Online Warm Up Session with Nacera Belaza

Online
First broadcast 1 day ago

Online Warm Up Session with Nacera Belaza

36min
Initially planned with about fifteen participants, this Warm Up Session is now proposed in video format.
Join Nacera Belaza for a warm up around the "liberating movement" and then meet the choreographer with Madeleine Planeix-Crocker, curator of the Warm Up Sessions, for a discussion on the occasion of her next creation "L'onde".
This Warm Up Session is an opportunity for Nacera Belaza to share one of the key pillars of her practice, namely repetition as a catalyst for movement and gathering.

Thanks to Chaia Malécot for her participation.
In partnership with the Festival d'Automne.

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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 26 Nov 2020
from 07 pm to 07:36 pm

Participants

Nacéra Belaza est une artiste chorégraphe née à Medea en Algérie qui vit en France depuis l'âge de cinq ans.

Après des études de lettres modernes, elle crée en 1989 sa propre compagnie. C’est en autodidacte qu’elle est entrée en danse, poussée par la nécessité vitale de s'exprimer, de dire et dénouer la complexité d'une double appartenance culturelle. C'est, pendant l'enfance puis l'adolescence, de ce corps contraint et confiné par le choc des cultures que surgit spontanément le langage, puisant la matière tout d'abord en soi puis dans ce que lui apportera la littérature. Pour libérer, il faut dire juste et précis, se défier de la complaisance et de la séduction. Nacéra Belaza chorégraphie un cheminement intérieur, l'espace, le vide en soi, les zones d'ombre et de lumière, le vertige, la répétition. Elle fait de la danse une plongée verticale introspective. Ses pièces explorent le mouvement en un souffle serein, profond et continu, confrontant la patience, la rigueur, le dépouillement au « vacarme assourdissant de nos existences », rendant au geste son utilité existentielle. Son travail, reconnu et salué par le ministère de la culture, lui a valu en 2015 d’être nommée Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. En 2008 Le Cri a reçu le prix de la révélation du Syndicat de la Critique. En 2017, la SACD a également salué son parcours en lui remettant le Prix Chorégraphe. La compagnie bénéficie du statut CERNI (Compagnie et Ensemble à Rayonnement National et International) depuis 2017. L’ensemble de ses pièces sont régulièrement présentées en Europe, en Afrique, en Asie et en Amérique du Nord. En France, elle est invitée par des théâtres et festivals prestigieux tels que le Festival Montpellier Danse, les Rencontres Chorégraphiques Internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis, le Festival d’Avignon, la Biennale de la danse de Lyon ou encore le Festival de Marseille. Elle a, en parallèle de son activité en France et à l’étranger, créé en Algérie une coopérative qui lui permet de mener un travail régulier avec le pays de ses origines.

Originaire de Los Angeles, Madeleine Planeix-Crocker est, depuis 2018, curatrice des "Warm Up Sessions", cycle de rencontres autour des pratiques de training en danse et en performance. Parmi les invité•e•s des Warm Up, l’on compte (LA)HORDE, Marion Barbeau et Simon Le Borgne (Opéra de Paris), Maguy Marin, Bolewa Sabourin, Katerina Andreou, Sophie Demeyer et Katia Petrowick (compagnie Gisèle Vienne), Steven Michel, La Ribot, Petter Jacobsson (Ballet de Lorraine), Raúl Serrano Nuñez et Alvaro Dule (Ballet de l’Opéra de Lyon), Jean-Biche, et Mette Ingvartsen.
Après avoir été responsable de la communication par intérim de Lafayette Anticipations, Madeleine poursuit actuellement une thèse à l'EHESS (CRAL) autour des performances en commun programmées en institutions culturelles françaises à l'ère contemporaine. Ses intérêts se portent sur la production et la curation de performances féministes, queer et intersectionnelles.

Madeleine a également contribué à des articles sur la démocratisation culturelle aux États-Unis et en Europe aux publications du Comité d’histoire du Ministère de la Culture, pour le Forum d’Avignon et pour la revue Citizens for Europe. Elle a enseigné à Sciences Po Paris, dans le cadre du cours « Cultural and Creative Industries » du master Affaires publiques.

