I watched this video of Gregoire Malandain which impressed me. The precision of his choreographic language, the fluidity of his movements and the way he seems to easily navigate between mastery and surrender.
Curious, I went on a workshop which he facilitated at Micadanse (Paris) last week. There, I could take the time to explore new trails, bring fluidity to my movements and try out different ways to initiate phrases while staying relax.
Trained at the A.I.D of Paris and the CNSD of Lyon, at the age of 25 Grégoire lives in Brussels and dance in the dance company of Ultima Vez directed by the choregraph Wim Vandekeybus. I asked him a couple of questions by the end of the workshop, here the transcription of it.
What led you to dance ?
I started with circus, I liked to move, I needed to bring my body into action. At elementary school, a friend bringed me to a hip-hop class, it suited well with my taste in music and I started to practice it a lot along with circus.
At school I had difficulties to sit on a chair and stay still for hours. I didn’t feel at my place, I needed to move and dream. I also did a lot of photography and video. Driven by that, I became dancer and aside I continue to do photography and video.
What did you keep from your circus practice ?
The playfull side of it. For exemple when I start to explore a quality of movement instead of thinking what I should do, I will play by establishing some rules to have some support and jump on it. « From restraint new freedom may arise. » By exemple in juggling one ball has always to be in the air. So I define some kind of rules which will allow me to explore.
What inspired you to structure your workshops ?
The fist part about the isolations, the conscience and the spiral is how I like to move when I improvise. The contact part comes from the conservatories, I’ve made parrallelles with my world and what I learned.
What I like about my workshop is that it allows to come back to the relation with the world, with its essence. All day you take charges, when you take the subway, when you go to work… The space I hold is there to take care of your well-being, feel sensations, and learn how to move. I think that there is something thereapeutic in the connexion with the other. Not being scared of touching someone you don’t know. I sweat, you too, it happens. In the subway noone is touching each others, talks or look at each others.
I noticed that you used awareness in your way of transmiting, do you have a meditative practice ?
I am into relaxation, I’ve done some yoga, people can call it Feldenkrais or meditation, I like to lie on the floor and travel without moving. All the flourwork we did in the begining of the class is my way of meditating.
I also like to use images, I learned a lot thanks to them. If you are into an exercise and someone give you a bunch of anatomic terms and you don’t understand anything, suddenly an image is given and you understand everything cause it will remind you a sensation.
I liked what you said about being with the other while staying alive and alert…
Yes being available and in the other’s body at the same time. It’s the inside/outside which will create a resonance between two bodies.
When you make group exercises, there is a collective awareness which arise, it seems like the ego is disolving in service to the group. Forgetting the individual in service to a whole, it’s amazing what can emerge from there. I like to work without miror because with it you are in the esthetism the visual whereas without you can go with the sensations and let go all the layers of your individual to almost reach a cell quality. There is a lot of people like Sacha Waltz who can talk about it better than I do.
What are the moments which touched you the most in your dance journey ?
The best moments I could live were during repetitions in studio or at school with other dancers. There were wonderfull moments on stage but it were more connected with intense emotions whereas in studio it was the disolvation of the ego and a connexion which could make us touch altered states of awareness.
How do you chose with who you want to dance ?
There is some persons with who you have affinities with, like in everydaylife you like to hang out with someone because you get along. In dance it is the same, you like to dance with someone cause your bodies get along.
Is there some choreographers you dream of dancing with ?
There were but it’s a way of thinking that I quickly stopped cause it influence too much my way of dancing and I end up disapointed. There is people who I would like to dance with but I am not telling myself that it is my dream or my goal. And there is something I learned to do, is to not take dance too seriously. I do it for myself, it is something that brings me happyness and many other sensations so if I harm it with obsessions it lose its purpose.
In relation with your dancer status how are you ?
For the moment things are going well for me and if tomorow I don’t have work anymore, I am telling myself that I can always work in a bar. In any case, noone realy has security. I think it’s important not to be afraid of doing something else. It’s not because I accept a job in a bar that my dance carreer is over. I can make breaks eventhough a daily training is important to keep. I make photo and videos on the side, it gives me some extra money and it allows me to step back from dance and get an another perspective. I am lucky that both goes together well.
The front picture is from Danny Willem
If you want to know more about Grégoire Malandain click here