interview (13)


William Forsythe interviewed by Thierry de Mey (2006)
About  the making and performing of One Flat Thing, Reproduced

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French choreographer and dancer Brice Leroux presented in February his lumino kinetic dance piece 'Solo#2-Fréquences' at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb. The guest performance was organized by Eurokaz – The International Festival of New Theatre.

Photo of Brice Leroux by Sandra Piretti (c)

Brice Leroux (b. 1974) graduated from the Conservatoire National Supérieur in Lyon in 1992. For his First Solo he received a prize for best contemporary dancer at the Paris International Dance Competition and the Gold Medal of the city of Paris. In 1992 he was awarded a scholarship by the American Dance Festival in North Carolina and completed his training in New York at the studios of Trisha Brown and Merce Cunningham.

In 1994 he moved to Brussels to dance with Rosas. Three years later Brice Leroux decided to give up this work and decided to the study of Musicology and Ethnomusicology at the University of Paris VIII. He worked with David Hernandez, George Alexander Van Dam (violinist in the Ictus Ensemble), Sarah Chase, Jean-Luc Ducourt and others.

In his work 'Solo#2-Fréquences' Leroux uses mathematical schemes applied on movements, LED art, and sound tempo. It's a poetic science on trajectories in space. Brice Leroux is a fascinating and uncompromising choreographer; and he doesn't care much about the establishment, but is fully committed to the processes of work.

Brice Leroux: Continum, photo by Wolfgang Kirchner (c)

Therefore, here is Brice Leroux to tell us more on his art_space_sound_body articulations...

Let's start with your education and interest in dance…

BL: First I've been trained as a ballet dancer. I guess like a lot of dancers, I was being educated like this till the age of sixteen and then I oriented myself to contemporary dance. I’ve studied at the Conservatoire National Supérieur in Lyon. Afterwards, I left for the States to study a bit with the Cunningham Studio and with dancers of Trisha Brown Company. Voila! That’s about it, I’m mainly dance trained…

I’m very interested in your American experiences, because techniques by Merce Cunningham and Trisha Brown are slightly different… What was it like to work with them?

BL: Right! Well, it’s true, the movements are very different in these two techniques, kind of opposite. For instance, Merce Cunningham did everything as a sort of geometry, whilst in Trisha Brown’s technique everything is more free and more like fluid forms. Trisha’s movements were actually informal in a way.

But at the same time, what was interesting to me was the fact that these techniques are really working mostly on the movement. And there is nothing theatrical in it, a dancer is a dancer and dancers are really not pretending to do something, just letting their bodies to work.

Photo: Gravitations by Brice Leroux (c)

I guess, some people would call it abstraction, but I don’t think it’s really abstract, because it’s still a human person doing it. So, I think there is still a possibility for the empathy for the viewer.

It can’t be abstract and for me really is important to define the art of dancing in a way. Like really playing with your body which is totally something else then being an actor, like pretending to live something else. I don’t feel like I’m pretending anything, I’m just playing with my body and I’m living the sensations it gives me, hoping that this is also 'lived' by the viewer, I guess.

Seems that you are interested lately more in corporal work and kind of minimalism… Is there anything that has triggered this interest particularly? When did you decide to do this kind of aesthetics?

BL: Well, I was just trying to learn as a composer. I guess I needed to focus on one figure at the time. I didn’t study choreography for instance, compositions and these kinds of things. My way of working is actually studying every aspect of what composition is. For instance, if I would work on trajectories in space that’s enough for me to focus on, without a need to also work on arms movement for instance or something else.

For me, there is my own 'composition' I work on and then, I work for the viewer… because I’m also trying to create things to let the viewer see this work on trajectories.


Therefore, everything out of that I'm moving away to show what I want to see. Hence, I’m working on what’s necessary and what’s enough.
I’m not interested in minimalism itself. I’m just interested to focus on one aspect of compositions, if it’s already a full work, that's enough and I don't have to mix everything.

As for the viewer, I wanna show the specific thing I’m working on. I’m dividing it into parameters, only working on certain parameters at time.

What is your relation as a choreographer to the space… to theatre space? More precisely, how do you treat space in your work?

