the dance itself begin to happen in the moment
When one is dancing, at least when I’m
dancing, in my work, there is a way that a relationship between the body,
a connectidness between the dancer or the performer and the environnent
in such way that often I find myself interested in the way that an action
resonates in the space and the way that that resonance in the space resonates
back in the body such that you have a cycle of resonance, of initiating
an action, that action resonating in the space and that resonance creating
a reverse action in the body or in the sequence of activity.
that becomes a cycling events that produces a heightened state of reality
this state exists in the later pieces such a Shift Centre and No Man’s
Gone as much as in the earlier pieces Dilo or Abila
In Dilo or Abila I think it’s driven very much by the thematique,
the ritual african thematique of the piece that what was generating this
In Shift Centre there is an underline principle that dominates the piece
that generates the movement. It’s just the simple idea of beginning
from deliberately conscient moving one part of the body or shifting one
part of the body. That continues to the extent where it becomes the body
itself that is then shifting you, that is no longer you consciently moving
the body.So it is the question of wether it is you who is moving the body
or it is the body that is shifting itself in space, the body begins to
works on its own to shift itself in space. That get into a cycling phenomenon
of the body moving itself rather than a conscient and deliberate thinking
that ok now I’m going to move left, now a micromilimiter to the
right, etc, ect. And you let the dance itself begin to happen in the moment.
It’s the same idea but realised in the different way.
strategy to genarate multiple results
Can we achieve this state when we are working with material
where the movement sequences are written. Can we get in this state when
we are working in the same way in which can when we are working with instant
composition and improvisation.
I think that the difference is that in improvisation, if there a place
that we want to perfect it’s the strategie that produces the result.
We want to be able to master the strategy that produces the movement.
Whereas in written material we want to perfect the result itself.
In improvisation we have a strategy which will then is suppose to produce
a possible series of results. The result can be varied.
In written work the result is already predetermined, and that is invariable.
From one night to another night will will always achieve the same result.
Of course the is room for human error and human perception, that everyday
we wake up different people and we don’t necesseraly execute the
same movement exatly presicely the same way every night. I think there
is this level of flexibility even in written material.
But the diffrence I that in improvisation we are ready that the journey
of the piece will not be the same every night. The piece will rely in
chance. A mobile phone will go off in the public and that will be integrated
as well as a reality that’s happening within the performance.
Which is not in the same relationship with written material. That incident
might happen but we’ll quikly forget it.
I think the difference is what do we write. I one instance we are writing
the result, the movement, in the other instance we are writing the strategy
that generates the movement.
I like working with the strategy that generates the movement. for two
In one instance I find that closer to Africain and performances from
other cultures. That liberty and that way of functioning is often present.
The second reason is that I find that in the most dominant ways of thinking
about dance, of writing dance, of writing performance, of thinking about
performance that there is way of writing performance that has settled
in and has become dominant. And it’s the way of doing which is accepted
of being the proper way of doing. If you don’t do that way, then
your work is either less or is not as valuable. I find that there is a
tyranny. This tyranny is not only linked to dance. But somewhere there
is a reaction against all form of dominant thinking that force us into
ways of thinking.
We all like freedom I think. All human beeins like to be free. I don’t
like to be place only in one pigeon hole. So it’s at those two different
levels that the tendancy towards instant composition as a way of writing
that I found myself leaning towards. To be free and to accept different
kinds of realities.
And maybe it’s also something to do with coming from
Africa. Being essentially brought up in Africa. We are in a position where
we are constantly expose to a multiplicity of reality and ways of being.
