A horizontal artistic collaboration

Karine Ponties

The creative process is a moment about engendering faith, some form of engagement, certainty, a need for that kind of work, then. 

Piece after piece, I keep finding new forms to an endless questioning about the world. It is in the material itself that I find what I am looking for, without really knowing exactly what it is. A material that turns out to be even richer as it is composite, stratified, saturated by thousands of possibilities. And so, our work is to tune into that voice that whispers in the material itself and pave its way out. What is the content of this work in which we do, undo and redo, in order to unburden ourselves and then find the way to settle for what feels like an accurate artistic decision?

Choreographic writing, for me, always comes from the body, hence the necessity to forge ties and work with individuals, each of whom contains their ‘writing’. Individual animal-like scoring processes which try to translate, and thus rewrite existing languages: sounds, words, gestures, colors and the excesses of the world that burst onto the stage. Raw materials to transform. 

In order to translate not ourselves in the world, but rather the world that is in us, as human beings among other human beings.

The individual, in this attempt to translate, is fragmented and exposed, for what they contain is not linear and what come out are fragmented stories, without a true linear narrative, made of details, codes and playing.

By searching in this struggle for every detail and possibility that each unique body has to offer, we push the limit so that the body gives in, and falls into a crack where it can curl up and let itself free of its boundaries and exasperations.

In our absurd universes that question the goal of actions – their gratuitousness, grandeur, perversion or subversion – actions transfigure the banality of gesture, and details becomes a pretext to explore and sublimate. 

In order to translate through play; with languages, through a research for an organic rhythm. Playing to allow internal barriers to fall, and to explore the territory in-between. Playing by not sealing meanings, but by remaining open to every fleeting, fragile strand of imagination.

Passionately and with detachment, suspended and in suspense, filled with doubt, always questioning, with increasing forcefulness, we re-imagine the fact itself of being on stage.

My, our work of creation is actually a work of full and complete collaboration. Because what we achieve, on stage, is a work of assembly and mounting, a combination of competences which create singularity. It’s not only about meeting, but to meet somewhere in the research, to propose all together and feel the fundamental difference there is between theory and practice. Creating collectively means refining raw material. It means taking full advantage of the fact of being together to sharpen this material. It means making the best out of the many perspectives on the subject by sharing our similarities, of course, but mostly by profiting of our differences.

In our profession, the relationship between movement, sound, light and set design is, often enough, vertical. Lights used merely to create a storyline, to fictionally recreate realism. We look for its opposite. The dimensions of light and sound, on our stage, hold a place as fundamental as the body’s. This is why I need to have them in the room from the beginning of the creative process.

I work very comprehensively, systematically recording footage of every guided improvisation supplemented by extensive rehearsal notes. I collect, this way, for every performance, between 50 and 80 hours of potential material that I watch several times and from which I carefully select what will be the foundations of the piece.

This research requires time and a dialogue between all those who accept to commit to it. It is a rough process of creation, one of labor and toil, characterized by a certain difficulty, and stamina, because the material to hone is often in opposition, contradictory. 

From this material at odds, our goal is to ambush opposites into possible bonds. Like a scientist, an alchemist who finds accord in a nano-scaled mix of unstable substances. 

Then comes the time for writing. We need to relearn what emerged from these, often very long, guided improvisations. That’s when the body lets go, those moments of grace. 

In weakness, as we let go, something utterly sincere happens. 

In this writing process, I am after a language that gathers the contradictions and the motions of incoherence of being itself. 

To forge an actual language with these bodies made of jolts, a language that goes beyond meaning but that keeps the intensity of clashes and contradictions. Not an aesthetic, but a dynamic research. So that the body can be an actual ground for affirmation.

Karine Ponties – September 2017