Carmen MuskeePublished 10 Nov 2015 at 14:44 by Jan van Tienen
Carmen Muskee! Carmen (26) is our new dance editor. We want you to get to know her, so one Saturday morning in November we called her up to ask her a few questions. Carmen laughs a lot, she seems to have a positive attitude in life and comes across as a person with a lot of excitement to do a lot of different things.
Carmen, we’ve described you as perfectionistic and as a person who does a lot with her time.
Yeah, I am quite perfectionistic, you guys had me figured out right away, haha. The “does a lot” part is not too crazy, I’d say.
How do you spend your time?
Well, I work at the Mondriaan Fonds three days a week and on occasion at the Appel arts centre. Besides that, a friend and I are thinking of setting up an exhibition in Bar Brå, a photo series that she made in China. I also just started studying again, I’m doing a part-time masters in art history at the University of Amsterdam. It’s great.
What’s your favourite subject?
Theories of contemporary art. We just happen to be talking about performance at the moment, actually!
And now, on top of all that, you’re an editor for We Are Public.
Yeah, haha! I’m going to focus on dance! Primarily focus on dance, that is, because I will also be keeping my eye on physical theatre and performance, and the odd cultural anomaly that catches my interest.
What is your relationship with dance?
I started dancing at a young age, first jazz and then very quickly I picked up on modern dance. When I moved to Friesland, I enrolled into a youth dance training. After that, I was involved with various projects and dance collectives and choreographed a few things. I set up a theatre platform with a small group of people, intended as space for young theatre-makers.
What is it about dance that makes it so beautiful?
To me, dance has a unique eloquence. Movement is primary, each and every person relies on body language to express themselves, alongside verbal communication. When I dance, I feel like I can express different things. I see movement as a very direct form of communication, with which you can depict many different things. The dance performances that I find the most beautiful are those that stay close to the primary qualities of movement. Those that, for example, conduct research into movement, the body or the interaction of the two. In its essence, dance is largely about the relationship the body has to other things, such as other dancers, audiences, sounds, space or time. I enjoy performances that not only concentrate on communicating a certain story, but also addresses ‘being’ or ‘doing’.
What was the first time that you saw something that moved you?
When I was about 15 or 16, I saw a performance by the Nederlands Dans Theater (Dutch Dance Theatre) featuring a choreography by Lightfoot & Léon, Shutters Shut. That piece was based on a poem by Gertrude Stein (I did not know who that was at the time), and each word was translated into a movement. It had a huge impact on me, I thought it was so remarkable and thought: ‘wow, this is dance, too?’. I was mainly surprised by the fact that it was made to accompany words, rather than music. I thought the movements were very minimalistic, but all the while very theatrical. I think back to that quite often. I still think it’s a great piece, because the movements allow the repetition of words and structure to shine through even more. Haha, now I’m zoning in on language and movement again.
What do you think more people should get to know?
In terms of culture? No one needs to get to know anything, in my opinion. I’d rather everyone just embark on their own search to discover what they like. You don’t have to do anything. I want to share my personal preference in the hope that I can help people discover things they like. I just hope to share my enthusiasm!
It seems to me that you really enjoy life.
Haha, well, I could be more grounded. Sometimes I find myself way too caught up in my own head. Sometimes I see the world through tunnel vision, only focussing on what I like or think is important at that moment, which is generally art-related. Sometimes colleagues start talking to me about food or sports, and I think: what are they talking about? I really enjoy getting bogged down in other realities. In that way, I do really enjoy life.