Since January 2012, the choreographers Christina Towle and Laurence Pagés have been teaching a series of 20 dance workshops to a group of patients from the Geriatric Division of the Charles Richet Hospital. This residency is designed to prolong and enrich the experience of the patients by :
• giving them the opportunity to assist open rehearsals
• and to dialogue with the dancers of the Company
• and to attend a professional dance performance within the hospital
• and to participate in the life of a professional dance company
• and to share their experience with their families and the rest of the hospital personnel
DANCE AT THE HOSPITAL CHARLES RICHET (Val d'Oise, FRANCE)
This cultural outreach project started in November 2012 at the Charles Richet Hospital (Val d'Oise, FRANCE), the program integrates artistic practice, discussion, and exchange. The central part of the project is the workshops given to the long term residents of the UHPAD - Live-in unit for older dependent patients and the ULSD - Unit for long term medically assisted patients - at the Charles Richet Hospital in Villiers-le-Bel, FRANCE. These patients are heavily dependent and suffer from different pathologies, both physical and psychological (such as Alzheimer disease, and senile dementia).
With the support and co-financing of the Charles Richet Hospital, the DRAC Ile de France and the ARS- Agence Régionale de Santé, we are able to offer workshops for 12 patients that integrate breathing exercises and movement explorations, using the musicality and the micro-movements connected to the breath in resonance with our our choreographic process. In our choreography we use breath as the basis for the movement material, and more precisely in TROIS SOUFFLES we use the breath line of three different famous choreographers as an inventive way of creating new choreographic material. (We will elaborate on this project further on).
We invite the patients to experience their body as living matter and source of creative inspiration by exploring the respiratory volumes in the body and mobilizing the body through imaginary paths of breath. These exercises awaken the imagination, the senses, all the while creating a global sensation of well being and relaxation. In addition to these weekly workshops, we show the patients videos of contemporary dance, as well as videos of our other choreographic works, and we host informal dance performances in the hallways and their rooms.
Présentation d'une étape de travail de TROIS SOUFFLES au KLAP, Marseille (© Agnès Mellon)
Trois Souffles reinvests the heritage of dance, through the prism of the breath. The dance warbles and the dancers incarnate sweeping respiratory landscapes...
… with deep valleys, from which small sharp peaks emerge, inspired by the dance of Odile Duboc in the solo O.D.I.L. (2006)
… or uneven landscapes ruptured by haphazard indents and gaps, derived from the solo "Hommage à l'Argentina" by Kazou Ohno (1977)
... or geometric mountain ranges with clear graphic lines drawn from a duet from Mammame by Jean-Claude Gallotta (1985) in which the breath is a resounding and percussive soundscape, punctuated by noises and onomatopes.
Résidence de création de TROIS SOUFFLES à la Ménagerie de verre (© Anne Girard)
The collaboration of Christina Towle and Laurence Pagés grew from common desire to use respiratory movement as their choreographic focal. TROIS SOUFFLES reduces dance to an essential element: breath. This movement choice creates a dance that emanates and projects from the torso, sparked by subtle accents, and with an elastic movement quality. Four dancers accept the challenge to construct a dance from strict breath indications, obliging them to adopt the breath of someone else, in a process which engages them in a visceral dialogue with one another and the audience.
> THE ORIGIN OF THE PROJECT / THE MEETING OF TWO CHOREOGRAPHERS
Laurence Pagés and Christina Towle met during the training program for young choreographers entitled TRANSFORME, directed by Myriam Gourfink at the Abbey of Royaumont. As a part of this workshop, they conceived a way of writing breath scores. Over the next two years, they pursued this research topic and perfected their method of writing, as well as collaborating on the choreography of two solo's: Corps de Luttes (Fighting Body), on the theme of apnea created by Laurence Pagés in 2009, and Airtight, on the relationship between breath and gravity, created by Christina Towle in 2011. With the creation of TROIS SOUFFLES, Laurence Pagés and Christina Towle are continuing to enrich their choreographic process that began in 2008.
