Biljana Lipić

movementcommunicationtransformation

Thank you for helping me feel as if my hands have extended and are now able to embrace the whole world!
Photograph by Delia Spatareanu

Experience

I come from a place that doesn't exist anymore. A place that has changed shape, although I will always remember it as a place of my earliest dreaming.

From a very early age, I knew I wanted to be a dancer, and a magician! I was so fascinated by the relationship between space and movement and by what lay beyond the thresholds of my own world that I literally had to move - to a bigger space away from Sarajevo, my hometown, which was in the country then called Yugoslavia. My adventure however, coincided with war and the break-up of the country as well as my family, all of it together making my dance a complex journey - away and towards home. A paradox.

Hence, I feel I am a permanent wanderer, a stranger in strange lands yet I also know I am always at home. I am traversing the borders between the worlds, continually discovering new perspectives and new layers of meaning in my work, relationships and life in general. Fascinated by different cultures and identities my deepest desire in fact is to pass beyond them, to meet in our common humanity, in our essential nature and the universal soul within which all of us can dance despite or rather, with our differences.

Based in Britain since 1992, after 14 years spent in London, I now enjoy living by the sea, in the beautiful Cornwall.

Besides learning from life on-the-go, my training, formally and vocationally has been in architecture and design, different forms of dance (the main one Argentine Tango) and performance arts, shamanism, psychology, yoga, martial arts, art of improvisation and other body-based practices. Because of my broad interests and experience, I always tend to work from an inter-disciplinary perspective.

I have been practicing shamanism for over 15 years and am an initiate of the Path of Pollen, a less-known but well-trodden shamanic tradition originating from Eastern Europe.

Tango has been my big inspiration, and I have been involved with the various aspects of it for 20 years. Knowledge of the dance has been passed to me from some of the greatest Argentine and non-Argentine masters and elders of its community and tradition. My understanding of the form, its structure and its rituals however, has come most of all from my own intense and direct engagement with the dance and its spirit, through dancing as well as teaching, performing and/or directing.

I have led Argentine Tango workshops around UK, Europe and USA. As one of the pioneers of the UK's tango scene, I have had a major influence in establishing and nurturing many of its dance communities, particularly in and around London, Scotland, Devon and Cornwall. I am the founder of Zero Hour, one of the most popular tango venues in London, which together with David Lurie and Osvaldo H Miranda I ran for 10 years (now the club is run by Carolina Osorio and her team).

I began making performance work in 1999. I started humbly by setting up an experimental community-based group called Tangolab in order to explore the traditional form of tango in a contemporary theatre context. My ideas slowly evolved into a performance language and with the Tangolab company of dancers, which later on became Biljana Lipic & Co, I went on to create
a site-specific dance work in the Windsor train station for the Windsor Festival 1999, two multi-media events for St. George's Theatre
in London, as well as a short movement peace Of Becoming for The Resolution 2002! at The Place dance theatre in London. The company's biggest piece La Milonga Interna - Tango a fairytale, which I wrote and directed, was premiered at the Madeira Festival '04, and was acclaimed by the critics (Nuno Gouveia, Noticias da Madeira) as an "...intimate, intense and most of all artistic... a sensual and colorful show..." Following that, in May 2006, Una Noche en Buenos Aires - a short dance theatre piece, was commissioned for an event in the Royal Opera House.

My media work includes dance appearances in the movie Evita, True TV's Dance Tips with Alexei Sayle, BBC's Tango ident, ITN's documentary Tell Tale Signs, as well as coaching for the BBC's dance series Strictly Dance Fever and Alek Keshishian's feature film Love and Other Disasters.

Throughout summer 2008, as a performer, together with Ivan Arandia, I toured the UK's open air festivals with the Wired Aerial Theatre and their Tango inspired show Fervorosa.

More recently, my creative projects have taken me into the areas of film, conceptual and live art. In these fields I have collaborated with artists Amanda Lorens (for the art & performance based event Buenos Aires Social Club - as part of Transitions, 2008 at the Newlyn Art Gallery), Martin Pickles (for the art films Camera Obscura and Biljana), Anya Lewin (for the art film and installation With Heartfelt Gratitude for the Painless Treatment), Polly Motley (for the performance based project Emotion - part of Transitions, 2010  at the Penzance Exchange gallery), Angela Praed (dance installation on the rooftops of Truro), Henry Davies (for the film Tango Down). My first solo installation White Box Black Box was shown at the Exchange Gallery in Penzance as part of their New Works programme in 2009.

Weaving together the creative and spiritual practices since an early age, has lead me to setting up a unique concept and practice of Shamanic Tango, which I have been presenting internationally since 2006 in the form of workshops, journeys and retreats.

Whether I take up a role of a teacher, dancer/performer, artist/director, shamanic practitioner/facilitator of workshops or social entrepreneur, my aim is to find fresh, contemporary and innovative ways of working with dance, consciousness, energy and its embodiment that is also deeply rooted in tradition, poetic relationship to nature and holistic approach to human experience. Always and in all ways, I move towards expansion of consciousness, thus am here to assist learning, personal growth and creative expression.

Acknowledgements:
Throughout my journey it has been important to experience safe havens. In the visible world, those have been: my parents Velinka and Dusan Lipic; the beehive of elders and sisters within the Path of Pollen; community of friends and dancers spread around the whole world (my apologies that I can't name all of them!); and my beloved Nathan Johns. The invisible support I will not name here but nevertheless send my infinite gratitude to them.