Bonsoir. Do you have any questions?
True. I mean, I didn’t know how to start like this, so a question would help.
I have a question. What did you prepare? How did you prepare for walk+talk?
I keep preparing my stuff. But when I was coming the first night, I thought, after seeing Sioned [Huws] and Rémy [Héritier], I will know what to do and I will be prepared. But it became clear that I could never reach the honesty of Sioned. And I could almost do the same like Rémy.
For me the first idea to prepare was that I don’t prepare, but I will just see what’s going on and I will do it again. Because maybe you need to see another time Philipp [Gehmacher] doing it.
And in a way… since many years I meet Philipp, mainly in bars. I didn’t see much of his work, but I remember some and he’s always there somewhere. So I thought I could just do Philipp’s.
Because the frame is designed by Philipp, so I thought I should enter… just start like this, first. And then I asked him: can I take your clothes? So I have his costumes there.
Well I thought… also Rémy said to me: I’m sure you will take some of the things you saw to do it again. So in a way, I keep my idea.
And then I thought, this process is not so much about… it has to be somehow authentic. What do you want to do now? Why are you moving the way you move? And I cannot just only fake Philipp’s arms, although I like them a lot.
There’s one I always do, it’s this one.
I don’t know if he still does it. But in an improvised context, I improvise, I do many things and then all of a sudden, I concentrate.
And it’s great because like the space behind your back is not very much used. Well, unless you have pain, but usually you don’t know what there is. So I spend, in my own stuff I do it sometimes.
But then I thought, if I don’t do exactly what Philipp did with the extended arms… I don’t know if it’s a joke, but I’ve heard that his main contribution to contemporary dance is the extended arm. It’s major.
So I think I could just start with, like, change it a little bit and start with a lifted arm. And then from this, find my way.
This is how I prepared. So I lifted an arm and I waited.
In a way, usually you think, if you want to design a choreography, you want to choose between what you do, what kind of vocabulary you use, how much on the ground, how much springing.
Basically, I think my movement started inside, so inside the lifted arm. What could it be? So, even before you start moving this arm or… I like the idea that there was an indetermination of this thing.
For example, of course you could move easily, if you would have this ballet education, into nice curves, or also nice pictures, but in a subtle way, I mean, you don’t have to change much and you’re just asking a question.
Or you are telling in front of a jury that you will be a good president for the United States, in front of the Bible.
Or you just will catch something, or even hit.
Or hold a bar in the subway and just sleep under this bar.
I like the idea that in this movement, which is not even yet a movement, there is a lot of…
You could from this shoot a bird or wait and see what comes. There’s no special significations with this, but a lot of resonances could come. It’s a very thin line that makes the resonances change. Suddenly, it becomes something else.
And of course, you’re hoping that things will work.
If you just pull the arm in front of you, and if you think choreography is an accumulation of vocabulary - like I do this little movement and you think all this means that - and what could it mean, I don’t know, the king in front of his slaves. Not slaves but the audience members, the king.
Actually, if you change a little bit, it’s the opposite. It’s the servant who in front of the kings, or king, queens, or the… makes a reverence.
So in the same gesture, there is… Okay, I’m kind of dominating, I’m making you exist by my gesture. Or I’m kind of telling how much you exist, how much I’m, you know, je vous remercie.
And it’s the same: it’s the king, and if you change just a little thing in the posture, it’s the slave. And from this point, then you can work (…).
Even if you’re just reproducing, I don’t know, old dance formats, whatever you do. I guess you can always find something inside where you are in a desert. Okay, you are doing a Cunningham exercise, but you’re in a desert and you’re looking for the very old Merce, full of arthrosis.
So once you start that, it’s not only an alphabet that you’re building, but inside you can play with the violence, the weakness, the tenderness, the sweetness, the freedom… inside of the same movement, then you can start making a walk+talk.
But to prepare, I thought that… It’s strange, if you say ‘walk+talk’, you have a binary activity, so you have to talk and you have to move. And in a way you always talk and move, I mean, you never talk without moving and you never move without some words.
Whether you are really thinking, it’s really a hard work not to think. I mean, some people spend days in meditation trying not to think too much. So basically, walk+talk, it’s like we do it always.
