Formation Emmanuelle Huynh & Nicolas Floc’h
In collaboration with artist Nicolas Floc’h and musician Matthieu Doze, Emmanuelle Huynh has created a new choreographic piece on the development of forms.
Fasten together two carbon rods using a magnetized metal ball, create a system, take it apart to put it back together. The structure Nicolas Floc’h designed for Formation, the upcoming piece by Emmanuelle Huynh, is meant to be light, fluid and endlessly adaptable. If we were to learn how to aim for something other than a particular result, in opposition to the way society teaches us to think, perhaps we could study the process, the way something is formed, as suggested by this work’s title, which, as Huynh explains in her English text about it, means both formation and training in French, and also refers to the transformation of how we experience things. PARTNERSHIPS This is not the first time Floc’h and Huynh have worked together. Their first partnership was in 2000 for Bord, followed by Numéro (2002) and La Feuille (2005). For Numéro, created for La Ménagerie de Verre, they worked together on the choreography and the use of materials (cardboard boxes, arrows, fishing rods, etc.). They did the same for La Feuille, commissioned by the Centre d’Art de Château-Gontier, where they move around inside two large red sheets of paper that continuously change shape as they slide, fold, are poked from within and so on. For Formation, Floc'h made an autonomous sculpture as part of his set design, as he did for Bord, in which several tables rearrange themselves. How can learning something, through attempts and failures, be represented visually? Through the use of candy dough or ropes? It took several attempts before the piece took its final form: forty-five carbon rods held together by magnetized metal orbs acting as ball joints. Constructions in space arise rapidly. The very flexible articulations remain fragile. Everything depends on how much force the dancers use in manipulating the rods and magnets. A great many shapes are produced, but they are never solidly constructed. They’re always on the verge of collapse. Because they are looking up at the rods, viewers can imagine themselves as if deep within the structure they form. There is a permanent reinvention, a ceaseless recycling. Floc’h considers this piece a “script/structure.” Huynh considers it a metaphor for life, both transformed and transforming. The same materials can be used in different ways. This installation called Carbone will also appear in Floc’h’s show at the Brittany regional art center ( GLAZ, September 15-November 26, 2017), activated by performers. Other iterations at other art centers, in cities andin land scapes,will be filme dand projecte dons tage.Wh ile Carbonew as designedf or Formation, it also has an existence in its own right as a performance prop. In the exhibition, the rods will be seen from below, like an animated constellation reflecting undersea movements. In the same room will be a Petri dish filled with plankton that can keep the Earth habitable thanks to their ability to absorb carbon and emit oxygen. It’s fun to imagine that if the exhibition were to last a few million years, the hanging carbon rods could end up being absorbed by the green culture. When Formation was first being rehearsed onstage, Floc’h intervened while the structure was being fabricated. “You could almost say thatI be came an occasional outside viewer.I noted when the movements across the stage and the rhythms worked with the structure. I looked at the piece through the eyes of a visual artist, in terms of the occupation of space. Emmanuelle had other things to think about. She had to choreograph Formation.” Huynh likes t hep roc essofco llectivec once p tua lizati on. She’s used to working with Floc’h, and also frequently collaborates with Matthieu Doze, the sound designer for Formation. “I work through a dialogue with my partners. Nicolas and Matthieu were the first people I talked to about this project.” BETWEEN BODY AND LANGUAGE It all began a decade ago, in 2007. Huynh was the director of the Centre National de la Danse Contemporaine (CNDC) in Angers. She read Formation, Pierre Guyotat’s autobiography as
part of her interrogation of the transmission of knowledge: how to circumvent the power of authority that transforms subjective choices into norms and makes them circulate vertically? In this book Guyotat defines the various strata human beings are made of and superimposes the lower-case and capital H versions of history, i.e., stories and grand narratives. That’s what she liked. “I promised myself that one day I would make a dance piece not based on that book but staging that archipelago of transformations and recurrences of which a life is comprised. A piece visually embodying the question of formation as incisively as Guyotat does in writing. His body is at the end of his pen.” How to make the power of the union between body and language felt, not through reading but in watching a stage performance? “I began to read almost everything Guyotat had written, his books such as Arrière fond (Backdrop, 2010), interviews and what he called his “textes-langues,” texts written to be read aloud. One of them, Le Livre (1984), was a direct source for Formation and passages from it will be heard during the performance. “There is a corporality in its treatment of sound,” she explains. Huynh and Doze immersed themselves in the Musiques series, where the author recalls his earliest memories of music and the overall sound environment he grew up in. “I really like the way Matthieu deals with sound. He took Guyotat’s mother’s favorite piece of music, expanded it and made it be heard as if it were coming from far away. As if we could reach out and touch it.” For her, Doze is a partner in the fullest sense. His vision affects the whole piece. “For Matthieu, like me, there was no question of hearing the text at the same time as watching the dance; that would have been too illustrative. Guyotat’s text will be heard in darkness, as if were a kind of bath, a backdrop. It’s such a powerful text… The various media used on stage such as lighting and sound will be independent of each other rather than one dominating another. Each will tell the story in its own way.” MEMORIES OF THE BODY Four ages will be represented onstage to represent four generations: A very young girl (Imane Alguimaret), a young man (Joaquim Pavy), a mature man (Nuno Bizarro) and an elderly woman (Kate Giquel) will perform in various situations and configurations. All combinations are possible. These situations will unfold through the dancing. “I work based on what people give me. I wasn’t used to working with babies and old women. I had to find new tools, really search and think about what to do.” After a series of improvisations, names were given to moments materialized on a dozen sheets of graph paper with colored squares that made it possible to notate and show the dance like a rebus. “I wanted Imane to say things by dancing.” During rehearsals, the work was organized into duos, trios and quartets. “I try to look for something in people’s personal experiences and work with their memories. How do you remember something that is stuck in some part of your body.” Life just has to burst through: some things can only be said by the body.
Translation, L-S Torgoff Emmanuelle Huynh Née en 1963. Vit et travaille à Rennes, Saint-Nazaire, Nantes, Paris, Nîmes, São Paulo et Port-Louis. 1994 Múa 2004-2012 Directrice du CNDC à Angers 2014 Tôzai !... Nicolas Floc’h Né en 1970. Vit et travaille à Paris. 2014 Structures productives, Galerie des Ponchettes, MAMAC, Nices; Art connexion, Lille 2015 Le Grand Troc, MAC/VAL, Vitry-sur-Seine ; Les Villes immergées, Musée des beaux-arts, Calais