La Biennale di Venezia

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Introduction by

Marie Chouinard

Director of the Dance department

In 2017 and 2018, I spoke to you about creation from the point of view of the creator-choreographer.

Today I will concentrate on the performer, the dancer:
ON BEcOMING A SmArT GOd-dESS

For the dancer tuning his being, his instrument, similarly to tuning a piano, is a preliminary and essential step for a public performance.

However the complexity of the human instrument is immeasurable when compared to musical instruments: the human being is complex and fluctuating and “tuning” it is a prodigious endeavour.

there are countless systems in the human body
there are countless elements that influence it
therefore it is important to tune the breath, the psyche, the vital circulations, the muscles, the joints, the bones, the connections, the humours, the anxieties, the beliefs, the desires, the physical and spiritual nourishment, the culture, the loves, chance, the fluids, the thoughts, the perceptions...

What the dancer, what her entire visible and invisible being perceives, thinks and feels will be channelled to the heart of the audience.

Her art is giving of her presence: everything must be in tune

This “tuning”, these warm-ups and these preparations require an immense but non-existent amount of time for those who make their own lives a constant relationship with the backstage of the world, for those who have dedicated themselves entirely to this quest for silence.

If the cheetah does not appear to warm up before springing on his prey it’s because his entire life is “geared” towards his prey
For the spider, the deer, the tree, the snake, the bear, the plants, the seaweed, the coral, the galaxies, action is always pure with no apparent preparation, as if their “tuning” were constant and invisible.

Did Buddha warm up before teaching?
Did Christ before a miracle?
and Mother Theresa before providing care and Amma today before taking each person in her arms?

We are neither these exceptional beings, nor these animals nor these natural elements: we will therefore warm up and tune our instrument before each performance!

 

ABOUT MOTIVATION FIRST
First of all feel endowed with a motivation that appears rightful in the eyes of the gods, of beings, of everything that is alive

action, the love of action sometimes drives us very far and there comes a time when you can feel alone, lost, standing on a column in the middle of the desert!
so sit down, just sit down like a hermit, like a stylite! And open up time, in just a few seconds bring eternity into the heart of the moment.
The wellspring flows again:
as hermits, we find ourselves peacefully seated in a lush green garden where a strange animal lays his wet muzzle and warm breath in the palm of our open hand, asking for nothing...
and everything makes sense again

I remember:
I was rehearsing the Faune, alone, in the studio on the sixth floor of the Cooper building, in rue saint-laurent, in montréal and I was wondering was I was doing there, me, the performer, brandishing a phallus on my pubic bone, my nostrils flaring, a broken horn on my head and my breath frightening, as I moved up and down the studio, respecting the rigorous rules of body placement
what am I doing here?
Why should I go on stage weighed down by all these sexual attributes?
Me, who wished to be bound to god, to the overpowering wave of the universe.

Suddenly I feel lost, alone.

 

THE STOMACH
to have an almost empty stomach, light before going on stage
feeling empty and vitalised, powerful, with a feeling of soft fire in the belly
To achieve this, everyone will find what suits them best and they will often be actions that began many weeks before: the way of chewing, the choice of foods, their quality, their vitality

 

THE BODY
Apart from any technique of the body, the dancer's training also implies a quick reconnection, a process of centering and refining perceptions
Finding one’s own breath
Listening to it

 

THE HEAD
To find clarity in motivation, joy without purpose, gratitude, enthusiasm, the desire to share, to give
To find cleanliness within, to let go of heaviness, fear, judgment, insecurity, etc.

 

TO SECURE ANCHORS ON THE STAGE
Each work corresponds geographically to certain essential anchors, places of power, vital intersections.
Before the performance, go over and over these “acupuncture points” of the work on stage, invest them, charge them up
so it isn’t just the body that warms up
the places of the coming performance also warm up

 

THE INVISIBLE STRINGS
Pause on the stage
in front of the empty theatre
to warm with hope and desire each of the still-empty seats that will soon hold a spectator
wish this spectator a fine disposition of the soul
have faith in his sensibility, in his intelligence

shift your gaze to each seat, create invisible ties from each seat to the stage and from the stage to each seat

 

A MOMENT OF GRACE
before a performance, even for just a second, the performers always seek to achieve a moment of danced grace.

This usually happens on the stage, just before the performance, when the technicians have gone to dinner. The dancer is alone.
She dances, intuitively, idly, she reconnects to the essential forces of movement, balance, weight, connections, spontaneous impulses, tuned breath
She seeks the moment in which she will feel that all the forces have come together in harmony, in a free, centred and spontaneous recitation, in a clarity of perceptions
then, this gives her faith
not faith “in herself”, but faith in the world beyond, in her capacity to come into contact with what lies beyond.
Then, her thoughts collected and feeling welcomed into the arms of destiny, she can leave the empty stage and continue to prepare in her dressing room.

Biennale Danza
Biennale Danza