Last January, I received an invitation from Alexandra Bălășoiu to be part of the [m]others project. The idea of a space where I could explore how motherhood shaped my life and music attracted me from the start. My son was already 8 years old at that time, but the tectonic movements with which a child comes into a woman’s life never stop, so I by no means felt that I “knew what I was doing”.
I had never been involved in such a project before, I had no idea what an artistic residency entails, what it means to exchange practices, and even less was I prepared for what it means to work with children around.
In the first movement experience, I participated in with Alexandra, Valentina, and the other girls from the project, I had a visceral reaction. At one point, during the exercise, Valentina very carefully and gently pulled me towards her, wordlessly asking me to rest on her knees, sitting firmly and stably behind me. It was my first contact with what support means in this project, and I burst into tears, shaking and paralysed. At that time, my mother (and me by her side) had already been struggling with a very grim diagnosis of ovarian cancer for about a year. My mother who was always that stable pillar, always there, always strong was now a scared child who needed help, a fragile and vulnerable being who didn’t want to leave but felt in her soul that she had to.
When Valentina brought me to her, in a caressing dance, in an invitation to put the burden down, just for a moment, I collapsed. What a shame to feel so heavy, what a pain to see your legs run away from under you, and someone, somehow, without knowing you, without asking you, suddenly sees how small and helpless you are. I collapsed.
I’m stubborn and I don’t want to show what I don’t want to show, so for a large part of the project I kept my distance. My space, my time, my way of doing things. I understand now that I activate this self-defence, protection mechanism when someone, or something comes too close to the core. Mother lioness, hunts, protects, always attentive, keeps everything at a distance with a look, with a laugh…with sarcasm.
But, I couldn’t keep my guard up when around me mothers and women so gentle and sincere, they gave space, gave time and did not judge. When I breathed, because constantly defending yourself, always being in the clutches, it’s hard work and you kind of hold your breath, I let my shoulders down and found a joy that I didn’t think I could feel anymore.
I’ve been writing and playing music for over 20 years but I’ve never done it like moving [m]others. Until now, my solid, structured songs, thoughtful lyrics, and every carefully chosen word, were my language and my source of pride. Together with [m]others, my music is instinct, spontaneity, ebb and flow, give and take.
The moving [m]others installation has a form, a series of movements whose sequence is stable, but what happens inside those movements is spontaneous, the result of that moment. They move, I watch and sing their movements, and they respond with other movements. A spiral of dance and sound where they give and I receive and vice versa. I feel protected between them, and free at the same time, like an insect flying between their arms and legs, seeing everything, feeling everything. I don’t sing for the public, I don’t sing out of reason and logic, I sing what I see and what I feel.
To be able to do that, I had to quickly and well learn new ways of working, and new tools to create a sound world. I abandoned my formula of a voice and a guitar, the elements with which I have identified all my life, and experimented with electronic, ambient, textural and accidental music. Thus enormous soundscapes flourished. What does it mean to get out of your comfort zone a little!
It’s like when you become a mother and suddenly you have to learn everything, everything that is necessary and you didn’t even know existed. You have to learn fast and well and if you make mistakes, you have to learn forgiveness and gentleness just as fast.
In the last few months I have shown the installation moving [m]others to a very varied audience. First for consumers of contemporary dance and alternative culture from Bucharest. Then, to a group of high school girls from Buzău and their Romanian teacher, an energetic and strong woman, who has remained on my mind since I met her. What followed was a gorgeous group of women over 50 in Ploiești, who gave themselves completely to this mind-blowing experience and offered another angle from which to look at motherhood. Finally, at Miercurea Ciuc, a whole stage of young dancers took control of the show and danced with abandon and tenderness the emotions they experienced with us.
Sometimes clichés are good too, so I’ll use one saying that I’m grateful for this experience and the women who welcomed me with them. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that [m]others has been a tectonic shift for my life and music, and I’m proud and extremely happy to be moving forward with these women.
An Indie Box project. Cultural project co-financed by the National Cultural Fund Administration. The project does not necessarily represent the position of the National Cultural Fund Administration. AFCN is not responsible for the content of the project or how the results of the project may be used. These are entirely the responsibility of the beneficiary of the funding.