I mean, you are right now moving and if you’re not talking in your head, you are really thinking where are we going? What is he doing now? Basically, it’s always going on. It’s as if there were no frame; then what should we do?
But then, there’s also a problem in this contrast position named ‘talk and walk’ or ‘move and talk’ or… then there is this division between my brain, my tongue, my ideas and my movements, my physicality, my weight. Of course, as soon as you spell something, you make a frontier.
I spent a lot of time in school, where we thought: oh, why is it that dancers don’t read? Why is it like that? It’s not that they don’t talk, they talk a lot, but not so much on stage. They also don’t read. They have no time, they are tired after classes. So you may switch on the TV but you have no time for a book, a real book, a big book.
We thought: okay, we should bring the books into the dance studio and we should try as many possibilities to read and warm up.
So we started with reading but without the furniture of reading. Usually, you have a bureau, you have a sofa, you have a bed. So if you read in the studio, after a while, you change positions and how you hold your book, and so you may study how much you’re moving already. And then you also think about the movement of your eyes, how you pull your neck, and how your fingers are working for the book.
But then, little by little, we thought: what can we move from this reading? How much can we still read and move? How much distance can we take? And then, how much we can go on doing our usual exercises and keep on reading Foucault?
At the start, of course it’s difficult, but little by little, after two years, you get the first page. And you start improving your balance.
Then we thought: it’s good, but it’s really only for professionals like us. So we could organize lessons where we would write the lesson itself. Like a Benoît Lachambre lesson, where he says: open all your tubes, in your belly. You read this and you do it in a way.
So what you are reading would be what you are doing. Open your fingers, ouvrez les tubes corporelles, laissez rentrer les choses à l’interieur de l’oesophage.
Then we could give some books to people that would train by reading. So it would be like lessons inscribed in the text, like scores. We wrote ourselves the scores of our own movements also.
So it became clear that the voice, the talk, the written words are designed for our body, are designing our body, but our body also is designing the words, because I’m bending to… Is it first written that I’m bending or I’m bending and I write this? And I increase the pressure by writing, but also in the physics.
It became clear that you could really have an interactivity where you are inscribing on your own body the activity you are in and the thoughts you are in. But this is already a movement that brings you somewhere else.
And we thought for amateurs like you, we could thus design… cut a book into a thin line of words and then just take it into a theatre like this…. Or in between the chairs, so that there would be a thin line of text, some big words, some very small. To read the word, you should really go here under…
If you would follow this text - it could be a political text, or a text on philosophy or on movement and dance, or walk+talk - you would have to enter yourself into a movement where the space would be part of the trip.
I think this was meant… it was a walk+talk, so you could say aloud the text you’re reading, and for some big words you have to step back. And I thought about preparing the entire space with that. But I was in the studio, so I thought, maybe I could just describe it.
What is nice is that if everybody follows this text, and maybe say it out loud or not, whatever, it’s really a collective choreography designed by the text and movement of the text. I mean, if the words are jumping there and if you want to follow the sentence, you can also go very quick.
The dentist said I had a big problem. The saliva doesn’t go back in my mouth. When I talk and move, if I don’t have a bottle, it becomes bigger and bigger. I mean, one month later, I will talk without sleeping, it would get bigger. No, I’m kidding.
The main thing is that I talk always on stage.
For example, Friday night I did a political speech because there were the elections in France. And there was an entire event organized around art and politics and dance of resistance, things like that. So I came on stage and I did a very, very old political speech that is the one Lionel Jospin, our prime minister at the time, didn’t do.
So I did this speech. And after I met a woman. She came to me and she said: I’m so disappointed. I like your work, I like you, you’re great, I go to see every dance I can see, I saw you many times. But if you need to talk now, then what is left? If you have to do this, then there is a danger for… I felt the danger, I felt fear, there is so much discourse everywhere, there’s so much words everywhere.
And she said: I hardly go to theatre anymore, there are so many words always. I only go to dance. And tonight you killed this. Why is it like that that you have to talk?
And I said: but I move also. I mixed this political speech with dance also.
