Interview with Tommy Cattin – EREM dance

Words by Giordana Patumi.

The confinement caused by Covid-19 allowed a new group of artists to embark on a new journey: EREM dance, under the artistic leadership of the Swiss-Italian dance artist Tommy Cattin.

“My name is Tommy Cattin, I am originally from Jura, in Switzerland. My interest for the performing arts has been strong for as long as I recall. The beginning of my artistic education was, indeed, in drama.

I was interested in being on stage, playing and developing the features of a character and, at the same time, the potential in expressing myself through my body.  However, the more I deepened the training I was undertaking in drama, the more I realised that I could relate myself more with movement and physicality. I was fascinated by the acting training method developed by Vsevolod Meyerhold: Biomechanics, which brought me to a deeper connection to the body. Such constant intensifying interest for movement, dance, and bodies allowed me to access my curiosity and sensibility. As a direct result, as time went by, I discovered a growing passion for choreographing as well as tools for putting on stage my ideas.

So far, my works have been quite heterogeneous. I usually start exploring through movement and images; a general idea or a theme suggested by personal experience. Then, throughout the process, I narrow down material and focus in order to identify the essence of the concept within the initial idea. In terms of dramaturgy, the processes have followed, in the past, very different lines.

A common element I started noticing is the constant need of going back to the simplicity of the original feeling and see how I can transform it into movement. Starting from a personal experience, my aim is to see how to polish it through movement and choreography in order to reach a possible universal sense of reception. The objective is not necessarily to explain to the spectator a specific narrative or a meaning. Instead, it is to explore a topic, reaching together a common ground of sensibility.

At the moment, I am working on a solo – NOMAD – based on the idea of estrangement, a trio – SOIR HB – on beauty, and I am about to begin another solo – BRIEF ENCOUNTER – on the idea of infinity. 

The situation caused by the coronavirus emergency gave me the opportunity to stop and reflect on myself and my future in this field. Before the quarantine, I was in a constant condition of running towards applications, auditions, and new opportunities. What I found out is that I could be able to reconcile a more thoughtful search for opportunities with a personal professional development through my own projects, following my needs and interests as a dance artist. It is in this context that the constitution of EREM dance, my own artistic association, occurred.

© Foto di Monoscopio nell’ambito del Festival Dominio Pubblico_la città agli under 25 – edizione Fuori Fuoco 2020

EREM, in fact, was born from my need to gather people that inspire me and I would like to work with. I like to think of this gathering as a federation, as every component of the group can maintain their own identity and decisional power, while keeping a horizontal level of decision making.

EREM’s way of working aims to give equal value to the artistic project and the exchange with the community, in order to make sure that our work stays actual and concrete for us and those who come and see us. To name an example: during our residency in Delémont this past July, we felt the necessity to open our rehearsals as well as involve the community into open workshops.

I want to think about my generation as the one that will hopefully trigger a change into the way of approaching our way of dealing with contemporary challenges. In order to do so, I strongly believe in our responsibility as artists to enhance the access towards our sensibility as members of a highly nuanced society. Therefore, the arts today have a strong potential – and duty – towards reshaping our access to our human artistry.

EREM dance future events

– SOIR HB October 30, 2020, Tanzfaktor 2020, CCRD – Forum St-Georges, Delémont (Switzerland) 

About Tommy:

As a professional dancer, Tommy has danced in England, Denmark, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. Since the end of 2019, he has returned to his birthplace – where he received a scholarship from the FARB Arts Foundation in Delémont in 2018 – to reconnect with the Swiss and regional art scene. 

In 2019, Tommy completed his apprenticeship with Black Box Dance Company in Denmark. The same year he took part in the Dance Biennale in Venice, directed by Marie Chouinard, where he performed pieces by Alessandro Sciarroni and Trisha Brown. Simultaneously, he was able to enrich his own practice through an intense program of somatic practices.

In 2019, Tommy graduated from the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds (UK) with a Master’s degree in Contemporary Dance Performance. Previously, he completed his Bachelor’s degree in contemporary dance at the Trinity Laban Conservatory of Music and Dance in London, where he received the Simone Michelle Award for his achievements in choreography.

As part of his artistic journey, Tommy was able to work with and learn from a wide range of international dance artists such as Elisa Pagani, Marie Chouinard, Marie Brolin-Tani, Theo Clinkard, Rahel Vonmoos, Fabio Liberti, Igor & Moreno, Lali Ayguadé, Rosas, amongst many others.​

Image: EREM dance.