We live the tradition in one side and we live with islam, christianity,
We speak four different langages. And that a normal thing, it’s
not an extraordinary think to speak four different langages and essentially
to live four different cultures in the everyday reality. And I think that
somewhere that just makes that it’s natural that reality is multifaceted,
that the thruth depend on where you are standing, that reality depends
on where you stand. If I put on my traditional africanist hat I accept
reality on a different way. When I put on my christian hat I accept also
reality in a different way. And that one is able to function within thoses
different ways of beeing. When I’m in Nairobi, I function as a particular
way, when I go to the village I function in a different way, I come to
Paris I function again in a another way. And we accept all this as being
valid ways of being. How can it be then that in performance, that in our
artistic practices suddenly we don’t accept that, sudddenly we give
up this concept of multiple reality.
idea of multiplicity in Shift Centre
Shift center therefore is the continuation, the evolution of this
thinking of this idea of multiplicity. Of the idea that the thruth is
mutifacted. Perception is subjective. The situation of being able to accept
that any given object has different facets and we ourselves as human beings
as characters there is always different levels of being.
Nothing exists purely as one state. Everything exists in different states
and those different statres are equaly valid.
Which is what I found for exemple in the work with Abila in it’s
relationship with the space. While working in the studio it was quite
opened. Both in terms of structure itself, the narrative if you like that
exists inside. That was quite opened to what the meaning is.
Same as which side, what do we see, do we see the videoprojector, do we
see a particular performer. Are we looking at it from the point of view
of one particular performer or another performer. There was a way where
all that was fairly open.
And then come the last few days of rehearsal when you are preparing. Suddenly
you know ok that this piece is going to be presented in a classical theatre
where the audience will only be sitting on one side, the videoprojector
could only be seeing as being behing the performers.
This relationship didn’t exist during the creation process.
The projector wasn’st neceseraly in front of the performers. The
video screen was not necesaraly behind. We weren’t always seen all
the performers from one point of view.
And I think that just the fact that during the last few days of rehearsal
suddenly I have to seat in front and sort of readjusted everythink in
terms of where I am sitting, that many thinks we were working with during
the creation no longer made sense. The depth with which we worked during
the creation no longer made sence. And I think that all of those things
affect the meaning as well. It’s quite evident that perception and
meaning are connected in a way that is also linked to space. The way we
treat space is linked to the meaning of space. For me suddenly the work
seamed less richer, put as a two dimentional object in front, as a flat
screen. For me what became of the piece is that it became a flat screen
in front of us.
Therefore for me, those two dimentional flat paintings in front of us
that I was looking at at the end seemed so much less richer than the open
performance situation with which I worked during the creation process.
interrogation about political and social reality: The
danger that is coming back today is that one of there is always one place
that is the center of the world from where thruth is determined, from
where what is wrong or what is wrong is determined.
Somewhere in Shift Center this questioning of the relationship
between perception and space, between perception and identity becomes
the hearth of the piece. To unable that thinks to be seen from different
points of view, that thinks be not formated in a way that we only see
it in one way because I think it’s a tyranny of perception that
is imposed by thedominant conventional ways of presenting and constructing
performance so that it’s not only the public that is constrained
to a way of looking, of seeing, of experiencing but also the artist that
is constrained to a way of constructing and a way of self perceiving.
In Shift Centre I’m trying to see to what extend can we opened.
Can I still retained the freedom of perception. This is not just a question
of space or a question of meer form. Of course form and meaning are always
such closely intertwined that I think that there a point where it’s
difficult to separate form from meaning, esthetic from meaning. All those
diffrerent thinks are so closely interwined together that I wanted to
take in account their connectedness.
And for me that’s also related somewhere to political reality. You
are either with us or with the enemy for example. Current social situations
will suggest that somewhere there is only one way of looking. The danger
that is coming back today is that one of there is always one place that
is the center of the world from where thruth is determined, from where
what is wrong or what is wrong is determined.
For me in Shift Center this is a question as well. This is linked to the
idea of space.
That there is only one way of looking. There is only one place of thruth.
