Warm Up Session with Inès Arabic Flavor

Online
First broadcast 24 days ago

Warm Up Session with Inès Arabic Flavor

27min
For this Warm Up Session, we delve into choreographer and beatmaker Inès Arabic Flavor's pre-battle imaginary.
An interlacing of freestyling, boxing, and meditation give shape to her training ritual greatly inspired by manga styles. Her dance is permeated by classical melodies, produced harmonies and animated sounds. This immersive Session will thus reveal how such movements are marked by the rhythms of original compositions and unexpected duets.

This invitation to the movement is then followed by a discussion with Madeleine Planeix-Crocker, curator of the Warm Up Sessions cycle.

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The Warm Up Sessions stem from the desire to collectively discover, embody and question training techniques in performance. The series aims to situate the warm up as a vital step in the creation of performance pieces. Thus, training is understood as a starting point for choreographic, dramaturgical or performative productions, both a process of sharing and reflecting. Based upon inclusive invitations, the Sessions seek to deconstruct silos between movement and thought. The series offers a space to practice and discuss, open to all, and conceived in close partnership with guest artists. In this experimental terrain, audience members become active participants, giving birth to an ephemeral and recurring event.
Workshop
Online
Thursday 20 May 2021
from 07 pm to 07:27 pm

With

Danseuse Hip Hop pluridisciplinaire, Inès est une des figures de la nouvelle génération française.

Membre des crews 'Légendes Urbaines' et 'Vision’R', elle a gagné de nombreux battles et concours chorégraphiques en France et à l’étranger, et s’est illustrée dans quelques grands battles mondiaux (Juste Debout, Fusion Concept, Hip Opsession, Next Urban Legend etc).

Outre la démonstration, Inès aime la transmission. Elle a ainsi pu donner des workshops en Europe et aux États-Unis. Entre Locking, Popping et New Style, Inès aime redéfinir les lignes et créer de nouveaux codes, entre old school et new school.

Inès est également beatmakeuse, plus connue sous le nom de Arabic Flavor Music. Ses compositions sont écoutées dans le monde entier et elle collabore également avec les Twins sur différents projets (dernier en date les musiques de la tournée Juste Debout 2020).

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Madeleine Planeix-Crocker is associate curator at Lafayette Anticipations.

In 2018, she founded the “Warm Up Sessions” a series of public and participatory encounters around dance and performance training practices. In Spring 2021, she proposes a new series, "Dérives", that hopes to contribute to the writing of new art histories through co-constructed conversations with contemporary creators.Her interests focus on the production and curation of feminist, queer and intersectional performances.Madeleine received a BA from Princeton University in cultural studies, then a Master's in Media, Arts & Creation from HEC Paris.

Her second Master's at the EHESS was an arts-based research project on feminist performances and safe spaces, led at Women Safe, where she still organizes a theatre and creative writing workshop.Madeleine is currently pursuing a PhD at the EHESS (CRAL), analyzing contemporary community-based performances in France.

Since childhood, she has practiced dance and theatre.   

About

Transcript

Madeleine Planeix-Crocker

Hello Inès! Our paths crossed in a rather unexpected context at Sciences Po Paris where you are currently completing your Master’s degree in communication, and where you were also captain of the Art’Core dance team of which we both members, but you are forming a constellation that is already expanding far beyond the institution, presenting a very impressive challenge to academic frameworks and conventions. You are a choreographer and hip-hop dancer, a member of two crews, Légendes Urbaines and Visionnaires, and you are also an internationally renowned beatmaker. So, I’m very happy to have you here today, Inès. 

 

Inès Arabic Flavor

Thank you very much, it’s a pleasure.

 

Madeleine Planeix-Crocker

I’d like to start by coming back to your invitation to movement in which you summoned a very particular narrative, in which it seems to me that you are preparing for something. Would you like to put this framework into words for our audience?

 

Inès Arabic Flavor

In this invitation to movement, I really tried to convey a pre-battle preparation, one which precedes the battle—a danced battle, but a battle nevertheless. This means that there is a whole physical preparation. I tried to skip the aspect relating to the joints etc. to go straight into the danced warm-up in which I try to look for different pathways with my body, to explore some sensations that I’m not necessarily used to in order to see how far I can take my body. Then, I try to settle down a bit, to create a quiet time in which to reflect a bit, to meditate, in which I’ll also mentalize, alone, saying to myself, ‘Inès, let’s go, it’s time to unleash everything’. It’s really a calm moment that I need to have before going on stage. Then I tried to show the moment just before going on stage, in which I try to warm up as much as possible. That’s when I’m really going to give it my all to try and be ready when I arrive on stage, to show what I’m capable of.

