Photo © 2009. Nannette Bertschy & Ann Moradian.

looking at the world and challenging our assumptions, definitions and creation of it through the lense of the body, movement, the arts and science.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

YOGA WORKSHOP for the New Year

New Moon/New Year/New Age
Nouvelle lune/ Nouvelle année

Sunday, January 13, 2013
11h30-13h30, 40€ (M° Porte Maillot)


Through yoga postures, breathing exercises and meditation practices, this workshop is offers a gentle post holiday detox, with a focus on the lower chakras as the foundation and soil for planting and nourishing the seeds of our becoming into the new year and the new age. This workshop is gently dynamic, and open to all levels. Enrollment is limited to 8 participants.

Se traduisent par des postures ou exercices de souffle spécifiques, cet atelier nous donne un moment pour "detox" doucement. Au même moment, on met notre attention et energie sur notre fondation, comme la terre pour la plantation et nourrissant des semences de notre devenir dans la nouvelle année et le nouvel âge. Cet atelier est dynamique et ouvert à tous les niveaux. Les inscriptions sont limitées à 8 participants.

To register, contact Ann Moradian at
rendezvousyoga(at)gmail.com or 06 89 70 23 58.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Playing the Body / Le jeu du corps

Movement class for performers
Continuuing through December 21, 2012

Video by Marius Dahl: click here


Fridays - 10h00-11h30
Salle Raimu (3rd floor, escalier B)
Salles St. Roch, 35 rue St. Roch (M° Pyramides or Tuileries)
€8 - trial class (offered thru October 12, 2012)
€15 - drop-in rate
€96 - 8 class card
€120 - 12 class card

bilingue, anglais et français

Photo of Louise Denyer by Marius Dahl, © 2012.

English Version:
This is a movement class for ALL performers, from ALL DISCIPLINES -- though NON-PERFORMERS are WARMLY welcome! We reclaim the body's strength, depth, articulation and mobility while developing its range of (e)motion, expression and physical possibility. The class is an exploration in which we embody our being, claim our presence, meet, experiment and discover together.

We start by integrating the attention, breath and movement to clear out and release blockages, increase flexibility and claim our presence and being. We work with the body's weight, with gravity and space, to develop awareness, strength and ease. We move out into space around us to meet and connect with each other, developing not only the animal grace inherent in each of us, but also the ability to "listen," respond and "speak" through the body. As the course progresses, there will be an opportunity to work on individual and group scenes -- from a body perspective -- for those interested. The work draws from not only dance and theatre, but also very much from yoga, the martial and energy arts.

It is lots of fun, and open to all levels. Drop-ins are accepted and class cards are available. For more information, contact Ann Moradian, perspectivesinmotion(at)gmail.com


Photo of Solveig Haugen and Aubrey Reeves by Marius Dahl, © 2012.

version française:

MOUVEMENT POUR ARTISTES DU SPECTACLE VIVANT
Le Jeu du Corps / Playing the Body
est un cours pleinement porté sur l'intégrité, la présence, l'articulation et les relations. Nous commençons avec une pratique yogique, intégrant attention et respiration aux mouvements du corps, pour soulager les blocages et accroître notre mobilité. Nous travaillons avec l'espace et la gravité, pour développer conscience, force et souplesse. Puis nous évoluons vers notre environnement pour bouger en contact avec les autres, développant non seulement la grâce animale intrinsèque à chacun de nous, mais aussi notre capacité à “écouter”, répondre et “parler” à travers le corps. Incorporant des éléments du yoga comme des arts martiaux, ce cours est conçu pour les artistes de spectacle vivant et est ouvert à tous les niveaux. On y prend beaucoup de plaisir, chacun est le bienvenu ! Cours à l'unité acceptés et cartes de cours applicables. Pour plus d'informations contact Ann Moradian,
perspectivesinmotion(at)gmail.com

Photo of Brune Bazin, Louise Denyer, Ann Moradian and Solveig Haugen by Marius Dahl, © 2012.

Monday, November 19, 2012

YOGA WORKSHOP: Sunday, December 2, 2012

Return to the Heart / Aller au coeur
Sunday, December 2, 2012
11h30-13h30, 40€ (M° Porte Maillot)

Through yoga postures, breathing exercises and meditation practices this workshop is focused on returning to the heart as the source of the mind and the link between earth and sky, mind and matter. Not a course in backbends, but a gentle and deeply meditative physical practice, drawing our attention, breath and prana into the heart center to free it and nourish it. Open to all levels and limited to 8 participants.

Se traduisent par des postures ou exercices de souffle spécifiques, nous reviendrons sur le coeur comme la source de l'esprit et le lien entre la terre et le ciel, l'esprit et la matière.

To register, contact Ann Moradian at
rendezvousyoga(at)gmail.com or 06 89 70 23 58.

Friday, November 16, 2012

REFLECTIONS ON PERFORMANCE: Ballet de l'Opéra de Lyon in Maguy Marin's FACES

Theatre de la Ville, Paris
October 16, 2012

© Ann Moradian for The Dance Enthusiast

I love Maguy Marin's choreography, or at least, I have in the past, so I was excited to see one of her newer works. The theatre was packed, and the buzz of energy and excitement gave the impression that others felt the same way.

Rumor has it that Lyon Opera Ballet's dancers are fierce. It was my first time seeing them. All I can tell you is that they are wicked costume changers. The speed and agility with which they changed their many, many, many, many costumes was like lightning. The problem was that all motion happened in the dark and all we ever saw was the photographic tableaux in between when they were catching their breath. You didn’t see them panting or heaving though. No sir, not them!

Ballet de l'Opera de Lyon in Maguy Marin's Faces, photo by Jean-Pierre Maurin

The piece started with a giant, slightly warped mirror filling the back of the stage, a lot like what they used for the set of A Chorus Line. Each of the 28 dancers came in one by one by one (okay, sometimes in twos or threes towards the end). They stood staring out at us. I felt as if I had seen this before, a long time ago.

It was clever how the video projections created the lighting, but I was frustrated that it was too dark most of the time to really see anything. Admittedly, the reflections against the backdrop created a sense of 'painted space' that was quite beautiful in an abstract way. A book on propaganda was for sale in the lobby; it was labeled as an inspiration for the creation of the piece, but frankly, I just didn't get it.

A dancer would take his or her stance, and then do something like putting on a crown, and then very slowly and very simply, one by one by one (okay, twos and threes too), others would join in. But 28 dancers was far too many for this particular formula, especially when there was no dancing and no change in the rhythm or dynamics. The lights were so dark that you couldn’t see what they were doing anyway, and it did not come as a big surprise that a number of people left early.

Ballet de l'Opera de Lyon in Maguy Marin's Faces, photo by Raphaël de Gubernatis

I felt sorry. Maguy Marin's work has influenced my own, with her tongue-in-cheek humor that almost passes for seriousness, and the beautiful way she extends human expression through movement as if it were the most natural thing in the world (when it clearly is not)...

Eight of her works created between 1981 and 2012 are being celebrated in New York City this Fall in conjunction with the Festival d'Automne in Paris (which runs through December 15th). I know at least one of these is a masterpiece, so if you have a chance, do check them out. I'd skip Faces though.

For More Information about
Compagnie Maguy Marin click here

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Purnamadah Purnamidam

Cela est infini. Ceci est infini
De l'infini est apparu l'infini.
En prenant l'infini de l'infini, il demeure comme le seul infini.
Il demeure le même,même si l'infini est apparu à parti de lui.

Photo © Jivahn Moradian

That is whole. This is whole.
From the whole, the whole becomes manifest.
From the whole, if the whole is negated,
what remains is again the whole.


Purnamadah Purnamidam
Purnat Purnamudachyate
Purnasya Purnamadaya
Purnamevavashishyate

Friday, October 5, 2012

YOGA WORKSHOP: Planting a New Intention

Sunday, October 14, 2012, 10h00-12h00, 20€
Espace Oxygène, 4 Impasse Cordon Boussard
(au niveau du 247 rue des Pyrénées)
75020 Paris (M° Gambetta, Bus 26-60-61-69-102)

Re-affirming the essential and beginning a new cycle of deep transformation. Autumn is a time to release the residue and waste from the past cycle of experience, using what we have learned from those experiences to nourish and fortify our being for the coming season.

