Spam: 5 minutes with Michael Marquez

Published: 25 Sep 2018

In 2018 Phoenix Dance Theatre Company Dancer, Michael Marquez choreographed Spam on the Phoenix Youth Academy. We caught up with Michael to find out about all things Spam.

What key themes are explored in Spam?

Spam is a mirror to the complexity of the cluttered world. It relates to the perpetual need and desire to have more to satisfy a temporary sense of happiness. In fact, meaningful and lasting values and experiences are replaced by slowly but surely rooting habits: people have stopped talking to each other, sharing has undergone a virtual transformation and movement has become effortful and a waste of time. On the other hand shopping and scrolling are cool hobbies.

There is no fil rouge in Spam and at times it’s sneaky; at others, straight forward. It’s entertaining, fast paced…and numbing.

It could be a massive folder of junk emails, a storm of flashy TV adverts, a series of sturdy and angular ad banners, a constant desire to multitask, a workout for muscular thumbs, an ongoing beeping of a contactless card, a closet of unwanted clothes or a drawer of forgotten jewellery…

When one watches Spam there is a sense of urgency which prevents one from saying no. It is a constant nodding and blinking with no time to process. Everything is being fed voraciously, including the music which adds a layer of complexity and lulls one into a spiralling waltz. Its rhythm provides a driving force that minimally interferes with the organisation of the piece. It definitely suggests moods and attitudes, it refines the edges of characters and at times might surprise and deviate one’s expectations. It’s very colourful and quite eclectic!

What inspired you to create Spam?

The idea and the music behind Spam were a spontaneous source for the creative process. Images and metaphors were popping out of nowhere and the only rule was to say yes to them. Translating them into physical actions was the next step and following that was tuning it for the dancers.

It all started with a game I call “throw and catch”: I threw improvised movement at the dancers and their task was to catch any sequence, steps, gestures they liked, remembered, were intrigued by etc. From there they created a movement phrase which then became the foundation of Spam. They collected an eclectic array of qualities, which has allowed Spam to be shaped the way it is. In a 20th century way of thinking the “how” and the “what” collaborated to create the piece: if one is going to talk about Spam, the best way to approach it is to use spam- of course with an accurate attention to details!

Any other comments?

The Phoenix Youth Academy dancers have been so welcoming and curious about the work. Channelling the idea of the stage as a safe space to explore has been a motto in the studio. Witnessing them shape the piece was a pleasure, and I cannot wait to see them venture deeper into the playground of Spam.

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