 

Madeleine Planeix-Crocker

We can clearly see these three different pre-battle stages which then lead us to the battle itself, which appears to be very important to the evolution of your dance, in what it allows, notably in terms of experimenting and externalizing your expressivity in front of the gaze of the other dancers that you meet there. What does this battle space bring to your dance?

 

Inès Arabic Flavor

The battle really is my favourite playground. I have experience of the choreographic scene, battles, and creating, and it’s something I really like because I am a competitor: I like to measure myself against people. That’s what I like about hip-hop battles, too: while we are sportspeople, with our egos, we are also artists who want to see and understand the other person’s artistic proposal. We dance against each other: one of us will win, one will lose, but in the end we will have enjoyed battling each other, because we will each have proposed something different. Even if we have the same style, such as in a battle with categories—if I’m up against a locker, I’m going to lock as well—even if we have the same codes, the same conventions, the same fundamentals, etc., we still have different ways of approaching movement, of approaching locking in that sense. For the all-style battles, it’s much broader: I can compete with a krumper, a breaker, a hip-hop dancer, etc. so all the styles are there. This is all done in a competitive framework with a winner at the end. The battle brings me a lot to my practice because it pushes me to always want to be stronger—not necessarily stronger than the others, that’s another matter, but stronger than what I did yesterday. Yesterday I danced like that, tomorrow, I want to dance even better. Because if I dance better than yesterday, I might beat the person who beat me yesterday. That’s really why the battle is something that feeds my dance practice, and beyond that my competitive spirit, my desire to always surpass myself, to go further and further, quite simply, to progress.

 

Madeleine Planeix-Crocker

We’re going to talk about other things that also feed your dance practice, because you have just released your new album S.O.K. The album is accompanied by a short dance film, which I think could be a work in its own right, and which also points to the inseparability between your practice of dance and of musical composition.

 

Ines Arabic Flavor

Yes.

 

Madeleine Planeix-Crocker

I wanted to ask you about the roots of this practice which is intrinsically co-constructed between dance and music?

 

Inès Arabic Flavor

For me, music is something that goes beyond dance. We’ve already talked about this, it’s a vision that is not necessarily shared by everyone, but in my opinion, music takes precedence over movement. Because music is magnificent on its own, whereas a dancer who dances in silence can speak to me, but less so than a dancer who dances to very beautiful music. For me, that is really vital because the dancer is at the service of the music, in the sense that he or she serves to reveal it. The music is there, we hear it, but the dancer will make us see the music, and that is something incredible. I find that the two feed on each other. For example, when I collaborated—and still do—with the Twins, who are world-renowned dancers, knowing them, I know what music will speak to them and what music will bring out their dance. We also found each other because our styles are similar, a lot of breaking, a lot of modulations, sometimes in the tonalities, sometimes rhythmically, in the tonal logics, etc. But if I know a dancer that is more into something smooth, something that needs melodicism, I will bring that forward in my music. If the dancer is into something that is more percussive for example, I’m going to put more emphasis on the drums, the rhythmic changes, etc. and the subtleties at that level. So yes, music and dance are really two things that are intimately intertwined and always will be. In my practice, I will never try to dissociate them. It will always be a body, a co-constructed body. 

 

Madeleine Planeix-Crocker

Speaking of this dance-music universe, it seems to me that there are many influences that run through it in the end, and I wanted to ask you about the sources you draw from that are linked to both movement and sound?

 

Inès Arabic Flavor

In terms of sound, I have two major influences: classical music and something completely different, which is manga. I started music when I was five years old: I did piano for ten years, music theory too. From the age of five until I was twelve, I only listened to classical music: Chopin, Liszt, Beethoven—that is all I listened to. I didn’t listen to rap, I didn’t listen to—how should I say this—more current music. My discovery of this movement really fed my hip-hop music later on. I discovered hip-hop thanks to video games. Then when I watched TV shows such as La France a un incroyable talent, through some research on YouTube I discovered hip-hop dance, which I immediately really liked. At my first dance class at the academy in Sevran, it was a revelation. I said, ‘That’s what I’m going to do’ and that is what I now do. 

