• An in-situ creation process / Danser brut

Each creation is site specific. It is born out of an encounter with a place and its inhabitants-users, an environment, a context, a situation.

Living in a dancer's skin — Choregraphing

The dance space is designed and developed before the dance itself.
Its surface. Surface in the literal sense, with attention paid to the quality of its materials and an awareness of its subsurface strata. The dance space gradually reveals itself over time during familiarization with the location and during the residency. Catherine Contour roams the space. Alone at first. At various times of day and night, sometimes in different seasons. Thus immersed, she observes, encounters, converses, notes, films and records. She « inhabits the space as a dancer, implements practices there (listening, collecting, gleaning, naps, energy practices, etc.), eats, sleeps, and also embraces impulses and gestures. She gradually creates a cartography of her trajectories, localized actions and specific locations. A cartography which includes details of atmosphere depending on the time of day, light, activities, presence, the daily rhythms of the space, closely related to changes brought about by weather variations.
A first score is thus outlined: drafting a way of living and/or a pathway in the form of a scenario.
Pathways and a way of living on the sites, as well as in the gardens and dwellings. Some of these suspended spaces become the
dance spaces*. The surface is carefully prepared, the space gently transformed to accommodate bathers in small numbers and in close proximity.

Secondly, supports for the emergence of the dance that subtly resonate with the space(s) are inscribed in the bodies.
During residencies with the artists involved in the creation, Catherine Contour composes accompaniments using the hypnotic tool. These accompaniments draw from impressions gathered both consciously and unconsciously. They work together using the prepared spaces, helping them to evolve by developing gestures that constitute the strata of the Danser Brut choreographic process. During these practice sessions, both shared and single supports are used. A palimpsest from which a new dance is written at each starting point.

*Julie Perrin « Figures de l’attention - Cinq essais sur la spatialité en danse » (Les Presses du Réel, 2012)

The issue that now arises with any choreographic work whose spatiality, but also power to shift conventions and produce counter-positions, is precisely that of how to inhabit it… Inhabiting it means constructing a way of occupying the space and inventing a way of being in space… Inhabiting it defines the way humans occupy the Earth and opens up the poetics of the world.

When dancing, inhabiting the space is not the same thing as living in it, but rather a tension between geography and landscape, geometry and formlessness, line and matter, frontier and projection… “There is a very important distinction here that touches on the body and existence itself, the difference between these two terms: to inhabit and to lodge, » writes Henri Maldiney. To inhabit is really to haunt space, to be present in it, to be present outside of oneself and at the same time to integrate this « outside ». This is the paradox of existence.

Haunting the choreographic performance space involves allowing movement and a project capable of dislodging an audience.

Danser Brut

Danser brut refers to public forms of dancing using hypnosis, a dance and composition technique based on the use of the hypnotic tool developed by Catherine Contour in 2002 and used with a group of dancer-researchers since 2016. This title is borrowed from the exhibition organized at the Lam in Villeneuve d’Ascq in the fall of 2018 for which « Un bain au Lam - Danser Brut » was created. This work summons an amplified, archaic and subtle body and the deployment of dances that could be said to be raw (brut). In a space prepared and inhabited by dancers and one or more musicians, Danser Brut invites us to take the time to let the hypnotic process intensify and the subtle transformations of bodies, presences and space unfold. A moment of sharing that is closer to a secular ritual than a performance.

In this technique, the notions of writing and score take on new forms. What is inscribed - perhaps more than what is written - during the immersions is a woven palimpsest of memories. An open score comprised of a series of experiments that, like a set of layers whose superimpositions differ according to the performers, is updated with each new starting point. It is an intentionally non-voluntary form of writing, in the present and in the presence of others, on a shared surface prepared by numerous layers of practices, as in the Japanese lacquer ware technique. The work here no longer consists of repetition but of practicing the starting point: both as a preparation for future encounter situations and a stage in the writing process.
An entry in the movement of living things in a capacity of accessibility and attention to the flow that carries and passes through bodies. A swimming technique to follow and move upstream, to suspend, to postpone the immediate expression of the gesture, to play with intensity and multiple futures.

« Les danses avec hypnose de Catherine contour » - Comments from an interview by Julie Perrin in « Une plongée avec Catherine Contour – Créer avec l’outil hypnotique » -(éditions Naïca, 2017)

The work with the dancers is organized in strata, like Japanese lacquer, letting the color gradually appear in all its vibrancy. It is comprised of successive layers of hetero-hypnosis (based on an energetic approach to Ericksonian hypnosis) which will form the basis of a future dance.

