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'The Making of Motus'
In Conversation with Mariana Torres and Sylvie Weber

To premiere our new brand identity, we commissioned an artistic short entitled ‘Motus’, choreographed and performed by contemporary dancer Mariana Torres. Through Torres’ movements, Aeyde’s new chapter finds physical form.

Directed by filmmaker Sylvie Weber with music by pianist and composer Nils Frahm, Aeyde’s journey over the last six years is brought to life through the dialogue between dance, sound, and space. To celebrate the launch, we talk to Mariana and Sylvie about the behind-the-scenes moments that brought the film to life.
Aeyde: Can you each tell me a little bit about yourself?

Mariana Torres: I’m a contemporary dancer from Mexico. I studied dance in my hometown, but before my dance career, I actually studied communication, so right now I do both things. I work in social media, I design, I do photography and videography, but I also teach dance classes, mostly to children and teenagers. I love teaching children because they are so spontaneous and happy to learn, so the relationship is really easy.

Sylvie Weber: I’ve been working as a director in the field of documentary for the past eight years, but I’ve also worked on fictional and commercial pieces, like music videos, and I’m currently working on a feature. So I really work across all genres! It’s been a pleasure to be able to work in this business and I’m glad that film found me. I feel very privileged to be able to do this job, because I feel I’ve always been in my own dream world in a way, and writing my own films in my head.

A: 'Motus' is about change and reinvention as well as movement. How did you go about capturing that?

MT: I started by developing movements based on the specific themes we were trying to communicate, and also based on Sylvie’s instructions. This helped a lot because she had very particular ideas about the themes of reinvention and rebirth. As a professional dancer, it’s my job to absorb all the references and translate them with my body. The music also helped! I listened to the music many, many times, as well as rehearsed, to get my body familiar with the language.

SW: I approached it really pragmatically, because contemporary dance is an abstract medium. It’s not easy to work with a medium that is not your language, so I imagined the piece in three different chapters—the rebirth, the awakening, and the reinvention. Throughout these different stages, the movement changed accordingly. We also worked closely with the space—everyone knows that feeling of being trapped within a space, and Mariana almost bounced off of the walls so it felt like the space was moving her. When Mariana and I met up to rehearse, I showed her some references that I liked, and some ideas for types of movement, and she helped me interpret that into her language. It was more of a dialogue and a meeting in the middle of our two visions. I gave her the framework and she translated it into her movements.
A: As an artist, have you experienced a period of reinvention?

MT: I have definitely experienced reinvention over time. I feel like I’m reinventing myself every day, especially since I do many different things. I love to sing, and I love music. I can remember times when people have said that it’s not possible to do everything I love. So my reinvention was allowing myself to do everything I wanted—being a dancer, being active, being a photographer, a community manager, a singer. I’m looking to be myself in every way I can be and want to be. It’s not easy to be all you are, because it takes time to do well in everything you enjoy doing. But now, I am doing just that. I understood that it would take time. When I was younger, I was more impatient and wanted everything to happen quickly, but as I grew up, I knew I had to allow myself the time I needed.

SW: Yes, constantly! It’s not about the result, but about the process. I think people forget that when you make a film, most of the work happens before—the teamwork, building a narrative, and understanding what’s going to happen on the production. The process and the result are a reflection of one another. People will like the film, but not be aware of what happened before—the ups and downs, the frustrations, and the joy of envisioning something and growing it together as a team. Film is not something that can be done alone. You are translating your imagination into a moving image, so as I change and grow and experience new things, so does my work. It’s a constant dialogue. That’s also why it’s such a privilege to work with the medium of film because it has no expiration date. I can do this work forever.

A: Mariana, how did you collaborate with Sylvie to bring your choreography to life?

MT: Working with Sylvie was so great. As a film director she is very sensitive and knows exactly what she wants. It also helped that she used cinematography language which I understood, because I specialized in visual media during my studies. Understanding her vision was crucial so that I could absorb and interpret with my body. The photos, videos, references and music all worked together to inform how I moved. She was great at sharing her ideas in her specific way, which I then took away and used to find dance references that matched up.