BL: Um, that’s a large question. As for theatre space, I started experimenting with space more like Trisha (Brown), having more events in site specific spaces. Afterwards, I started to go to theatres and then working in some propositions this space gave me, for instance: What is a block box? What is a frontal perception of the audience?

Solo#2-Fréquences by Brice Leroux (c)

Well, in this performance 'Solo#2-Fréquences', the audience is all around and it's a little bit different. I’m trying to use what's in the theatre and what’s interesting in this situation, the audience is sitting in front of it, in the dark, there are no other stimuli and it’s a live show, it’s direct and you know that’s not an image. A human body in front of them, and that’s a specific situation that I want to work with.

In terms of space, what’s interesting for me is the space between bodies. If you are only working with trajectories, the distance between bodies and how they come close or get far from each other. In a way, what’s really visible for me is happening between space and that’s what I’m trying to work on.

OK, now we can switch to music and the importance of the sound in your work. You studied ethnomusicology and came into contact with other cultures through traditional dances ... Why did you decide to go in that direction?

BL: Traditional dances were interesting to me because you are entering the field that's not about the style, specific style that has been built by some choreographer, but was built over the years, decades, centuries.

Photo: Olivier Matterlart (c) from Quantum-Quintet by Brice Leroux

There are really coherent forms that somehow attracted me to study them and to see what style actually is? You can do the movement with it, like for instance, if you would ask a ballet dancer to do a movement or if you would ask an African dancer to do exactly the same, it’s not going to be the same thing at all. This is what interests me. What are these differences in the way of doing things? And for me, these differences are style, so researching on this was important. Body movements are not only shapes, it’s also a way of doing it.

For me that was a way to go toward the source of the pleasure of the movement. It wasn't being built by someone thinking about what movement should be, it’s just something that has been built up over the centuries, something that is very coherent within the society and just a basic pleasure of what dancing is.

Photo: Olivier Matterlart (c) from Quantum-Quintet by Brice Leroux

Yeah, I know... many people very often use these terms like, lets make now a Forsythe movement, or a Cunningham movement… what about non labeled body and movement?

BL: Yeah, I didn’t want to create my style based on taste. For me that was training, too. As a dancer, I wanted to have all these experiences. But, I don’t wanna be imprisoned with a certain style that I would have to study more then others. I wanted this range of obvious possibilities and from this point, my work is about not deciding on style.

I’ve never decided to use a movement because I think: oh this is nice, so I would do this. So, I’m building this compositional mathematics in order to avoid this. There is some sort of logic and coherence with the project rather then a decision of taste.

I guess, that’s what I’m trying to do, which is somehow opposite to traditional dances. But because it’s opposite, I was really interested in this. I needed to go through all these things to pull away from this, I guess.

Read the second part of the interview with Brice Leroux: Choreographing bodies and spaces

(Originally published on Body Pixel)

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Back in June, during Eurokaz – The International Festival of New Theatre, Arlene Hoornweg and Pauline Kalker from theatre company Hotel Modern gave me an interview about their work. We weaved our talk around two of their performances - Kamp and The Shrimp Tales.

Photo by Herman Helle from Kamp

Hotel Modern is not a typical theatre company. Because of their visual aesthetics and the multiple use of cameras, sculpture, puppetry and various sound devices, you can find them regularly in books that cover topics of expanded, live cinema and new media art in cinematic context.For those of you who admire the work by Slinkachu, Nathalie Djurberg, Marcel Dzama, Josef Nagj, Tadeusz Kantor, Walter Martin & Paloma Munoz etc, the relation with Hotel Modern is like a theatre extension of visual arts.

Let’s start with the concept of your company… the concept is wider, it involves theatre aspects, but you are also notable company in the field of expanded cinema… but there is a lot of applied arts present even on your web site… I would call it visual art…. When did you decide to choose such aesthetics?Arlene Hoornweg: We like that!Pauline Kalker: Yeah, we have the website with many rooms. I think, it’s because when we made our first performance somebody suggested us if we would like to do a music theatre. That person thought that this was maybe something for us, we were very young at that time. Then she got an idea…Arlene Hoornweg: Yeah, I was playin’ guitar. That was after theatre school, and Pauline and I were searching a bit. After theatre school I realized I want something else. I wanted to perform, but I also liked music. So, I started to play guitar and I really liked making songs and I really got into that. Then the theatre director said, you can make a music performance if you want. I said, OK! Let’s do that. Then we asked Arthur Sauer, the composer to work with us. He still works with us. And then the three of us made a music performance and it was fun.

