Ivana Balabanova

Who are you, what do you do/what kind of work do you make?

I am an artist, dancer and choreographer that loves to experiment with interdisciplinary approach when creating and researching. Always in the need to experience new things and evoke different feelings, to create the context and possibilities for collaborations with different artists who work in different areas. However, my work is focused on dance practices, but, not excluding the use of voice, technology and other interdisciplinary aspects. The last two years, I am researching strongly in the area of theatre and installation all together with the theatre director Ryszard Nyeoczim (Canada) and the composer Alessandro Olla, people who brought new perspectives in my life. So far, I have created many pieces, including :“Rising” – 2013 (Dance Fest Skopje), “Pieces” (Exploring the usage of unconventional space) – 2016 (at the top of the garage Macedonian National Phalangue ), “Silence” (a performance against domestic violence) – 2018 (National Opera and Ballet), “Ether” (Audiovisual performance) – 2019 (Youth Cultural Center), “Her own space” – 2020 (Dance Fest Skopje), “The conversation chair” interdisciplinary project with theatre and dance – 2021 (Youth Cultural Center), etc. I am currently working on developing two pieces with the composer Alessandro Olla, one of which is based on the idea of rituals, and another one based on technology, installation aspects and usage of AR.

What piece of work have you made that you’re most proud of?

Probably it would be the piece “Silence”, not as an artistic project, but more as a thing that I have managed to pull through despite of all the boundaries. The piece was made upon mine and the stories of our dancers for domestic violence, and it requested a significant amount of openness despite that some of us were still at that situation personally even when performing. It ended up as a therapeutic process for both me and the dancers and helped us distance ourselves and analyse our problem as a third person, and it showed me how art can be used as a tool when dealing with trauma. Furthermore, it was a huge project, with no support, 30 dancers and more than 15 people were involved in the making (photographers, designers, videographers, dramaturg, psychotherapist, etc.) Even at the day at the performance I didn’t really know if I am going to collect the biggest amount of money I’ve ever paid for a theatre, but we did it and it makes me really proud. Afterwards, the performance was supported by UNICEF twice and we have arranged two national tours with it.

What idea will you be developing during the IPTL?

My research process within the IPTL will focus on the relation between the artist and the audience, their connection and communication and how it can be established and/or further developed. My interest has always circled around the effort to engage the audience in the piece I am creating, therefore to change their perspective from observers to participants. I will research the relation between the performer and one observer/participant (or the perfect viewer as Grotowski has researched) thus creating a process that would be available for one guest only, but also make it applicable for a bigger audience. The observer-participant will be able to give his/hers input within the performance by using props that would be available for him/her (instruments, objects and other requisites) that they will use in order to change or continue developing my movement and action.  I will also research the possibility to create a circular piece, that will allow more viewers to be moving from one position to another thus receiving completely different tasks and engaging with me in completely different moments.

What excites you about Playable Theatre?

The opportunity to be engaged in a completely new experience brings me joy and excitement. Every new process is an experience of its own, but here I am looking forward to learn new approaches in performance setting, ideas for developing participative and engaged audience and the possibility to brainstorm and hopefully create a new piece.

What are you most looking forward to learning about/discovering during the IPTL?

I am looking forward to dive deeper into new possibilities and directions, and to discover a different approach in performance setting. I am excited about collaborating with people and learning new things that could potentially open up new horizons for me and any of my future work.

Instagram @skrozbala