It's been a long time since I had an interviewee in front of me and even longer when somebody turned before time for the interview. Diana is a 26-year-old professional performer and dancer, and her story begins literally: she picked up dancing for the first time in the very early age of around 6 and never put it down.
Fate smiled on us when meeting for the first time— Diana, Belen ( the videomaker) and I got our coffees and then switched to another cafeteria nearby, in order to get some sun. Diana speaks firmly but softly; so when eventually we did record our interview a week later, I kept inching my recorder closer to her, worried that it would pick up more of the ambient noise—washing machine on the roof of the headquarters of Can Pep Rey, clusters of people outside, a small dog on the street —than her voice.
The dog never interrupted us, and we could begin. After Paul, the founder of the brand and the washing machine owner wished us well, Diana revelled in the scene for a minute: wow, this is such a nice office space. A beat later, she sent me a video saying: look how pretty ! and later : omg i wanted to send it to my boyfriend hahah! She was now sitting hopefully comfortably on one of our wooden office chairs. Are you ready to go? Diana smiled and we were rolling. Belen began the recorder and later snapped photos.
What's your name and what do you do?
My name is Diana Pop. I am an actress, but above all a dancer and a performer.
How did you discover your interest in dance?
Since I was little I knew that I like to dance but I started with urban dance first. So unfortunately I don't have classical ballet training. On the other hand, I think that this gives me a lot of freedom when it comes to finding my own movement. I have got a lot of interest in drama, narrative and telling a story.
How old were you when you started to dance?
I was around 6 or 7 years old when I started urban dancing. It has always been something that was one way or the other very present in my life.
Was it something self-taught or did someone teach you how to dance for example the Roman dance?
I have a lot of memories of being at home, dancing on my own, talking to myself and just dancing. Or I would often put my mother in a situation when I would dance in public and she would be freaking out thinking, what is this girl doing? Then yes, it is true that I have gone to school and taken classes so I am not necessarily a very self-taught person. I just really like to start with the point that interests me and give it a different spin.
You grew up in Valencia but your family is from Romania. Do these two cultures collide in any way ?
My family from Romania came to Spain in 92 and I was born in 95. At home we were speaking Romanian and the culture of this country has been very much maintained if it was through music, food or language. However when outside home I was exposed to a different culture. So for me it is not so much cultures that collide but are more of a hybrid. You would say a child between two people, you know? Which has a part of one and a part of another.
What are your biggest creative inspirations?
When it comes to dance and theater I really like ´El conde de torrefiel´ , and in performance ´Sociedad Doctor Alonso´. There are also certain people in my life that inspire me a lot, for example Cris Blanco who was my performance teacher who taught me a lot.
When it comes to music I feel inspired by many different genres. But Romania as a place itself inspires me a lot.
At one point in my life I also had a very strong obsession with Dadaism. I was traveling through Europe and I was in Switzerland where the whole DADA movement started and I really connected to it a lot. That it is a type of art that was born at a very specific moment in history and destroyed everything that used to appeal to a rational part and so became much more visceral, unreasoned and instinctive. Dance- wise, I really like Sidi Larbi and from the musical part Tyler the Creator. I am a daughter of 2000. Laughs. In the end it feels like I'm a mixture of many things that I was exposed to in my life.
Also when chatting earlier you have mentioned Garcia Lorca and Ionesco. Are they part of the Dadaism or Modernism movement as well ?
Ionesco specifically, belongs more to surrealism, to absurd theater. He is Romanian but he went exiled during the second world war. He was sent to France. And when I read a work by him, I always connect a lot with this Roman culture. He portrays situations that you could perfectly hear or live in Romania. For the outsider they might seem absurd but for us are much more everyday. Then, Garcia Lorca has this folkloric, poetic imaginary, which connects a lot with the Spanish essence that also attracts my attention. They seem very different cultures but in fact have got a very similar root.
I love the work called ´Rhinoceros´. Do you know it ?
Oh yes, of course.
How does music influence you ?
My relationship with music begins with my parents who are musicians. My mother is a percussionist and my father is a violinist. Since I was little I have grown up to the sound of Classical music. Spending time with my mother and father who played concerts. Music has always been present and very important. When you are feeling music, you sit, listen and that's it. You do not do anything else. In this sense it is a very important aspect. And precisely… identity. The music that I connect with the most is Folklore. Although my way of working with this music is more by contrast, meaning I would not be dancing as a traditional Romanian dancer myself and instead would put simpler movements. I would find myself more content with this very concrete idea that folkloric music can bring in both flamenco or traditional Romanian music.
Don't you ever want to play an instrument? Is there one that is your favorite?
My parents were forced to study music. They were very clear that our relationship with music, if there is one, has to be vocational. So it is a commitment.
Sure it's like a job
I started to play violin or piano many times but in the end I always stuck to dancing.
Are there any future exhibitions or projects we should look out for?
I feel like in a kind of creative hibernation with the current situation. These months help me a lot to create material, and write, like Me being imagined as a piece. I think about the engines that lead me to make a structure, like a specific piece that I want to work on. I'm a bit brainstorming about this. I'm sort of in a fetal position, weaving everything. I have a project with a friend partially folkloric. We are using social networks to communicate and we practice by Zoom. We do what we can.
Any recent collaborations?
I have recently worked with Carlota Guerro and Paloma Wool. They wanted to make a collaboration called ¨Chaos Creation´. And I was lucky to be there and the truth is that it was incredible. We danced non-stop for two hours to Paloma Wool pieces with two incredible girls who played very cool music. And we really got into a trance. A very deep trance and we finished at the moment of finishing the recording. We all end up crying. Includes Carlota Guerra, Paloma. We are all very flustered at the moment. Music and the sisterhood, all together with such great women, in the end something so magical is created.
I also want to ask you about technology, what is your opinion about digital art?
It is the most useful tool, the level that people can see you in. You can see what you do or even make a movie of who you are. In the end all the collaborations that are emerging, since both brands or people who are interested in working with me, arise from there, from Instagram. You are a person who can organize his / her work, a little autonomous. And in this sense, networks are a showcase. For me right now it is something very natural.
Object? What is your favourite ?
The object that makes me happy is the hot water bottle because for me it is a bit of my home. Whenever I need a moment to reconnect with myself, the heat enters, I have the pain in the body. In other words, in the end the hot bag is something that is always attached to me.
Element of nature
The element that I connect with the most is the sea. Since I was little, when I bathe in the sea, it always makes me feel like I'm being reborn. Also simply looking at the sea, makes me infinite.
Where is home?
In my body, because in the end it is the instrument that I dedicate the most time to. Since 2013 I have lived in very different houses. Every year I am moving, getting a little bit my body is my place. My element of being.
Video and Photography of Diana Pop by Belen Pogliaga from a series of ´Portrait of an Artist´
Text: Marta Marszalek