Photo by Leo van Velzen from The Shrimp Tales

Arlene Hoornweg, Herman Helle and Pauline Kalker

PK: Yeah, it was fun to go really into technique, because he had these little boxes which distorted our voices, like making high voices and pitched it. He had many different instruments, and Arlene gathered texts around the theme of life and death. She made a number from every text, like a song and Arthur had all these instruments and it was really like playing. It was fun to play with the technique of his music and sounds, to make a kind of landscape of sounds. I think we both like playing with it.AH: But we also found out what we can tell with text, what we can tell with music, for example. And that’s also what we do now, what we tell with images? What we can tell with text? We can tell a lot with images, and you can tell a lot with music; and you can tell something with text…

Photo by Leo van Velzen from The Shrimp Tales

PK: They all have their own possibilities. We both like the fact that the level of imagination in our performances is very high. I think we like to be in another world, to create the whole world, not only text. We want to create a really new universe. You need different senses for this. Because it’s not only one dimension, it’s not only people and text.For instance, like our latest performance we did with shrimps. It’s called The Shrimp Tales, actors are real shrimps. If you have a world that is populated by shrimps, which perform human activities that’s even more imaginative. Especially with cameras and small models Herman (Helle) is using in ‘Kamp’, you have literally a whole world build.

Photo by Herman Helle from Kamp

You have small models and you can be in that world, then you can make them talk with one another. You need sound to make an atmosphere. I think, if you have different media like music or visual art with sound and little bit of text sometimes, the imagination becomes even more intense, more then having only a painting. Well, it’s not better then another, it’s just what we like.You have many layers; that’s natural…AH: Yes, that’s the way we look at life. That you have so many layers, that there is not only one. There are lots of artists who want to have the essence, or a focus they are trying to pick up. That’s also very nice, but we want to pick everything out of the world to show the richness, and the layers. We also want to show the enormous cosmos.

Photo by Hans Werlemann from Rococo

Your performative technique is very specific… where would you place yourself as performers?PK: That’s different from each performance. For instance, in The Shrimp Tales we are using these little microphones and we are dressed up like we are a kind of glamorous or punk band with light on our faces. We are moving the shrimps and we do a lot of voices, we really have to make shrimps performing. At the same time we also have screenings and projections on the wall.So, the audience can see huge shrimps in a shrimp world and can be focused on it. They can also look at us; we are also performing as actors, playing the scenes and animating the shrimps, doing the voices of shrimps. The audience can watch us, too. We are really performing as actresses, we are really there. We are showing emotions on the face, and we are aware that the audience is sometimes looking at our faces to see our emotions, and then they look at the shrimps again.

Photo by Herman Helle from Rococo

With ‘Kamp’ is more sober. We are part of a machine. We are there, but we are like in a machine. In that way our bodies are telling the kind of objectivity that in ‘Kamp’ is kind of objective, in factual way. Our performing is anonymous and factual, we have really choreography. We sit down or get up in the same time, the rhythms of our bodies and the moves in that way are related to dance. We are really aware of how we stand or how we look. We choose a neutral way of being there. In ‘The Great War’ we have the text, and the text is a bit like songs, but for acting… it’s very very short. We do it like text but more in a song way. We are aware of our voice.When we are a part of the machinery we are also partly technicians at the stage, like cameraman. We have to run around getting the machinery going. At the other hand we also make sounds on the stage.