To register, contact Ann Moradian at rendezvousyoga(at)gmail.com


version française:

Semer une nouvelle intention
Nous re-connecter à ce qui compte, à l'essentiel et créer la possibilité de nous transformer. L'automne est la saison où l'on se débarrasse des énergies dont nous n'avons plus besoin pour aller de l'avant, où l'on se libère de ce qu'il reste du cycle d'expérience qui vient de se terminer afin de pouvoir prendre un nouveau départ. Elle nous offre également l'occasion d'assimiler ce que ce cycle d'expérience nous a apporté afin de nourrir et fortifier nos racines pour traverser l'hiver. 

Contactez Ann Moradian à rendezvousyoga(at)gmail.com

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

YOGA WORKSHOP, Sunday October 28, 2012

Breathing Yoga / Breathing Life
October 28, 2012
11h30 - 13h30, 40€

Prana, life force energy, is a powerful, clarifying force for both mind and body. It can be accessed through the breath.

In this workshop we will focus on integrating breath, mind and body, deepening our awareness and access to our own life force energy. This union of mind, body and being is foundational to any physical practice, whether simply the habitual patterns of our daily lives, competitive sports or yoga asanas. By working these multiple aspects simultaneously, blockages release, alignment clarifies, ease and strength return. By streamlining our efforts, we release resistance to our breath and being, reclaiming not only confidence, but also that deep inner strength and clarity that is inherent within each of us.

To register contact
Ann Moradian, perspectivesinmotion(at)gmail.com or 06 89 70 23 58

ACTING FOR FILM IN ENGLISH, Workshop for ages 10-14

Sunday, October 14, 2012
14h00 - 18h00, Salle Vilar
Salles St. Roch, 35 rue St. Roch, 75001 Paris
(M° Tuileries, Pyramides), €40

English and French spoken.
For further information and registration contact
Louise Denyer: Ldenyer(at)wanadoo.es or 06 73 93 41 85
Ann Moradian: perspectivesinmotion(at)gmail.com or 06 89 70 23 58

We will be working on film scenes, character studies, film acting skills and then film your scene!


version français:

STAGE DE 'ACTING FOR FILM' EN ANGLAIS
10 à 14 ans


dimanche, 14 octobre 2012
14h00 à 18h, Salle Vilar
Salles St. Roch, 35 rue St. Roch, 75001 Paris
(M° Tuileries, Pyramides), tarif 40€

On parle anglais et français.
Infos et inscriptions contact
Louise Denyer : ldenyer(at)wanadoo.es ou 0673934185
Ann Moradian : perspectivesinmotion(at)gmail.com ou 06 89 70 23 58

On travail sur des scènes de film, des personnages, des techniques de jouer devant la camera puis le tournage de chaque scène!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Movement for Performers

Playing the Body / Le Jeu du Corps
Fridays - 10h00-11h45
Salle Raimu (3rd floor, escalier B)
Salles St. Roch, 35 rue St. Roch (M° Pyramides or Tuileries)
€8 - trial class (offered thru October 12, 2012)
€15 - drop-in rate
€96 - 8 class card
€120 - 12 class card

bilingue, anglais et français

Photo © Marius Dahl, 2012.

English Version:
This is a movement class for ALL performers, from ALL DISCIPLINES -- though NON-PERFORMERS are WARMLY welcome! We reclaim the body's strength, depth, articulation and mobility while developing its range of (e)motion, expression and physical possibility. The class is an exploration in which we embody our being, claim our presence, meet, experiment and discover together.

Photo © Marius Dahl, 2012.

We start by integrating the attention, breath and movement to clear out and release blockages, increase flexibility and claim our presence and being. We work with the body's weight, with gravity and space, to develop awareness, strength and ease. We move out into space around us to meet and connect with each other, developing not only the animal grace inherent in each of us, but also the ability to "listen," respond and "speak" through the body. As the course progresses, there will be an opportunity to work on individual and group scenes -- from a body perspective -- for those interested. The work draws from not only dance and theatre, but also very much from yoga, the martial and energy arts.

It is lots of fun, and open to all levels. Drop-ins are accepted and class cards are available. For more information, contact Ann Moradian, perspectivesinmotion(at)gmail.com




version française:

MOUVEMENT POUR ARTISTES DU SPECTACLE VIVANT
Le Jeu du Corps / Playing the Body
est un cours pleinement porté sur l'intégrité, la présence, l'articulation et les relations. Nous commençons avec une pratique yogique, intégrant attention et respiration aux mouvements du corps, pour soulager les blocages et accroître notre mobilité. Nous travaillons avec l'espace et la gravité, pour développer conscience, force et souplesse. Puis nous évoluons vers notre environnement pour bouger en contact avec les autres, développant non seulement la grâce animale intrinsèque à chacun de nous, mais aussi notre capacité à “écouter”, répondre et “parler” à travers le corps. Incorporant des éléments du yoga comme des arts martiaux, ce cours est conçu pour les artistes de spectacle vivant et est ouvert à tous les niveaux. On y prend beaucoup de plaisir, chacun est le bienvenu ! Cours à l'unité acceptés et cartes de cours applicables. Pour plus d'informations contact Ann Moradian,
perspectivesinmotion(at)gmail.com


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

COMMUNITY CLASSES 2012

COMMUNITY CLASSES at the Centre de Yoga du Marais are donation-based, and every cent goes to support those in need: Families for Children is a not-for-profit agency that cares for over 600 destitute and mentally challenged children and women in India and Bangladesh. The organization is run entirely by volunteers from their own homes, so the money goes directly to the orphanages and schools that they have set up.

Ann Moradian will be conducting Community Classes at the Centre this Fall on:

Sunday, September 9, 2012
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Sunday, December 16, 2012

11h30 to 13h00 at the
Centre de Yoga du Marais, 72 rue Vertbois, 75003
(M° Arts et Metiers, Reamur-Sebastopol, Strasbourg-St. Denis)
Suggested donation 10€ - 50€

Reservation are encouraged, but not required.
Contact: rendezvousyoga(at)gmail.com or 06 89 70 23 58


The Centre de Yoga du Marais and its teachers have been supporting this organization for several years through this regular and ongoing Karma Yoga* practice.


*Karma Yoga, "discipline of action," is a form of yoga based on the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, often described as "selfless service."

Physical Theatre & Movement Workshop in English for ages 8-14

Sunday, September 16, 2012
14h00 to 18h00, Salle Vilar
Salles St. Roch, 35 rue St. Roch, 75001 Paris
(M° Tuileries, Pyramides), €30

English and French spoken.
For further information and registration contact
Louise Denyer: Ldenyer(at)wanadoo.es or 0673934185

The workshop will introduce basic theatre concepts and movement techniques through acting games, improvisation and exercises founded on the children's inherent imagination, creativity and energy, both individually and as a group. Our aim is to strengthen their confidence and communication skills, and to help them discover and claim their physicality and movement as an essential method of non-verbal expression and an important tool for character preparation for stage or screen.


version français:

STAGE DE THEATRE PHYSIQUE ET MOUVEMENT EN ANGLAIS
pour des enfants entre 8 à 14 ans

dimanche, 16 septembre 2012
14h00 à 18h, Salle Vilar
Salles St. Roch, 35 rue St. Roch, 75001 Paris
(M° Tuileries, Pyramides), tarif 30€

On parle anglais et français.
Infos et inscriptions au
Louise Denyer : ldenyer(at)wanadoo.es ou 0673934185

Objectifs Pédagogiques : Introduire des concepts de base du théâtre et techniques de mouvement en jouant des jeux du théâtre, de l’improvisation, renforcer l’imagination, la créativité, l’énergie, la confidence et la façon de communiquer de chaque enfant, approche ludique que utilise des jeux du mouvement tout pour faire travailler la voix, le corps, les émotions et explorer avec des personnages, pour théâtre ou cinéma.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

REFLECTIONS ON PERFORMANCE: Dance GB

Big Dance Festival, London 2012 Festival and the finale of the Cultural Olympiad, July 7, 2012
©Ann Moradian for The Dance Enthusiast

The Big Dance Festival is dance -- happening all over London. You name a style and it is probably somewhere to be found. I caught a moment of Swing that transitioned into Maypole and then Morris dancing in Kensington Gardens between downpours. People of all ages and experience were dancing together. Maybe I’ll run across the Big Dance Bus today (rather than it running across me!). I have no idea what it might be like, but I am definitely curious. There are photos and films, lectures and performances, classes and workshops, everywhere. And many of the events are free.

In a moment of wonderful serendipity I stumbled upon Dance GB while wandering in Greenwich with a friend on the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College. The program features the national companies of Great Britain – the English National Ballet, the Scottish Ballet and the National Dance Company Wales -- with commissioned works inspired by the Olympic Games. (A woman seated next to me wondered, naturally, where the Irish contingent was but I couldn’t have even taken a guess).


