That naked body and soul, which seemed to show, all at once, the beautiful whiteness of the newborn snow and the voracious fire of hearts for the first time in love, left dazzled men and women who saw ‘The uninhabited man ‘by Rafael Alberti. It was the beginning, already distant, of a love relationship, both with the theater and with the cinema and television, spun for years based on professionalism and enchantment. For a while, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, born in Rome in 1968, has been embodying characters that are providing her a huge success: Medea, Nora …, and now the five women she gives life in ‘Juana’, the show directed by Chevi Muraday in which he also dares with contemporary dance.
– Would you be so kind as to recite the lullaby that Rafael Alberti wrote to you when you turned one?
– (Laughter) Well … yes: «Aitana, Spanish-Italian rising star, / our sad today will be light tomorrow. / Aitana, morning light, / Aitana sleeps today, wake up tomorrow ». I am very fond of these verses, which I read every day because he included them in one of those wonderful drawings he painted and that I have hung in my house. Notice if I have Rafael present in my life, every day I am aware that I once had a year! (More laughter) And more things that poem makes me keep in mind, of which I feel proud.
– What goes through your mind?
– Tucked into the bars as I am with ‘Juana’, of which we have functions until June, I get dizzy just thinking about what will happen after this project that fills me so much, that it poses a greater challenge. If the theatrical challenges assumed in recent years have put me to the limit, they have taken me to the edge of the abyss, with ‘Juana’ I have already taken the triple mortal leap. So much so that I have decided that I will stay a year in theatrical fallow.
– Why triple somersault?
– In ‘Juana’ I put my whole body at risk. He had never danced in a professional way, or anything like that. I have thrown myself into a vacuum (laughs), and for now I have left unharmed My body has taken me further than I thought would be possible, and has taught me its enormous potential as a means of immediate expression. I have discovered the world of dance and I have realized that they are all made dust, all made shit. Me too, uh, my body is a scream after each performance, and I wake up the next day full of pain from the crown to the little finger of my foot. I am living with my body in a state of great discipline and a great respect for him. I stay well trained so as not to injure myself, so that I can continue to sustain myself and allow myself to continue enjoying so much what I am doing. I have in mind that I am a person with a certain age who, as I was saying, has now started dancing in a professional way. We have made a pact: ‘You will allow me to do this, and I will take care of you and I will respect you.’
– Physically how do you feel?
– Very strong and resistant, I have been able to go beyond my own limit. For a few years now, most of the interviews they do to me go through the issue of age, something that I think does not happen with men. I love being able to say that, when I am supposed to be already a little withdrawn, or living off the income of a certain trajectory or what do I know, well, now I start doing things that I had not done even at 20 years; and it turns out that my body and my head respond. And above all, it turns out that I put the same passion or more than when I was young. Now I take more risks than ever, I am more able to take a risk and I am less afraid to stumble, and to ridicule and not to go well, than when I was younger. I do things just because I need to do them, I don’t do any other calculation. And as I am honest with that need, and I give myself to an open grave, if then the result is not what people expect, or what I could expect myself, well, at least I will have tried.
– You don’t want to miss anything.
– Do not! It was happening to me as a child: I really liked studying, playing with my gang, going to theater classes, practicing handball, basketball, volleyball …; It was part of all the teams. I have done everything, I have not lost anything, neither in my childhood, nor in my adolescence: I have had love, heartbreak, I have suffered for love madly, madly (laughs). They left me, they took me again, they left me for a friend, then they left the friend …; All those teenage things.
– And finally learned to have a better eye?
– I took a lot, I recognize it. I have learned to be in a love story, as a couple, in a healthy and balanced way, after many blows and seeing myself very subjected to many ugly, unpleasant situations, situations in which I came to feel like a rag. But yes, I learned the lesson well, and the fact is that I have been with my partner for 21 years (Papin Lucadamo). We are a team that we have learned along the way to respect each other and accompany each other well. Obviously, we must always continue paddling, but we are already a family, with our two children, very solid.