This multi-functionality is pretty logical these dayz… Besides, it’s the way you express yourself within many different techniques… you function like a post rock band…PK: Because we are a group, it’s more like a band. Herman brings his models, I bring the story line, Arlene her performing skills, you know. So, when thinking about the content, we did all things together. Composers are bringing sounds, and we all bring stuff together into the whole artwork. So, the artwork has a special energy.Yeah, it’s a mash up of your ideas and thoughts…. Could you describe me the processes of your work?AH&PK: First, we never now! (laughter)PK: After every show we have to start all over again. It’s like a cliché, but it’s true. You think you know nothing.AH: Yeah, nothing. What we are going to do?! Sometimes you get nervous, but sometimes you don’t. Then we start to write down our ideas and thoughts. But it also depends of the project. For ‘Kamp’ it was a very specific idea that came up. For ‘The Shrimp Tales’ the ideas came from many different ways and we had gathered them and developed it from ideas we had last few years.

Photo by Joost van den Broek from The Great War

PK: There is always a starting point. There is always this one person who has the beginning idea, because only one head pumps up. So, for ‘The Shrimp Tales’ it was my idea to get shrimps out. Actually it was a comedy idea; basically I wanted shrimps performing people. Then we had some ideas and we decided to do it on the stage. So, that’s much opened and very specific. We had an idea from before, the idea of showing the city. So, that’s how we connected it. What’s in the city?! What happens in the library, or in the museum, or hospital?AH: Then we decide either we want them on the ground or on the tables.

Photo by Joost van den Broek from The Great War

PK: Going from these ideas there are many moments to turn on your fantasy. We really have to make it work. We collect many ideas and then we choose the one we like the most. After that, Herman makes the model of that and we collect our stories and connections in the plot. We want to get the atmosphere of these places.Herman first makes very simple model which we use for improvising things. Then we start to talk and write a little bit to work it out. We combine many ideas, and then we choose the one we like most. We pick them together and make a good scene of it. In the process we also make a lot of crap, so we choose really good ones. That’s basically like shooting with a lot of bullets.

Photo by Joost van den Broek from The Great War

You are cleaning the mess of ideas…PK: Yeah! First, we create a mess of ideas, because we have to create a lot of ideas in order to play with them.AH: And, of course, we discuss a lot about it. What the performance is about, and what structure does it have? Why we want to use some things, why not other, and so. In ‘Shrimps’ we ended with fifteen scenes in thirty minutes, and that’s a lot.PK: In ‘Kamp’ it was different, because the story was already there. We just had to decide what part of the story we want to show. At the end we finally chose the basic things, maybe like a cliché – gazing, crimes. For us, we don’t want to be original in what we tell. We want to tell the basic things and the most shocking, the basic things in a way.

Photo by Joost van den Broek from The Great War

For instance, there were also medical experiments in Auschwitz and we wanted to have a scene also showing that. Because, we didn’t want to use texts, the image of medical experiments that we made didn’t communicate at all. Then we decided not to put it in. Not everything has to be in and dedicated. Instead of that, we thing that it has to be consistent and in a way balanced. We also have execution in performance, but we didn’t show every way of execution, but only one. It was quite difficult to choose which element we want to show. So, that was another path.AH: Some things are the same, and some not because the material is different.

Photo by Herman Helle from Kamp

Seems like covering the topic of Auschwitz in ‘Kamp’ had stronger effect with puppets and big screens, instead of acting… People find hard to comprehend the fact of evilness… Atrocities and killings are happening now in this very moment in Africa, Asia… but we are never enough prepared for those facts…PK: I think it’s good to have different ways of telling. As preparations for Kamp we were watching documentaries with interviews of the survivors. I think that’s the best way of telling… just listen to the stories by people who were there. That’s really authentic, but it’s good to have other ways to complete the whole image. There is not one way, the best way of showing that.I think, with the testimony you can get the story from really the first source. It’s very very good to try to show it with images, documentaries or, like us, with puppets. It’s good to have these different ways of going around the theme.There is not one good way. It should be from different art forms to different media. Monuments, radio and so, actually everything that contributes the commemoration, reflection and realization of what happened.

