Dame de Pic – Masculin/Féminin: sur quel pied danser?

Tarquin Biliet, masculin féminin sur quel pieds danser

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Masculin/Feminin : Sur quel pied Danser ?

Karine Ponties is dancer and choreographer. I saw her for the first time in a production of Nicole Mossoux and Patrick Bonté, then in one of Nadine’s Ganase. Both interpretations radically different, but I was absolutely enchanted and seduced. Intrigued also. I had looked out –in video- “Planta Baja” (1996) and “Dame de Pic” (1997) two solos choreographed and interpreted by her. Same impression. It is just now that I can have the information with which start a kind of reflection and a way to meditate about her way of working which will probably give me the clues, and the origins of the seduction I’m feeling, and that’s something we can already find in her previous works, no wonder…

I have just realised the path in which I can accomplish what I have been asked to, the starting point of a reflection in which I have to answer the following question: How does Karine Ponties approach the quest of making a differentiation about the sexual identities that is appearing in her work’s?

In order not to be interrupted at all time I will answer that clearly; she just doesn’t treat that subject at all. And God knows I have being searching to the point of being obsessed by it watching the videotapes looking for this kind of treatment. Finding myself with a poor collection of material, one -and I emphasizes- just one gesture “feminine”; a costume “feminine also” that of the “Dame de Pic”; and some small adds with little interest for those at the first stages of puberty and adolescence. Truly I’m telling you that towards the chapter of the “kind” Karine Ponties takes more a path of mixture very personalised –human and animal, entomologic, reptile- that takes her away absolutely from any kind of approach to this thematic of the differentiation of sexual identity.No wander it is the identity the junction quest but among the different worlds with a basic starting aim: the choice of a starting point; outside all real humanity, sexual or not, with a general objective marked by the strange, the disturbing, so it’s illustrated in the representation of “Negatovas”.

From the choreographic writing: it’s a work surrounded and based on aerial reptiles (iguanas, chameleons, gavials, alligators, caimans with sun glasses and crocodiles) all cold blooded animals with strange be heavers towards the human perception. The aim is to transponder those elements into a human body and creates a gesture that will be assimilated and become kind of daily, intimate routine, linked to the body that’s carrying it. Those beings shouldn’t have known how to move besides this.

The comic approach is an important aspect of the work process by Karine Ponties. In “Dame de Pic”, the character is a black Queen, seducing, crazy maybe, and disturbing and malefic, but not less comic for that. In “Planta Baja” she stages a kind of Pierrot, dressed with a wide night gum and a hat. Sometimes taken and driven out throughout the imaginary and the turning it looses it.There are long movements, taken back rapidly towards the universal gravitation. Short enhancements, but the unenchanted perseveres and dominates, making her quiet again, real, in a comic register that comes out and belongs to a familiar contemporary tradition: that we own to this current of individuals that have taken and realised the unpleasant reality of this world, small or big; they live kind of deported form their relatives, trying to go away but always being related ineluctably back to the community.

It is nonetheless in the working form that we can realise the basic proposal of the piece. We have to go for that to the final image of“Dame de Pic”: that of a women in a single club couch in which as well as the imaginary her face is invaded by the presence of a wasp. Because the end of the piece is presented as a refusal. First of all a torso appears which could be from the front or the back, either way, alone in the light the long arms with folded hand along it, are descending. Is there only one body? It appears in bits, among strange perspectives, like those white muscles above the head, inverted legs vertically coming out of the dark end. A strange limb can come out above the shoulder, from the elbow, or climbing up in order to be in the view. Light is always restricted, almost always in the dark forms are composed like the shoulder and shoulder blade cut out from the black costume; she moves about sometimes alone, other combining it with some body parts juxtaposed. And when Karine comes back to the front, her face is taken around a knot of arms and hands caressing her own head and face, her hair. Although dressed poorly, her body doesn’t stop breaking out the lines of movement. Sometimes getting back her own control but in an unbalanced way, to the left, the limbs like the one of puppets, a classic step animates sometimes the legs, but so fast there are taken back to a disordered stage and the whole body shakes.

“Planta Baja” has her own formal characteristics seemingly close to the ones of“Dame de Pic”. The costume is white, square, in a black surrounding. We see the face appearing, cut out by a hat, two pairs of parallels, legs and arms cut out from the elbow and the knee only. The public only sees the tibiae and the feet; the body is reduced to the lower parts of it. When the body, the torso the back is no longer aligned between the legs, when he bends, this image is broken; even more when the head is articulated, the arms open wide, so long suddenly in the space that it seems there are caressing. Sometimes the body is taken out of the geometrical order of the costume and comes back to it immediately.

From the distance I can perceive the formal work of this two pieces like a combination so subtle pairs of opposition ( control and lousiness, unity and disassociation, form and fragment, harmony and chaos, speed and slowness…) they all impregnated with various aspects from this two solos, combining a very accurate sense of rhythm. She guides then the organisation of volumes (from the body) in relation to the space. And above all she elaborates progressively a proposal in which –as in the shadow operates her contrary- reign the estrange the comic. In this way the forms that Karine Ponties uses, come towards me in the same way that I can perceive the world: fragments, cut…without charm.This world that I from my own side, I can recompose without stopping, in a kind of obsession that my imagination is tempting to give me, take me to, even though precarious and ephemeral. Like it could be understood now, she didn’t want to show the process of work from “Negatovas” that was in her beginnings. So I will stop here because you could maybe join me already in a familiarity of view towards where she is probably going to take us with her next work: “Four character wander about in the emptiness, the desert”. A place that start in them and is taken and shown to them in their faces. They struggle to move in this vast and strange room by the way so familiar, because they have never left it…”

(translated by Jordi Granados)