“I had an immediate approach with dance, as a pleasure through those movies.”
How your love for dance manifested, when did you decide this was your calling ?
– Well, ma passion for dance manifested fairly young, I do not recall a precise memory or a turning point, except the fact that the family tradition was to watch musical comedies. I am a pure product of french and american musical comedies. That was, I think, my first visions on what dance could be, then I quickly had a rather pronounced taste for dance but it was more in festive evenings. I had an immediate approach with dance, as a pleasure through those movies.
And, dance not as a practice in a club, association, organization but as an intimate practice in parties. Then later, around 16 years old, I discovered hip hop, I was living in Germany at that time, in Baden-Baden, a beautiful city, nearby Strasbourg, north. During the 80’s, the first images coming from the USA… Some men were doing incredible things, turning on their heads, moving on a music at a crazy rate, so with some cousins at that time – who were living in the same city – we created a group, a band. With this band, we trained as soon as we had time, it was an absolute passion, we went to a discotheque, doing competition, we were dancing on the streets with cartboards and big sets that we put on the sheets. Yeah, that was my first ‘click’, hip hop (beside the fact that I have always loved dancing).
Afterwards I had the chance to do two years at the university, in Strasbourg and as an option I had taken dancing with an incredible lady, ‘Madame Baffalio‘. She brought us on the grounds of different dances, ballroom dances, contemporary dance, jazz dance, African dance with a characteristic all the same, bringing us really into the field of contemporary dance. And that was overwhelming for me. Because this contemporary dance, I readily define it by the great openness it allows, where you put a little everything into it, what you want, therefore, allows you to create a language, a vocabulary, a universe… I found there a fabulous space of freedom. There were end of year shows, big theater, where it was my first boards. At that time, I started to register for a competition with the French dance federation, a federation that works with amateurs, who sometimes wish to become professionals. And, I had created a solo which had been rewarded in regional and some first prizes in national. It was a very beautiful adventure and it gave me a little bit of pride but above all it gave me the idea to believe a little bit in this path, which for me was really only a path of amateur, fun !
Nevertheless, I went to work in Paris at the time, working as a post office controller. I left for Paris to earn my living and to be able to assume, to be able to take my dance lessons, then I did a year in Germany and on my return I decided to leave my job, I resigned and started the work with a small company, ‘Sylvie Deluz‘ in Montpellier. I really set foot in the stirrup in the meantime, taking dance, jazz, contemporary lessons etc. and with this company, in Montpellier. I was in a subsidized job at the time … Little by little, I worked for other companies. I went to live in Switzerland for a year and a half for work too and then there I encountered another click which was the one on improvisation, contact dance and improvisation. […] As part of the ‘Philippe Saire‘ company in Lausanne, and there it opened up other doors to me, especially those of contact dance and those of improvisation. which for me was a trigger, a space – I was talking about contemporary dance and that re-opens the spectrum of possibilities – a field, where everything was possible in its practices there. And since I had no formal or academic training, I decided to go and to attend a course in the United States (in Amherst, Massachusetts) for four summers on Body-Mind-Centering
What is exactly, Body-Mind-Centering ?
– It was a somatic practice, a bit like Alexander, Feldenkreis, kinesiology, it was training on the body, we worked on the different systems of the body, on the patterns of the development of the body. It was not a dance training but it is a training that I wanted to do because it allowed me to come into contact with the instrument, of this practice. I didn’t just want to take anatomy lessons … A somatic practice that is both for development and for well-being, so the people who do this training come out of it as well-being practitioners, yoga teachers, others. were working this to approach psychoanalysis, etc. It was a very, very open course and I was interested in going through it for dance, to know more about the body. I graduated as a Body-Mind-Centering practitioner. […] There were people from all over the world, from Taiwan, Korea, the United States, Europe, Mexico and each year we met in Massachusetts, it is a very rich, settled land… grounded.
It was not just an intellectual practice, but one that made extensive use of experimentation. It was really exciting. And it was back in Montpellier that I decided to found my own company. This is how I started the Yann Lheureux company. What also interested me through the constitution of a company was that being an artist, as I lived it at the time, I found it a little enclosing that is to say that one went from the studio at the theater, it was a little ‘above ground’. The job of choreographer interested me quite well because we could create really at leisure, what we want to implement and in the profession of choreographer we can work on the different layers of reality, like those of the administration, management, politics, culture, social, I had the impression that it opened me up to different ways of being in the world.