Photo by Leo van Velzen from Kamp

AH: There are so many artists using different ways to talk about this theme for very different audience. There are different ways to get in touch with it. Some people came to our performance and they said: it’s so distant to me, you know. It doesn’t click. It’s good to have all these books and art forms to trigger them. That’s the way people can connect with the image and to get to emotions. Some people can easier connect with books, some through image…PK: People have different portrayals. It’s also different if you want to commemorate or if you want to grab information. These are different things. Those are different purposes actually. There are different things you can do towards the theme: memorizing, contemplating…

Photo by Herman Helle from Kamp

Connecting these things with what happened in Bosnia, or in Rwanda. That’s also a relation, to make connection with the world today. I’m happy to see that many artists within different media are relating with the theme, making different relations and actions towards it.Arlene & Pauline, Thanks a lot!Hotel Modern is at the moment at world tour. Check here dates; maybe they will stop by near your neighbourhood soon…(This interview was originally published on Personal Cyber Botanica:
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Marlon Barrios Solano interviewed choreographer Bebe Miller in occasion of the New York premiere of Necessary Beauty. She talks about her views on beauty, collaboration and her experience creating pieces combining live dance with new media.
Thanks to Bebe Miller and Dance Theater Workshop:
DANCE TECH is a program that features the highlights of the interviews. DANCE TECH explores the intersection of cutting edge digital technology and the performing arts.
This program is conceived and produced by Marlon Barrios Solano/Dance-Tech Interactive LLC in collaboration with ProgressiveIMG. and distributed by TenduTV.
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Watch live streaming video from dancetechtv at
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I interviewed Michelle Ellsworth before the premiere of her work at Dance Theater Workshop in NYC. She talked about her journey as dance soloist making connection between technology, religions and humanness. In this episode I am experimenting with hyperlinking het video material/documentation to augment her words. I am using Viddler that allows you to create links and comment and more as dots in the timeline. So, hover over the dot and click in the link and will take you to some samples of her work. Documentation provided by the artist
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EMBODIED TECHNE SERIES Eposide 1 An interview with dance improvisation artist, lecturer and researcher on improvisation and perception (Tunning Scores) as one of the "Embodied Techne Series". She takes us across her experiences with dance, movement studies, psychology of perception (J.J. Gibson) and her experience with video. Conducted in New York by Marlon Barrios Solano (February 15/2008) and video editing courtesy of Ashley A. Friend. LISA NELSON is a dance-maker, improvisational performer, videographer, and collaborative artist who has been exploring the role of the senses in the performance and observation of movement since the early '70s. Stemming from her work with video and dance in the '70s, she developed an approach to spontaneous composition and performance she calls Tuning Scores: a communication format for ensemble performance that she presents as site-specific Observatories. She performs, teaches, and creates dances in diverse spaces on many continents, and maintains long-term collaborations with other artists, including Steve Paxton, Daniel Lepkoff, videoartist Cathy Weis, and Image Lab, a multidisciplinary research/performance ensemble. She received a NY "Bessie" Dance and Performance award in 1987 and an Alpert Award in the Arts in 2002. For 30 years, she was co-editor of Contact Quarterly, an international dance and improvisation journal, and directs Videoda, a project for videotapes of improvisational dance. She lives in the mountains of Vermont in the U.S. Video images from workshop organized by Movement Research Thank you!
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Find more videos like this on interviewed via Skype dance and technology pioneer Robert Wechsler, director of Palindrome. He is a choreographer, dancer and developer of interactive ways of performing using new technology. His interest in sensors and electronic devices dates back to the 1970's when he used hand-held electronic devices to generate sounds through his movement on stage. This was in Ames, Iowa, in the United States where he was studying genetics. A move to New York City and a ten-year dance training (SUNY Purchase, Merce Cunningham, Maggie Black, ...) did little to lessen his interest in science and technology. For his choreography and dancing he has been honored with a Fulbright Fellowship, a Nürnberg Innovation Award (2000), CynetArt (first prize for multi-media achievement, 2001), first prize for best interactive art at the Berlin Transmediale (2002) and was second place for the Jury Prize of the Monaco Dance Forum in 2006. In 2004, Wechsler designed England's first masters degree program in digital performance at Doncaster College which he head for two years. He is the author of articles concerned with dance and new media for Leonardo Magazine, IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Ballet International, Dance Magazine, Dance Research Journal, Nouvelle de Danse, Der Tanz der Dinge and others. His first book, "Motion Tracking -- a practical guide for performing artists" is scheduled for publication later this year. Video Editing courtesy of Ashley A. Friend
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