And she said: Yeah, but once I heard you talking, you killed any dance you would do after. I was just…
So I thought it was quite difficult, especially for this event, if people would be afraid and said there was really a danger. And I didn’t understand if it was a danger for me, for her or for dance. Anyway.
It made me think that the words that are coming are not only around anatomy, around movement, around Laban, Laban, Laban. They’re not only about teaching movements, but any kind of words are influencing your body culture and the reverse.
For example, this political speech that I do sometimes, like it’s always coming back. Something like:
J’ai failli dire que j’étais socialiste avec un projet socialiste, parce que socialiste, c’est déja assez mou quand on pense à la possibilité abérrante qu’a ce même parti socialiste.
And you… Because first you think walk+talk, then you have to reduce a little bit the movement quality, so you don’t get nervous. And then the words, you reduce also the level of your voice, and then they are mixing together. And then you can start.
But I was thinking, in a way, there are many ways to talk. One is this:
Si vous voulez une femme élisez-la elle et non son mari.
And you can do it as a dancer anyway. Sometimes when I improvise, or even in the middle of a piece that has nothing to do with this, I have the phantom of a skinhead coming. Even if I’m in the middle of a nice, sweet, I don’t know, a nice, sweet dancing from the eighties, which I like actually, I’m sometimes thinking: where is the skinhead?
Sometimes, even if we are all on stage, like twenty people trying to feel the choreography. Sometimes, I just stop, I don’t know, I go and I say:
Enculé, pédé, sale pédé (…)
For nice, sweet things, what comes is always, almost always, like the mother. I don’t know why. Since a few years, I’m… If I just don’t think and I start speaking and start moving, I do this. Like holding the child.
Of course you are moved by the child, that is not really here. You’re also moving the child, so that he could have its own little dance. And then you just put the child on the ground and you give him a kind of caress. It’s very old. You just take the inspiration from the child to make your turn. So it’s a dead child. You’re trying to bury him. It’s the last movements you do for him.
You could say, I don’t know, I still don’t know exactly why I’m so fan of this modern dance. Caressing a dead child. I really like it.
When I talk, I very often talk about old movements, old dances, to have a repertoire. For example this one, it’s Isadora [Duncan]. She loves to have children. Usually, there’s a fantastic piano from Scriabin. But, can’t you say something with that? Of course, the dance is old, fixed, but can’t you just say something about it?
And in these kind of things, there is the worker dance that I kind of like to talk into. To work with the talk of the worker, working and working and working.
So we can turn it into a funny, little dance where you work. You just have to work more to earn more. Or you just try to do it the best way you could do it. And then if he gets, he looks what he has, and he doesn’t have much, he goes back into the work and he goes on and he goes on and he gets tired so he has a freeze.
I think, it’s a talkative dance of course. Without words, it talks already like… Openness of the conscience. Democracy. Your own power as a worker. It seems a bit simple, but in a way it talks a lot and it was in 1921 or something.
And of course, craft of the worker. Calling on even the use of the voice.
And he works and he works and he works and he’s almost destroyed by the movements he has to do to resist inside, but he finds a way to kind of break through that.
And then everybody together. He brings men and women all together into something that’s more enthusiastic, in a way like turning the work into something more pleasant. It’s quicker and quicker and quicker. And at the end, she wins.
Now, of course you won’t be able to see many of the solos where the dancer wins again. Or even fights.
But you may see some dancers who shoot. Or use weapons.
You know this Japanese way to use the sabre? You know this? The sword. When you prepare, you take the sword and you turn it to yourself. And you…
If it’s not enough, then you can use a screw driver. Ein Schraubendreher. Or if it’s not enough, you can use keys. Or a pen. And yourself.
And if that’s not enough, you can use the screw driver and the keys at the same time. Or then even the screwdriver, the keys and the pen at the same time.
And if it’s not enough, you can just lift the shoulder, trying to put all your organs in your shoulder.
Or, if that’s not enough, you can just appuyer avec la main, appuyer avec la main, appuyer sans fin.
