Blog Image

A dancer on the road...

DANCING MY WAY THROUGH LIFE !

Thibault, born in the 90's, and always moved since my feet touched the earth.
This blog is about my trips, my adventures and my dance experiences here and there.
Hope you like it.
Love, T.

Lay offs or holidays?

Dance Posted on Tue, July 16, 2019 10:40:57

Summer time, a period of contradiction between feeling bad about doing nothing, and feeling bad about doing too much.

As a former dancer, those periods of doing nothing are often very confusing. The younger version of myself always found a way to participate in some kind of workshops or summer intensives despite not having much money. My parents couldn’t afford it, so I always had to find either a scholarship, funding from a private donor (which in southern Europe is easier than in Finland) or simply work. I actually worked in the summers as soon as I turned 16 (legal age to work in France). Guess what my job was: cleaning toilets and changing sheets (on top on washing them). Nothing degrading about it, I joke about it all the time, but this seriously gave me the time to get a cute package to use whenever I needed it: audition time, workshops, summer intensives… there you go. So get your hands dirty if you ain’t got the household behind you.

(Holiday time on my side).

Yet, the older you get, the more you feel like doing something different during your summer time and especially if your works were lined up throughout the season. Well, there are a few alternatives which you should, consider:

Find a job with artists you wouldn’t usually get the chance to work.

That’s where company members often get restricted, whether your former company does not allow you, or whether you think it will not give you the time to recover. True fact is that your body will recover as soon as you do something different from your daily routine: ballet, work on a contemporary piece; modern dance, work on a theatre/conceptual based piece… And so forth. There is a true misconception which often carries the image of fully stopping any kind of activity in order to get a proper recovery: well that’s just booger, you’re hurting your body instead. Yet working on something else will first of all challenge you mentally, therefore renew your interest, reshape your creativity, but also give your muscles a break from the way they are used throughout the year, and minimise the risks of getting injured when you get back to work.

Go for something you would have never done, get out of your comfort zone.

Now, some of us do not have the financial ressources to take a holiday, as in H.O.L.I.D.A.Y., not the one week thingy which leaves you penny-less, ready to save for another 11,5 months.

Instead, know that everywhere in the world, there are places ready to welcome you for seasonal work which will pay for your food, your housing (and sometimes your trip), and you will get the chance to be on the other side of the world. I won’t quote any one since that post wasn’t sponsored (HAHA), but you can even get 1 week work with some organisms and repeat it throughout the summer… How cool is that? Go work on the French Riviera, the Canary Islands, Bali, Finland!

Ok, now I hear the ‘when do I rest’? Well, most of those summer jobs will actually need you awake and ready to go for about 5-6 hours of your day, in the mornings and or evenings (tourist season, everybody sleeps in the afternoon). And unless you are a farniente type of holiday-er, trust me, it will me an experience you will remember forever and might even take you on a road you would have never expected!

That said, it can remain in the artistic field. A former teacher of mine used to become a producer during the summer, he was touring with the big production companies for festivals, concerts, private events… And that it is freaking amazing as well: discovering new people, getting to know other people’s job, and most of all, gaining awareness on the rest of the artistic world you live in (side note: this one really will open new doors as for when you want to retire if you see what I mean).

Organise your own project.

This one is slightly harder as you will require funding (unless you work with people willing to do free work, based on education of artistic project). However, you will find that the summer is a plentiful platform for creativity. The first reason is that many youngsters are on holidays, and whether they are getting bored, or their parents want them out of the house, you will get the chance to work with passionate, active and resourceful creative minds.

You can also try and get your own festival performances which is hell of hard, yet once you have squeezed in one, you will see that a few others come along the way.

There is a thousand other ways to spend your summer, really, trust in the fact that you will get back to work even more passionate and ready to tackle the coming season after doing something completely different.

