Karine Ponties seen by Marie Baudet

Marie Baudet, 2018

What do I find, what do I perceive in this body of work that I have been following – faithfully albeit intermittently – for more than twenty years?

A body of work, an artist (and her teammates who have come, gone, and remained year after year), a gaze that sharpens our own. Assertions, attempts, also doubts, that, through the body, together with images and gesture, echo with the chaos of our world, the erring of those who walk on it.

“Dance was a goal in itself. It’s a means like any other.” A means that Karine Ponties has made her own, like the brilliant practitioner and stubborn researcher that she is, and that echo with many forms of writing. Or all forms, tout court, from choreography to illustration, storytelling to thought. After all, all of them are forms of movement. And as such, imbalance, mutation, advancing and suspending. “The joyous pace of random encounters,” which could be the company’s mantra, sums up this choreographer’s path, for whom “material has its own secrets, that reveal themselves without us really knowing why or how.”

Encounters, in Dame de Pic’s work, also come from this awareness, wich fosters a certain listening quality: the surging of material, an attention to what it frees, hides, moves and reveals, the horizons towards which it throws us.

Artistic encounters – that for many are obvious, or simple pretexts – is actually the principle itself of the work that Karine Ponties has been doing for the past twenty years. A dialogue between disciplines, always re-interrogated with each new piece, gets ramified and fleshed out at the same time. Maybe it is dance that manages to touch without trying to tell: the fragile yet defined line of a poetry of the now, open to all winds.

Trials and errors, attempts and failures, which were notably staged in the four-performer piece “Mi Non Sabir” (created in Prague in 2004), are part of this journey and sculpt this fleeting yet obstinate poetry.

Talking about journeys, Karine Ponties has turned journeying into one of the building blocks of her work, as well as an invitation to embark on the company’s adventures. Both physical and metaphorical journeys, these crucibles of human and scenic experience that never leave the audience behind.

A brand? Maybe. Her universe (in over twenty years, around forty pieces) is particular in the sense that it appears somehow identifiable, almost with a style of its own, and yet, it also remains unpredictable, impossible to summarize. Its position, because of its moving essence, lies beyond codes. It’s its salt and strength. Karine Ponties’s firm propensity to emancipate herself and her work from the expected re-injects our time with a healthy blur of haziness, the undefined not as a goal per se, but rather as something that embraces the gaze and perception, leaving them free to walk their own paths.

Led by the question of translation (Karine Ponties also studied Philology), Dame de Pic’s work is also imbued with the ideas of metamorphosis and getting lost. All the way to the recent “Sourire des égarés” – “The Smile of the Wanderers” in English – (festival Pays de danses, 2018) where, with their contortions and absurd manipulations, their improbable groundings, the performers questioned the sometimes convoluted ways in which we outplay our inadequacy to the world.

These four “Wanderers” claimed ownership over the unbalance, that could have constricted them, to answer to chaos. And what’s the problem if meaning escapes them, maybe it is even better if meanings clash, if aliveness rubs against artifice, if reason capitulates at times; it’s the alive that wins, the vibrant, the messy, the unresolved that Karine Ponties is not done reconciling us with, redefining, with each piece, the language of a body conscious of its flaws and full of humor.