Monday, 10 August 2015

The Spring of the Immortals

The one thing I will truly miss as I leave Kokkino Nero is the Spring of the Immortal. That magical spot did save my life. Going there every morning was my little ritual to stay alive and sane-minded. More people would come everyday as it was summer, - mostly Polish tourists, Kokkino Nero being a cheap holiday destination. I wonder what will become of this little paradise when tourism carves a new face to this still undeveloped region, and hotels, holiday resorts and amusement sprout like mushrooms. Amadeo says that there will be nothing left of its innocence in less than five years. May he be proven wrong!                 
I shall try to come back next year. The connection with the gods, the elements, the blue dragonflies, the cold spring and its red sparkling water… 

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Last days (in Kokkino Nero)

Last show tonight. Soon all of this will be a very 'colourful' memory. Jackson Pollock, if you ask me. I received this morning alarmed emails from Jay and Shandy regarding the music of the DunHuang Exhibition Project. Even though they have a faint idea of how busy I am, they aren’t totally aware of how impossible it is for me to do anything else here. I have no equipment, no musical instrument, the (cracked) software I use for the music editing isn’t compatible with the new Windows 10 version… (why on earth did I upgrade to Windows 10???) I can only structure everything in my head before I fly back to Paris and actually record the songs.
I have shortened my stay in Berlin. I thought of canceling the trip, but I do need a change of mind. I trust myself to be able to handle the work within two days, before the deadline: 15th of August!

It is 7pm. The dancers are rehearsing and honing some moves. We have found a new microphone for Karen. She will be miming most of the songs, except the prologue which is spoken, and four songs that she sings with the hand mic. She surprised everyone yesterday when she performed those songs with aplomb, perfectly in tune and in rhythm. Had something shifted in her psyche? Perhaps her exhausted demons have given up after all these weeks of hard work, and she is finally letting go of her resistance. Or is it the adrenaline of stress? Whatever the reason, everybody was delighted. We shall find out whether it was lottery or something more lasting and tangible. 
There are some heavy, dark clouds looming in the horizon...

A relaxed moment between rehearsal

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The Greek gods III

The mistake wasn’t repeated twice today. Rainstorm was announced by the weather forecast. We were supposed to do a run through. The sky was, as expected, cloudy and heavy.
We had barely done the prologue that Amadeo told us to stop. A few raindrops were starting to fall. The man had understood that he had better not risk everybody’s life once more.
The musicians and dancers were kindly thanked for their presence and patience, then sent back home.
“Let’s go have something to eat!!!” Amadeo cried out. He seemed to be in a very good mood. When the big boss is happy, everybody can breathe.
Ironically, the storm didn’t come and remained in the distance. From the seaside restaurant, the lightning would light up the sky, creating a spectacular spectacle for those who bothered notice.
Most of the team joyfully indulged in a heavy consumption of syporo, the local liquor. They danced and threw dishes on the floor, Greek style.
With a few drops too many, Amadeo started talking more and more, as he usually likes to do whenever he has an audience. As always, no one dared to contradict him. Most of us present at the table were long time friends, students, collaborators or all three. They knew that once the machine was turned on, there was no way to stop it.
In spite of my aversion to Amadeo, the man somehow fascinates me. I can totally relate to this visionary thirst that has driven him through his life. I must admit that somehow I envy his command over the people who work for him. (Perhaps some reminiscence of a previous life as an army general...) I also see an extremely lonely man who is scared of death. My reaction to him may be mirroring something I have detected inside me. I also have my vision, I have built this world of mine that not so many people can understand, but many respect. I have friends and collaborators who follow me through thick and thin. I can’t help thinking of that last concert at La Bellevilloise in Paris which went so disastrously that I couldn’t even pay the musicians the ridiculous sum I had promised them. They understood and maybe they forgave me. However I do not wish to drag people in such a situation again.
And I’m lonely too. Sometime I catch a word, an expression of Amadeo’s. Of course he is ‘human’ in spite of the hardship he is imposing on us. His long soliloques give tell us all.

