Adina Cezar - Interview, October 2002

Presently, Adina Cezar is a name in the field of choreography, by having created for three decades a sound nucleus of Romanian contemporary dance. Dancer, choreographer and artistic manager, Adina Cezar is a genuine, tenacious and dynamic searcher. Every moment she reorders and reforms everything for a single idea. The newly created images involve a great deal of effort, so that she sometimes loses her temper, exaggerates, defends or disowns…But this is Adina Cezar, the human. She lives everything at the extremes when it comes to dance.She practices several hours a day at the theatre, she cares about fund raising, sometimes she is cheerful, other times she might be sad, at times she loves passionately, she watches TV, listens to music, she is interested in politics…But above all, she adores dance.Spontaneous and conflicting associations are a constant of hers, she likes to gather around her a team of young enthusiastic people, with different knowledge and roots: dancers, gymnasts, actors or body-builders who bring forth new forms that she can rearrange through the filter of her own persona.When their allegiance is no longer fertile, she gives them away. But others come.With strength and determination, devotion and passion, Adina Cezar has been permanently building a new nucleus which, however, has always had the same name: Contemp Company. "You invited me to see your debut performance 'Mozart… and his friends'. What is the occasion?""Today we celebrate ten years since the new company 'Contemp' has been established, though in fact we, namely Sergiu Anghel, Nataşa Trăistaru, Liliana and I, have worked under the same name since 1972. But since in our lives we all have our ups and downs, today I finish another chapter of my life in order to open the next one. My life has always been this way. I somehow think to expand my activities. And I think of a school. This intimate wish of mine is also the result of the fact that, unfortunately, we still need a good school of dance. We do not have the dancers. Professionally they are far below than the new demands. For me, each dancer who has graduated from the School of Choreography raises a huge issue, because I basically have to take him from the beginning, to wash whatever he learnt, to make him understand how he can find himself, how things work, how he can use his body, to explain to him how to find out which are his wishes…""You have always put together different people, accumulated them since I first knew you. This is a special talent of yours.""I was born in a bourgeois family. My father was chief inspector… and my mother was his wife, and of course, like any other bourgeois child, it was normal to take dancing lessons. I started with Mrs. Penescu-Liciu, who used to be an extraordinary person and a very special 'lady', and after that I followed the courses at the School of Choreography, I came to Bucharest, as I was born in Călimăneşti and enjoyed the earth, nature in springtime and in autumn. So my childhood was a fairy-tale. And this might be the root of my permanent need to renewal. I sometimes think how sad it must be to be born and to grow with so much concrete around you. At least I have wonderful memories to recall: the Olt river, the animals, traditions, my house from Călimăneşti with huge terraces. So I am rich in terms of memories, and this gives me strength.""You were in the first generation that graduated from the State School of Ballet established in Romania. This high school, later on, molded and revealed to the world of first-class dance stars. You keep, among your emotional memories, the image of this place from Lemnea Street." "At that time, the bourgeoisie used to make their children to take dancing lessons, so that dance was a prerogative of the social class. Besides, there were a lot of teachers who were Jews. And I grew up in a medium that instituted upon me the feeling of the 'higher'. In fact, this helped for the rest of my life. I have always disliked looking lower. It always fascinates me to look higher. At that school I had very good professors who taught me about German expressionism, about improvising, and unfortunately the younger generation does not have the chance to learn the same. Otherwise, their behavior is similar. I remember with pleasure about great personalities who used to amaze me and I remember our instructors, Oleg Danovski, Gelu Matei, Ester Maghiar, so I guess you can say that I grew up respecting the older generation.This has nothing to do with my nature. If I had grown up without following the school courses, I would have been, most probably, disagreeable. My education was imposed and induced. Later I worked at the Opera. I danced 10 years at the Opera in a period when Swan Lake and Giselle were put on stage and the influence of the Russian school was extremely obvious. At the Opera I had the chance to meet extraordinary people. Absolutely striking ballet dancers: Irinel Liciu, Stere Popescu, Gabriel Popescu. I particularly remember how