Now let’s address the financial aspect of being on a lay-off from your company. A thing that no one ever explained to me, for a really long time, though my former colleagues were benefiting from it: you can get unemployment money. Ok, I have come across people who were very scornful about the idea of getting unemployment benefits. Whether is was because they were getting their summer compensation from their former employer, or just because they thought it would make them better not to get back a part of the taxes they pay anyway. Well, there is no shame in such, it will actually allow you to take off on an other experience, even if you don’t have any financial issue, if you don’t need it, save it for later, or give part of it to a local artistic project you’d like to help.

As a freelancer it is a bit harder to get such depending on where you find yourself living at the moment, some states will just not give you money on the basis that you are an entrepreneur (not pointing at any country – FINLAND). Well, tough sh*t, but then you need to figure out how to make it work for you and remain financially safe if you haven’t found any paid work, whether you think about teaching, performing or closing down your company. Know that your network will always be ready to support you (at least I am here to support you), and if really you can’t find a way to make it, then re-read those words higher in the text, and go for something else, what do you have to lose anyway? Nothing, you will just get richer from another experience.

As a side note, I just would like to add that I feel those charging at me saying that holiday is needed for your body to recover by doing nothing, staying inactive, enjoying doing nothing. Well, part of it is true, perhaps for a few days at least, definitely. But it depends how every single one of us works, scientifically and spiritually speaking though, going for something else is the most nurturing experience for your body and mind to recover once again, but I don’t hold the heavenly truth, I am neither a doctor, nor a priest (but maybe some kind of shaman who knows). It is all a matter of finding balance, get a holiday, get good rest, sleep and eat what’s necessary, but remember that your body wants to remain ready to fly again.

With all my love,

T



Know what you want.

Dance Posted on Mon, February 18, 2019 23:06:39

I originally wanted to talk about my work with the Virpi Pahkinen Dance Company, whom I tour and perform with as a solo dancer, but then I thought how boring and self-centred.
Instead I would like to talk about this amazing opportunity you get when you are a freelancer: choose your work.

Virpi Pahkinen is for me an inspiration, someone I look up to, someone I respect and someone who inspires me all at the same time. She has seen the world and shared her works as a solo performer literally everywhere. She has also had the chance to create her own company, based in Stockholm, Sweden, composed of a few dancers, which now tours with her. Her language, style and universe are all very uniquely inspired from asian cultures, though she was born and raised in Finland, and there is a little taste of her origins in her personality. But that’s all I can say before speaking for her and entering the privacy of her sphere.
However, I can say that sharing her choreographic bubble has always been a pleasure for me as a dancer. She often presents movement that are not only technically demanding (I thought I was flexible before working with her and I turned out to think wrong), but also have a deep spiritual meaning, which is why her work pleases and inspires wherever she goes.

Monolit Polygon, Virpi Pahkinen, Picture copyrights Jose Figueroa.

Now, I chose to work with her after a first experience when I was a dancer at the Finnish National. We met then as she choreographed a piece for the ensemble and I straight away stole her contacts. When I jumped out the window, towards the freelance scene, I contacted her straight away and voila, we were already discussing about how she could incorporate me in her next productions.
What I mean to say is that I decided to work with her not only because I liked the artist and her creations, but also because I admired the human being. You see, often we see the movements and patterns we have to or wish to perform, and forget about those behind the control panels, just like sometimes dancers’ personalities are put aside and chosen for what they can do technically only. But for me both clicked, so it was a win-win situation.
I assume eventually she could also have chosen someone else, because there are thousands of dancers that are way more talented than I am in Northern Europe, but she chose me, not only for my dancing, but most probably also for my passion and admiration for her work.

You are F-R-E-E

Remember that as a freelancer you are free to work with the artists that you like. I very often feel very frustrated about those who just sign contracts for the sake of paying their bills and then gossip about their co-workers or directors. It not only saddens me, but also confuses me: why dedicate so much time to something that leaves you flat lined. No judgement though, people are clearly free to live their lives the way they want. That being said, I will most probably point this ‘issue’ out in every post I write, so get used to it.
I fully understand the stress of being out of work, and like I stated in my earlier posts, it is a tough life and tough job, especially if you live in the nordic countries because work is rather scarce. But once again (read the article here), as a dancer, there are million other opportunities for you to choose instead of using dance as a regular job, because it is not, and you will end up unhappy and frustrated.
So be wise, see the patterns and directions of your professional life, and just enjoy the freedom of it. It does not mean that you will not have to work your ass off, but it sure means that every fruit of the work you have provided will become yours and therefore will be fully appreciated.