The English National Ballet opened the evening with And the Earth Shall Bear Again, choreographed by Itzik Galili. The  title is of no help whatsoever but the dancing is an outright marathon of twists and contortions at breakneck speed, with a cast of 18 dancers filling the stage at almost every moment. They bring the driving, sometimes harsh, music of John Cage very much to life.

This dance is not about grace or beauty, despite the perfect bodies beneath sensual sheaths of sheer, textured black by Natasja Lansen. The dancers are all dressed exactly the same, doing the same movements (often in distracting attempts at unison), with one dancer seamlessly replacing and continuing the movements of another, as the company washes across the stage in a linear walking wave. It reminds me of a relay race. While there is a strong sense of teamwork at play, there is no sense of humanity or feeling in this work -- just a relentless drive, pushing for more, for faster, for denser movement. It leaves a taste of violence on the skin.

It is curious that such rigid and intricate order could create what often felt like unmanageable chaos. I wish it would have all slowed down just a bit, so we could see the complicated, beautiful, impossible, sculpture of a dance that is buried under all of that speed.


The second piece, Dream, was choreographed by Christopher Bruce to music by Ravel and Welsh composer Grace Williams. Performed by the National Dance Company Wales, it begins with the dancers at play, exuberant as puppies, in every physical game we in the West might have known as children: tug of war, wheelbarrow and sack races, hopscotch and leapfrog. As they grow up, they bring the same passion and joy to the competitive sports we’ll soon be seeing at the coming Games. (I don’t suppose we’ll actually see any ice dancing this summer, but the reference to Torville and Dean’s gold medal routine to Bolero did not slip by unrecognized or unappreciated here, and the ‘skating’ was as beautiful, as seamless and as smooth as if it were truly on ice.)

There are nice touches of humor throughout and some lovely partnering work, particularly among the men. I loved the wrestlers’ duet that became a tender cheek-to-cheek that was then interrupted by a third wrestler. Rather than breaking into a new duet, they became a fluid trio that seemed to defy gravity not only effortlessly, but almost unconsciously.


I was surprised at how the company’s 10 dancers filled the stage –- I counted when they bowed to make sure there weren’t more. Full of the swirls and bounding of people’s lives, with never a moment of unison I was astonished that the dance could leave us with such a strong sense of harmony, order and wholeness.

The last work on the program, Run For It, was choreographed by Martin Lawrance and performed by the Scottish Ballet. Where the English National Ballet’s work focused on the relentless drive to surpass oneself, and the National Dance Company Wales focused on the strength of dreams to nourish our journey toward excellence, the Scottish Ballet’s work seemed to be in honor of the dedication and exigence needed to become an Olympic athlete.

While highly abstract, it was accessible through its beauty and grace. Double-hued leotards in shining variations of blues by Yumiko Takeshima were elegant on these dancers’ beautifully sculpted bodies. Martin Boyce’s giant pillar served as a reminder not only of the Olympics, but of the Greek gods and their temples. I didn’t catch the significance of the lighting sconces hanging from the ceiling pointed toward the stage like paper airplanes, but they were pleasing to the eye.


The dancers retained the precision, control and care that are usually associated with classical ballet, while taking on a much more contemporary vocabulary. The word ‘rigor’ comes to mind – rigor that at its worst can just seem rigid and stuck (and there was a fleeting moment like this), but at its best fills the dancers with their full animal power and sensuality. Pushing constantly, but not rushing. Taking that fraction of a moment to extend the balance to its outer limit before moving into the next transition in a way that tells us that these dancers are in complete control of what they are doing.

The second movement stood out among the others as particularly beautiful, taking on the sweet fullness of John Adams’ music without losing an ounce (okay, a gram) of its strength. The rain pounding heavily against the tent top only added to the score and didn’t distract the dancers’ focus even for an instant.

The fact that the choreographers and the dancers presented this evening are thoroughly and inarguably musical is noteworthy, as is the level of partnering work each company presented. This program reminded me without a shadow of a doubt that dancers are among the most extraordinary of athletes. This fact is little known–even amongst ourselves–because our level of excellence is measured not by meters or seconds or scores, but in large part by how effortlessly we perform. If the performance is strong, the audience will probably never know how impossibly hard the dance is or how much work it has taken to get there.

Photo ©Ann Moradian, London 2012

Amidst the last minute construction for the Summer Olympics in London, the ongoing torch relay and scattered torrential rains, it is a special moment to be here. Of course there is a bit of irritation among the locals for the inconvenience of park closures, the farmers are concerned about the food supply because the rains have
turned their fields to mud, and anyone who lives here probably dreads the crowds that
will soon be disrupting the smooth rhythms of their daily lives. But there is excitement too, everywhere. The Tower Bridge is all cleaned and re-painted, proudly hosting the Olympic rings, the city is a-buzz, ready to welcome you (with its multi-lingual phone booth/pissoire). And dance, for the moment, is everywhere!

Photo ©Ann Moradian, London 2012

--
And the Earth Shall Bear Again
English National Ballet

Choreogreophy by Itzik Galili
Music by John Cage
Costume Design by Natasja Lansen
Lighting Design by Yaron Abulafia

Choreographer’s Assistant Elisabeth Gibiat


Dream
National Dance Company Wales
Choreography by Christopher Bruce
Music by Ravel and Grace Williams

Lighting Design by Guy Hoare
Design by Christopher Bruce


Run For It
Scottish Ballet
Choreography Martin Lawrance
Music by John Adams
Set Design by Martin Boyce
Costume Design by Yumiko Takeshima
Lighting Design by Charles Balfour

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Emily Weissman asks about The Medusa Project



The Medusa Project
from a live interview by Emily Weissman of Ann Moradian,* August 16, 2010

The attached photos are from a collaborative exploration of light textures and shadows for The Medusa Project:
Nannette Bertschy (photos)
Ann Moradian (movement)
Fred Moreau (lighting)


All photos ©Nannette Bertschy & Ann Moradian.



Emily Weissman: What’s the overall theme of Medusa?

AM: Historically, we've been given a story that is about the hero Perseus, who has to face and be-head this awful monster that petrifies anyone who looks at her. But a lot of information has been left out over time because the stories are told and re-told through the cultural filters of the times. And this story of the monstrous feminine has mostly been re-told within the context of a patriarchal culture. What we really have is not the story of Medusa but the story of Perseus and his confrontation with this monster. It begins with his birth and ends with his "happy ever after." What I would really like to do is to go back further and bring back some of the information that’s been buried, like "Who was Medusa?" "Where did she come from?" She wasn't always a monster, so "How did she come to be one?"

EW: Where did you get the idea for Medusa? Where did you get the inspiration?

AM: I was living in India after 09/11, watching what the US was doing from an outside perspective. At first there was a constructive response to the very real challenge of coexistence. And I watched as that corroded, decayed, transformed into a more destructive reaction - more like coercion than an real response or attempt at constructive cooperation.

And that concerned me enormously because (it seems to me) the challenge of coexistence in the world is a primordial challenge. Once you’re in this format of a material body, in this dimension (these dimensions) of time and space – as soon as you’re here in a material body – you are never alone, and you constantly have to deal with others. And it is not easy. I remember when I was really little thinking “If I was only by myself how simple it would be!” (You can imagine, with two older brothers!) But as you get older you realize "Well no, frankly, it wouldn’t actually work." But that feeling of how complicated everything gets when there’s even just one other person in the picture was very clear.

So there I was, watching from India as 'we' (the US) fell into a fear-based chain reaction - and missed the opportunity to create a new pattern. I remember looking at myself in the mirror at around that time, thinking about all of this, with my very curly and unruly hair, thinking of Medusa with her snaky hair who petrifies everyone. To be petrified - to be so afraid that we turn to stone. It made me wonder, "What on earth could be that scary?" And "What does it mean to turn to stone?" I was looking at myself in the mirror with this crazy hair thinking "God! What would it be like to be a woman who anytime anyone dared to approach her they would turn to stone?" She would have no contact, no touch, no connection. And I thought, "This poor woman!" [she laughs]

Photo ©Nannette Bertschy & Ann Moradian.

So there was a conjunction of an humanitarian question around fear and violence, and our reaction to 'the other,' - how we demonize others out of fear. This, along with a very personal empathy for the character. That was where the piece initially began – I mean the first seed of it – looking in the bathroom mirror.

EW: So how long have you been working on this piece?