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Your almost innocent approach and this itinerant spirit can be transcribed through your works, how did these subjects on the body, memory, our relationship to the land and questions of identity (ies) come to your mind? Is it due to your travels or to the desire to break down barriers by bringing up these rather complex subjects?
– So yes, it comes I think… I had a very nomadic childhood, between Black Africa, Germany, France, I think that’s why very quickly I worked from the start on these questions of identities, of territories therefore pieces which were variations of questioning on these subjects, until 2016. From that moment and a return (I spent five months in South Korea), I changed my approach by orienting myself on the question of memory always in connection with questions of identity but more precisely because my mother being (suffering from) Alzheimer in the meantime, I had decided to dedicate, to this research, to this work.
You are on several boards at the same time, how do you manage to organize yourself ?
– In rebound, between my job as a choreographer, organizer, performer, show, teacher (I also teach), and my job as an interpreter. There’s a kind of bouncing, relentless juggling between all of its functions there, which when balanced it’s exciting. It’s a job where you don’t come close to boredom, it requires a lot of organization too, a substantial workforce because these are jobs that can quickly become precarious because no one is waiting for us. An organization that is done in the company of a team. […]
Montpellier has always been a land of migration and therefore, I find your work relevant to the extent that movement, wandering and renewal also sometimes reflect this aspect of the city, in constant change, dynamic and gentle at the same time. by its climate where the borders can be blurred or even brutal between certain districts? How did Montpellier inspire(s)-d you ?
– So, Montpellier attracted me yes, by its dynamic already, because at the time and still now it is a city well known for dance. It fascinated me for its quality of dynamism, also for its climate, the quality of life it offered. I lived in Paris for more than two years so I couldn’t wait to find myself in a place that is conducive to good living. And then, afterwards, it’s such a fascinating city because it is full of fractures, of contrasts… I am currently working on the Cévennes district, we are starting work for three years, we will be in residence in a college, in the Cévennes district. I started last week with a stroll in the neighborhood with an urban planner Luc Gwiazdzinski, a scientist Anne Marcilhac, a sociologist Ihsane Ghinaoui and an urban plastic artist Al Sticking. It’s a fascinating project, which is interesting since it allows you to revisit the city a little differently. Yes, Montpellier has been a bit of this welcoming land for me, quite a while now…
“Creating a piece is also a pretext for questioning a particular subject, particular subjects.”
Are there artists, singers or even scientists who influence your creative process or your own creation ?
– Regularly, there for example Luc Gwiazdzinski the town planner with whom I work, at that time I had already collaborated with him for a triptych of solo with a BMX performer, a yamakasi, a hip-hop dancer and Luc had intervened by my side to observe how these urban practices come to describe the street, to practice it but also how to write it in a certain way, to contradict it sometimes, to question it through the flows, textures, hospitality, etc. On Alzheimer’s disease the last project, obviously I worked with geriatricians, the neuroscience scientist Anne Marcilhac who supported me and gave me some information on this disease which affects the nerves, and at the social level as well. I like to surround myself with people who are a bit of experts on certain subjects. Creating a piece is also a pretext to question a particular subject, particular subjects. I like to surround myself with people who will open up the spectrum of work and to show, also to conduct an investigation, there is a phase of exploration, investigation…[…]
Did the Fise, the festival in Montpellier, have you influenced (for Flat Grand Délit) ?
– No, that did not influence me, it is in tune with the times and it is already in my DNA, in my practice, to question… Dance also flirts with commitment, exploit, risk and sensitivity and ethics too, that’s what I encountered with these practitioners there. After a while, when you push a practice, it opens up an ethic, a way of being.
Ethics, yes, especially here it was a performance on the Machine-Man, we talk a lot about AI… It’s super interesting, there are some ethical questions that come up, especially the works produced by robots, there is the right of property which comes into play… Who owns the created paintings (?)
– Yeah clearly, is it the programmers, the robots … (?)
Coming back to the shows, there is ‘The Way we are’, ‘The Forgotten’ and ‘Other than thus’ can we include it in these two ? It was the last one that I was able to see ‘Otherwise than thus’.
