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Wellness

Published 12 Feb 2015 at 11:02 by Franziska Lisa Wolf

Armed with sneakers and a neon coloured sports bag, Florentina Holzinger, one of the two makers of ‘Wellness’, takes her time in between rehearsals to answer some questions for We Are Public and to speak about the performance tonight. An event we can only witness because of her courage to make her hobby into her job.

There is one question that immediately came up when I had a look at your CV: What made you go from architecture to dance and performance art?

It’s really not a very exciting story. After high school I felt that I needed to study something, and architecture was the study that my parents agreed with the most. I thought that it might be interesting, but at the end of the day it was just not the right choice for me.

Do you think that the study influences how you work now?

The only way it actually influences me is in my strong opinion about academic studies. No one in Austria questions the idea that you should start a study straight after high school, but most people don’t know what they want to do at eighteen. People pressure themselves into a choice they lack passion for. Personally, I think that’s a waste of time. People should travel, gather experiences and figure out what they truly find interesting and then go for it. Dance is clearly the thing that I loved to do, but back then I didn’t dare to pursue it because it didn’t seem realistic to make a living out of dance.

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‘Wellness is the final part of your trilogy. Did you intend that structure from the beginning?

No, that developed during the process of making each piece. Both Vincent and I were studying choreography, but it was only in our third year that we started to work together. We were really close friends and shared a strong artistic vision, so we decided to collaborate. We had no idea the first piece was going to be so well received and allow us to tour like we have. We also met people that were keen on us as a duet, and one thing led to another really. It took us a while after the second piece to figure out we wanted to do a third one. We actually have a fourth part planned now too, but looking back we prefer the idea of a trilogy. Now we just have to figure out what to call the new piece… [laughs]

Would you say there’s a climax within the three pieces?

The only climax is the amount of performers we have in each show. Our first show peaked in the sense that it was the one we were most unaware of. We were unaware of the audience because we had created it for a small bubble of other artists in school. You could call it naïve, but we were very intuitive with it. We treated the piece as our baby, nurturing it until it grew stronger.

For the second show we did what happens in all second shows, you question everything you’ve done. You decide what you want done completely differently and which elements you want to repeat. You learn to perfect certain things and that’s great.

The third time around we wanted to take a completely different approach, so we invited people to work with us and bring with them their fresh insights. ‘Wellness’ definitely stands out aesthetically; it’s the most composed of the three pieces.

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The term wellness indicates a state of relaxation. How do you perceive the connection between the title ‘Wellness’ and the forceful way you try to accomplish perfection of mind and body through exercise in the show?

The theme of wellness has been important to everyone involved, independently. We have been working with what we call ‘treatments’, which arose from the assumption that all art that is worth making is art that heals. We decided to explore that healing element, and gave each other treatments in attempt to heal one another. But a treatment is not always something that feels nice, relaxing or comfortable. Maybe it’s not going to feel nice for that particular person in that moment, but it could be that years later that person can understand what I did. It’s like a confrontational therapy.

I feel nowadays the word ‘wellness’ is being used loosely. There are so many things that get offered to people to make them feel better and people have all kinds of preferences to relax. During the process of making ‘Wellness’ we began CrossFit, it was very fashionable at the time and renowned for its efficiency to get in shape fast. It’s very aggressive on the body. We were also interested in yoga when we graduated; one of the performers in ‘Wellness’ is actually our yoga teacher. At the start of our yoga classes we sing in Sanskrit, and even though I don’t understand the language I piece the words I am singing as healing. I could be singing terrible things, but does it matter if I perceive it as healing? This is one aspect we have been investigating in ‘Wellness’.

People always want to become better human beings and that is something that keeps coming back in my work. I get a certain satisfaction in my work because I think it makes me a better human being. But what does that mean? It’s a motivation in any case.

Do you also meditate off-stage?

We used to during rehearsals and we do it just before the show as our warm up, but that’s it. Our yoga teacher loves sitting meditation, but it’s really hard for us to sit. And to be honest, after the process of ‘Wellness’ I was fed up with yoga and meditation. For my new project I’ve really taken on the next thing, martial arts and high-energy sports. Even though I believe in meditation, I couldn’t do it anymore. But I think meditation can come in various forms, and I’ve been investigating that. Dance is like meditation for me.

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Do you think your audience can learn anything from the performance or integrate some elements into their own lives?

I don’t know. All I know is that we really try to do what we do. We are not faking anything. In the end you can never know what you’re giving to an audience and they never know what they will be in for, you can only hope the experience will impact them in some way. There is definitely a healing dimension to the performance, as the audience is watching a ritual and thus becoming part of it. We don’t communicate with them directly, but our togetherness as spectators and performers ties us together.

I hope for the same when I watch other performances, but I find it hard to be touched by a performance. I’m fascinated by things that are completely different, things I could never imagine myself. I can totally trip of clarity, simplicity and minimalistic things – although people probably wouldn’t think that when they see my performances.

Could you imagine creating in a different form (of art)?

Definitely, yes. That is something I want to apply in my future works, to go to other places and involve other media. That was exactly what brought me to performance, the urge to spend time on my hobby. I try to stay in tune with my hobbies, because hobbies are things you do just because you like to do them. My job isn’t a rigidly defined one, meaning I’m in a position to make my hobbies my work at any given moment. That’s the cool thing about performance art: any activity can be used within it. I started painting again, for example, and it excites me more than my stage work at the moment. This year I also began dreaming of being an actress and starring in a movie, so now I’m trying to channel this into my future work.

Wellness is free for members tonight at Frascati.

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