Experimental Dance, Music Slowly Pulse Through Three-Day Event
Upcoming this week, Tigertail presents choreographer Myriam Gourfink and musician Kasper Toeplitz. Hailing from France, the two will be present for a 3-day residency at Subtropics’ South Beach venue Audiotheque. Part concert, part workshop, the event invites an immersive experience of Gourfink and Toeplitz’s work.
The event opens on May 22 with a free workshop in Gourfink’s unique approach to dance, “Choreographic Composition Through Yoga.” Next, on May 23, join a conversation with Toeplitz in Subtropics’ The Listening Club, an ongoing discussion about sound and music. And on May 24, hear “Amas,” a sound piece for live electronics originally written as a companion piece to Gourfink’s choreography.
Tigertail director Mary Luft is enthusiastic about bringing Gourfink’s workshop to Miami, because she infuses a fresh and of-the-moment take on contemporary dance. “She is coming from a very different place, highly trained technical dancer but she has chosen to use breath and slowness and intention in her work.”
Describing the duo’s work together, Luft says, “the piece that I saw with his music, it’s a long, long pulse that pulls you into a state and keeps you moving along on that line. And [Myriam] barely moves in her work… it’s very controlled, and uses gravity and breathing throughout.”
We had the opportunity to hear from Gourfink on her approach to movement, music, and creative collaboration.
What is your process of composition or creation?
When composing and writing my choreographic scores, I use abstract processes and data. I sit at my table and I write in a language that I have been developing since 2002. It’s inspired by Laban cinetography, but is aimed at creating, rather than transcribing, a dance already in existence.
What I write for the choreographic composition is constantly evolving, because each piece is structured around a specific environment built on a global vision of the project. I make a collection of concepts that I consider to be connected with my aims, and from those elements I then develop a glossary and then a score.
The composition consists in decoding the information contained in the data collected, the relationships between them, and their possible articulations. It’s all about listening, observing, and trying to understand what is at work inside the environment in place.
How does this translate into movement?
The dancers who read and interpret the scores use the body technique forming the basis of my work, which relies on awareness of the breath, the circulation and the distribution of the body’s weight, and fluidity.
It was the work of Odile Duboc that guided me in my relationship with gravity. I experienced it in terms of a phase of vertical descent by the weight of the body beneath the earth’s crust, then a phase of listening to what travels up from the earth through the body: it’s like a wave, expanding our internal spaces and propelling movement.
How does yoga enter into your work?
In order to examine the body’s spaces in more detail, in 1995 I embarked on an exploration using breath. Yoga helped me to realize the difference between physical respiration and respiration sustained by a thread of breath. It is the latter that has formed the basis of my work ever since.
This approach allows you to become aware of the body as a resonating volume, the perception is not only drawn into the internal space, but also the surrounding space, the body is porous, it is suspended in the air.
A new challenge is then presented, one that consists of being aware of atmospheric pressure while dancing: experiencing that force, letting oneself become air-borne and showing the onlooker to see the means of support. And then instilling the desire to witness the encounter between each cell and each air molecule. The tiny interstices are measured by perception and this gives rise to a dance that extends, diffracts and, according to some, perhaps even slows time.
How would you describe your artistic process when working collaboratively with Kasper on sound?
Kasper will be performing “Amas.” In the frame of my work, music is never an accompaniment—“Amas” is both a dance piece and a concert. Amas is a French word which means ”pile” or ”accumulation,” and creates the verb ”to amass.”
First we talk about the general idea of the piece. And then, each one of us is translating the idea in his own media: music for Kasper, dance for me. [For “Amas”] we together defined the structure, talked about the (abstract) meaning of it, but of course I wrote the choreography (for 8 dancers) and Kasper did the music.
With the dance, the general idea was to reinforce the frontal aspect of the theater; the dance space is right in the middle of the stage. Kasper is playing in the first row in the audience facing the dance space. This desire to reinforce the frontal aspect of the stage is linked with the idea to make visible the use inside the choreographic score of non-classical directions and orientations.
The other idea was a dance slowly evolving (in one hour) from a dance on the floor to a dance standing up, in a 25 square meter area with 8 dancers always changing their position in this area. The aim was to create disproportions by juxtapositions and superimpositions, and to create lines and diagonals at the scale of the group that were changing hypnotically. In is own composition, Kasper says that “the structure of ‘Amas’ is a strange one: it comes from infinity and goes back to it.”
Artist residency with dance workshop and music events; produced by Subtropics; presented by Subtropics and Tigertail Productions. Mon. through Wed., Audiotheque at ArtCenter/South Florida, 924 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach;workshop and talk free; Wed. music concert $10; for more info, www.tigertail.org.