This is an interview with Diniz Sanchez , a contemporary dancer and a physical theatre artist, who is Portuguese and spends most of his times travelling around the globe. His pseudonym ‘Spicy Tutuboy’, is intriguing for its an entirely new character. Diniz has been working with the The Arshinagar Project on several projects. Here, Abhijit Ganguly, the man who does these amazing articles and interviews on things less ordinary dwells deep into Diniz’s past and the evolution of ‘Spicy Tutuboy’.
Abhijit publishes a blog called kolkatakonnector.blogspot.in & he has kindly consented to reproduce this interview.
Born in Lisbon, Portugal, Diniz Sanchez studied dance and choreography in the Superior School of Dance and in Forum Dança. Dancer/performer for several companies in Portugal, France and Belgium, since 1994, he started creating his own work spanning dance, theatre, video and singing. Choreographer and director of Lua Company since its creation in 2004. Diniz has presented pieces in Portugal, Spain and France. Since 2006 he has been developing the character Spicy Tutuboy based on whom he has done several performances on questions of identity. Recently he did a Dance on High Heels workshop at The Sparsh Studio, Buoyant Performing Arts, Kolkata, also a special piece ” Horses & Hussain” along with Pradip Chattopadhyay and Janardan Ghosh dedicated to M F Hussian at the Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata and Horse Tale” at The Old House organised by the Arshinagar Project.
How does dance, or any form of art connect to the human soul? What kind of influence does it, then have to change the human being?
I believe that dance, as any Art form connects directly to the human soul. Dance is a very sensitive Art form: it relates to Nature, as human beings started to dance in rituals to honor and represent Mother Nature – the Goddess.
Dance as Art relates to the soul, but it also relates to the body, what makes it a “closest” Art form of human beings. In the West people have grown distant from their bodies (with the Christian idea of the body as a “channel” for sin – which take us away from the “right” path) – a bit as in the monastic currents in India, who professed the asceticism. The sacredness of Dance in India has been a bit taken apart also by the forced prostitution of Temple dancers.
We are victims of an Era of pseudo-moralistic thinking, that hides itself behind the politics of fear, self-interest and materialistic corruption.
Nowadays East and West come together in a fusion of media, entertainment, popular amusement and cultural artistry. This has its positive and negative points. Originally, a dance was sacred and was an expression of human-body/soul contact/communication with the Gods and with others/community.
Our sacred microcosmic self (soul) [consciously or unconsciously] directly communicating with the macrocosmos.
When this happens, it is amazing, and you know you are in front of the most fine Art!
This should be every artist’s aim. I do believe that Art’s objective is to change the World, and every change has to start with the self. As an artist I hope to contribute with my Art, with my life, to help change the human being and our world into a better place for all of us.
What have been the influences in your personal life that have helped shape you as a dance-theatre personality?
When you are an artist, you are always an artist, I mean: it is not like any job or career, that you do from 9 to 5 and then go and live your life. I understand that everything I do, even in my spare time, like going to the movies, checking Facebook or chatting with friends, will have an influence in my life as an artist, hence in my Art.
This is why I consider that we artists are constantly at work – we never know from where the idea for a new creation might come! I also say that to my students: apply whatever you learn in class to your life – if it is not something that transcends the “class” situation, it is probably not so fundamental.
I was a quite lonesome child, only son of a divorced couple (till age 10, when my brother was born), who played a lot by myself, liked reading and listening to music, and had a special bond with nature… quite a sensitive boy with a lot of imagination, so in some way it was not a surprise when in the last years of school, I was more interested in (performing) art – dance/theatre – than in following an academic career.
My Mother is deaf, and although she speaks and do lip-reading (we never needed to communicate by Sign Language), I realized, years later in my dancing career, that I had chosen Dance as my Art because Dance expresses/communicates through gesture. That is why I am not so interested in “abstract” dance/movement.