Si ça ne suffit pas, you can instead of opening things, you can close your different parts of the body and once it’s really closed, you can just start playing with how they could move one from another. So you use the closeness instead of looking for this openness, you can use the closeness of your different thoughts and articulations of organs to see how they can manage to roll in a difficult way on one another.
Et si ça ne suffit pas, la possibilité c’est d’enfoncer le sol et puis on s’enfonce dans le sol plus et certaines parties qui remontent. Et il n’y a pas de fin au fait de s’enfoncer jusqu’à soulever. Et plus on s’enfonce, plus on soulève les choses.
Et si ça ne suffit pas, if it’s not enough, you can just fold this in front of you.
Et si ça ne suffit pas, you may enter in this, you can just try this one.
If it’s not enough, you can look at the transformations.
Si ça ne suffit pas, vous récupérez, vous récupérez. And you start saying anything you want. Like, freedom. Like, sausages. Like, castration, positive castration. Like, dreams that become true. (…)
If it’s not enough, if it’s really not enough, then hold all the things with you and wait until something comes.
If it’s not enough, you just change. There was one guy who always said while moving ‘change’. He started something and ‘change’. And from this point would always change. And little by little, he made an entire philosophy on changes. Change. Change. But then of course, you start only changing the same way. So you’re entering something that’s not changing at all. Although you are trying to change.
So, after a while he said: I go and change this. Change this. I should change the way you change. So if you always change that way or another, you could try to change. You’re still. Always moving. So you just, this is then kind of metaphysics of changes. And he worked his entire life on that.
I’m not a specialist with that.
It’s like if you have the goal to reach the bottle, for example. Maybe the usual way is to go, reach your hand and just catch the bottle.
But if you have in mind this idea that you should change, you could maybe take the bottle with your elbow or even your pelvis. Trying to catch the bottle with your bottom or I don’t know.
And if you almost reach the point and you rethink it, but your bottom wants the bottle but your head says no, so you’re resisting to the fact that your bottom wants the bottle. But your body is resisting less. So you may have new light, where part of you wants the bottle but your tongue is resisting and is turning inside to avoid the water.
And this is why I started to rethink the mouth space while talking and moving.
I was thinking, why did I spent so many years with my thumb keeping me away from speaking? And why is it like that that as soon as I dropped it out, I started to become talkative and more talkative and more talkative.
So I tried to forget completely about regression. I start to think why is my thumb so big now. What’s the difference between people? Before and now. And what… of course, it is preventing me from speaking, but… I kind of like it.
I started to think about making the entire walk+talk with the thumb in my mouth. I’m sorrry I’m long…
I started thinking I could also use the mike this way. I can add a microphone and I could just accumulate different levels of energy, where you would think that what you are hearing is a kind of music.
Then what comes backwards, this arm, this hand. Then you start thinking of this open mouth of Jeremy Wade. He always has this big, open mouth. He always got that open mouth in a hysterical way.
And you start entering your… Try. Try this… Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. And what’s important you just add something and add something…
If it’s not enough, you can just try to get up your shoes.
If it’s not enough, you can just try to talk it away.
If it’s not enough, if it’s not enough, you can try to destroy the space.
If it’s not enough, you can just try to…
If it’s not enough, you can just try to forget about all of this and find happiness.
And if it’s not enough, you can just say… If it’s not enough… If it’s not enough…
Si ça n’est pas suffisant, il est possible de hurler, de cracher, de pleurer, de maudire.
Si ça n’est pas suffisant, il est possible de parler fort, de se mettre à l’écoute les uns des autres.
Si ça n’est pas suffisant, il est possible de prendre des cours de danse, danser nu, d’aller voir des spectacles merveilleux.
Si ça n’est pas suffisant, il faut voter, choisir le nouveau directeur du Tanzquartier.
Si ça n’est pas suffisant, il est possible de reprendre l’avion, d’oublier d’aller faire des séjours magnifiques dans des chambres de tourisme trois étoiles aux Malédives.
Si ça n’est pas suffisant, il est possible de respirer, il est possible de respirer fort, de respirer très fort.
Si ça n’est pas suffisant… Si ça n’est pas suffisant… Si ça n’est pas suffisant… vous pouvez tout arrêter.