Affection and the ladder
– How is your relationship with them, with Bruna and Teo?
– My children don’t pass me one! (Laughs) When he played ‘Medea’, he told them to tell me: ‘Mom, don’t be great that you’re not Medea, huh! Make no mistake!’ They make fun of me, dramatize with a lot of grace and take away iron from everything that doesn’t really matter. I love you, I love you very much, but besides mother I am many other things; For me it is as important to be a mother as to dedicate myself to my profession. I try to be a good couple, a good friend, a good daughter, for me there is no ladder in the world of affections and my personal needs. Being a mother is not above all, it is on the same level as other important things. I am lucky to feel a complete being, and I believe that my husband and I have succeeded in educating them to be free and fly. I want them to need me less and less, and that the love we have is not from necessity, but from freedom.
– By which of the Juanas of your new show – Paisa Juana, Juana de Arco, Juana la Loca, Sr. Juana Inés de la Cruz and Juana Doña – do you feel more predilection?
– For me it is as if they were the same woman, in the sense that they all dare to tear down walls, to challenge the established order with the sole desire to be themselves, something for which they were severely punished. But, perhaps, the one that moves me the most, because it is the closest and because it concerns me in my personal history, it is Juana Doña (communist leader, feminist, trade unionist and writer). I have read about its history and that of all the women who lived tremendous situations and were imprisoned during the Franco regime; those Francoist prisons, that viciousness, that will to annihilate that was in this country … Its history connects with that of my father, an anti-Franco fighter, and that excites me especially. I was born in Rome during my parents’ exile. I grew up in a family where political commitment has been very important. My father suffered the dictatorship, was in jail and got engaged in a time when you really played it very seriously. And I feel, as a moral duty, that I have to commit to the time that I have had to live.
– What do you think when you hear Javier Ortega Smith say that the 13 roses “raped and tortured in the Czechs of Madrid”?
– Things are happening now that really make your hair stand on end; I want to cry, to scream, I find it aberrant to stain the memory of those girls, whose only sin was to be young and defend democratic values and the Republic, the legitimate government against those who gave a coup. So serious is that like removing some verses of Miguel Hernández from a memorial (in La Almudena) for the fallen. If they could, what would they do with the memory of García Lorca? Really, are we now at this point where the right is daring to do things like that, with a universal poet like Miguel Hernández? What can bother you right of him?
– Have you considered stopping to think about politics to avoid problems?
– Sometimes you want to do it, because they attack you everywhere. I feel that before I could express myself in a freer way than now; and, as that seems tremendous to me, I still want to say what I think. If you ask me, I answer. I do not want to sit a chair, or flag anything, just exercise my right to give my opinion. I do not represent anyone, only myself with all my contradictions. And I always try to respect, not to fall into permanent confrontation, or aggressiveness, or anger. I say what I think, I am on the left and I go out to defend the things I believe in, but I do not want to become an aggressive, angry being, I do not want to fall into that. In addition, the reality is that in my daily life I interact with all kinds of people, of all kinds and conditions, and I get along well with neighbors and colleagues who don’t think like me. I feel that in our day to day citizens we are much more civilized than those who represent us, sometimes.
Against “the stoning”
– Would you work with Woody Allen and Roman Polanski?
– Yes. I think they are two great directors and I will always watch their movies. It is a complex issue, I know. On the one hand, I believe that it is Justice that must condemn those who have committed a crime; I don’t like public lynchings, they are dangerous. On the other, I am with those women who, finally, dare to denounce the abuses they have suffered, something very necessary to get an end to the impunity that has protected so many abuses of power of all kinds. But I tell you, I have never liked stoning and I prefer that it is Justice that speaks and acts. I think of Placido Domingo, for example, one of the most privileged voices in history. Can’t you ever sing again in public? I don’t know … I seem to go too far.