The artists you work with are your visit card

You also have to keep in mind that those you choose to get involved with are those that will appear on your CV, which by extent, tells a bit who you are, what you have gone through, and at what level your career stands.
Those you work with also most probably have a network, and your name might go around, something for you to consider with the way you work and behave (trust me, took a while for me, still a learning process haha).
However, through that aspect, I do not mean to be black and white by talking about only working with top-class / social media famous / company type choreographers only. I only turned down offers when I had to face artists or producers that did not appear and act genuinely, in everybody’s interests and with kindness. Instead I mean that your visit card will speak for itself if you work with passionate, hard working, inspiring and kind people. Trust me, leave the A-holes out of your life, whether they are ready to give you a lot of money, or not at all, because those who will potentially hire you after them will know what and who they are and you do not want to carry any baggage, you want to remain free.

There are many hidden choreographers who just mind working in peace and quiet, and have the most amazing artistry to feed dancers. So pack your bags and go look for them.

Monolit Polygon, Virpi Pahkinen, Picture copyrights Jose Figueroa.

Keep it simple, stay humble

I will write a longer post about this, but I already want to introduce the idea of humility on my blog. You will eventually work with both big and ‘small’ names, though I don’t really like the use of that word because it is so arbitrary, and the dance world is already full of opinions, but also because big names were once ‘small’ ones, and people have their own taste, which is totally legitimate of course. Do remember that whomever you will meet on your road, staying humble and grateful will only bring you upwards to feeling happy and fulfilled. Good energy attracts good energy, make this your mantra and I am sure you will see some changes come around the corner.
You also want to represent the dance scene as a freelancer, and you want to be a vehicle for art, for communication, for inspiring people and allowing them to have windows where to look out to when they face the wall of reality. You want to be a vehicle for life.

If people do not value your time then NO

Very often as a freelancer you will be facing those who take ages to answer to your mails, your calls and your whatever. It happens, we also all forget to answer a message after postponing, we all promise ourselves to consider offer and take time to think about it… In a nutshell: we are all busy. But clearly, someone who does not get back to you after receiving your offer, both lacks respect and has very little value for your time and work.
Fun story: I once sent an email to an acclaimed director of a dance company, who knew me, and whom had already engaged in further conversations. Not only did I not get any answer, I got worse: an empty email, to which, being all naive and sweet, I answered by asking if that person had made a mistake and sent me a draft. I had the thoughtful idea of asking for a delivery confirmation with that email, which was read and therefore acknowledged. Well, needless to say that would that person get back to me now, he/she could wait forever.
But… Remember not to hold any grudges, that one was a tough lesson for me. Little by little, I however discovered that people who thought had some power, were the most blinded and powerless people on earth. Politics and money are unfortunately aspects of our profession that come in the way of who gets the work and who does not. Did I ever benefit from it? Definitely. Did I ever suffer from it? Most probably even more. Yet, I did realise that mighty rulers, those who treat dancers as objects (because choreographers are always well treated and respected) are people I feel sad for, because the extent of their happiness is bound to being rooted in a medieval system of not caring for people and not seing further than the tip of their noses, and there is nothing more depressing than a voice for art that can not speak or speak dishonest words.

Always remember that it only takes only a little breeze to blow a house of card, and that winds always change directions.

So build your castle, be strong, know where you want to go, who you want to become and how you want to be seen. Keep focussed on those you want to work with and those who inspire you. Stay kind and loving, always wish your neighbour the best and laugh out loud from the mistakes you make, from the negative answers you get, and from whatever comes in the way of your happiness, because it is only life, it is only dance, and it is all only way too much fun.