– ‘Otherwise than thus’, ‘The way we are’ and ‘The Forgotten’ are pieces that deal with this new approach that I started from 2016 which concerns memory and forgetting. […]
In any case I have the impression that I have changed the subject but not changed the object or the reverse. There is a kind of continuity despite everything that I try, that I pierceS, which I recognize in my work through the different themes that question man, man’s place, bond, what is it to be in the world ?! ”
We find this theme of memory, of torn identities even sometimes of dissociation too…
– Yeah, altered identities, dissociated identities…
Did writing this (last) piece help you to put things in perspective, how could it fuel your reflections on the previous performances, do you have a new eye on these themes ?
– (laughs). I don’t know if I have a new eye, in any case I have the impression that I have changed the subject but not changed the object or vice versa. Despite everything, there is a kind of continuity that I try, that I pierces which I recognize in my work for a long time through the different themes which nevertheless question man, the place of man, the link, what/how (it is) to be in the world ?! This is something that has not changed, there are some particular angles of view. In particular, here I am working on a young audience on the question of aging, knowing that aging starts early, it is in fact the question of becoming.
Ah, like that it makes me think of Benjamin Button…
– Yes, yes, very beautiful film…
With young people, it is at the ‘Enclos St…’ ?
– The Enclos St François, this is where we have been in residence for three years, it is a children’s home with special case and now we will be for three years, in the Cévennes district, a priority district from Montpellier. What interests me in this new residence project is that we will work in conjunction with these young people, the teaching staff and especially work in a neighborhood, that interests me very well, because one of the particularities of the company, as we can see, is that I work on shows in the theater but also on shows outside the walls, so spaces dedicated to culture a priori. What interests me there is (to work in this district), to be able to continue to increase, to deepen my reading of the urban, of what the city can be and this relationship between inhabitants and places of residence… this question that I share with the town planner, of learning territory. To learn from ones’s territory.
It’s true that we always rediscover spaces, there are always things that we do not see and then that we rediscover…
– Exactly, and then there are people whose job is to show them to us a little differently, it’s interesting to learn to read. Before learning to write, we learn to read, so before learning to write in the city, we must also learn to read it, with different perspectives, hence the work that I lead with the urban staff, the town planners, the neuroscientist and the sociologist (mentioned previously) also who will accompany us.
I had done a research, it was a subject on La Paillade, and there had been the construction of the ZAC… and my subject was to connect the two neighborhoods because it really was separated, so it was a bit like in neurosurgery, connect two quite different parts and try to find homogeneity, knowing that they wanted to create a commercial space in the ZAC although there were already local shops in La Paillade which were starting to be neglected by a lack of funding […]. How we could extend the cycle track on the Paillade side […] I found it interesting to see how these two districts fit together, to create a homogeneity… They appropriated the space and then the presence of this new district how it changes the reappropriation of this space or how they move within this neighborhood.
[and the Cévennes?]
– Nobody really knows (the Cévennes), we move around, we pass a little, rue d’Algo by there, but people knew too much, they rather knew the Mosson, the Paillade, the Petit Bar, etc. is really a priority neighborhood too, there you have it, a lot of issues too, communitarianist issues, etc.
It’s good to have a residence there, it will help put things in perspective…
– We’re going to have the privilege of having the time, three years, it’s interesting, in high schools, in some particular places. In general, we intervene for a week, two weeks, a month… and there it will be interesting to observe the fruits of the actions that we are going to carry out. This question of time is important in fact. The project will be called ‘In the making’. […] What will interest us is to see how we will be able to work with the inhabitants, we have a good chance of starting to work already from a high school, we will meet young people, it will be interesting, because it is an access to the inhabitants through the youth, the high school, the primary school. And then, with force of action, shows, practical forms but also we will create protocols that will allow us to go to the city.
“[…] to be able to continue to increase, to deepen my reading of the urban, of what the city can be and this relationship between inhabitants and places of residence… this question that I share with the town planner, learning territory. Learning from one’s territory. “
At La Paillade, for example, there were residentialisation projects, there was this aspect of protecting certain buildings, what stood out was that, for example, putting fences at the level of buildings created more incivility… […] In this project, for example, the inhabitants could decorate their building, their landings as they wished… It’s very interesting all this art part, there is something to do I think with dancing at the level of the stairwells etc.