Diplômée summa cum laude de Princeton University, avec une spécialisation en politique culturelle, Madeleine a reçu un master spécialisé en Médias, Art et Création de HEC Paris et un M2 à l’EHESS. Elle y a mené un projet de recherche-création sur la performance féministe et les « safe spaces » (espaces de protection), en partenariat avec l’association Women Safe. Madeleine pratique la danse et le théâtre depuis l'âge de cinq ans et effectue des chorégraphies et mises en scène, intégrant ainsi la création artistique dans sa démarche de curatrice et de chercheuse.

About

Transcript

Madeleine Planeix-Crocker

Hello everyone, my name is Madeleine Planeix-Crocker and I am associate curator at Lafayette Anticipations. I am absolutely delighted to be able to welcome the performer and choreographer Nacera Belaza today for this Warm Up Session which is being filmed due to reconfinement.

Thank you very much for agreeing to participate. We are very happy to be able to retain the connection with the participants, even if it is only virtual.

We are going to start the discussion that follows the first part of this shoot, namely the invitation to movement that you proposed Nacera. A big thank you also to Chaia Malécot, who took part in this invitation with you.

Hello Nacera!

Nacera Belaza

Hello!

Madeleine Planeix-Crocker

The invitation to movement that you proposed today stems in part from questions you are experimenting in the framework of your new piece, "L’Onde", programmed in the Festival d’Automne. The Festival is a partner of today’s Session.  Might you return to the issues at stake in this piece and also explain the genealogy of the gestures you shared, or at least their origins, in the context of today’s Session? 

Nacera Belaza

I'm used to saying that the pieces follow one another quite naturally, in the sense that the spaces I discover at the end of one piece lead me quite naturally to explore the next—that's how it happens from one piece to the next. But for "L’Onde," I would say there is a small variation, which is that I created "Le Cri" in 2008, the first piece that was inspired by all these traditional dances that I began to observe more closely around 2003–4.

At that time, I had seen a group from the south of Algeria called Ahellil. It is a group of men and women who are neither dancers nor singers. I say this each time because it's surprising to see the impact they manage to have on an audience without being or claiming to be professionals. And so they stand, shoulder to shoulder, swaying for a very long time. And you hear a song, a psalmody, which lasts an average of two hours. It's really a ceremony in fact. When I saw it at the Institut du monde arabe, I was really struck by the impact it had on the audience. 

How can non-professionals with so little, with micro-movements and quasi-linear singing, manage to create such attention in the audience. It was really a complete fascination for me at that time. It's not really a traditional dance in itself, but this very special bond that they have with the audience and the state in which they can put them, which, it must be said, is not at all a logic of representation. In my opinion, that is what has shifted a lot of things in my work. 

I had been searching for this myself because, from the outset, I told myself that the relationship I wanted to have with the audience was not one of representation in the sense of submitting myself to their gaze, but one of dialogue, so I searched for that quite intuitively until I observed it in traditional dance.

That gave rise to this piece in 2008 for the Rencontres de Seine-Saint-Denis, "Le Cri", in which we form a duo and listen to a breath, which is born in the body and then takes the form of an infinite movement that spreads and grows for 45 minutes. By observing repetitive movement at that moment, I realised that in ritual dances like this, repetition often means... wants to bewilder the mind. We rehearse to quiet the mind and to put ourselves in a state. We rehearse so as not to be distracted by the body because it is doing the same thing over and over again; therefore, we rehearse to go into ourselves, to commune with the others and also with the audience.

Repetitive movement for me is really the vector of all this, of this connection, this communion that can be made between beings. At that moment, I asked myself a question. I said to myself, “If I don't add anything from a choreographic point of view—if I block my ideas—what happens if I observe this movement?”

Well, you can see that this infinite movement amplifies and accelerates naturally, and reaches a climax at some point. So, I wrote the whole piece based on that and the climax that we experienced in this duo, it lasted a few seconds, we called it “the derailment” inside our mechanical watch. It was the moment of derailment for us. This infinite movement opened up to other possibilities, but we closed it again almost immediately. I have kept in mind this place where I intuitively felt it could open up to other paths. And ten years later, "L’Onde" picks up this thread. That is to say, I returned to this place to which the body is taken, set in motion by an infinite movement, by an infinite image placed inside it, and I added another infinite—the first infinite being an 8—a circle—so a circle and an 8—and that led to "L’Onde". 