I wish you all love, please I want to hear what you thought about that post. You can send me a message here or at info@thibaultmonnier.com .
Xxx, T



ᴅᴀɴᴄᴇ ᴠs. ᴀʀᴛ ɪɴsᴛᴀʟʟᴀᴛɪᴏɴ 𝟸𝟹.𝟶𝟾.𝟷𝟾

Dance Posted on Tue, October 02, 2018 19:40:39

Improvisation performance danced by myself in interaction with Pekka and Teija Isorättyä: it happened at the Galleria Rankka, in Helsinki, on the 23rd of august 2018. Did you miss it?!

HERE IS THE VIDEO !

The solo dance performance was a question-answer between Pekka and Teija’s art installation and my movement.
It lasted exactly 20 minutes and everybody was welcome to stroll through the performance while I was using the entire space. As a matter of fact, the performance space was a beautiful industrial atelier, big enough to contain quite an impressive crowd.

The essence of the performance relied on its movement improvisation and on my capacity to adapt to the forever changing state of Pekka and Teija’s art installation’s soundscape. Yes, it was pure improvisation, but wait to read some more about it.

The soundscape was originally pre-set to be the same whenever somebody would approach the installation. There was a sensor installed during the daytime exhibition. It was activated whenever somebody walked by, the soundscape then ran for a short time. This sound could be mixed live through a mixing table, which we made use of during the performance, and which Pekka controlled during that occasion.
Now, the dance itself was supposed to follow that soundscape, on top of following the geometrical pattern of the installation, which looked like thousand small mechanical arms, cutting through space, very geometrical, very mathematic. So there was a lot to get visually inspired from. I believe the art installation already looked like a dance itself. I just felt like I was taking it a bit further, by making the movement three dimensional and creating a vortex, directly connected between me, and the installation.

Now I give you some details: Pekka and Tuija Isorättyä’s art installation is the result of a collaboration on the creation of kinetic and electromechanical sculptures, often constructed from organic materials and discarded or outmoded objects.
Therefore, he mixed, I adapted, simple, doesn’t it sound? Well, not that acurate. You see, we had defined a set of rules before, otherwise it would have been for the pure love of movement, and well, in that case, why even bother to invite an audience…

First came the movement frame…

The dance improvisation I performed was inspired by neo-classical and ballet technics. A summary of all I have ever learnt, now part of my body, as a dancer and a creator. Of course, I worked a lot with improvisation in my career, and the fact that I also happen to be a choreographer helped me feel comfortable creating on the spot for people watching right up in my face. I took it as a simple study of cognitive and intuitive movement, adapted in time and space to the visual and aural art happening near by. It was almost like a conference, I was speaking with my movement.

Now the coulisse part: I had recorded some of the possible soundscapes which could come up during the performance about 2 weeks prior to it. I then rehearsed in studio, giving myself some movement tasks to the soundscaped. With that I mean I was exploring all possiblities, always trying to re-invent the movement.
So in a way, the performance was rehearsed, but still, the movement I performed was completely genuine. I had no choreographic structure, nor any kind of short sections I could slip-in real quick in case I would run out of ideas.

And about running out of ideas, wasn’t I scared about hitting the spot? Not at all, because like I said, I have quite some experience, but also because one has to go through a performance like this with confidence. You see, it often happens that dancers freeze when they run out of ideas, which means they go BLANK. It even happens with choreographies that have been rehearsed for months and months. However, dancers are also human beings (apart from being god like creatures with magical powers) and do happen to forget everything in some situations, mostly under a big amount of stress. So that occasion was just perfect fit, stress: yes, forever changing: yes!
Yet, if you are able to just breathe, be aware of the space around you, the people in it, its structure, the thousand sounds that come to your ears… You are just fine. It is all about being in the present, breathing, staying calm and so on.

And it brings me to say that there was no dramatic performance. With this, I mean that I did not try to put on a mask, or act in a specific way. The drama remained within the movement only. The theme, if I may say so, was really scientific, and it would just have looked weird if I had tried to put on a second skin and become an actor.
Hopefully it translated into my movement, which of course was made of momentums, attacks and so on… But overall stayed really floating, out of the muscular approach dancers are often used to choose.