the young used to make room whenever Gabriel walked through backstage, because he was endowed with a special, uncommon energy, imposing appearance and charm.""But I also know that at your home people met and debated, wonderful gatherings arose; Corneliu Cezar, your ex-husband was, so to speak, a sort of spiritual mentor.""I have always been interested in people who were more intelligent than me. In general, in all fields, things depend on greater personalities and their strength. These personalities make things happen, they pave new ways. They impose a particular artistic movement, aesthetics, and a certain vision upon the public. At that time we were young and wild, we used to work passionately, but we always looked in amazement at the greater spirits. Without amazement and the wish to progress, nowadays youth consume themselves to exhaustion, as we witness today a slow evanescence of some confined phenomena.""I know you witnessed an international scandal which burst at the Bucharest Opera.""I had the chance to meet Stere Popescu at the Opera. He was an architect, but a man with unbelievable cultural knowledge, who towered over the younger dancers. At that moment Cornel Cezar, who worked with him, came with the idea to put on stage The Masterless Hammer by Pierre Boulez. I did my best to get a part in that performance. Irinel Liciu had been the first cast. Then, in 1965, there was an important Festival on the Champs Elysées, in France, we did not know much about it, we really were artists in progress. We arrived in Paris, we were accommodated at Quai D'Orsay, where a Christian Dior fashion show took place. It was an enormous opportunity for all of us to go there. I was quite shocked by the way French welcomed us, having come from a socialist country and interpreting Boulez. The Masterless Hammer reminded me of Stravinsky's Sacre du printemps. Half of the audience was cheering and the other half was booing at the performers. In fact, that meant success. That performance, I can tell you now, represented an opening in the constituted frame of the choreography at that time. I remember how all my colleagues disappeared from the stage, and it was only I and Mihai Brediceanu standing and facing the audience at the end of the performance. The audience's reaction was stupendous; I had almost forgotten I was on the stage and I had already danced. That was a very significant moment of my life.""After having met Stere Popescu and graduating the courses of the cultural institute 'Scuola Cantorum' in Paris, you chose a different way: contemporary dance. In 1972, together with the young dancer Sergiu Anghel, you created a restricted group, entitled 'Contemp'.""It was a kind of passionate meeting. We were all young and wild, I, Sergiu Anghel, Nataşa Trăistaru and later on Liliana Iorgulescu. We used to spend nights rehearsing and even when we went to drink a coffee or to eat something, we did it enthusiastically. Eventually we became popular on the Romanian market. Miriam Rădulescu worked at that time at 'Ţăndărică' Theater. As I have already mentioned, I did my best and mostly I succeeded to keep around me great people. Of course, I went home and bit my nails, but in front of them I always kept my feelings hidden. My relationship with Sergiu Anghel became, at a certain moment, too complicated, both professional and emotionally, and in 1989 we decided to break up. For years people said that Sergiu was the engine of this company, but in fact it was me.""Wasn't it difficult to build it again?" "I deeply love the youth who joined my company. I try to show them my way. When they don't want it anymore, I suggest that they leave. I do not force anyone to join me. I'd rather be honest with myself and row my boat by myself than let it flow on the stream or let it sink. It is not my way. Vava Ştefănescu, Răzvan Mazilu, Mihai Mihalcea and many others have learned from me and today they are important names in contemporary dance. Now there are others in my team, some of them from the field of gymnastics, others from bodybuilding. I enjoy searching and discovering. As I strive for experimentation and finding out new things, I will free the dancers. And I even give them the chance to create the choreography. In this respect, Liliana Iorgulescu makes a good example. Life is complex, but I always like to believe that I have got the courage to go further, and I always hope to be able to progress. This presupposes an exceptional strength, which is however one of my characteristics, a great tenacity. If I have something in mind, I will eventually put it into practice regardless of the costs.""It has already cost you a lifetime.""Yes, indeed, it has cost me a lifetime, with all the better and worse aspects. But I would dare to say it was an interesting way. I have no idea how my life would have been in the absence of all the difficulties and hard times I had to get over. I consider that any painful experience or problem, if it does not crush you, will help you to develop as a human."

by Silvia Ciurescu