– It will be at the same time an incredible playing field, very varied and then, at the same time, here is the dance it is an extension of the body… the question of gender, of the place of man, of woman , what is possible, what can we still allow ourselves in France currently in certain districts… How we can still carry our body in a certain way. During the visit, during the stroll, there was a building bar which adjoins an underground car park with a large concrete slab and there should be placed three blanks. […] The person who accompanied us in this neighborhood told us that these three benches were the subject of an incredible controversy because in fact the dads, the husbands who lived in the bar of the building opposite, did not want to these benches because they didn’t want us to see their wives sit on them and that people watch their wives’ buttocks.
(?) (laughs) in a large square (quite open) I imagine … (?)
– But not even, it was quite amazing, it was improbable as a reflection !
You also know a little bit the Maghrebian culture where the woman must not bend to tie her laces, you have to squat, you limit your buttocks, finally here is this kind of thing like that where we sexualize the body of the woman while in fact, she is in a daily, urban posture, quite legitimate and normal… Coming with the dance in these districts, it is not trivial either, it is coming with a way of being, in your body and giving back a kind of freedom…
It makes me think, I had seen a report, it was a performance (of dance) in the street, it was organized with female volunteers for a few days, they trained to dance and reclaim the urban space. in the street… It was interesting because the passers-by were not expecting it. […] People even integrated into the dance.
– Dance has such an undeniable social bond function.
They found themselves, saying to each other why in the street sometimes, I don’t feel well, why in such and such a street I walk along the wall when I could walk properly, because the sidewalk is for everyone, you know… And there is also this whole aspect of security too.
– It’s hospitality in our cities, how we feel safe, what measures we take for security, it’s like what you were saying, the establishment of fences, sometimes it goes against the grain.
I come back to the last performances… you want to dance on behalf of vulnerable people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, in the case of your mother, we can hear her singing in the performance, I find it very poetic with her sweet voice that transports us to the end (of the show). This allows me to bounce back from the video, I don’t know if you have seen the video of Marta Gonzalez who was a dancer…
– Yes, I saw the link that had already been sent to me, yeah, a good report. It’s pretty, it’s touching to see that indeed when we lose our memory, do we lose all our faculties, all the memory of a lifetime ? This is not the case ! This is what we can see through the singing. My mother during the show, she no longer has access to most of her memories and at the same time, when we put this music back, she is able to hum the tune and have the lyrics in a loop. It’s the same for this old lady, who finally finds parts, fragments of dance, although she has Alzheimer… We cannot locate the place of memory only in the brain, but memory is also about senses, perceptions… I saw a report, memory in relation to bones, our bones carry our memory too, our skeleton also carries our memory. There are many forms of memory and when some are affected there are always ways to access other fragments of our memory.
Urban planning, moreover, I found that there were many analogies that could be made between the urban and the brain. The city, how we can connect parts…
– Yeah, yeah, a nice metaphor: the connected city ! Smart cities. Indeed it is a beautiful analogy between the body and its networks and the city and its networks.
Exactly… with the coronavirus, how are you coping with this situation ? Could this have fueled your reflection?
– Yes, from several angles, one of these angles is that of the body, the question of are we changing bodies? Our bodies are transforming casually with this experience, there are bodies that are becoming suspect again. There are bodies that can be dangerous without even knowing it, without even feeling it, that is in itself something quite disturbing, to feel, to know that you are dangerous for your loved ones. Can we trust our own feelings? Finally, we also put ourselves at odds between what we feel and the reality, what it is there. You can be asymptomatic, that is to say, be sick without even realizing it, be contagious, that too is an astonishing form, to be contagious. We knew we were contagious in laughter but we are also contagious through an illness and then, it is also with all these masks, I think of young people. In the playgrounds, in front of their teachers, they are masked, in the midst of learning and who learn by being masked, by hiding part of their face, of their emotions, I think that there too, there is something that is being experienced, strange, our senses too which are put aside a little, we start to question our senses again, taste, smell… We are inflicted, on a injunction like that, do not touch each other, to be as little tactile as possible, to keep our distance. Afterwards there is all the chosen vocabulary, quite tragic, ‘we are at war’, ‘social distancing’, a rather warlike vocabulary, separator, cleaving as possible. I think the body is toasting with that. How do you rebuild your body with that and what social body you are building from there ?