Then came the time frame…

Because it was my first improvised solo performance, I decided that there should be a frame for the timing of it. The first reason is that I did not know what would be the audience’s reaction, so the self-conscious artist that I am was affraid that people would get bored and so on… It was 20 minutes after all.
But mainly, I felt responsible for installing a rythm to the performance. The rythm was so that it was divided in 10 bits of 2 minutes. Now I won’t give you the detail of each section, because magicians never give away their magic tricks, but mostly because I cooked it myself and it is part of how I work (no secrets, just intimacy).

And now I must thank the universe, because the feedback I got was so positive! I think it definitely worked, as people described the performance as an “hypnosis”, or “some kind of trance”. This is exactly where I was aiming at with my rythm. The art installation itself is some kind of machinery that I could have watched for ever, it is a hypnosis itself.
How did I keep track of the timing? Well I honestly did not, but we had a few cues we had agreed on before the performance, with Pekka, for which he was giving me the go. So really, it WAS a conversation, and not only a dance performance.

Was it physically hard? HELL YES! But who does not like a little workout? I really tried to be self-conscious throughout these 20 minutes. It gave me a little insight on staying away from using muscular and heavy power, I tried (and managed maybe) to stay as calm and positive as possible, just like a yoga workout. I also always tried to recycle my movement, and use new creative ways of approaching the experience from within. How did I do that? Well, I am an experienced dancer, and maybe in the future I will talk again about improvising…

Overall, the experience was really inspiring, I truly believe that I learnt a lot from it, as a performer, but also as a creator and as a person. Pekka and Teija are lovely human beings and it was my pleasure to be able to connect with artists working in different disciplines. Go and check out their website: Isorättyä !
I would like to thank Galleria Rankka for welcoming me in their amazing space and time. Thank you Aarno Rankka ja Jyrki Riekki! Thank you also to Jessica Leino, you are all lovely!

More improv’ performance to come in the future, stay tuned.
My next blog will talk about sexual genres and male dance artists.
Love you all, T.



ғʀᴇᴇʟᴀɴᴄᴇʀs, ʀᴇsᴇᴀʀᴄʜᴇʀs ᴏғ ᴇᴍᴘᴛɪɴᴇss.

Dance Posted on Mon, September 03, 2018 18:10:31

Being a freelance artist.

Why such a subject?? Because lately
many people asked me why I chose not to be part of any other company
than the Finnish National Ballet, and my decision was welcomed by
rather various statements, from family and friends. Therefore, here
are a few aspects of being a freelance dance artist.

To
start with, before I took the leap, I had been working for many years
on small projects, including dance and photography, yet I did not
realize what it took until I jumped in the wild of freelancing by
investing all my time into it.
As it
seems to happen, I also worked quite a while with small and big dance
companies, and I honestly must admit that I would never have imagined
that it would be more difficult than being a dance company member.
Actually,
we often talk about the difficulties of being part of a dance company
from within : the competition, the lack of social life, the
financial struggle, the amount of work… Well, here are a few points
that will help you understand the difference between being a
« professional » dancer and a freelance dance artist.

What
does it take to be freelance ?

It
actually takes much more than it seems to be freelance.
First
and foremost, once you are at it, you are directly exposed with the
cost of every single services
which are free if you are part of a
dance company. For example : morning classes, whether it is
ballet, pilates, contemporary… Well guess what ? There is no
one wiling to make you train for free, because most probably these
coaches and teachers are also freelancers, and also have bills to
pay.
But it
doesn’t stop here. As stupid as it will sound, professional dancers
often take for granted the smallest things in their daily work :
where you train, where you rehearse (renting a space also costs),
buying training clothes (or buying ballet shoes), purchasing a
costume and taking care of it… So it does take a lot of effort in
order to financially manage that situation.