I told Karen about a custom we have in Asia: whenever we are to perform anywhere, we have to pay our tribute to the local divinities, pray to have their blessing. Be it Japan, Taiwan, Thailand or Vietnam, we have always done that. Once, during the performance of Second Skin at the CloudGate studio with Huang Yi, we forgot to do so, and the answer didn't take long to come: when the rehearsal went very smoothly, right before the performance, the iPad I was supposed to use to control parts of the music and the costume stopped to function. Prayers came too late. The divinities were angry.
I suggested that the whole team gathered together before the last performance and gave thanks to whoever, whatever god or divinity there was - Mount Olympus... the Greek gods...? Didn't it occur to anyone? When I think of it, it isn't just an Asian custom. They do so in Western countries as well. Karen welcomed the idea. "I never thought of that!".

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The Greek gods II

Our director Amadeo is one mad man, whose the vision of greatness and perfection can drive him to totally oblivious of others, and, most dangerously, to ignore their safety.
We were to film the number Zorina tonight. At 9pm, lightning began to strike. The sky was heavy with dark clouds and the sunset was indeed beautiful. They had just managed to film the song once when the first raindrops started to fall. That lasted a few minutes. We covered the equipment and brought the music instruments indoor. Amadeo told us to stay put. Maybe the weather would get better soon, he hoped. Maybe we could resume the shooting.  After just twenty minutes, Amadeo felt confident that we could get ready again for the shooting despite signs of an imminent storm coming back to us: wind blowing harder, lightning striking again, a perfect illustration for the lyrics of the song: “She’s the daughter of Heaven / Sister of the Sun / Fire is her lover…”
I was taught in primary school to calculate the distance of the rainstorm: count the seconds between the lightning and the thunder, each second roughly equals one kilometer. Tonight, there was barely five seconds between lightning and thunder. Then four, then two…We were right in the eye of the storm. Yet, still no rain. With the wind and the lightning, Karen indeed looked like a goddess of the Elements. “Give me more emotion! Give me more love!!!” Amadeo was yelling incessantly in the microphone. “More attitude! More love!!!” Our poor ears...
I was still counting. The lightning was lighting up the pitch dark sky. Now, nine seconds between lightning and thunder. Would the storm be blown away by the wind? This was getting dangerous. We were surrounded by metal. Seats and stands were all made of metal. One lightning strike and it was a direct ticket to the Underworld. Amadeo was yelling the same instructions in the microphone. “More emotion! More love! More attitude!!!!” Karen bravely kept on with the number until heavy rain suddenly began to pour. Finally, but perhaps too late, Amadeo answered everybody’s prayer and called the shooting off. Again, we dashed everywhere to salvage the equipment. Within seconds we were all soaked.
Amadeo loved the sight of everyone running under the rain, dashing right and left on the stage. He was cheering happily with Karen. All of this for the sake of art! His soldiers weren’t scared to sacrifice themselves for the show! 

Mad man and his vision.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Heaven on the mountain

Mimi and Thomas kidnapped me to go hiking on the mountain. I had heard people telling about that walk in the mountain as a magical, fairy-tale like experience, so I was looking forward to a day off in order to go there and reconnect to myself.
If these two months in Kokkino Nero have been very challenging if not draining work-wise, I was also happy to leave behind all the distraction of the urban life and focus on my task. The few moments which kept me sane and revitalised were the mornings at the Spring of the Immortals. Tired as I was from all those sleepless night, the magic water would recharge me and help me release all the exhaustion. If I could have this in Taipei!!!

Thomas drove us past Karitsa, a little village located above Kokkino Nero, on the mountain. From there we had to walk, climb and hop from rock to rock, clinging to trees or dead branches before reaching a pond on the mountain top. Unfortunately, the constant sun dried up the waterfall. But we could still swim in the pond, alongside the frogs. Blue dragonflies whirled around us. It was simply heavenly.