AM: Since 2001. I started researching the myth then. As you go into the myth, you get deeper and deeper into all the connected myths. Athena is very instrumental in the destruction of Medusa, and I started wondering “Why was Athena out to get Medusa?” So I would research into that. Or “Who is Perseus really?” You pull up all these sub-stories. I love the fact that there are so many versions of the story. There’s not one set version. Which is in part why the piece is taking on a collage format as opposed to a linear, singular story format. It’s a collage, and in it we are playing freely with time. It is not all happening in one singular time frame, and it’s not all happening in one medium.

Like history and myths, the work challenges us to put the pieces together the best we can. So, for example there’s movement and dance vocabulary informing scenes, but there is also poetry and dialogue – things we think of as more theatrical. There is video imagery that comments on what is happening, or becomes the primary voice of the work, or creates the context. And there are these little 'vignettes' that might seem totally unrelated - contemporary little scenes - in contrast to the flow of mythic time that is also present.

It's been a long time in the making. I started the research, following all of these threads, and the piece began to come then. I resented it at first, actually. I had quit all of my artistic work at that time, and so I tried to shut it off. I didn't want the responsibility, because creating work is so difficult. There are all of these challenges and so much responsibility, and I thought, “I don’t want to do this again!” But, you know, these images kept coming. Insistent. They spoke powerfully to me and were persuasive. Finally I accepted that, if the piece wants to come, I'll let it come and I’ll just do the best I can, take it as far as I can. And trust that there will be help, others who see the beauty in this work and will help bring it to life.

EW: It seems like an enormous project and you certainly can’t do it alone, so who are the people working with you to make this become a reality?

AM: In the beginning it was very much alone – a personal process of research with my own questions driving me. I would chat with friends about some of the questions - that was really enlightening sometimes. I've talked with many, many people, tested the ideas, brainstormed, pondered, questioned together. But around 2009 I started brainstorming more intensively with Nannette Bertschy, a friend and a visual artist. She has also explored the myths and loves digging into them as much as I do. She has a very different point of view and way of thinking, and she would challenge and question things in a way that was constructive and strengthening. And that was the beginning of what has become a collaboration on this work.

I knew when I was starting this piece that I couldn't do it alone. I knew that I couldn't even conceive of the piece entirely on my own, because it is so enormous. Just a single archetype is so rich and complex that no one person could possibly understand an entire array of them and bring them to life.

Photo ©Nannette Bertschy & Ann Moradian.

Nanette and I began tangibly working on the piece together this past year (2010). That's expressed in the way of set designs, and a couple of costumes that shape the movement possibilities – what can be done or what can't be done. We've developed concepts into visual expression and then looked at those visual expressions – whether video, photography, light, sculpture or costume – and begun to translate those into theatrical realities.

We've just begun working with Fred Moreau recently too. He is a French lighting designer, and he's been working with us on lighting ideas. He also has a strong interest in mythology, and he seems to be enjoying the process of questioning and exploring the story and the possibilities too. What I am finding is that the lighting and visual play of things is a principal element in the work.

You know, at first I didn't even realize I needed to develop a “script!” This is new to me, as a choreographer. And it doesn't read like a traditional script in any way! Another friend named Kristina Landa, who comes from theatre and film, has come in to test out ideas and work on some of the scenes. She is a practicing shaman who has a deep affinity with many of the archetypes we are working with, and that is a big help. Her friend Louise Denyer, who is also an actress, has come in too, to test out scenes and characters. In the same way that talking with friends and exposing myself to different points of view is a way of brainstorming, testing out scenes and characters is also a way of brainstorming with theatrical concepts and character possibilities. And it is a way of constantly challenging my choices and assumptions, to verify their strength. This process gives me the information I need to make the call “This way, that way… oh no, not that, but - wow, I hadn’t thought of that possibility.” The principal collaborators are a few, but the work is being born from the collaboration and contribution of dozens and dozens of people.

I’m still looking for a composer to work with, and I haven’t even begun to focus on the video elements. I figured, let me get the first solid draft of the script done and then turn to the music and video.

EW: It’s a multi-media piece evidently, but if I was trying to describe this piece to someone who hadn’t seen a performance by you before, what might I link it to, to give them an idea? Perhaps a ballet, interpretive theater, or dance…where does it fit in?

AM: I don’t know if it fits in anywhere… In Europe there are theatrical works that don’t fit within a singular medium. It’s not purely dance… but it’s not just theater either. Physical Theatre is one term, but it doesn't embrace the visual aspects that are integral to this kind of work. It seems to me that it's as much a physical theater work as it is visualized poetry, as it is art that moves. I would call it something like “Moving Art Performance.” (Though someone I knew in the martial arts would have pushed for Moving Art Perflowance, because the "form" is not at all the focus here. Instead, it is a creation that is driven by the "flow"-ing of it, and its form comes from that.)

The script doesn’t read like a normal script at all. There’s very little text. As soon as text or language comes in, it restricts a huge number of people from accessing that aspect of the work. So I go through and I pull out all the unnecessary words I can. I see how much of it we can say with the action? How much we can say with a visual image or sound instead. Can we “say it” another way? This doesn't mean that the language doesn’t have value. Some things only words can express. Some things video really does best because it can be so intimate, or surreal. Some things the movement does best because you feel it in your body. Or you need to see the picture of the thing, or the relationship. Frankly, the fun-est thing about this work at the moment as a choreographer has been choreographing the interplay of the mediums – how they enter in, inter-relate, which one does what when. That’s what is the most interesting to me right now.

Photo ©Nannette Bertschy & Ann Moradian.

EW: And to wrap this up, what’s the audience that you’re trying to reach with this piece?

AM: I would like the work to reach as far as possible. It could be a challenging piece for some people, because it is not linear, it is not literal, it is not in a singular medium, and it does not rely on spoken expression or familiar dance patterns. A collage is a little like a puzzle where you have to make sense of the pieces for yourself somehow. I suppose the audience might need to be a little adventurous, as the performers must be. It is the kind of work that makes you ponder, think and feel - reflect, if you will.

I would love to see the work not only in theaters around the world, but variations of the work in art galleries and museums. And I would love to see it mounted and performed in universities. I'd like to see it become a vehicle to re-integrate the arts into our educational curriculum. I am fascinated by how the arts and society relate, how the arts affect us and how we affect the arts. I see the possibility here of using the work as a catalyst and springboard for critical thought. It can give us an opportunity to become more aware of the stories we tell, how we tell them, how they evolve, how they influence who we become and what we believe, and how who we are and what we believe influences the stories we tell. I'd love extend the work beyond the theatre, beyond art galleries and museums even, to work with different university departments - like sociology, psychology, anthropology, women’s studies, communications and media, for a start!

* For the complete interview, click here.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Shining...

Shining... © Ann Moradian. All rights reserved.

Never tell me trust you
It's a promise or a lie
And either way with time
We'll see

With two minds in you
Against one heart
No matter where you start
You break what you build apart

There is no up to climb to
There is no down to fall
Just out and in with a spin
And a little pin of gravity
Dive into one seed in the heart
Forever you fall
but never apart
Not down
Just in
And out

There is no up to climb to
There is no down to fall
Except in your head with its two minds
Warring with all you know

There is no down
There is no up
Just the heart that breathes
in the empty space where
All is
Not a dream in the mind
But a space in the heart
Where we weave threads of nothing
Shining
Shining

With two unyielding minds in you
Against that pulsing heart
Bright and flashing brilliant
Fractured
You shred yourself and your world
Apart

Clenching the known in the fists of your mind
As you slash at your fears
There's no room left to find
Any other way

Peek out of the cell
that contains you
It's a figment of your minds
Closing the blinds within you
to any other way

Let your heart's song guide you
Yield to the space between
Flesh
And air
Breath lives there

Two steel trap minds in you
Hating your loving heart
No matter where you start
You break
And what you build
Falls apart

Dive into the seeds of the heart
Forever we fall
Not apart
Just deeper in
Further out

Not a dream in the air
But a space in the heart
Where no matter how we start
We choose to weave new dreams
Rather than rip the fabric of souls apart
We can weave threads of nothing
Shining....

... shining...


--
Ann Moradian, March 11, 2011, August 9, 2012


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Summer Classes and Rentrée Schedule

THIS SUMMER
For those of us summering in Paris,
I'll be teaching on
Mondays at 2pm
M° Tuileries/Pyramides

Let me know when you are planning to come and I'll send you the details. The rate for the summer class is €10/class.