On top
of that comes time management. Yes, silly indeed, but you do have to
make up your own schedules, including every bits of training,
changing locations, rehearsing and so on. I will not even talk about
the amount of time you spend writing emails or funding applications,
or even making phone calls. To all the producers I ever worked in the
past : I love you and I admire all you ever did for me from the
bottom of my heart.
Talking
about time management… Space management is also another point, and
unless you live in those cities where you can always find work
(Paris, London, Berlin, New-York…), being a european freelancer
will require from you to travel, A LOT. One might have a homebase
somewhere, but one will have to move a lot. So be mentally and
physically ready, because that means you will go to places where you
can’t even train properly, or perform in spaces that do not fit your
usual conditions, but hey, positive thinking is the way out, and
always remember that you do what you love.

At
last, being a freelancer requires a lot of versatility: to be
at the best of what you want to offer or do you have to get involved
with what makes you better. I myself work with ballet and modern
dance, they are in my opinion, the best combinations. It does not
make me the best at neither, but it does allow me to land much more
projects than others can.

How
much time do you spend working ?

As you
might have already understood, it requires a lot more than just
showing up where you are required to be. Actually, your producer or
your director has planned that out for you a while ago already.

So the
working shifts can be quite exhausting, going from place to place,
trying to make each minute productive and meaningful. And as I
already said, every service you buy, becomes a service in which you
have to be the best of yourself. Why ? Because you can not let
yourself down after making it to this point, and rely on the work you
have done so far.
Becoming
a workaholic is often what happens for many independent artists. But
not only to be stable on a financial level. It is actually due to the
liberty that such a status gives you : you have to be focussed
to aim in the right directions, plan your projects in the best way,
and whenever it happens, make the best out of your collaborations.

Being a
freelance dance artist does not happen by just showing up. There are
no repetitors, ballet masters or coaches to tell you exactly what to
do. Therefore every single bit of time spent in front of a mirror, or
on a dance mat by yourself, is a research and a moment for you to
become better : nobody will do the work for you, or teach you
through how to do it.

Finally, for some of us, being a freelance means working a second/third/fourth job… And on top of all the physical work might come working shifts in order to simply pay your bills. With that comes also working on partnerships and toher artistic projects. You might also have “to work” for free, just so that people get to know you. Be ready to face the challenges of not getting paid, or getting the recognition you deserve, but never agree to anything if you feel that your capicities are being looked down at.

Photography by RaKai Photography.

What
makes me strive to keep on going ?

There
is beauty in every single moment of freelancing. Being your own boss
condemns me as much as it frees me. I am a perfectionist, and I’m not
ashamed of it, yet it does come in the way of my work sometimes.

You
want to keep pushing to make the best out of your work, and apart
from knowing that you might not make it at the end of the month, it
is also for you to become the best of what you have to offer as an
artist and a person.

People
often talk about the discipline you acquire by being part of a corps
de ballet/dance group member (which I never had), yet going freelance
gave me a whole new lot of responsibilities and helped me mature.
Do not
listen to those who forget about those artists who make it and only
work by themselves, often say it just happened because they were
talented or so. No, hard work is also the key to make it. I do not go
to bed before I know I have completed my daily tasks list and have
done every thing I could to make my road a little bit longer.

Being a freelance artist teaches me gratitude, and it also teaches diplomacy. We live in a world where all of that if being forgotten, and just for that reason, it makes me strive to keep on going further.

The
pros and cons ?

One
would like to think before taking such a path. I must admit that I
chose to jump in this emptiness a bit hastily and was not really
prepared for it, just like many artists I meet. But never become a
freelance dance artist by default
, whether you decide to be a
performer, a teacher, a coach… It will just lead you to being
unhappy and frustrated. The world out there is full of beautiful
opportunities
, do not waste your time with something that clearly
doesn’t stick to your skin.

If you
want it, plan it. Write down all the financial aspects that come to
your mind, study the cost of being out there, and the possibility of
getting any income according to a time frame you have set for
yourself.
Get
educated and open your mind. This is the only way you will survive.
It means that you might want to study a bit on producing, marketing
financing, designing (lights, costumes, sounds…).
Have a
plan B
to pay your bills, whether it is waitering, or petsitting, there
are no little jobs, and the most important is for you to feel calm
and relaxed so that you can work in a healthy environment, at the
best of your capacities.