A: How did you find working with Mariana? How did working with a dancer compare to other types of talent?

SW: It was actually the first time I worked directly with a dancer. There was an interesting dialogue between us, because dance is a very sensual medium and we wanted to approach the film from a sensual perspective. It was really fluid. We would bounce around ideas and send each other references, and be really honest with one another. I can’t speak in the language of dance because I use different words, but Mariana knows how to describe her movements. I think we both felt really comfortable expressing what we wanted to express. She sent me reference videos of different movements, and I gave her input and we would bounce back and forth. It was a fluid content exchange and really easy to work with her.

A: How did you balance intuitive movement with rehearsed movement?

MT: This is the interesting part of dancing. With each exploration, your body becomes used to being and moving in a certain way. The result is that your body ends up moving more naturally. If you find a movement and repeat and repeat and repeat, you make this movement part of yourself. It becomes part of your communication and it’s like you're singing a song but with your own specific style. That’s really the key to intuitive movement.
A: You have described your filmmaking approach as ‘poetic realism’. How did you apply this to Motus?

SW: Since we didn’t have a direct storyline, I tried to implement the narrative more in the movement, like the way we framed Mariana in her dance. This felt really sensual and felt as though the camera was almost dancing with her. Sometimes you want the camera to feel present, and sometimes not. It was more like an intuitive approach which I also apply in my other films. That feeling of blending. Or the feeling that you’re losing a sense of time. That was the poetic aspect to this film. Overall we tried to achieve some sort of poetry in motion, and played with how the viewer could interact with the movement.

A: Although Motus was shot in one location, it feels visually varied. Was this deliberate, or did it happen more organically?

SW: It took us a while to find the perfect location. Finding a gallery space to shoot in was not easy! This one in particular has a dreamy outdoor area which was immediately appealing. That said, it wasn’t a huge space. We visited a couple of times to find the right angles, and to see how we could stitch together a story that moved across different levels. When Mariana is ascending to her awakening, we’re moving up the stairs, and at the beginning there is more of a bird’s-eye view where the camera finds her and zooms in on her. It was about finding the narrative within the space, and using the camera to tell the story instead of a traditional narrative.

A: How did you experience moving around the different areas of the gallery? What challenges did you face?

MT: When I first entered the gallery I was amazed. I had seen photos, but I’d never been there, so I was incredibly happy. It also helped that we’d rehearsed in a smaller gallery the day before, because during the filming I had to move between the artworks that stood in the middle of the space. One more difficult part was dancing in front of the steadicam, as the cameraman had to track me and move around with me using this heavy equipment. The most difficult thing as a dancer is to repeat movements over again, which can get very tiring. As I said to the team, though, I was so happy, and enjoyed the production a lot. We had very few problems, apart from being super tired the next few days!

A: What are you most looking forward to in the coming year?

MT: This year, I’m looking for more ways to develop myself professionally. As a community manager, I’m currently working with a women’s festival, that is happening in Guadalajara. I also have residency with a dancer called James Pett for the Morelos Danza festival in Cuernavaca, Morelos. I was selected among other dancers for this residency and I’ll be living there for three weeks and will be performing three shows. I’m super excited to be dancing on the stage again with other people. As I said, I also do music. I want to produce a couple of songs that I wrote last year. Apart from that, I’m still looking for more opportunities. I’m always looking for things to do. I’m looking for new challenges, like being a part of this film. I’d always dreamt about doing a fashion film with my own dance, and suddenly this opportunity appeared, and I’m so pleased it did.

SW: I feel like this year may be a year of making interesting connections and generally coming together again. I’m excited about that. Everything else will translate into work as well, as so much that we do links to our connections with others. I hope that everything will move in a more positive direction again. We can be as successful as we want but it’s meaningless without our environment and society going in the right direction.
Words: Katie Cazalet-Smith
Images: Carlos Martí

Artwork by Héctor Zamora, "Movimientos emisores de existencia", 2019.
Courtesy of the artist and LABOR, Mexico City.
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