A LA RENTREE IN SEPTEMBER

PRIVATE and ON-SITE GROUP CLASSES:
Private classes and on-site yoga classes for companies and groups are tailored to suit your needs and schedule. Click here for additional information (in English & French)
Contact rendezvousyoga(at)gmail.com

ONGOING OPEN CLASSES (in English & French):
Mondays, 2:00-3:00pm - Integral Hatha Yoga, open level
Fridays, 10:00-12:00 - Movement for Performers, open level
TBA** - PranaStretch, open level

WORKSHOPS:
Saturday, September 8, 2012
Physical Theatre Workshop for ages 8-14 with Louise Denyer
14h00-18h00, €30
Contact perspectivesinmotion(at)gmail.com

**If you are interested in the PranaStretch class (or in forming another Yoga group class in the evening) please contact me with your availability, as last year's schedule is changing. I will be happy to find the best time so that any or all of you who are interested in the class might be able to attend it. It is an unusual and beautiful practice that I am always happy to share, as it is in this work I experienced the most positive transformations for myself and my life.

INFORMATION ON THE DIFFERENT CLASSES:

NEW: Movement for Performers (in English and French) is all about relationships -- the relationship within one's own body and being, with the world around us and with each other. We integrate the attention and breath with the body's movement, working with gravity and spatial awareness to develop awareness, strength and ease. Then we move out into the world to move in contact with others, developing not only the animal grace inherent in each of us, but also the ability to "listen," respond and "speak" through the body. This class is designed for actors and performers and is open to all levels. It is lots of fun, and all are welcome! Drop-ins are accepted and class cards are available. For more information, click here.

Integral Hatha Yoga combines the traditional elements of yogic postures, breathing practices, chanting, deep relaxation and meditation. This is an excellent way to stretches, strengthens, calms and focuses the body and mind, bringing awareness inward toward balance and holistic health. Drop-in classes are accepted and class cards are available. For more information about yoga, click here.

PranaStretch is both an intense and a deeply relaxing yoga practice focusing on integrating breath, attention and movement, or one might say mind, body and soul. Designed for serious students wishing to maintain a steady and focused practice, the class develops clarity, strength, ease and flexibility. It relies strongly on the yogic principles of ahimsa (non-harm), satya (honesty), tapas (exigence), aparigraha (acceptance of our being), svadhaya (self study) and asks for and develops our inherent courage, compassion and wisdom. Class enrollment is per year (pro-rated when required). A 3-class trial is advised before registering for this class. Ongoing drop-ins are not accepted. For more information on the practice, click here.


RATES and LOCATIONS:

Integral Hatha Yoga classes (one-hour) at the
Centre de Yoga du Marais, 72 rue Vertbois (M° Arts et Metiers)
€10 / trial class (offered thru October 12, 2012, new students only)
€15 / drop-in rate
€96 / 8 class card (€12 /class)
€120 / 12 class card (€10 a class)

Movement for Performers (two-hour) in
Salle Raimu (3rd floor, escalier B) at
Salles St. Roch, 35 rue St. Roch (M° Pyramides or Tuileries)
€8 / trial class (offered thru October 12, 2012)
€15 / drop-in rate
€96 / 8 class card (€12 a class)
€120 / 12 class card (€10 a class)

PranaStretch classes (75 minutes) at Porte Maillot
€20 / trial class (applicable toward annual rate)
€50 / 3-class trial card (applicable toward annual rate)
€450 / annual rate (€12.50 a class)

Dance / Sports... and the contradictory nature of being human...

David Brooks on the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games... with an interesting comparison on dance and sports: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/27/opinion/brooks-the-olympic-contradiction.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120727

Friday, July 20, 2012

Reflections on Performance: Paris Opera Ballet's "L'Histoire de Manon" at Palais Garnier

Friday, May 11, 2012
©Ann Moradian for The Dance Enthusiast

Kenneth MacMillan choreographed Manon in 1974, and even today much of the partnering comes across as fresh and inventive--especially if it is well performed. We had the pleasure of seeing Isabelle Ciaravola performing the lead role of Manon on Friday night, with Florian Magnenet in the role of her lover, the young poet Des Grieux.


L'Histoire de Manon : Pictures Anne Deniau / Opéra national de Paris


Alone, in his earliest solos, Magnenet was so focused on his technique that the choreography was not only lost, but obliterated. There was a moment there, I admit, when I dreaded sitting through the coming three Acts. Fortunately, two beats after he began dancing with Ciaravola in their first duet, his concern about his technique was set aside and their story began to unfold. The couple performed with such fluidity that it was hard to tell where one body ended and the other began, entwining and untwisting in unexpectedly beautiful patterns, like a lyrical three-dimensional kaleidoscope.


L'Histoire de Manon : Pictures Anne Deniau / Opéra national de Paris


By Act II, Manon abandons her lover to become the mistress of the wealthy Monsier de G.M., danced with character and command by Arnaud Dreyfus. She is lifted, rolled and passed from man to man to man but, rather than the luscious sensuality and passion in the earlier duet with Magnenet, here Ciaravola dances with control, rigidity and a distance that convey beauty with neither personal pleasure nor vulnerability. The men partner her smoothly, entranced but not deeply moved, creating a clear contrast to the young lovers' abandon, and Manon's previous innocence and sincerity.


L'Histoire de Manon : Pictures Anne Deniau / Opéra national de Paris


Without a doubt, this production of the Paris Opera Ballet is a feast for the eyes. The sets and costumes, both by Nicholas Georgiadis, are elaborate, finely detailed, and executed with an expert eye for color. Even the women's simple prison garb in Act III is shaded in such rich variations on gray that the women's swirling skirts create an ocean of rich texture.

I had forgotten how beautiful the music, by Jules Massenet, is. Martin Yates' new orchestral arrangement is lovely, and the Orchestra of the National Opera of Paris, directed by Koen Kessels, brings out every morsel of its beauty, passion, playfulness and, most especially, its tenderness.

I cannot say that this performance of Manon was the best I have seen but it had its moments, and it was satisfying enough to make for a thoroughly pleasant evening.


L'Histoire de Manon : Pictures Anne Deniau / Opéra national de Paris


Footnote:

If ever you have the opportunity to visit the Palais Garnier, this opera house is not to be missed. A work of art in and of itself, it was built between 1861 and 1875 for Napoleon III as a part of "the great reconstruction of Paris" during the Second Empire. It is home to the Paris Opera Ballet and whether you are seeing a classical or contemporary program, the chances are good that the evening will be a treat.

It is an unforgettable experience to ascend the wide marble staircase, passing through the warm light from the elegant lanterns that line the way. Even if your budget sends you climbing to the top, you'll find your scalp almost scraping the same ceiling that serves as canvas to Marc Chagall's vibrant painting, added as an overlay in 1964. You also have a bird's eye view of the extraordinary chandelier designed with tasteful opulence by the building's architect, Charles Garnier.


Credits:

Manon - Isabelle Ciaravola

Des Grieux - Florian Magnene
Lescaut (Manon's brother) - Alessio Carbone
Lescaut's Mistress - Nolwenn Daniel

Monsieur de G.M. - Arnaud Dreyfus

Madame - Amélie Lamoureux
Music by Jules Massenet
New orchestration and arrangement by Martin Yates
Choreography by Kenneth MacMillan
Remounted by Karl Burnett and Gary Harris
Sets and costumes by Nicholas Georgiadis
Lighting by John B. Read

Musical direction, Koen Kessels

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

MEDUSA - 2nd showing in progress, July 19th

MEDUSA (First Fragment): The Birth of a Monster
Poetry, Danse, Theatre... (in progress)
in Paris on July 19, 2012 at 19h00

La Rotonde
Espace Jemmapes
116 quai de Jemmapes
75010 Paris
Entrance gratuit
M° Colonel Fabien, Gare de l'Est, Jacques Bonsergant, Louis Blanc

Agnieszka Grzybowska (Anna Verma) in MEDUSA,
Photo © 2012, Nannette Bertschy

Monday, June 18, 2012

MEDUSA - sharing of the work in progress

Poetry, Danse, Theatre... (very much in progress)
in Paris
July 19, 2012 at 19h00 at JEMMAPES - for details, click here
and also
July 3, 2012 at 20h30 at Galerie G/L'Art au Garage
23 bis rue des Lilas, 75019 Paris
M° Place des Fêtes
tarif unique 5€

Maja Bieler in MEDUSA, photo © 2012, Nannette Bertschy

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Reflections on Performance: Satchie Noro's 'Les Absents' ('The Missing'), Theatre Paris-Villette, April 14, 2012, Paris

© Ann Moradian for The Dance Enthusiast, with photos by Frédéric Kiehn

"The beauty of art lies not only in our opinion of it, but in the degree that it reminds us of our humanity... Art re-calls us to our lives."