Let’s
face it, it is and it will be hard, especially financially. But being
a freelance artist is so gratifying and humbling.

Photography by Marko Rantanen.

The
clicheys ?

Nowadays
there is this myth about being an artist in general. I often read in
social media or magazines that artists are the low ranks of those who
didn’t make it at school. Freelance dance artists are the ones we
like to put even lower, just so that we can establish a hierarchy
among the art circles, and within the dance spheres. Directly linked
to that, these artists are perceived as lazy, or marginals :
they did not invest there time at studying something that would
eventually pay, therefore they are lazy (and a bit outcast).

Guess
what?!
It took me as much time and effort, if not more, to
become a professional dancer/choreographer than it might take you to
become a doctor.

Well, I
speak for myself, but I know that most of my peers can relate… I
was a grade A student, and graduated with better scores than those
who went on with their academic studies. Few people know, but I
actually also studied philosophy and I am now studying other fields.
Yet, I do not do something else only because I can’t. I remain a
dance artist because it makes me happy to give all my time to me and
myself only, as well as those who cherish what I have to offer, on
top of those smiles and sparkly eyes I can awake when my work is
performed.

One
clichey is also that freelance artists are weak and technically
limited. Well, I assure you that I met so much more talented people
in the freelance circles than in dance companies. Dance companies
often limit themselves to meeting standards
, such as beautiful lines,
heights, weights… Yet entering the freelance sphere is overwhelming
once you witness all what others have to offer, and compare it with
your ex-company-dancer fresh tool box.

That is
another struggle once you are out there : staying relevant and
competitive. Because you do want your work to sell, and even if I
never compared myself to other with hostility, one does have to have
very wide eyes open in order to cling onto artistic projects and
remain on top of what you can do. So that’s one of the other
stereotypes: freelance artists just go with the flow : NO,
they go at it teeth and claws out because they want it more than
anyone else.

Will
I do that all my life ?

Probably
not. Like I already said to those who asked me. But it doesn’t mean
that I will quit just because it is hard. It is because it’s hard
that I keep on going. Yet my road might change at some point because
alike many other freelance artists, I have other interests, in
different fields than the one I work. For example I love social
sciences, I love psychology, I love nature… So, the spectrum of
possibility is huge and maybe I’ll choose to redirect at some point,
which we all have to do as dancers anyway (at some point), and I
encourage all my readers to do the same : open your mind and
your heart to new experiences and further horizons.

I hope
you liked that blog. I want to hear what you thought about it, how it
made you feel, and get back to me here :
info@thibaultmonnier.com
.

Soon I
will talk about conceptual dance. So stay tuned for more, because it
is just dance, and we just love it.



ʟᴀ ʙɪᴇɴɴᴀʟᴇ ᴅɪ ᴠᴇɴᴇᴢɪᴀ 𝟸𝟶𝟷𝟾

Dance Posted on Sun, July 22, 2018 01:50:42

La Biennale di Venezia is an art festival happening every year (unlike its tittle suggests), in Venezia, Italy.
The festival welcomes a variety of art fields, such as cinema, theatre, dance, music and architecture. Although the event is better known for its cinema and architecture sides, it actually is an amazing connecting platform within the dance world.

As a matter of fact, La Biennale di Danza (which is how the dance department is called), offers every year a week of performances and happenings, such as interviews and open discussions. But it also is a place of research and creativity, as a choreography college is held there yearly. This college is divided in two parts: the students, who get to participate in workshops with international choreographers; the professional dancers, who get to be choreographed on by new choreographers chosen by the artistic director of the dance department.


In 2018, Marie Chouinard (photo with me above) was the artistic director of the Biennale di Danza.
She chose 3 choreographers and 7 professional dancers (which I was selected for), to work together for 6 weeks, in order to put up a full triple bill program to be performed at the end of the creative process.

