Interview with Brice Leroux, part 1: Dancing lumino kinetics

by deborah on 03/27/2010

French choreographer and dancer Brice Leroux presented in February his lumino kinetic dance piece ‘Solo#2-Fréquences‘ at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb. The guest performance was organized by Eurokaz – The International Festival of New Theatre.

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Photo of Brice Leroux by Sandra Piretti (c)


Brice Leroux (b. 1974) graduated from the Conservatoire National Supérieur in Lyon in 1992. For his First Solo he received a prize for best contemporary dancer at the Paris International Dance Competition and the Gold Medal of the city of Paris. In 1992 he was awarded a scholarship by the American Dance Festival in North Carolina and completed his training in New York at the studios of Trisha Brown and Merce Cunningham.

In 1994 he moved to Brussels to dance with Rosas. Three years later Brice Leroux decided to give up this work and decided to the study of Musicology and Ethnomusicology at the University of Paris VIII. He worked with David Hernandez, George Alexander Van Dam (violinist in the Ictus Ensemble), Sarah Chase, Jean-Luc Ducourt and others.

In his work ‘Solo#2-Fréquences’ Leroux uses mathematical schemes applied on movements, LED art, and sound tempo. It’s a poetic science on trajectories in space. Brice Leroux is a fascinating and uncompromising choreographer; and he doesn’t care much about the establishment, but is fully committed to the processes of work.

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Brice Leroux: Continum, photo by Wolfgang Kirchner (c)

Therefore, here is Brice Leroux to tell us more on his art_space_sound_body articulations…

Let’s start with your education and interest in dance…

BL: First I’ve been trained as a ballet dancer. I guess like a lot of dancers, I was being educated like this till the age of sixteen and then I oriented myself to contemporary dance. I’ve studied at the Conservatoire National Supérieur in Lyon. Afterwards, I left for the States to study a bit with the Cunningham Studio and with dancers of Trisha Brown Company. Voila! That’s about it, I’m mainly dance trained…

I’m very interested in your American experiences, because techniques by Merce Cunningham and Trisha Brown are slightly different… What was it like to work with them?

BL: Right! Well, it’s true, the movements are very different in these two techniques, kind of opposite. For instance, Merce Cunningham did everything as a sort of geometry, whilst in Trisha Brown’s technique everything is more free and more like fluid forms. Trisha’s movements were actually informal in a way.

But at the same time, what was interesting to me was the fact that these techniques are really working mostly on the movement. And there is nothing theatrical in it, a dancer is a dancer and dancers are really not pretending to do something, just letting their bodies to work.

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Photo: Gravitations by Brice Leroux (c)

I guess, some people would call it abstraction, but I don’t think it’s really abstract, because it’s still a human person doing it. So, I think there is still a possibility for the empathy for the viewer.

It can’t be abstract and for me really is important to define the art of dancing in a way. Like really playing with your body which is totally something else then being an actor, like pretending to live something else. I don’t feel like I’m pretending anything, I’m just playing with my body and I’m living the sensations it gives me, hoping that this is also ‘lived’ by the viewer, I guess.

Seems that you are interested lately more in corporal work and kind of minimalism… Is there anything that has triggered this interest particularly? When did you decide to do this kind of aesthetics?

BL: Well, I was just trying to learn as a composer. I guess I needed to focus on one figure at the time. I didn’t study choreography for instance, compositions and these kinds of things. My way of working is actually studying every aspect of what composition is. For instance, if I would work on trajectories in space that’s enough for me to focus on, without a need to also work on arms movement for instance or something else.

For me, there is my own ‘composition’ I work on and then, I work for the viewer… because I’m also trying to create things to let the viewer see this work on trajectories.

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Gravitations-quatuor

Therefore, everything out of that I’m moving away to show what I want to see. Hence, I’m working on what’s necessary and what’s enough.
I’m not interested in minimalism itself. I’m just interested to focus on one aspect of compositions, if it’s already a full work, that’s enough and I don’t have to mix everything.

As for the viewer, I wanna show the specific thing I’m working on. I’m dividing it into parameters, only working on certain parameters at time.

What is your relation as a choreographer to the space… to theatre space? More precisely, how do you treat space in your work?

BL: Um, that’s a large question. As for theatre space, I started experimenting with space more like Trisha (Brown), having more events in site specific spaces. Afterwards, I started to go to theatres and then working in some propositions this space gave me, for instance: What is a block box? What is a frontal perception of the audience?

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Solo#2-Fréquences by Brice Leroux (c)

Well, in this performance ‘Solo#2-Fréquences’, the audience is all around and it’s a little bit different. I’m trying to use what’s in the theatre and what’s interesting in this situation, the audience is sitting in front of it, in the dark, there are no other stimuli and it’s a live show, it’s direct and you know that’s not an image.  A human body in front of them, and that’s a specific situation that I want to work with.

In terms of space, what’s interesting for me is the space between bodies. If you are only working with trajectories, the distance between bodies and how they come close or get far from each other. In a way, what’s really visible for me is happening between space and that’s what I’m trying to work on.

OK, now we can switch to music and the importance of the sound in your work. You studied ethnomusicology and came into contact with other cultures through traditional dances … Why did you decide to go in that direction?

BL: Traditional dances were interesting to me because you are entering the field that’s not about the style, specific style that has been built by some choreographer, but was built over the years, decades, centuries.

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Photo: Olivier Matterlart (c) from Quantum-Quintet by Brice Leroux

There are really coherent forms that somehow attracted me to study them and to see what style actually is? You can do the movement with it, like for instance, if you would ask a ballet dancer to do a movement or if you would ask an African dancer to do exactly the same, it’s not going to be the same thing at all. This is what interests me. What are these differences in the way of doing things? And for me, these differences are style, so researching on this was important. Body movements are not only shapes, it’s also a way of doing it.

For me that was a way to go toward the source of the pleasure of the movement. It wasn’t being built by someone thinking about what movement should be, it’s just something that has been built up over the centuries, something that is very coherent within the society and just a basic pleasure of what dancing is.

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Photo: Olivier Matterlart (c) from Quantum-Quintet by Brice Leroux

Yeah, I know… many people very often use these terms like, lets make now a Forsythe movement, or a Cunningham movement… what about non labeled body and movement?

BL: Yeah, I didn’t want to create my style based on taste. For me that was training, too. As a dancer, I wanted to have all these experiences. But, I don’t wanna be imprisoned with a certain style that I would have to study more then others. I wanted this range of obvious possibilities and from this point, my work is about not deciding on style.

I’ve never decided to use a movement because I think: oh this is nice, so I would do this. So, I’m building this compositional mathematics in order to avoid this. There is some sort of logic and coherence with the project rather then a decision of taste.

I guess, that’s what I’m trying to do, which is somehow opposite to traditional dances. But because it’s opposite, I was really interested in this. I needed to go through all these things to pull away from this, I guess.

Read the second part of the interview with Brice Leroux: Choreographing bodies and spaces