When you listen to my music, you can hear that I really try to emphasize the melodic aspect. Sometimes I’ll put string ensembles and no drums in my instrumentals, because I just want you to hear the music, its melodic nature, and then I’ll go back to something a bit more hip-hop, but you need to allow time for all of this. Another influence, which is related to both dance and music, is manga, the Japanese pop culture world, which largely inspired my latest album Straight Outta Konoha (S.O.K.) as it’s an album of remixes of the soundtrack of Naruto, which is my favourite anime. It’s on my shirt. It inspires me a lot both in terms of visuals and graphics, but also in terms of state of mind. My favourite type of anime are the shōnen, a type of anime that centres on young boys who are a little bit naive, a little lacking in talent, who rise to the top through hard work. Naruto is a nobody who becomes the leader of his clan, Hokage, and Izuku who becomes the number one hero, it’s all the same logic. In fact, the main message of the shōnen is that you don’t get something for nothing. It means that we may not necessarily be predisposed to be a great artist, a great musician, but that by working hard and believing in ourselves we can manage to do wonderful things and we can even surpass the so-called ‘born geniuses’ who rest on their laurels a bit. This is a state of mind that I really like because it pushes me. Even though I benefited from an environment open to creativity which helped me to develop certain musical and artistic abilities, etc. I still have this warrior spirit where I think to myself, here we are, every morning we get up, we have to work, we have to do what we have to do to make progress, to become better, to beat the others, but also to beat ourselves. Because it’s always good to be better than yourself each time. 

 

Madeleine Planeix-Crocker

I would like to talk about another form of co-creation that is less visible, but just as important and present, namely the meticulously choreographed pas de deux with the director Siiinapse, to whom we send our greetings. He is another long-time collaborator of yours. How do you consider the dance-camera relationship?

 

Inès Arabic Flavor

In my approach to art or to the expression of dance, when we call on a cameraperson, someone who will capture our movement, it is absolutely essential for them to already be in tune with our dance, with our way of seeing things, but it is also essential that they are an integral part of the creation. They can really make a contribution, make proposals, and bring a different vision to our own which will come out ten times better because they have the camera person's eye and not necessarily the dancer’s eye. 

To be honest, a dance video can look great even with a mediocre dancer if the cameraperson does an incredible job. But a video can be very mediocre even if the dancer is very good but the cameraperson doesn’t have the artistic sensitivity to follow the dancer. 

I have already made videos in two takes—one wide shot, one close-up—and it was magnificent because the cameraperson knew their work, knew how to capture the dance because they had this sensitivity which means that they know where to go to find the movement and to elevate it.

For this reason, the co-construction to create a visual dance that is really beautiful, coherent and that will immediately catch the eye—because we live in a swipe generation where if after five seconds it doesn’t catch the eye, we swipe and move on to something else—has to be efficient in terms of dance, but also in terms of the camera. That’s why the choice of cameraperson, of music, of location, of many things, of shots, etc., is really central and extremely important. Nothing should be left to chance, everything should be thought out and implemented correctly.

 

Madeleine Planeix-Crocker

It was very impressive to see this dialogue being built in such a fluid way in a space that you did not know. To close and perhaps to extend a little more this question of co-presence and the mutualization of practices, I wanted to ask you, Inès, what the role of the commons is in your work? 

 

Inès Arabic Flavor

I’m really porous in my way of working, by which I mean that I listen to everything around me: whether it’s feedback from people who don’t dance, or people who are not in my world who give me feedback or help me. Inevitably, this gives strength. For example, when I came to Art’core, I met mostly—if not 99%—contemporary and classical dancers. At first, I said to myself, ‘Well, am I going to manage to do something with them?’

In the end, it turns out that the people I met there—in this case a classical dancer and a contemporary dancer—gave me so much in terms of art, of dance, of the advice and support they were able to give me, that I think they are some of the people who have taught me the most—beyond my mentors who quite simply taught me how to walk, who have been there since I was 12 years old and who taught me to dance. These are not people I would necessarily expected to come together with if it hadn’t been for the dance we had in common because we didn’t belong to the same social circles. In the end, they are really part of my life and have really pushed me to a higher level.

In terms of music, I also collaborate a lot. I do a lot of music on my own because I like to explore things, but I also do a lot of music in collaboration with certain people. I really have to be comfortable with the person: I will collaborate with someone who I have a good feeling with, if there is an artistic understanding, a genuine shared perception, that it’s fluid and positive. But once again, art is such a plural thing and you can’t just say, ‘I’m working on my flow and I’ll keep it for myself and nobody deserves to have it.’ At some point we are obliged to pool our strengths, to pool our knowledge, our sensibilities, our ways of working. Some people don’t work at all on melodies in beatmaking while I work on them a lot, so I think ‘let’s team up, you work on the percussions and the rhythmics and I’ll work on the melodies’, and as a result, since the person is really strong on drums and I’m very strong on melodies, when the two come together, it makes a sound that is really full. And maybe if I had done it alone, it wouldn’t have been as full.

So yeah, collaboration is super important.

 

Madeleine Planeix-Crocker

You have really touched on something that is at the heart of the Warm Up Sessions programme too, namely the relationships between these different collaborators or between the artists and the participants who are following us in front of their screens. Thank you for your understanding Inès and for having participated in this session. I hope to see you soon.

 

Inès Arabic Flavor

Thank you for the invitation!