Now I must express my gratitude.
First, because Madame Chouinard holds a very dear place in my relation with modern dance: the first show I ever went to watch was a mixed program with her ‘Prelude to the afternoon of a faun’ and ‘The rite of spring’, back when I was still a student.
But also, I know that so many people around the world applied to actually be part of the program, which is very generous in all aspects, and only 7 of us were invited to come.

There, I had the chance to work alongside Antonella Albanese, Sara Angius, Mario Gaglione, Marie Schruoffeneger, Giulia Spinelli and Luigi Villotta. All together, me included, we represented 4 diferent countries.
And the three choreographers we had the chance to work with were Maria Chiara De’ Nobili (Italy), Ezgi Gungor (Turkey) and Rebecca Jensen (New-Zealand).

(The seven dancers and producer Silvia Polacco)

Now to be honest, the process was both exhausting, and freshening. I would assume people already expect me to talk about the long rehearsals, the never ending days, the physical work required… But what was exhausting was actually the need of brain work required.
You see, these three choreographers came from complete other backgrounds, diferent horizons, diferent cultures even. We also, as dancers, were selected for our diferences, and all together we more or less represented all dance types, from ballet to hip-hop, and dance theatre to neo-classical. We had never worked together, nor did we know each other. We had diferent expectations on the experience, and very diferent needs physically and mentally speaking.
Therefore, the most tiring part was forever adapting to someone creating on me/us with a certain vocabulary, while adapting to each other, and adapting to the context/situation.
Of course, there was also the fact that each choreographer was to create a 20 minutes piece including all 7 dancers. That required from us learning 20 minutes of movement and/or brain work, 3 times. That brings me to talk to what happened from there.

We rehearsed all day, 2 hours per rehearsal, 3 times a day, 2hours break in total.
The morning schedule was also built so that each choreographer would have the chance to explore a way to give out workshops, in order to later generate material, create, and impose their own style. Choreographers took then turns, every day giving their own warmups, one by one, following straight away with their seperate rehearsal times.
This warm up idea was both a good and a bad idea. Obviously it was a great idea as it became then a platform to experiment on how does one create a basis to its language, but it wasn’t that great either considering that the amount of time to do so was very short, and that we, as 7 diferent people had our own needs in order to get our machines going and be ressourceful during the day, especially when that day was filled with so many different genres.

I loved every single minute of that time. Of course, some days were really hard to deal with, because of the fatigue, because of life taking over, and for other reasons too. But I must say that I found my share of interest in every of these 3 beautiful choreographing ladies. All of them came in with ideas about what they wanted to do, even when it was unclear, they knew where they wanted to head to. Each choreography was to have personality and soul from the very first day.
The choreographing process took a lot of improvisation, as well as movement analysis. We worked a lot with video, filming ourselves, watching clips… And it was a new way for me to work, as I was mostly used to be told what to do, or create but consciously directing my patterns and my qualities.

For those who read this article in order to find out what and how the choreographers were like, the telling is not my business. I had as much fun performing and creating every piece and if it was to do again, I would do it without even questioning myself (though I would need a very long holiday before re-doing it).
All I feel like I can say is that I felt transformed in every single parts of the final evening, and that as a performer is a true gift from a choreographer.
The audience watching might have not seen the difference, at least I would hope they did, but I felt new and fresh at every curtain going up, as much as I was dying and disappearing at every curtain closing. And here the saying is both a metaphore and a way to give clues on how I physically felt too.

The final pieces can be found here:
LA BIENNALE DI DANZA DI VENEZIA

(Pictures by Andrea Avezzu, copyrights La Biennale di Venezia)

Otherwise the program at the Biennale di Danza was very nice. Marie Chouinard’s Company performed ‘RADICAL VITALITY’ and ‘SOLOS AND DUETS‘.
I keep in mind MARLENE MONTEIRO FREITAS’s piece called ‘BACCHAE-PRELUDE TO A PURGE’ as well as MEG STUART with her company DAMAGED GOODS in ‘BUILT TO LAST’. Each of these piece were of course very different from one another, but they both had the capacity to bring me to another universe, a place making me think and feel on my/our condition, and I found the beauty of dancing again: the combination of movement and idea(l)s.