Looking back, I realize that one of the things that have influenced me more as a person and as an artist is the fact of people and institutions saying “no”, “you cannot do it”, “you will not make it”. I do not cope with that. I was born in 1974, the year of the Portuguese Revolution (that ended the dictator regime and the colonialism). I call myself “son of the Revolution”. So don’t tell me “no” – as I am probably going to prove you wrong!
But I am also working on that: on being a less “revolted” person and accepting what is given. And for that the major influence in my life has been India. I came to India first time in 2010, and fell in love with the country, it’s Arts and Cultures, its contradictions…. And hope one day make it my home.
How have you been able to blend themes like gender fluidity into your dance performances? Can we actually have gender fluidity and flexibility in a country like India? Why or why not?
I am a gay man. I am a sensitive human being. I am an artist. Bringing themes like identity and gender in my work comes naturally: I guess I have always been working on this, consciously or not.
Recently (2007) with the birth of my performing pseudonym (alter-ego) Spicy Tutuboy, this has been even more visible. And pertinent.
I feel it is a necessity in today’s world: in the West, LGBTIQ is mostly “legally accepted or tolerated”, but I feel that all of this is so recent that the risk of losing it all is quite present… And then we have situations like in Russia, Africa, Arabic countries, etc., and India, where we are still letting ancient colonial laws tell us how to live our lives in 2016!!! It is just unthinkable!
That is why Spicy Tutuboy keeps on questioning pre-conceived ideas of identities, sexualities and gender!
Yes, I do believe we can have gender fluidity and flexibility in a country like India.
Why? Because: 1- India aims to be a modern country living fully in a contemporary world; 2- India is one of the countries where gender fluidity and flexibility has been part of its history and ancient traditions. Pseudo-traditionalist and fake-conservative politicians, etc., want to convince us of the contrary, erasing our true past and manipulating historical data to follow their materialistic interests.
These days I am working precisely on these themes, for a new piece “PURUSHA IN A TUTU or deconstructing Vidushaka”, and I have been reading a lot, especially books by Indian authors and one of them is “Shikhandi and other tales they don’t tell you” by Devdutt Pattanaik. It gives you an introduction to some traditional Indian tales that talk about gender fluidity and flexibility in India.
What are your future plans? How do you plan to use your given talents across various platforms?
My future plans? Go one day at a time… Continuing to develop projects, hopefully with the support of Cultural and Artistic Institutions and Foundations, in India, in Portugal and worldwide.
I see myself as a citizen of the World, so my interests are not linked to a specific nationalism – although I was born in Portugal, and I see India as a place I would like to continue working and settle.
Artists are citizens of the world.
I will continue creating shows, performances, and teaching workshops, sharing the little that I know with people who would like to learn from it.
One of the things I realized in my path is that I would like to enrich my Art using whatever platforms are accessible/given to me: so, although I started as a contemporary, versatile dancer (touched many styles and techniques), I then grew interested and studied Theatre, then I approached the Opera world, and my interests are many, as video, photography, writing…. even cooking! Whatever will enable me to convey what I want to express/communicate
How did Spicy Tutuboy come about?
We live in a moment of zapping ephemeral fame: today, you appear on tv, and everyone knows you, tomorrow you are forgotten; today you are number one in any Top charts, tomorrow you are missing or mister nobody.
Spicy Tutuboy at a certain point was an experiment about virtual fame: I created a page on Facebook and invited everyone who came across him in the streets and performances to become his friend or like him. But I have very much forgotten about this failed experiment, and sometimes weeks go by that I don’t put anything new on Spicy Tutuboy’s page (meanwhile Facebook also closed his profile).
Fame is not what is interesting: what is important is that when you are “famous” people follow you and listen to what you have to say, so it is a responsible act that you have in your hands – a way to reach out to people and make a difference.
I hope Spicy Tutuboy will contribute to bring awareness about gender issues and bring people closer to Art and Culture.