Remembering that creation is the result of a whole team.
The Ellipses research phase was possible thanks to the University of Montreal seminar: Composing and Interpreting Music for Dance, directed by Ana Sokolovic and Sarah Bild, where composers and musicians at a master's or doctoral level are paired with chosen choreographers to create a contemporary dance piece in approximately 2 months.
This process was definitely a turning point for me for many reasons but I would like to put the emphasis on my collaborators: the dancers, Miranda Chan, Léna Demnati, and Mathilde Heuzé, the composer Olivier Alary and the violist Victor De Coninck. I applied to the seminar with a very brief idea regarding what I wanted to create. I knew I was curious about creating a solo in symbiosis with the music, with a dancer I never worked with before. The rest was still to be discovered. Finally it turned out to be a trio that is already programmed in three different festivals and is going back into the studio for a change of instrument and now aiming for a 20 minute length piece! I realized that this could not have been possible without my incredible collaborators.
I contacted Mathilde, who I barely knew because I graduated a couple months before her entry at l’École de danse contemporaine de Montréal, and hoped she would accept the project. Immediately she was interested even though I had nothing planned out yet. Yes! A week later I had coffee with Miranda and while discussing our upcoming projects, I talked briefly about the music seminar, teaching and auditions. On my way home on the subway, I had a flash and texted Miranda to ask her if she would like to participate as a dancer for the seminar. Why not? To my surprise she answered 5 minutes later saying yes and now I have a duet! Already very excited, I bump into Léna two subway stations further and we have a quick chat. Once again I explain the music/dance seminar and Léna says: "Well, I’m actually free on Fridays if you’re looking for a third dancer." Wow! And there we have it, the Ellipses trio. I feel like this situation resumes the whole process and the natural flow of the continuity of the project.
Meeting Olivier for the first time in the music studio was as fluid as finding the dancers. We established that the three dancers will follow their own melody at some point and that he will overlap 3 violas played by Victor. Olivier had a musical idea using an ostinato that made me think of an elliptic shape in motion, and reminded me of the communicating system used in the movie Arrival directed by Denis Villeneuve. I worked outside of the studio, establishing a choreographic score before finding the dancers and testing a couple of simple ideas. Olivier, who was present with us, was inspired by the gestures and the general structure. That same week he sent me new parts of the music and I went back with the dancers for more tests. This ‘’ping pong’’ vibe was present during the whole two months of creation. I joined him in the music studio while he was recording with Victor to nourish his interpretation and Olivier kept giving feedback about the choreographic structure and proposing movement nuances to the dancers.
Ellipses is quite a challenge equally for the dancers and Victor. Three quarters of the choreography is written, precise in the gesture, specific in the timing and very oriented in the space. Miranda, Lena and Mathilde need to be attentive to the music and to each other, and to be connected to themselves to fully embody the piece. Victor had three parts to learn, practice and record, a total of half and hour of music. Each part has its own complexity, such as keeping a constant tempo for 9 minutes and mastering the order of patterns with difficult variations to perceive and give a distinguished colour to each solo.
The most satisfying part of my job is definitely seeing people motivated, involved and inspired by my main choreographic idea. I recall a rehearsal where I felt a bit lost concerning the elliptic shape becoming three solos and the importance of seeing a difference between the three dancers. It took 30 minutes for the dancers to guide me through their bodies, suggest ways to make subtle modifications and develop the essential idea.
I feel that creation is a moment where everyone works towards the same idea, contributing in their own way while trusting their background and finding solutions together.
I want to thank,
Miranda for saying yes to the challenges.
Léna for your generosity.
Mathilde for your motivation.
Olivier for your commitment.
Victor for your openess.
I am very grateful to work with these beautiful humans
Photo aboveby Smaïn Tazaïrt, Boomerang- danses partagées event at l'École de danse contemporaine de Montréal