« Les tracés des danses avec l’outil hypnotique » - Interviews with Anne Boissière (catalogue of the exhibition « Danser brut » au LaM – Lille Métropole Musée d’art moderne, d’art contemporain et d’art brut, 2019)

I feel the need to shed effects and the « spectacular », to distance myself from the performance; it’s a choice. Trance is fashionable, but most of the time as an object of representation. Numerous performances use it. I’ve been close to the theatre, to scenography. But today, my work has shifted me. I need meaning, and this meaning comes through something that is inscribed in my body in an extremely raw and archaic way, in order to slightly resist these standards that are hammered home as obvious and necessary. Couldn’t we, through erratic tracings, try a few displaced gestures?

Testimonials by dancers

Preferring to drift

The art of letting oneself be carried along by the currents for Danser Brut; drifting as a way of roaming in the space, of walking along the pathways of sometimes improbable encounters, while ensuring you free yourself from the  » dictatorship of the project  » as far as possible.
Rather than a linear path consisting of a series of choreographic pieces (rehearsal/creation/tour) at regular intervals, Catherine Contour prefers zigzagging, branching-off, chance and a random trajectory with varied paces (from a long maturing to instantaneity) where forms and formats adapted to a fluctuating economy are invented: the practice of improvisation.

Preferring to drift echoes Siao-Yao-Yeau by Tchouang-tseu translated as Aller selon (Go depending on) by Jean-François Billeter in « Leçons sur Tchouang-tseu » (Allia edition, 2002).

It is generally translated as « to walk », « to stroll », « to evolve freely », but it also has the sense of « to swim », by which we mean the art of letting oneself be carried by the currents and whirlpools of the water and to be comfortable enough in this element to simultaneously perceive everything that is happening there.

I remembered earlier today when I learned to ride a bicycle … I would say that in those moments while being aware of the body’s activity, especially through cenesthesia and kinesthesia, consciousness stands at a certain distance from it, with the attitude of an sarcastic spectator. It witnesses an activity that necessarily takes place without it. I think that this is the moment of the experience that Tchouang-tseu refers to by the verb yeau, which appears in the title of the first book of his work (Siao-yao-yeau, which I translate as « to go depending on ») and which has a particular importance throughout the work. It is generally translated as « to walk », « to stroll », « to evolve freely », but it also has the sense of « to swim », by which we mean the art of letting oneself be carried by the currents and whirlpools of the water and to be comfortable enough in this element to simultaneously perceive everything that happens there.

Preferring to drift echoes the Situationists’ « drift »; rules for roaming in cities. Guy Debord proposes to create new atmospheres through the construction of situations to counter the monotony of geometric streets.

Preferring to drift echoes « I would prefer not to, » that the main character in Herman Melville’s « new Bartleby » invariably says in answer to any request addressed to him. This attitude leads to a break with the former traditional society. The body stops in this form of resistance. It suspends all action and bears weight. Awareness of the body in its capacity to bear weight and the suspension of action become political acts.

« Danser sa vie avec l’outil hypnotique » - Introduction by Clémence Seurat (369 édition, 2019)

Catherine Contour is a choreographer. She has been using hypnosis in her artistic practice for the past fifteen years and tries to renew the experience of dance through this unexpected but ecologically conscious gesture in relation to the world and to others. In a poetic and pragmatic way, she shifts the choreographic work towards new issues, which affect both the posture of the body and a collective sharing of sensitive realities.

La suite

Interaction is at the heart of her approach: she explores reciprocal and non-hierarchical relational forms and principles that lie between word and gesture, between dance and life, between imagination and movement. This is not the interactivity promised by digital technology and its increasingly standardized media environment, where the human being is paradoxically put in a position of passivity consisting of responding (or not) to stimuli.
On the contrary, what is sought is the subtle interplay of influences and interferences that take place between people, things and their environments.
Hypnosis thus becomes an active form of being in the world, a mode of presence open to otherness, which allows us to enter into resonance and tune in with what surrounds us. It is also a way of paying attention to oneself and to others. In short, an alternative mode of communication that explores less conventional and more fragile patterns of signs, that mobilizes all the senses to scan our environment and where sensations act as supports to feel as well as what is felt. In this, it is an instrument of emancipation that sets in motion and sets to work, whose praise of slowing down and of the present offers an escape from contemporary hustle and bustle. In a world in perpetual acceleration, where collectives are breaking up and individuals are overwhelmed by all kinds of demands, being attentive becomes a form of resistance. It is a way of developing ecology of practices and relationships contrary to contemporary capitalism, which feeds on immaterial goods and the attention they capture.
Catherine Contour offers to inhabit our bodies and lives, by being present, in order to better connect with the world and with others.

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