Satchie Noro in Les Absents, photo © by Frédéric KIEHN

There are 15 of us. There is not space for more. We enter through the back door of the Paris-Villette Theatre squeezing down a narrow stairway into the depths of the building's old cellar to witness Satchie Noro's performance, Les Absents. None of us have removed our coats: it is almost as cold inside as outside. Lights roll gently over the ragged wall surfaces and in between the stone archways of what seems like an endless labyrinth.

Noro appears - half in darkness, half in light- casting shadows in the distance. She seems like a giant insect with feet en pointe and arms inserted into the sleeves of, what look like, beautiful bamboo crutches. Her body is encased in a dress of wooden squares that are linked together loosely. They flap and clack as she moves. When we follow her deeper, through the building's small chambers and arches, we are finally allowed to sit down: our coats are still firmly clutched around us.


Satchie Noro in Les Absents, photo © by Frédéric KIEHN

A space has been created out of pipes, hanging lights and wooden planks - like a rat's idea of playground. But Noro isn't a rat. My friend thinks Noro is going through a metamorphosis from insect to chrysalis as the performer spins on a hanging lamp and steps out of her percussive shift Noro continues her performance in simple black dance clothes, minus the pointe shoes.

I zone in and out as the piece progresses. The rich textures of such a rugged space, and Noro’s smooth ability as an acrobat intrigue me. I wonder how, or why, she is willing to do four performances in a row in a space this cold, and on a floor that is - despite the huge swath of muslin covering it - hard, broken, uneven concrete. The idea of her squeezing in between the top of her metal playground and the ceiling, swimming in that little space with just enough room to get through, was fascinating. I couldn't help but wonder how many times she scraped her skin on the rough ceiling in rehearsal. (Just one of the thoughts that passed through my wandering mind.)


Satchie Noro in Les Absents, photo © by Frédéric KIEHN


After the insect part at the beginning, I don't really feel any connection -- it is as if an important part of Noro has been left behind with her armor. She isn't sincerely with us anymore. By the end, she renders a smiling, jumping, little girl who spins freely through the encumbered space. But her smile is truly not that of a joyous girl; indeed, it belies the depth one senses buried in this beautiful Franco-Japanese woman. And the danger is real.

The performance lasted 30 minutes so afterwards my friend and I headed off in search of a warm drink. Making the time to chat in a café is truly one of the most pleasurable aspects of life in Paris. What is surprising, perhaps, is that we talked for almost two hours about the performance, finding references in the evening to our own nightmares and dark, unconscious depths.

When all is said and done, the beauty of art lies not only in our opinion of it, but in the degree that it reminds us of our humanity and our range of possibility. Art re-calls us to our lives. For me, Les Absents was an evening well spent.


--
Choreography and Performance: Satchie Noro
Music: Fred Costa
Lighting and Production manager: Thierry Arlot
Costume: Silvain Olh, Maryse Jaffrain
Advisor: Yumi Rigout
Production Manager: Stephane Lebaleur

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

CASTING CALL

(English version below)

Nous recherchons (surtout) HOMMES et FEMMES COMEDIENS / DANSEURS / 'MOVERS' (24 à 50 ans) pour un nouveau spectacle pluridisciplinaire bénévole en Anglais "The Medusa Project." Un haut niveau et impérativement, avec expérience en un ou plusieurs de ces domaines de théâtre, danse, arts-martiaux, et avec bonnes notions d’Anglais. Le Projet est à travers un spectacle basé sur l'histoire de MEDUSE, 'updated and re-told' en deux parties.

Les auditions collectives et individuels sur rdv se dérouleront à Paris le 7 juin 2012, 10h30-13h30, M° Goncourt / Parmentier. DISPONIBILITE : à partir de maintenant 2 répétitions par semaine pendant juin, puis continuation à la date du spectacle ‘work in-progress’ dans un espace théâtrale a Paris, le 3 juillet 2012, autres dates prévues mi juillet.

Envoyer urgemment CV/photo, video, site, bande-demo avant le 3 Juin 2012, en indiquant expérience en theatre, danse, arts-martiaux, vos coordonnées à Ann Moradian, Perspectives In Motion, par e-mail à perspectivesinmotion@gmail.com (avec « audition « MEDUSA PROJECT » dans le sujet du mail)



ENGLISH version:

Seeking MALE and FEMALE Actors / Dansers / Movers (24 to 50 years old) for a new multi-disciplinary movement theatre production (bénévole) in English "The Medusa Project." A strong level is a must, with experience in one or many of the domains for theatre, dance, the martial arts, and good English skills. The Project is focused around a theatre production based on the story of Medusa, "updated and re-told" in two parts.

Auditions (by appointment) will be held in Paris on June 7, 2012, 10h30-13h30, near M° Goncourt / Parmentier. AVAILABILITY : 2 rehearsals weekly through June, continuing through the presentation of the work "in-progress" in a theatre space in Paris, July 3, 2012, with additional dates anticipated mid-July.

Please send CV/ photo, site link, demo before June 3, 2012, indicating theatre, dance, martial arts and other experience, along with your contact information to Ann Moradian, Perspectives In Motion, by email to perspectivesinmotion@gmail.com (with "audition 'MEDUSA PROJECT" in the subject line.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Reflections: International Dance Day - 30th Anniversary Celebration

UNESCO, Paris
April 25, 2012

© Ann Moradian, reporting for The Dance Enthusiast

Something new and exciting happened at the International Dance Day's 30th Anniversary celebration at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris. This year the artist asked to write the annual 'Dance Day Message,' Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, was also invited to program the evening.  He put together a coherent and satisfying evening of excerpts from his choreography and films.

Cherkaoui's Matter, from Origine, could be interpreted as the very grim tale of first woman from Babylonian mythology, but his ingenuity and playfulness keeps the work humorous and intriguing. Kazutomi Kozuki enters like a monkey man to watch the bejeweled Daisy Phillips perform an unwavering adagio of one-legged contortions. He approaches on his belly, with arms that keep folding out from under him at impossible angles, as she removes her glittering ornaments one by one. He reaches out to touch them, but that is clearly not allowed. Instead, he serves as her doormat, her shower, her towel, her robe, her bed... My curiosity is peaked, and I am left with a million questions that only seeing the entire work will answer.

Pure, an excerpt from Cherkaoui's TeZukA, Photo© Olivier Hoffschir

In Pure, an excerpt from Cherkaoui's TeZukA, Vebjorn Sundby tries to erase the paint Guro Nagelhus Schia keeps painting all over her own body, and his. He gently but insistently erases every swipe of black ink possible from their white costumes and bodies. All of Cherkaoui's dancers are beautiful, but a moment of pure magic happened here: Vebjorn and the dance were one. The dance became the life and breath of the dancer, and the only moment was 'now.' Gorgeous! TeZukA will be performed in its entirety at La Grande Halle of La Villette here in Paris next month, and I very much hope to see it.

The program also included two sections from Damien Jalet and Cherkaoui's Babel (Technology and Sin), performed by Damien Fournier, Mohamed Toukabri, and Navala Chaudhari. Sections from the films Rêves de Babel and Zéro Degré, l'Infini gave an interesting glimpse into Cherkaoui's explorations, collaborations and process.

Damien Jalet and Cherkaoui's Babel (Technology and Sin).
Photo© Olivier Hoffschir

The evening was limited in its focus, to be sure. It was a celebration of one artist's work, and one aesthetic within the presentational domain of dance. It is important to remember and acknowledge this. At these celebratory types of events we love to put dance momentarily on a pedestal and speak of it as 'a universal language.' But it isn't. Dance is marinated in a sea of cultural references. The smell and flavor are so familiar to those that swim within it that our references and assumptions can remain unconscious and invisible until we are confronted with an outside perspective that either misconstrues our meaning or challenges it.

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Photo© Olivier Hoffschir

The event is organized each year by the International Theatre Institute (ITI) at UNESCO. What is abundantly clear is that ITI's director, Tobias Biancone, his staff and its Dance Committee give dance an honored place within the context of theatre. Biancone said that we must "fight for dance" and for its place, and that this celebration was a way of doing just that. The 1000-seat space was packed again, as it was last year.

Cherkaoui points out that "the underlying beauty in a performance is that it is primarily the convergence of a mass of people, seated one next to the other, all sharing the same moment." In this sense, dance is indeed, as Cherkaoui states "a celebration of co-existence, a way to give and make space and time for each other."

