images, animations, audio-visual streams, live text, live drawing, and more, to present live performances for online or hybrid online/proximal audiences.

At this particular workshop, both the performers and the audience were online. Participants logged in from all around the world, which I think in itself assumes an exciting atmosphere since we “come” from different time zones and places to explore something unknown and new together. Space, the stage is given, and perhaps most importantly, it is easily accessible without any difficulty.

It feels unique to be on a stage, that is, on a platform with people and creators who are unknown and yet quickly become familiar. Because connectivity and cooperation become continuous and more direct due to the possibility of the online space and the ongoing communication. Both between the participants and the audience and the performers. This was also repeatedly emphasised by Helen Varley Jamieson during the workshop since cyberformance is live. Therefore, the interaction between the artist and her audience is essential. “I want them to respond”. And the audience has the opportunity to do that, even during the show. They can become participants in the performances, as they can instantly express their thoughts, opinions, and give their feedback through the chat. An exciting, engaging, effective, and innovative way to use a communication tool, as these conversations can be saved so that artists during their preparation process for the following shows can also use them for inspiration or improvisational situations.

However, what also felt new and intriguing during the workshop was the version of this same tool, that is, the chat, seen from a different perspective, especially from the perspective of the performers and creators. Since one of the things that Upstage differs from other similar platforms is that here artists can have full control over their performance. Because, while the audience members can individually customize the chat – they can pick a nickname, edit the font size and the transparency, and presumably other parameters will come too – the artists can also hide it, as they are able to communicate with each other without it. I would be very much interested to see a performance where at some point the audience can use the chat, therefore interact with the performers and each other, while at other parts of the show the chat would be hidden and deprived of this function, the audience becomes “merely” viewers once again. It would be interesting to experiment with control in an online space, especially to see how the course of a theatrical performance would be influenced by it. How does the audience behave when the performers have sole control over the performance? And how does that change when the audience knows that it has a say in shaping events? And if it loses that power, if it is taken away from it, how does it react? Will its relationship, interests, and engagement change and differ from how it was before?

“Make myself bigger, make myself visible”

In today’s world, the Internet and online spaces are an integral part of our days, hours, and minutes. These are places of conversation and meetings. And I hope that I am not wrong, if, as a member of the younger generation, I say that social media is one of the most significant of these platforms where we keep track of each other, of each other’s work, and keep in touch with each other. But where can we create and be present as theatre-makers? Where can we connect with our fellow performers who live all around the world and together with them create a live theatrical performance in real-time and in one venue? I think UpStage provides us space and an opportunity for this or at least offers us a possibility to explore something (new) and experiment with it together. Where authenticity is not required “you can be anything you want to be. You can be nothing”. You can be your avatar without your actual presence on the stage (screen). This is why it brings us something new and inspirational. Because UpStage looks forward to the future and invites us all to create and perform together across continents without sticking too much to our own representations. And is not that what theatre is all about? That I form, shape, and work on the character I want to play. To hold my avatar, and move it around the space, take it off, and then bring it in again. Fade it in and out or make it visible and big.


Száva Szántó



Helen Varley Jamieson (2021) [UpStage. 14 June].