In Shift Center I was hoping to question this and to live up to the idea
of opening up the thruth. We only see what we see. And what we see is
not necerally the all thruth. We only see one aspect. And there are other
aspects that we canno’t all see at the same time. Then for me Shift
center is not just an esthetic statement about space but is also a statement
about political and social realty. The centre of the world is not just
in one place. The centre is not just where we are. The centre is fragmented.
The acceptance of reality being a fragmented phenomenon.We can only perceive
one fragment of reality at the time. And that therefore we have to take
into account that there are different fragments of reality and that reality
is shifting all the time. That is the area of question in Shift Centre.
I’d like to question that beginning with space, perception of space,
And for me the cycle comes back. Of perception/identity, perception/identity
and what we construct therefore feeds back in the way we see ourselves.
Then that means that question in terms of space, in terms of performance,
in terms of when when the public come what is the relationship with the
space of the presentation, with the time of the presentation, with the
aspect of presentation that they are going to see. Are they going to be
able to see everything. Une représentation est-elle quelquechose
où nous pouvons tout voir en même temps. Is a performance
something where we can see everything at the same time. Even with frontal
performance where everything is unfolded in front of you we never get
to see everything. Our attention is always moving from one thing to another
thing and that not all the public always see the same thing at the same
time. But I wanted to take that a little bit further, to take into account
that when we are in any given space our perception of our presence in
that space is connected not only to what is happening in front of us but
also what is happening behind us, what is happening outside. There is
a train passing. That’s part of what’s going on, on any given
moment. How do we bring all of that into the reality of the performance.
That question is also in term of the visual, in term of the image but
also in term of sound as well. Sound that comes from elsewhere. Sound
is not always a phenomenon that is happening to the left and the front
of us. Sound is not always something that is frontal.
Zara Hadid, the architector, say an interesting statement : “why
stick to one when there are 360° possible”. For me it’s
an interesting social statement. That is what I wanted to take into account
in term of performance.
singularity of the approach
One might say this as been done before. It’s
been done in the 1960.
What is the difference do I hope to bring by revisiting.
I do not think that I’m revisiting. This thinking is inspired by
my everyday reality, by the constrains that I find myself confronted with.
It’s response to my reality.
I’m simply responding to those realities. For me it’s not
part of new fashionable research or reinventing old staff. It’s
just a simple response to questions that I’m confronted with right
now. It might be that this questioning correspond to another movement
that already happened. If there is purely coincidence. Of course I’m
familiar with the history of danse.
If I hope to bring anything new to this thinking, it’s just solutions
to problems I’m confronted with. Whether other artists have already
confronted found other solutions abondoned them later on it’s coincidence.
The specificity of this is based from where I am coming from. From my
history as an artist. If there is anything specific is the particular
cultural background from which I’m coming into this question. I
don’t know wht new results there will be. But the questions that
I’m asking around this concept of multiplicity and fragmentation
are coming from my particular social cultural context coming from certain
The performance framework that exists in my traditional society make it
unevitable that one questions the way that performance is organised and
What would be odd if we didn’t question at all the relationship
between the audience and the performance, identity and performance. If
find that is a natural progression, it’s a natural path to question
this relationship of space and of modes of performances. What would be
unatural is not to question it. Are we bringing new thinking into it.
Maybe not new, but it’s thinking that is coming from who I am. I’m
born in Kenya in this century in the sixties. And I work in Kenya and
in France and in the rest of the world. And this question is coming from
this precise context where today artists, new choreographers in Africa
are trying to create performances that seems authentic to them. They are
trying to question the reality in which they exist. And this question
comes out of this and is there is anything specific and particular is
that it’s coming out of that context. Will there be anything specific
in the result… There will always be something specific. If that
something specific is new or not for me that’s irelevant. If that
result has been already achieved by other artists elsewhere and after
abandonned that doesn’t matter at all. For me somewhere the result
doesn’t matter so much. What’s matter for me is that the process
produces somethink. What that product of the process is, doesn’t
matter for me if the process has already being questioned by other artists.