International Theatre Institute Director, Tobias Biancone, his staff and the Dance Committee with the performers.
Photo© Olivier Hoffschir

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

In search of performers in Paris

Looking for male and female performers who both act and move well for showing of work-in-progress in June/July. Mature performers are welcome too. Some English is needed. No remuneration available at this time. Please contact Ann Moradian at perspectivesinmotion@gmail.com

Thursday, April 26, 2012

30th International Dance Day Message, written by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui

"Celebrate the never-ending choreography of life. Through time, through the ages, what endures is mostly art. Art seems to be everything humankind leaves to its heirs – whether through buildings or books or paintings or music. Or movement, or dance. In that sense, I think of dance as the most current, the most up-to-date history lesson, as it is in a constant relationship with its most recent past and can only happen in the present. 
Dance also, somehow, does not acknowledge borders in the same way as many other arts. Even when certain styles try to limit themselves or work within a frame; the movement of life, its choreography and its need for flux: these take over very quickly, allowing certain styles to mingle with other. Everything engages with everything, naturally, and dance settles only in the space it belongs to — that of the ever-changing present. 
 I believe that dance may be one of the most honest forms of expression for us to cherish: because when people dance, whether in a ballet performance, a hip-hop battle, an underground contemporary show or just in a discotheque, cutting loose, there are seldom any lies deployed, any masks worn. People reflect each other constantly, but when they dance, perhaps what they reflect most is that moment of honesty. 
By moving like other people, by moving with other people and by watching them move, we can best feel their emotions, think their thoughts and connect to their energy. It is, perhaps, then that we can get to know and understand them clearly. 
 I like to think of a dance performance as a celebration of co-existence, a way to give and make space and time for each other. We tend to forget this, but the underlying beauty in a performance is that it is primarily the convergence of a mass of people, seated one next to the other, all sharing the same moment. There is nothing private about it; a performance is an extremely social experience. All of us assembled for this ritual, which is our bond with the performance, our bond with the same present. And so, in 2012, I wish everyone lots of dance. Not to forget all their problems of 2011, but on the contrary, to tackle them creatively, to dance around them, to find a way to engage with each other and the world, to engage with life as part of its never-ending choreography. Dance to find honesty and to transmit, to reflect and to celebrate it."

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Interview: Richard Siegal

©Ann Moradian, for The Dance Enthusiast

(c) Alessandro Capoccia — Richard Siegal at The Door Studios in Paris.

I was first introduced to Richard Siegal's work last fall in Paris at the Arts Arena. Siegal danced with William Forsythe's company up until about 7 years ago. His intent, he said, had always been to choreograph but his career as a dancer far surpassed his expectations. He "liked to be a muse to others," he said. He is currently the director of his own company, The Bakery, which is based in both Paris and Berlin.

The program I saw, If/Then Dialogues, took place at The Door Studios' intimate loft space near the Bastille. What I experienced could be described as a design in movement architecture that invited the audience to engage not only with Siegal, but also with each other through gesture and movement. By the end of the night, buoyed lightly with champagne, at least 80% of the audience shifted from verbal to physical 'conversation.' For me, the evening was a powerful affirmation of our humanity, our vulnerability and our interconnectedness.

(c) Alessandro Capoccia — The Door Studios in Paris.

I was surprised to discover that a precise control system, which  Siegal calls his If/Then Methodology, served as the foundation for much of his choreographic work. The movement and gestural phrases are predefined. The choreographic score is written like a flowchart that meticulously notes the range of possibilities the dancers can choose from, and what possibilities remain open to them based on the choices they make. Essentially, "If I do x, then you do y (or z, or q)." The range of possibilities is very clearly outlined, demanding a mnemonic virtuosity on the part of the performers.
 
Map (or 'script') of the system for If/Then. Photo by Hillary Goidell. All rights reserved.

Control systems are, let's face it, about control. So, of course I wondered 'What happens if... someone breaks the rules?'

Siegal's response is "Yes, at what point does a system break down or implode? You can bore people,to the point that they stagnate. Or you can confront them, corner them, frustrate them... until there is an implosion and the realignment of an idea.”
 
(c) Alessandro Capoccia — The Door Studios in Paris.

The first time he worked with his method in 2005, he found that he was too controlling. The dance, If/Then, was "an execution of the system" and it left little room for interpretive expression on the part of the dancers who were (at the time) Janis Brenner and Jeanine Durning. The frustration they felt served as feedback to the 'system.' The feedback pointed toward possibilities for improvement that were integrated later on.
 
"There is an interesting incompatibility" Siegal says. "Human nature and systems may at times seem to be in opposition." He thought the DVD he made in 2010, also called If/Then Dialogues, was a eulogy to that methodology and exploration. He thought that he was done with it. But something "uncoupled" during its use for the Venice Biennale of Architecture, and Siegal discovered that human nature and his system could co-exist although, Siegal still l points out, "It became important not to be a slave to the system."

(c) Alessandro Capoccia — The Door Studios in Paris.

I wondered what had propelled Siegal, both consciously and unconsciously, to create his methodology.

His conscious intent was "to emancipate the dancer and contradictorily stake my claim as a choreographer. John Cage and Merce Cunningham imagined an art that eradicates the prejudices of the creator," and I participate in that desire," Siegal asserts, " But the relationship between dancer and choreographer is less clear-cut than it used to be. Choreographer and dancer, now, are often mutually responsible for the product. The If/Then methodology began as an attempt to resolve some of the inequities in this relationship."
 
Not only does Siegal aim to provoke a response from his dancers, he also wants provoke a response from the audience, as in performance art or action art. Certainly the program I saw at The Door Studios invited participation. Siegal's earlier solo Stranger was a one-on-one performance that he describes as a "kind of violence";  a confrontation with the role of the audience, and a demand that the audience  take responsibility for their part in the creation of their theatrical experience. "The response, " says Siegal, "whatever it is, is the thing I am looking for."

(c) Alessandro Capoccia — The Door Studios in Paris.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Lunchable Fridays at the Centre de Yoga du Marais

Start the weekend early. A yoga class where you can reclaim your breath, peace of mind, and flexibililty.

Fridays 12h30-13h30
Centre de Yoga du Marais
72, rue Vertbois
75003 Paris
M° Arts et Metiers

15€ drop in
8 class card for 96€
12 class card for 120€

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Beyond Trauma is Breath, by Katarina Silva

"Our breathing patterns are like a record of our life’s experiences. In becoming intimate with our breath we begin to know ourselves more... Every time we fail to breathe fully and deeply through an experience we stunt our processing of it... When we disconnect from how we feel, all we have to do is connect with our breath to find out. Our breath’s speed and fullness are precise indicators of what’s happening to us on an emotional level... In becoming conscious of the way we breathe, we become more conscious of the way we live, and either react or respond to life. Notice the way your breath moves..." (to read the entire article, click here) and when!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Reflections on Performance: Russell Maliphant

THE BIRTH OF A DANCE
© Ann Moradian for The Dance Enthusiast

Le Projet Rodin (The Rodin Project)
Russell Maliphant / Sadler's Wells London
at the Théâtre National de Chaillot, Paris
February 9, 2012

Premieres are tricky... but being lulled to sleep during a dance performance is never a good sign. I assume that some of the weaknesses in Russell Maliphant's The Rodin Project will be worked out by the time it arrives in New York.

Alexander Zekke's music for this production is beautiful in and of itself. I keep hearing that sweet, low voice of the opening cello. It enters and merges with my blood. I mean, it's that beautiful! The movement, however, happens in a world apart from the music. Clear and often abrupt shifts in the score seem uncalled for and unrelated to the dance. This disconnect appears without purpose and, in spite of its beauty, I don't find the the lulling quality of the music helpful.

Russell Maliphant's The Rodin Project- Photo ©Charlotte MacMillan

The first half of the The Rodin Project is all white on white, with costumes (that remind me too much of diapers) in the same off-white tone as the the fabric that is hung and piled on stage, alluding to marble columns and marble quarries. The second half of the dance is black on black, referring, I assume, to the bronze that Auguste Rodin also sculpted with. Russell Maliphant's palette choice is understandable, but it carries with it a serious challenge to the dance's visibility.

The lighting by Maliphant's long-time collaborator, Michael Hulls, aims for atmosphere and feeling, but I can't see the dance or the dancers. There is an interesting moment where the partial lighting from behind almost works--the deep red tones hinting at the kind of heat that softens bronze-- but overall, the dancers are hidden from us in a way that doesn't serve.