It's quite interesting. Besides, it came to me a few days ago, I would dream of being able to perform "Le Cri" in the continuity of "L’Onde" where the body, or rather the being—as for me the body is only an infinitesimal part of the being—is carried along by these two infinites, this imaginary.

But there is one principle that is recurrent in all my pieces, which is to set up—for me, the body must become a receptacle, a blank page on which I place some form of imaginary—I really give myself permission, I set no limits for myself. Moreover, the more disturbing that imaginary is for me, the stranger it is, the more it is a rather positive sign for me. I place the imaginary within the being and ask the being to surrender to this imaginary, to surrender on all levels—physical, emotional, mental, etc.—undoing all these places of control, all these places of action that the being is obviously used to rely heavily upon when on stage. There, all of a sudden, you defuse all these places to be carried away by the imaginary. And after what it inscribes in the body, I really need it to slip out of the grasp of both the choreographer and the performer.

Madeleine Planeix-Crocker

So we come to a notion which is very important in the context of this new creation, "L’Onde", but also, as you said, in the rest of your work, this concept that you call the “liberating movement”. I wanted to know, in the way of exchanging with the collaborators with whom you work—we could see in this case with Chaia how you brought about through words, at least, this liberated and liberating movement—how you specifically envisage making the body available and receptive to this movement so that the stage can be reached where the imaginary becomes the main driving force behind these gestures.

Nacera Belaza

This is really the most important part of the work in fact: to succeed in regaining this availability—because we become aware of it, of course. To start working, you have to begin by making a lot of observations: analysing the functioning of the human being’s body, the human being in society, the human being in the studio, the human being on a set—which are not the same thing—and seeing how they react. What will the set stimulate in them? How do we live in everyday life? I needed this notion of unity because I realised that, in fact, the body functions in a totally fragmented way. That is to say that the legs carry us, the back holds us, the head supervises things and each part of the body is attributed a very strong function which does not allow this unity to be reached, this state of a receptacle open to receiving absolutely everything. 

The work is to name things, to identify one’s own functioning, one’s own mechanics: how we stand, why we stand this way, why movement tends to always develop or to circulate in such and such a way. It’s a genuine analysis of one’s own functioning in addition to an introspection to understand our reactions, in other words, what does it provoke in me to tell myself that I’m going to let myself be taken over by the imaginary, where an army of fears can rise up, so you have to be able to identify them, as they are more or less strong... In fact, it's really on a case-by-case basis, that’s why these are things that I can’t convey in a global way; we don’t all have the same resistances, the same aptitudes, the same desire to let go. Because we all have resistance, but at a given moment what will prevail is our desire or our courage to free ourselves from our fears, which is not the same from one individual to another. First of all, we awaken our consciousness to all this, then we start to create these kinds of little dams, partitions to thwart ourselves, to turn away from our own habits. I came from a different artistic field, namely literature, and it all seemed so vast that I told myself that I couldn’t lock myself up in the body anyway, I wasn’t going to focus on this tiny part of my being for my entire life. So, the desire to free myself quickly became a huge driving force. I needed to see my body not as my body, my property, on which I imprint my personality, my desires, my way of being, of showing myself to others. Instead, I wanted to make it into a blank page, the ideal receptacle for all imaginaries—that was fundamental. 

Once we are able to welcome this imaginary, we then realise that there are other limits, other resistances, so we question our fears, we explore them, we find them in places where we thought they could not exist. 