Yes, I saw in addition, at the level of the government, there is a last law, which is in the course of being made, the law of security (global), it is to no longer be able to film the police officers…
– Yes, that’s pretty terrible. Knowing that this law normally, we summarize it like this, ‘we can no longer film the police’, whereas normally we have the right to film them, the law says that we are not allowed to film them in ‘malicious intentions’, but, obviously in summary that proves that we no longer have the right to film them. At the same time, what happened in the United States, which was filmed, what would have happened if no one could have filmed that…
So, yes there are laws like that, freedom-destroying laws. So, are we in a period of liberticide, it is also a question that we ask ourselves as citizens, but also as artists. We can work in the theater, we are separated from the spectators. We are forbidden to meet spectators so it’s quite a strange situation. And then it suddenly questions freedom. At what price ? We are tipped between fulfilling missions of the common good, and at the same time there are freedoms that we are deprived of and to what extent do we accept that. It’s quite voluntary, we can measure the dosage. And then this freedom, there is my freedom and there is perhaps revisiting this notion of freedom, where often it is brandished as something quite massive as I have it (all) or I do not have it (at all)… We still have a lot in France, freedom(s). But, this is what I invoke when I speak of freedom. It will question a lot of points like that. Our free will also, we receive every day in a loop like that, certain information. We receive them through the media, through our screens, so how, in this saturation in which we live, we still manage to find our way around, to make choices, to continue to think, to process information, not to receive it as such, to analyze it, to criticize it. So what free will is there still in this time?
[…] In any case, this period, yes allows us to re-consider. It is a period that allows us to rethink things that we thought were obvious. It is not easy to be able to hug the people you love, it is not easy to face each other, it is not easy to get closer, it is not easy to continue to have the taste, the smell, etc. It is not obvious that we can do what we want, go out, day or night as we want, it is not obvious that we can go more than 100 kilometers from home. In short, that’s a lot of evidence that is put into play.
Do you still have the possibility of representing yourself in France?
– For the moment no. For the moment, shows are prohibited. We can only work, the only things we can do is to continue the rehearsals.
Oh yeah, so it kinda broke your rhythm…
– Yeah, it really halted all the dynamics like that of companies, theaters, festivals, in France and elsewhere. We are in a zone that is a bit sleepy, hibernating. And then we’ll see how long it will last and how long we can hold on to, it’s a whole economy, a precariousness also that arises. […] It is a kind of withdrawal, a withdrawal at home, identity, community and international level. That too, how are we going to be able to redeploy after this moment of withdrawal (?)
“How do you rebuild your body with that and what social body you are building from there. […] We are tipped between fulfilling missions of the common good, and at the same time there are freedoms that we are deprived of and to what extent do we accept it. “
You had to go abroad not for (artistic) events?
– We had planned going to Tunisia, to Korea… (It had been cancelled). I am organizing a festival also ‘movement on the city’ in Montpellier which normally should start at the beginning of December and we will keep just one evening in live-streaming with three choreographers. There were to be Koreans, Swiss and then, those who are missing, ultimately could not be invited.
Ah ok great ! It also allows the event to be opened internationally as well if it is live.
– Here we are going to test that. […] Exactly, it is a bit of a bad for a good, we must take this opportunity… to find, to try other ways of, other manners in doing. Then we will judge on the spot, what is interesting…
Yes, of course it is not the same (live vs visio).
– Yes, dancing is an art of empathy, we receive energy. There is a hand-to-hand form. While there on the screens, it’s going to be a little different.
I saw a lot of singers took the opportunity to ask their fans to dance to music and they made their music video on the dances of the different fans they selected.
– Ah that’s excellent!
I found it really well done, because it was in a single thread several videos of people dancing, who did not know each other and it was linked together quite well.
– Oh great, which singer was it?
There it was ‘Oh Wonder’, it’s a British band, the song was ‘Keep on dancing’…
– Yes, there are lots of ideas that arise, other ways of doing things… to continue to be creative !
And continue to be connected…
– To the world and to oneself !
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