Exemple de partition de souffle
A very specific movement preparation is given to the dancers in order to install a deep connection with their breath, awakening the subtle inner dynamics of the body. This preparation is a hybrid of techniques inspired by vocal exercises, yoga, and contemporary dance which open the respiratory volumes in the body and heightens the sensation of porosity on the surface of the body; creating a body that is sponge-like.
A dance piece in which their are two choreographers is an unusual situation. What makes this particular equilibrium work is due to many factors: a long period of maturation of the project in which the team has had the chance to deepen their collaboration; a strong motivation to bring this project to fruition, and on a more personal level, and each for different reasons, as a personal necessity pursue a choreographic partnership.
Présentation d'une étape de travail de TROIS SOUFFLES à Danse en chantier, Paris (© Roger Fusciardi)
> BREATHING IN THE RESPIRATORY IMPRINT OF THE DANCE OF OTHER
An invitation to participate in an unprecedented respiratory adventure
Through the hypnotizing sound of the breath, which serves as both the choreographic line and the sound score for TROIS SOUFFLES, the audience is invited to adopt the dancers breathing patterns. The omnipresent respiratory action creates a very strong empathy between the public and the dancers, the space breathes, provoking sensations that can span from anguish to relaxation, either having their breath taken away or being given a breath of fresh air!
Respiratory hommage, creative hommage
In TROIS SOUFFLES, the dancers incarnate, as a stratagem for constructing new dances, the breathing patterns observed in three existing choreographies: a solo of Kazou Ohno Hommage à la Argentina (1977); a solo of Odile Duboc O.D.I.L. (2006), a duo from Mammame of Jean-Claude Gallotta (1985). For the dancers, they must confront themselves with the breath of someone else. Dancing in the respiratory pattern of another's choreography in not an easy task. It is also a fantom-like way of inhabiting the dance and even the spirit of someone else.
© Agnès Mellon
The invention of the breath scores unearths respiratory patterns that support and structure dances of radically different dynamics and colors: an inhibited breath, with an irregularity that creates tension in the body a dance with ripe apneas that give way to falls and recovery with sudden and subtle dynamic changes and an agitated and percussive body in a dance punctuated with onomatopes and impacts. From this palette of rich movement qualities, we evoke the different body states that breath can induce. The breathing patterns, itself imbibed with meaning, creates strong relationships between the dancers and incites striking and original situations with strong emotions.
TROIS SOUFFLES is a formal game that mirrors the propositions of Oulipo, or the project of George Perec in "The Disparition", where he plays with writing a story without the letter "e". Here, the game is the citation of an informal element, almost invisible, from an original choreography. We extract or extrapolate an element from it's original context and look at it through a magnifying glass, in order to hone in on a particular "detail", in the sense that Daniel Arasse gives the term, seeing the original choreography through an intentionally grotesque or "exaggerated" prism.
This project opens a discussion that is both artistic and political about heritage, the contemporary usage of tradition, and the place that we give to referential figures (works, masters, historical figures). In TROIS SOUFFLES, heritage is seen as creative material, and is passed on through its diversion, transformation, and re-appropriation.
The re-interpretation of the breath scores creates a dance quite different from the original dances, in the movement choices as well as in the theatrical choices. However, almost in spite of ourselves, there is something of the spirit of the original work that subsists even though the formal aspects of the dance are radically different. This phenomenon proves that breath is a essential and fundamental element in a choreographers signature and a defining factor in movement quality.
© Agnès Mellon
BREATH, CHOREOGRAPHIC MATERIAL
Breath in TROIS SOUFFLES is sculpted, kneaded, and twisted. A material like the wood of the cabinet maker, the glaze of the ceramist, the glass of the glass-blower…the material of the artisan. The challenge of this project is to make the breath visible in the dance, to give it the main role and to make it the hero of our story.
Through the lecture and the interpretation of the breath scores the dancers develop a particular attention to the musicality and the micro-movements associated with respiratory movement. An agility and sensitivity to it's flow makes for a sponge-like body: muscle tissues become elastic and color the dance with qualities of resistance and suppleness. The body molds itself from the inside while keeping a fine attention to the breath line and to the other dancers.
Premiere performance : September 21st 2013 at the Royaumont Foundation (95)
© Agnès Mellon