Fighting habits is extremely difficult—very early on, I read this sentence “you don't get rid of a habit by throwing it out of the window but by making it go down the stairs, step by step”—even more so on stage, because in life, when you want to make these changes, you’re not in the spotlight, under the gaze of others, which creates extra pressure to push you to face up to it. But facing up is not the same as opening up. So, we have to completely reverse the logic of the stage, in other words we receive, including under the gaze of the other. It’s really a colossal task. I could talk about it for hours—how to find a form of availability, of innocence including in one’s relationship with oneself, with one’s own imaginary. When I summon the imaginary, I summon childhood in a certain way. And I realise this when I ask a child to imagine something, it takes half a second. When I ask an adult, I feel that it passes through the mind, whereby they say, “Ah yes, I know it isn’t possible, but I'll pretend it is.” That sets a whole mechanism of simulation in motion. I would say that it’s even a little bigger for those who go on stage—without wanting to take aim at anyone—you want to get close to a form of reality, but you’re only simulating it. Bringing it back to life involves a little bit of everything I’ve just said about working on oneself.

Madeleine Planeix-Crocker

So, we finally come to another of your ambitions: better self-knowledge thanks to this approach, which goes through the liberating and liberated movement. I wanted to know how you have seen this self-knowledge, which is also formed within a collective, express itself, whether in your own practice or that of the performers with whom you collaborate. This collaboration is also very important for you—it is the reason why you construed the invitation to movement as a duo.

Nacera Belaza

It's in transmission, in observation, in exchange of course. Self-knowledge is not an objective, it is an invaluable benefit of this work. In other words, we realise that to give birth to a free movement in oneself is anything but simple. We are so full of resistance, projections, ideas of, etc. that we have left free movement behind long ago and to find it again involves colossal work on oneself. I realise that there are individuals for whom the realisation that producing a movement is learning to know oneself in depth makes sense and others for whom it is more difficult. Introspection is no picnic. That already leads to a selection. Then, resistance is not always the same. 

For example, I worked with a group of four dancers for L'Onde, we don’t have the same stories or the same backgrounds. For the previous piece Le Cercle, it was just as obvious: there were different cultures intersecting and we realised that to rebalance, to be able to tune everyone into this frequency of welcoming, to the openness to letting go, each individual has to work on themselves and observe. There is a whole process of adjustment, of regulation within each person and in relation to the whole—I feel like I created a gigantic clock—to be able to be in tune. Because in fact, we all have a different understanding, a different idea of the word freedom or liberator. I realise that the idea is often a lot stronger than the actual translation of things. We have to agree on this, for a start. 

There is another sentence that comes to mind, “to be free is to be able to do anything on oneself.” Jouvet said that it's to be able to go through a keyhole, which implies a very strong constraint from which I will succeed in freeing myself. For me, that’s what freedom is all about: managing to constrain myself very strongly at first, to be able to make something emerge, something deeper that escapes me. Otherwise I am only repeating what I am, what I know how to do, what I think my limits are or are not. That for me is confinement. Explaining to everyone that we’re going to have to go through the same filters, or constraint. Again, we’re not all equal in relation to constraint. Some take pleasure in working with constraint, others reject it, for others it is totally foreign to them. It's as if we have to pass our whole being, our deepest nature, through these filters, in order to create this word that we use quite easily, a form of commons. These commons can only come into being once we have shed or undone all the paraphernalia related to our image and our appearance that we want to show to the other. It’s only when we let go that we begin to reach something else, another deeper nature, the other me, some would say. When we are connected to that place, whatever the country or the culture, it resonates with everyone. That, for me, is also the place of the commons. 

These ideas are accessible to everyone and seem very simple. But I realise that, given the way we function in our societies today, which go against a lot of what is in our nature, and in nature itself, this path has become—I see this through the workshops I give, the experiences I have with dancers, and certain reactions in the audience as well—the most difficult path in the end: getting back to that, to something profoundly natural. 

Madeleine Planeix-Crocker

I think that in the framework of this Session today you have been able to offer much more than just an overview but rather an immersive insight into this in-depth reflection that you have been developing for some time and which is manifested in your new piece. 

I am extremely grateful to you for having shared this and for working as a duo during this invitation to movement that we invite you to reproduce at home while listening to Nacera’s words. Nacera, thank you very much for your participation. 

Many thanks to all the participants who took part in this virtual Warm Up Session. Do not hesitate to give us your feedback on this experience and we hope to see you soon in the flesh here at Lafayette Anticipations. Thank you very much and see you soon!