Interview With Ioan Tugearu About Floria Capsali

"You were one of Mrs. Capsali's students and on one occasion you confessed that you could talk about her excellence for days and days.""This subject captivates me, it excites me, and at the same time it moves me because it's been 50 years since I met Floria Capsali. I think she can be called the Lady of Romanian dance, in capital letters. I cannot think of anyone else who would deserve this title; she had an overwhelming personality. The simple fact of remembering her, at my age, is extraordinary as I keep in my soul a respectful love for her. At the same time, I realize that in our country things are quite different from the Western tradition, where choreographers become what they are by having studied in a certain school; Floria Capsali was not only a creator in terms of dance, of pure Romanian dance, she was also the one who molded numerous choreographers. She had an overwhelming influence upon everybody, including Oleg Danovski, it is enough to open your eyes and your mind… For her the rehearsal class was not merely meant to teach you how to dance, how to wave your hand, how to move: she used to say so many things that you could have learnt much more than the dance itself. Her ability to communicate a certain mood that you should express represented one of her greatest talents. She used to speak so much and so enthusiastically about all kind of things that could be related to dance that she went far beyond her status as a professor and a choreographer who teaches you a dance and you only have to receive the information and to interpret it. This is the reason why Floria Capsali and, later on, Oleg Danovski touched my soul. There must be within me this propensity, as Floria Capsali spoke with many of her students and only few continued dancing the way I did. I can still remember my first encounter with Floria Capsali; I was still a student, and our ballet master took us to the group where she used to teach. It was a folk dance group, one of the most popular, where something amazing was going on. They were taught studies of Romanian dance. When I met her for the first time, I had the chance to see a rehearsal for a dance called 'headscarves', and what stunned me was the fact that the girls, who were supposed to wear headscarves, did not have them at the rehearsal. She was explaining to the girls how they should hold their hands, move their fingers, put the headscarf on, with a very delicate, smooth movement, yet very Romanian. I was almost hypnotized watching her beautiful fingers. I could not find this beauty of gestures anywhere else but in Indian dance. Her way of waving the headscarf was incredible. I entered the ballet room and I knew Floria Capsali was there. I watched a folk dance and I was amazed. I had done some folk dance practice hours, but I never imagined how marvelous it could be. Her gestures astonished me. Then she looked in the room, she looked at me (with her stupendous green eyes which I recalled when I later saw for the first time the Sea of Marmara) and said to me: 'come on, let's study.' After they had broken their bones performing technically impeccable folk dances, they turned to theoretical studies.""Dance is a manner of catching some archetypes of movement and of culture of movement. The period you refer to, at that moment Floria Capsali had had her own studio for more than 30 years, and she had previously studied in France, after the interwar period when she had experienced the monographic school led by Dimitrie Gusti, basically it was one of the most fertile ages in Romanian culture.""I believe it was the most fertile period, because I remember that Floria Capsali together with Dimitrie Gusti went to collect folklore from all over the country. They met with Paul Constantinescu, with Jora, with the painter and sculptor Constantinescu. They formed an excellent team and each of them was specialized in a particular field, and communicated with each other. Floria Capsali had a huge personality due to her culture; she was not only a person with knowledge about dance, she was a woman of culture, she knew a lot about music, gesture, painting and sculpture. It was not only the gesture a body could convey that mattered for her, but also the gesture Mac Constantinescu and Jora and Paul Constantinescu could convey, and moreover, the famous sculptor Dimitrie Anghel used to be present in the studio and draw us. There were special moments created by a team of special people. It was a sort of academy, only that it did not have an institutionalized organization. Each one, specialized in a certain area, wanted to cooperate with the others, there was a sense of communication that drove all of them. A dance was not the result of a single person, as they tend to do now, when two dancers are selected and an adagio is created. They felt the need to communicate with the musician, the painter and stage designer. When someone creates a dance in such a manner the result follows accordingly.""Can you tell us something about 'Wedding in the Carpathians'?""I was the interpreter. We did not dance together, she danced together with Petre Ciortea. The Opera asked her to stage this performance, and this happened when she was passing through a very delicate moment of her life.""Arghezi used to refer to that performance as 'an important cornerstone in the development of our culture'.""It was an unusual performance for our Opera, because at that time, in Romania, there were plenty of folk dance groups, especially in Bucharest. We were familiar with Romanian folk dances. When she came to put on stage Wedding in the Carpathians, we said to ourselves: oh, Romanian dances… But the acting lesson given to the dancers was incredible.""Is there any link between the dance performed by the folk dance group from 'Wedding in the Carpathians' and the Moiseyev group?""No, the Moiseyev group was a gigantic ensemble, mastering the style, comparable with Russia in terms of magnitude. It numbered over one hundred members. Floria Capsali created an extremely delicate work generated by a specific Romanian frame of mind. We, the ballet dancers, practiced Russian and Spanish classical ballet, but not Romanian folk dances. The moment she came, our interest in different styles of dancing was diverted towards the Romanian folk dance and she put us in a matrix that, strangely, was quite unknown to us: taking the steps, using our gestures, analyzing how can be, at a certain moment, the relationship between a Romanian man and woman, perceiving the wedding as a sacred ceremony. The whole performance made us feel we were living in a beehive. Unfortunately it's been a long time since they stopped performing it, because at that moment shows like Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty or Swan Lake were en vogue and they put it aside. We lack the ability to appreciate our genuine values, and this is basically what happened with Floria Capsali.""If you were to compare Floria Capsali with a personality from the 50s at the European level, who would you think of?""I consider Floria Capsali could be compared only with those dancers who were also great teachers, and who created schools in Germany, of course maintaining the correct proportions for Romania. The important personalities had a great influence upon us, all, but you cannot find these gifted people at the corner of the street. Even though Floria Capsali did not follow particular models, she referred to models that could be found on the fence, on the wall, in a spoon, on a bowl, in a cast-iron kettle, on a headscarf. These were her models. She would put in a gesture a usual Romanian inner mood, and for her it was a kind of spiritual mood. In this respect she was original."

by Silvia Ciurescu