Diego Mur

«dance is my guide – it’s how I find meaning in life and my existence»

Behind the Mexican dance company, Nohbords, is Diego Mur, a dancer who, as he explains below, came to the profession by coincidence. And Nohbords is perhaps better described as a project than a dance troupe. Founded in 2014 in Mexico City, Mur wanted to create something that would be dedicated to the study of the body – its movements, its existence in relation to the surrounding environment. He also set out to provide an alternative approach to dance; underpinning Nohbords is the importance of collaboration, whether with photographers, filmmakers, artists, musicians or architects.

No more is Mur’s vision for Nohbords clear than in Ecos (2018), a performance in which dancers explore the potentials of the body’s ability to move, and filmed within the grounds of the iconic Casa Estudio, constructed by architect Luis Barragán in 1948. The vivid colours of Barragán’s design paired with the dancer’s motions – and scenically captured by director Andres Arochi – encapsulate the collaborative effort Mur aims to instil in his work. An acute awareness of, and response to, the environment in which Nohbords’ performances are presented transcends the dances themselves.

For Mur, Nohbords isn’t a bid to appeal to the established dance community in Mexico; rather, it’s an attempt at defying the odds. It is more likely that you’ll find Nohbords working with local folk dancers in Oxaca (as a residency at the Casa Wabi Foundation, aimed at exploring different forms of expression and dance, was), than attempting to impress dance connoisseurs. The alternative approach Mur has taken with Nohbords is as political as it is practical; by connecting and engaging with dancers, creators and audiences outside of the established community, his work is, in turn, inspiring a new generation of dance and performance.

How did your career in dancing and Nohbords start out?

I started pursuing contemporary dance in January 2010, as a student at Antares, which is one of the most important dance companies in Mexico, directed by Miguel Mancillas and Isaac Chau in Hermosillo, Sonora – a city located in the north of the country. It was quite accidental; I was visiting the school because a friend of mine was taking classes there, and one of the directors invited me to try the class. I said yes and took the class, and I did pretty well – I hadn’t taken a dance class before. I was offered an 100% scholarship, so I stayed and decided to dance professionally. After four years of studying, I travelled to Brussels in Belgium for an artistic residency and there, I [decided upon] directing my own project. In Belgium, I also started my movement investigations and created my first duet in collaboration with the Taiwan dancer Hong-Lin Cheng for an art festival. Going back to Mexico, I moved to Mexico City, where Nohbords is based. 

Could you explain what Nohbords is?

Nohbords is a project dedicated to the research of the body and movement in order to create dance pieces. One aspect of the project is that we are a self-managed group; instead of relying on government support or subsidies, we focused on creating and funding our own production.  We are a project that understands the importance of collaboration [more than anything], so we look to present our pieces in alternative presentation spaces and at the same time, we value the work of each artist or professional that we work with. 

Is there anything in particular about the body and its movements that interests you?

I have a big interest in the body, the mind and their connection. I am interested in the body’s transformation; I visualize my dance as a sort of meditation that leads us to uncover complex physical and psychological states. The circle is one of the main movements we work with because it represents eternity; something that has no end, something cyclic, which is something I really relate to. I am also interested in the ‘control’ of the body as a principal tool in dancing. A smart dancer is someone who has a connection between their body and mind. They respond to their environment strategically and through the use of their emotions, being vulnerable, understanding the importance of the energy and how to communicate that experience on stage; breath in, breath out, breathing.

How do you approach choreographing?  

Since I was a child, I have been particularly interested in symmetry, order, synchrony, uniformity. When I saw Mexican folklore and traditional dances for the first time, I really enjoyed watching the bodies moving in the space with a particular rhythm and exactness, and I had the ambition to make that someday. Choreography is something genuine in myself, it happens without overthinking it, in an organic way. I am in love with creating.

What do you seek to achieve through dance?

I like thinking that we create parallel universes that allow us to elevate our consciousness to another level. There is an implicit mysticism in my work because dance has taught me the power of the mind, the imagination and transformation. I believe that that magical and exceptional lands [at the feet of] the audience. On a personal level, dance is my guide – it’s how I find meaning in life and my existence, and this makes me feel that this is my path, my motivation and my entire world.

Is there a big scene in Mexico for contemporary dance? And what is the reception in Mexico to Nohbords?

It is a complicated subject, but I will try and explain it as this: There is a contemporary dance scene in Mexico, but we are not part of it. The main scene relies on government support and subsidies, and for me, that scene represents everything that I am not that interested in and everything I don’t want my work and my art to be perceived as being. Politics in Mexico is full of corruption and genuine apathy towards art and art practices, but at the same time, the work coming out of the [government-endorsed] art scenes continue to represent the system itself. Nohbords is established from a different place, away from that scene, and the response has been marvellous. As a project, Nohbords has been recognised, loved and admired by a new generation of dancers who are looking to establish a more open dialogue and to shape a different understanding of what dance is. 

Collaboration across disciplines is an important part of Nohbords. How do you bring in different disciplines into dance?

We love, and always seek, to collaborate with other disciplines, rather than just integrate them into our work. I visualize other disciplines as a part of the team that helps create the concept of the piece. We have worked with movie directors, architects, sculptors, fashion designers, lighting artists, writers, graphic designers, musicians, etc. The pieces are conceived entirely as a whole; we create the dance pieces through this process of collaboration.  

How important is music to dance? And does music come before dance, or vice versa?

