The spirit of the “Dopamine Carousel” we live in

Bully Fae Collins on his upcoming performance at Antistatic

Written by Elena Peneva (Antistatic), edited by Scott Green, photos by Antistatic

How does it feel to live in a world, signified with an enormous amount of information, constantly flooding our minds, and leaving no empty space, no possibility to take control… What becomes of us in this arena of helplessness and craziness?

On May 15th at the DERIDA Stage, the American artist Bully Fae Collins, using dance and songs, will expose us to the “Songs of the Dopamine Carousel'', sharing his experiences and stories about what’s behind this apocalyptic, social media driven world that we are part of. He shines a light on the incoherence and confusion of our times, and how social media perpetuates it with the constant bombardment of information we receive.

Bully Fae Collins creates music, dance, and theater about the heightened anxiety of the Information Age and the politicization of bodies under neoliberalism. As a trickster who toils in the refuse of pop culture and history, he weaves the personal, the fictional, and the historical into troublesome queer satires.

Reflecting on the subjects that his performance places, in an interview for Open Bulgaria, Bully notes that “even though we can see everything, we are helpless to change anything”.

Your work is signified with topics that are much more relevant to…everybody in today’s world! In your unique artistic way, you manage to leave the spectators questioning the ‘hot’ topics and give them much food for thought related to today’s milieu. In a way, it appears that, at the same time, your work is a satirical enactment, but also, a wake-up call, and a much-desired call for change.

What provokes you to explore such themes and what is your motivation behind presenting them to the public? 
These days I feel constantly provoked, from all sides. Provocation is intrinsic to commodification, especially now that everything is sold in online marketplaces and competes for the attention of everyone; people, places, and things all scream at once from the endless rooftop of 5G wireless. So much noise! Working with the language and effects and content produced in this cacophony (by making it into a performance) is a way to deal with my feelings of being overwhelmed and helpless.

The noise gets inside me, and I have to get it out. I make satire because it is how I stay with the contradictions of it all and explore shadowy corrupted content with a sense of levity (joy). I feel like I am saying something that I feel is true if I can make myself laugh. To be honest I’m full of rage and satire helps me to laugh about the things I cannot control.

There is so much to be p***ed off about. I don’t have some kind of manifesto or agenda to deliver but it’s important to find joy somehow even as we drown in this sound bath from hell.

In what ways do you think this performance speaks to the current cultural moment, particularly in regard to our relationship with social media? What type of audience do you think will connect most with “Songs of the Dopamine Carousel”, and why?
I’m interested in the dizzying mixture of cruelty and absurdity that constitutes much of our big crazy Internet and how it informs our affects and gestures. Things on the internet are hilarious right now and a lot of that humor comes from a feeling of impotence in the face of crisis.

The injustices and disasters continue stacking, crisis upon crisis, and we bear witness to them in the format of entertainment on our phones, juxtaposed with cute animals and dancing teens. It feels as though we can see everything, but we are helpless to change anything. The paradoxical nature of that experience and the feeling of impotence that it creates is what I’m interested in evoking.

I think this experience is global, and even though I’m working with many American archetypes and references, I think everyone with internet access can relate to the characters I am playing.

What do you hope the Bulgarian audience will take away from this performance in regard to their own relationship with social media?
I don’t have any expectations, to be honest. I like to be completely open when I’m making a show. I’m still discovering things about the work myself. I feel like I’m not really in control of what the work becomes but that it’s my duty to show it. I get spiritual about this. Whether “God” or some force of creation that possesses artists, I try to surrender and let the work do its own thing.

How do you think social media has impacted the world of dance, and how have you incorporated these changes into your choreography? How does this performance fit into your larger body of work as a choreographer?
I am new to the world of dance and so I don’t have a barometer or impression of dance before social media. I imagine that things have gotten faster but I don’t know. The internet seems to make everything go faster. We don’t sit with things for very long or not as much. This performance is informed by some of those feelings of impatience and desire for speed definitely.

This is the first time that I have been challenged to create choreography in this way, without text and speech. I had to explore a whole new methodology and discovered a way of working that is new for me. It is a wonderful gift and it’s hard to describe. I have never identified as a choreographer because I am not trained in dance.

Now I feel I’m discovering my position and the mark I want to make as a choreographer. I have always felt most comfortable working with text, but now I have a new toolbox to work with. I know how to put down the pen and speak with my body.

How would you finish the slogan of this year’s edition of the festival, namely, “my body, my dance”?
My body, my dance, my trickster prance

Have you ever been to Bulgaria before? How would you invite the audience to have a ride with you on the “dopamine carousel”?
I have never been to Bulgaria before! I am excited to visit. I would say though, that everyone is already on the Dopamine Carousel with me. I don’t think we have a choice. We ride this ride until we die or capitalism crumbles, whichever comes first. 

As Bully Fae Collins brings "Songs of the Dopamine Carousel" to “Antistatic” Festival, audiences are eagerly anticipating this unique performance. His boundary-pushing choreography and this latest work is sure to be a thought-provoking and immersive experience for all who attend. Book your tickets here.