Interview

Collective Elan(d): "Connection always determines how we feel”

Pilar
After having to keep our distance for months, we can finally hold each other again. For Collective Elan(d) this means a comeback with the performance 'Loving is Allowed', an "interactive performance".


Collective Elan(d) is the Ghent-based performance collective of Chloé Geers, Katrijn De Cooman and Jitse Huysmans. Very soon, they will be back on stage – or better said – among the audience. Not really dance, not really theatre. Rather an “interactive performance”. With their work, the group tries to connect the public and reduce their distance with them. “In the most comfortable way possible”, says Chloé. “The room is dark, you are anonymous and because of your movements and the choices that you make, you are in a safe space.”

Not really dance, not really theatre. Rather an “interactive performance”
“Connection always determines how we feel. During the lockdowns we didn't see each other as much as usual and we had to keep our distance. So we connected less with each other. I think a lot of people felt worse because of that.” But the pandemic also had a major impact on performances.

“Connection always determines how we feel."
In December 2019, just two months before the first lockdown, the collective premiered 'Loving is Allowed'. After that, they were supposed to go on tour but it got cancelled. The cultural sector as well as the ordinary life were shut down. Therefore, the trio decided to put the performance aside for a while. Until we were allowed to get close again. Because 'Loving is Allowed' is about connection; the audience is connected to each other and is part of the stage, so that the audience itself becomes a performer.
 
 “We didn't adjust the performance, because that way, the piece would completely change. For example, there's a scene where the audience is suggested to touch a complete stranger, if you want to, it's not an obligation. That’s impossible if you have to keep your distance and stay seated.”

Pilar
In autumn of 2021, for the first time since the start of the corona crisis, Collective Elan(d) performed again. But then the government closed the cultural sector and we had to adjust ourselves once again. “That was frustrating and it took a lot of energy to arrange everything. But now that we’re finally allowed to act, that's all forgotten. We are really looking forward to perform again.”

"When there was a lockdown, and everything fell silent, I had almost nothing to do. And that was nice in some way.” 
The lockdowns also brought positive things. At least, the life that was put on hold for a while brought Chloé relief. “I am busy with many things. I teach in two schools, I’m in a theatre collective with Jitse and Katrijn and I also have projects with other theatre makers. And that is sometimes difficult to combine. When there was a lockdown, and everything fell silent, I had almost nothing to do. And that was nice in some way.” That break gave Chloé a chance to think about why she always bites off more than she can chew.

"I need to learn how to rest more. Or go back into quarantine for a little while, if that’s possible." 
“It’s both ways. I do a lot of things, because it gives me energy. Then I want to do more and more. At some point, it becomes too much. But when I do less, I have less energy. I haven’t completely figured it out yet, but I've learned that I should set my boundaries better. I need to learn how to rest more. Or go back into quarantine for a little while, if that’s possible."

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Written by Lamiae Ben Ayad

Journalism Student

4 March 2022
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