And we want to see this dance, and these dancers! They are strong and beautiful, even if underutilized. Three women: Ella Mesma, Carys Staton and Jennifer White, seem decorative rather than integral to the piece. The male-female partnering feels almost formulaic. It is the men alone who have the interesting choreography in this work.

A capoeira-like duet between Tommy Franzen and Thomasin Gülgeç holds some lovely moments. The men move together with a smooth power and fluid control I have seldom seen.

And the duet in the second half, with Tommy Franzen and Dickson Mbi, is unforgettable. Franzen and Mbi move up and down and upside-down the face of a black wall, defying gravity as gently as if they were in free fall. We know that great effort must be required to hang by one hand and slide smoothly down the side of a wall, but we don't see it and we don't feel it. Instead we feel the tenderness of cat feet and kindness as the men help each other explore this vertical surface. It is impossible to ignore the reference to Rodin's masterpiece, The Gates of Hell, because of the sculptural play along the vertical plane. But it remains a reference to an inspiration, rather than an interpretation or reproduction of another artist's work.

Dickson Mbi in Russell Maliphant's The Rodin Project- Photo ©Charlotte MacMillan

The pinnacle of the evening (literally) was a solo performed by Dickson Mbi, high up on a black platform. This section is really black on black, with Mbi's dark skin sculpted beautifully by the light (finally!), just enough to see amidst the black void that surrounds him. Mbi's performance is brilliant and everything comes together here, visually, viscerally, emotionally and intellectually. Mbi pops from one precise form to another, creating a kinetic 'strobe light affect' . Interspersed between pure abstract movement are moments of passionate expression, measured carefully, but escaping nonetheless, like built up steam. This must be the "popping" (as opposed to hip-hopping) aspect of Maliphant's exploration in this work.

With the sound of metal hammering against metal, I experience the birth of this sculpture, with its own particular structure, yearnings and necessities. I am particularly struck by the contradiction between the impersonal quality of metal and the very personal expression Rodin imbued his most potent works with.

It would be satisfying to say that The Rodin Project explored this concept (or another one even) successfully throughout, but it doesn't. Not yet, anyway. There are some beautiful moments, to be sure, but too often the dancers lacked that focus and commitment that can help us enter into an otherwise inaccessible world. Apart from the more vivid sections, the overall work, at this stage, is oomph-less. The use of a strobe light seemed like a cheap way to try to wake us up at the end. Still, I am curious to see this piece a year from now.


---
Choreography: Russell Maliphant
Lighting: Michael Hulls
Music: Alexandre Zekke
Sets/Décor: Es Devlin and Bronia Housman with Russell Maliphant
Costumes: Stevie Stewart
Rehearsal Director: Dana Fouras
Technical Team: Andy Downie, Jon Beattie, Ben Walker

Friday, February 24, 2012

Reflections: Danser sa vie (Dance Your Life)

Exhibit of Dance and the Visual Arts
at the Centre Pompidou, Paris
November 2012 –April 2, 2012
 
©Ann Moradian for The Dance Enthusiast

Less than 20 steps into the Danser sa vie (Dance Your Life) Exhibit at the Centre Pompidou, it is clear that seeing dance demands an enormous shift out of our habitual rhythms. You really have to slow down. If the exhibit had only been made up of paintings, photos and text, I am sure I wouldn't have noticed or thought much about it.

Le Saut de Palucca (vers 1922-23) Photography Charlotte Rudolph
Collection Centre Pompidou, Musee National d'art moderne


Fortunately, the Centre Pompidou has an extraordinary collection of dance films and a number of these were central to this exhibit. Many were projected onto huge screens that brought the recordings to life. Live performances were lightly peppered in as well. The balance between all of the different mediums was well measured -- at least through the first half of the exhibit -- and invited a sense of total immersion into an era or an idea.

The exhibit reveals, before our very eyes, the relationship between dance and the visual arts, and the "hidden side of the avant-gardes" where dance, we learn, played an important and pivotal role. The works are displayed not only in relation to each other, but also in relation to the flow of history and a culture in constant transition.

Seeing Isadora Duncan's free-flowing body projected alongside the work of artists she inspired, like Auguste Rodin and Antoine Bourdelle, sheds a tangible light on the influence she had on their work. Similarly, Vaslav Nijinski's Afternoon of a Faun performed by the Paris Opera Ballet and projected in grand format, is displayed alongside artists he inspired and collaborated with, like Léon Bakst, the Russian painter who designed the costumes and sets for this virile and controversial work.

The films of Mary Wigman's Hexentanz (Witch Dance) and Totenmal (Call of the Dead) are potent, and made even more so when placed in relation to World War II and the Third Reich, which she had cooperated with. The precursor to the iconic, masked, robotic monster, Darth Vadar (from George Lucas’ film Star Wars) appears not only in Wigman's Totenmal but also in The Green Table by choreographer, Kurt Joos, who fled Germany in 1933.

Rudolf von Laban, a Hungarian known in the United States mostly for developing Laban Movement Analysis and Laban Dance Notation, is revealed to be not only an extraordinary performer, but also the creator of what might be described as an arts commune (which looked to me like it was mostly made up himself and a troop of adoring female dancers.) I was as surprised by this as I was to learn that Laban also cooperated with the Third Reich, working with the Ministry of Propaganda.

Descriptive texts weave a path throughout the exhibit. Sometimes they bring a new understanding to the relationships at play on an historic level. Sometimes the words offer insight into the personal explorations and motivations of the artists. I had never heard of Sonia Delaunay before, but I loved reading her writing about how the rhythms of the foxtrot and tango made them want to explore the dance of color on canvas--and she did in her abstract work La Bal Bullier.

Totentanze der Mary Wigman Painting by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner 1926-28, Witchtrach/Berne, Galerie Henze& Ketterer& Triebold

A film by Theirry de Mey, Counter Phrases, featuring the choreography of the contemporary Belgian Anne Theresa de Keersmaeker, is the centerpiece in yet another room. This film follows the Duncan and Nijinski presentations and, unexpectedly, creates an almost tangible thread spooling out from those earlier works. Normally I would associate de Keersmaeker's work with the more minimalist choreography of someone like Lucinda Childs, but here less obvious links to the beginnings of the early modern dance movement are made visible. 

The exhibit is divided into three parts that are not as clearly defined as they could be. The first is focused on personal expression and the second on abstraction and mechanization. The third section is labeled "performance" and covers theatrical performance, the body as a performance event, dance 'happenings', popular dance and performance art.

By the time I reached the last section, I admit that fatigue had set in. I found myself more often repelled from the work rather than drawn into it. I began skimming over the surface of things. I couldn't see the relationships clearly, and I did not always agree with the work chosen. I was intrigued by the physicality in the creation of visual works by Kazuo Shiraga and Jackson Pollock. Man Ray's intelligence in his poignant broken clock piece Danger/Dancer resonated deep within the dancer in me, and my awareness of the inseparable link between movement and life itself.

A film of Anna Halprin's Paper Dance, with nude dancers moving quite naturally with and in a huge pile of paper, satisfied me enormously with its visual beauty and simplicity. I was delighted by the challenge presented in Olafur Eliasson's 2011 film, Movement Microscope, showing the dance that resides in the most ordinary of movements and gestures.  

Performance painting #2, 2005- Nicolas Floc'h, Video HDV, Interprète Rachid Ouramdane © Adagp, Paris 2011

In one of the last rooms, small photos and sketches were hung on the large walls. After the larger than life presentations in the preceding halls, those pictures seemed like scratch marks on a vast canvas. The rows of little black boxes lined up on viewing tables in the center of the room did little to invite me in to the films of work by contemporary dance artists like Lucinda Childs, Deborah Hay, Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, and Robert Rauschenberg. I did little more than glance at the last room with a film of choreographer Jerome Bel's work. It just couldn't capture my attention at this point.

You really have to slow down to take dance in. It is almost like you have to live along with the dance to really experience it. This can be a little irritating when you are tired or rushed. In an exhibit such as this, it becomes clear that if you only glance at it, you will see next-to-nothing. If you stop for 3 minutes when a dance is ten minutes long, you will get a taste of its texture and colors, rhythms and form, and possibly a feel for the artist's aesthetic and choices, but you won’t see the work, nor will you see the artist's composition or vision. It is like looking at a small corner of a painting, rather than the entire piece.  

I learned an enormous amount from this exhibit and appreciated the intelligence and love of dance, art and life at work here. After spending four hours there, I could only take in the first half. I guess I'll be going back!  Thankfully Danser sa vie runs through April 2nd.