A MONTHLY FEUILLETON (PART 2: NOVEMBER)
By Agnieszka Ryszkiewicz
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So glad to be back.
Now that we see each other again, meaning that you got at least a bit interested by my first post (although there was not so much about sex yet!), I guess it would be adequate to introduce myself.
For a week I have been stuck in this little French town – Angers – where after B.'s persuasion and as well, of course, driven by my own desire, I have decided to deepen my working experience as a choreographer.
Primarily I am a dancer. That's right dear Watson, a classical yet contemporary case of wanting more than one already is. The short version of my bio sounds something like this: After finishing an old-fashioned ballet school in some small East European country, Ophelia moved westwards. Curious about what could be the different facets of dance, she graduated from a contemporary dance school in Austria but didn't give up her race. Constantly chasing the setting sun, she spent some time in Amsterdam, traveled through Brussels to end up in Paris. Now she finds herself in this weird yet common position of aspiring to make her own work, without having too much experience but plenty of courage and probably a fair dose of talent. This is when you come to meet her in Angers. Next chapter. (Don't worry, next time I'll tell you what and how I look!)
Angers' bright side is not the weather but the CNDC. The CNDC is one of 19 French National Choreographic Centers. It is led by Emmanuelle Huynh.
And we are 10. We the Essayists – those who try or keep trying to work within the contemporary dance field. We are part of a formation therefore called ESSAIS.
B. is here too. She is a friend of mine way back from ballet school.
There is also FAC, the Formation d'Artiste Chorégraphique. They are much younger and more numerous.
In case you would be interested in coming to France I have to clarify that only four CCN (Centres Chorégraphiques Nationales) offer different long-term dance formations. Those are the CNDC of Angers (FAC and ESSAIS), the CCN of Montpellier led by Mathilde Monnier (E.X.E.R.C.E program), the CDC of Toulouse (EXTENSIONS) and the new program led by Maguy Marin called "de l'interprete a l'auteur" that takes place at the CCN of Rillieux-la-Pape.
If you desperately want to know the other centers you might check an exhaustive list on wikipedia (http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centre_chorégraphique_national).
I admit that the way the French government supported dance in the 80ies through creating those centers is impressive. Here, this period is often referred to as the "Lang Years" (after Jack Lang – the back then Minister of Culture) or the golden age of French dance. Coming from an Eastern country, where those golden years haven't yet come, I find it very important to follow and analyze the political situation, the context in which dance has to exist. Therefore I force myself to read the newspapers even though my work has nothing to do with politics really. But I shouldn't talk work now, you'll get bored for sure and I could talk about my work for hours, before I get bored myself. So let's talk sex. And before we talk sex, I will more specifically present the context in which it might occur. And as we are ten, as I have already mentioned, the possibilities and combinations are numerous. Back to ourselves then.
Ten young artists reside in Angers, a bit lost in a program whose frames are to be defined by them. This is at least how I see it. We have already done an altogether fair amount of talking about indecisiveness, about the bad sides of democracy being a weak culture and people getting lazy under a group umbrella.
You see what I mean? When a bunch like this gets together it often looks similar, I guess.
After countless attempts to define what really the "ESSAIS" program is, B. finally pushed the organization of a Saturday night meeting to discuss and brain storm around "What we want/think/expect" of this one year together.
She can be so rude sometimes. I can't understand why she doesn't bother whether people will still like her or not.
Personally I was looking forward to the meeting. We were supposed to cook together, have a couple of drinks and chat. I do admit that when we started talking, it was already pretty late, and we were all tired and maybe a little tipsy … but the opinions were very interesting and it is absolutely fabulous that each of us has such a different point of view on everything. I do respect everybody in this fantastic group and I do believe, no matter what B. says, that things "will happen between us"! You know what I mean? And I do not only point towards sex.
B. went nuts, thank God she is a good performer and could act as if she was just very tired. She brought Bojana Cvejić up again, citing her cooperation around collectives in collect-if. Then somebody was talking about a text by Irit Rogoff, but I didn't quite follow, as we collectively were smoking some grass …
Finally B. left at around 3 a.m., disappointed and frustrated, while we were only getting to know each other. I got especially intimate with a cute Brasilian dancer J.
I for my part consider talking about food and our different cultures as "part of the process", if I may say so. I like to think about the process. I consider myself at this point of my artistic carreer as a process-oriented person rather than a product-oriented young choreographer. I know it is trendy now. Even though Mårten Spångberg is hurling about abusing the word. I must confess that I do not care. Many people use it because it's fashion. Carrie Bradshaw might be a fashion victim but I am one as well, of a different kind maybe but I still like to feel part of the hype "young artists' circle".
Others, for example, might be more open to sexual innovations, but I gave up when the night's proposition turned out to be a multicultural orgy with the western countries riding on their colonies.
I went home cursing history and politics. I'd rather be on top.
PS. B. and me have this common friend who was part of an exchange program called EXPEDITION (funny, all those dance programs sound similar and start with an "e" – expedition, extensions, exerce, essais etc.). I spend the night chatting with him on skype …
In his case I admit being a little bit puzzled about the idea of this program. So much money involved to make a bunch of people travel to Vienna, Amsterdam and Paris with no other objective than the exchange of …, yes of what, even that wasn't precise. One cannot deny the economic crisis that our world faces, and those artists may as well simply enjoy Amsterdam's joints and red district. I do not know if I agree with such inventions. Maybe I really am a bit into politics after all …
(Transmitted via time machine from November 2008)