It’s a complex question. We regularly work with original music because I believe that the creation of a unique universe can’t be achieved by using something that already exists, like a soundtrack of a movie for example. Music is vital to the creation of the ‘world’ that shapes each piece, and it helps us in the development process, but learning the rhythm and time isn’t something that I necessarily consider that crucial. Some of our pieces happen in total silence, or we conceive of the music as being generated through the rhythm of the sound of breathing or the natural percussion of the body through movement.

What impact does recording have on your dances? And how do the dancers respond to the camera? 

Videoing brings big exposure, which is important for an independent project like Nohbords, especially as sometimes it’s hard to gain access to spaces to present our work. There are differing ideas about seeing bodies through a camera, or how dance happens on camera. For me, my vision focuses on the dialogue between the dance and the movie directors we collaborate with. It’s been a learning experience, and we’ve been able to develop an approach that works for us.


  1. Image by Sena Studio
  2. Image by Pablo Astorga
  3. Image by Paulo Garcia
  4. Image by Jacobo Rios
  5. Image by Pablo Astorga
  6. Image by Miguel Galo

Sharon Eyal

«it’s all art and it’s all life»

Emblazoned onto the vast white cube exterior where the Dior SS19 show was held at the Hippodrome de Longchamp last September was a quote: ‘The story comes from inside the body’. The woman responsible for this remark, Sharon Eyal, would also make her mark on the interior of temporary space that was built over the course of two weeks, especially for the show.

Eyal was approached by Dior’s creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, to choreograph a dance that would take place as models took to the runway. For the SS19 collection, Chiuri found inspiration in the world of dance; corsets were replaced with loose, tulle skirts, leggings and, of course, ballet pumps. For the performance, Eyal’s dancers weere clad in specifically-designed bodysuits. At times, dancers and models seemed inseparable. If the show reflected the unique vision for which Chiuri has become known for as of late, it also brought Eyal’s enchanting choreography to a new audience.

Eyal founded the L-E-V dance company in 2013 with fellow dancer and collaborator, Gai Behar – whilst the musician, Ori Lichtik, is responsible for the music and sound that accompanies the company’s productions. Performances of the company’s repertoire, particularly OCD Love and its second act, Love Chapter 2, have captivated audiences across the world. In this sense, the Dior show can be seen as a continuation of the ways in which Eyal utilises the body in its totality to convey emotion and feeling. Speaking with Eyal soon after the Dior show, it is clear that this idea that the story comes from within is one that Eyal embodies whole-heartedly. 

NR: What inspired the approach you took in choreographing the Dior SS19 show?

Sharon Eyal: For me, inspiration is life – it’s everything I’m going through. I met Maria Grazia [Chiuri], who is an amazing person, and then I saw the work on the collection as it appeared. I think it’s all about chemistry. When you work with people, or another artist, they have to inspire you. In terms of the Dior collaboration, fashion and material is something that I really connect with. It feels like you can see the material sewn into the movement. I really love all the layers that you can see in the connections. 

NR: What does the partnership between fashion and dance reveal? 

SE: It’s about a collaboration of feelings. I think it’s not just dance, or fashion, I think it shows the combination of something unique that you want to share together. When you create something, it comes from a certain point in your body; I think me and Maria Grazia were creating from the same point, so it was very organic.

«For me, dancing is something basic, like you eat; you dance.»

Life is about movement, and fashion is something that is so free, as if it has no limits. With the combination of fashion and dance, it’s something that seems so distant but very close, like it was growing from the same planes. Everything came together with an organic feeling.  

NR: Is dance a medium that can express human emotion better than other art forms? 

SE: I think every art form can express these emotions. Painting, cinema, music, and, of course, fashion. But also, something like, going to the beach: it’s all art and it’s all life. For me, there isn’t a difference between life and art. 

NR: How does dance reflect art and life back to audiences? 

SE: I think dance is something very physical and emotional. Everybody feels these emotions and, and I think that connects people. Everybody feels sadness, disappointment and loneliness, for example.

«There is something about the physicality of the body connects with people: dance doesn’t need to be a story in order for it to be something you understand. It’s emotion as seen through the body.»

NR: How do you hope audiences will interact with the combination of dance with music with lighting and movement?  

SE: If the elements are separated, or don’t connect, it doesn’t work because it’s one piece. I think it’s about total feeling and total experience. This connection is important. 

NR: When you’re creating a new dance, where do you start first?

SE: I don’t start a piece, it’s always a continuation of something; it’s like the story of my life, but we have deadlines and so, I’m always cutting it, but it’s a long story that carries on. I start by improvising movements, which my dancers record, and from there I cut, edit, and change: this is the first layer. I work with lots of changing compositions.  

NR: Would you say that your dances have a futuristic element to them?

SE: I don’t know how to explain movement in words, but it’s very natural and simple, but complicated at the same time.

«It’s about trying to be what you are, in a very, very physical way.»

NR: So are you stripping back the elements of dance to the body?

SE: It’s not just the body, it’s also about the body and soul. I believe in the heart and emotion, but I think that everything comes from the physical, from inside the body.

«Muscles are emotional; you don’t need to put anything on top of the way muscles move because it’s all already there.»

NR: Do your dances take on the traditional structures of ballet, or is it a completely new style?

SE: When you see our dances, you can see the roots of that. I love ballet because I feel like I can play with it; I love the technique, and I love to break it. 

NR: In future, do you hope to add another chapter on to OCD Love and Love Chapter 2? 

SE: I like chapters a lot, so I would love to add more to that. Anyway, I think it’s always a continuation of what we’re doing, or what we’ve done, so I’m sure it will be happen. 


  1. Sharon Eyal photographed by Eyal Nevo

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