Brazilian choreographer Luar Maria is putting together a solo on the relationships between the movement of dance and that of drawing. The dancer’s work is informed by an expansive career as an academic and dance-based researcher, forged alongside her creative work.
Updated on 09/09/2020
Can you tell us about your first encounter with dance?
Traditionally, in dance, we often say that we don’t choose dance, dance chooses us. But for me, the opposite was true: I really did choose dance as my main mode of expression. It was in 2006, when I joined a Brazilian circus company that blended acrobatics with dance, that I had my first experiences as a dancer through contemporary dance classes.
You have a doctorate in performing arts from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and Paris 8, and have been a part of the Brazilian artist collective MIÚDA for 10 years. What does your academic career bring to your process as an artist?
My work with the collective MIÚDA has been very important to my process. It is through them that I have been able to understand the issues that drive me to create and research. The university has had a key role in our collective, it has allowed us to understand creation as an act of research and, more concretely, has enabled us to create with a rehearsal space. More generally, the theoretical and the practical have always overlapped in my work. My academic career has informed my artistic career, and my explorations as an artist have helped me develop my research: I see myself an artist-researcher.
Your research work focused on the complementarity between the dramaturgy of the theatre and contemporary dance. What areas did you explore?
Through my thesis, I discovered that the concept of dramaturgy could help me reflect on these issues, and that sensory work is inherent to the dramaturgical practice of theatre or dance. Throughout these years of work, both academic research and creation, I have developed a practice and a theory focusing on gestural dramaturgy, the sense of movement and its significant power. In my thesis, I situated these issues within a much broader historical perspective. In my creations, I try to play with the complex condition of the intelligibility of movement, its qualitative variations and its relationship with the audience.
You are back in France for a residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts with the Institut français programme, could you tell us a bit about your project? What has this new environment brought you?
It’s a huge privilege to develop this project here, it allows me to concentrate on one thing. The working space is inspiring and I am sharing my residency with other artists from different countries working in all sorts of disciplines. For example, I have met a musician and we have started talking about creation. These encounters are very enriching, both in terms of creation and what interests us.
Your creative project is entitled “Corps dessiné, corps déplacé” (Drawn body, displaced body) and combines dance and
the graphic novel. What was behind this choice?
I have long been interested in the links between dance and drawing, as I studied for a degree in scenography at university. These considerations have arisen from authors and artists that I have come across in my academic career, such as the German painter Paul Klee. He said: “Drawing and painting are art forms that do not reproduce the visible, but make visible.” This is an issue that is highly relevant to dance and to contemporary graphic novels, which manage to avoid a truly literary dramaturgy to make the invisible visible.
In my work, I want to create drawing tools for the body in movement, and I am also inspired by the movement of the cartoonist. I was struck by the fact that a cartoonist does not build their drawing in a narrative way, starting with the head, then the neck, the body, etc. They start with a line at the bottom, then at the top, and it isn’t until the end that you understand the drawing. I am therefore thinking about how to compose a movement in this same way. I have a lot of contemporary French authors, particularly of stories somewhere between fable and manifesto, that address political issues through a very personal tale, such as Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (2000), L’Arabe du futur by Joann Sfar (2014) and Les nouvelles de la Jungle by Lisa Mandel (2017).
Issues of migration are one of the central themes of your project. How is this subject incorporated into your work?
In my gestural research, I am interested in the experience of displacement. What does displacement produce in terms of physical sensations and gestural reinterpretations? When a person moves from one country to another for political, economic or environmental reasons, they take with them their traditions, their knowledge and their beliefs. All this is structured in their physical body: you can see it in the way they move, their relationships with others, how they perceive the world. When this person arrives in a different cultural environment, they bring a part of the corporal culture of their country. This leads me to consider the question of how the body can speak of the experience of displacement and adaptation.
How is the current context influencing your work and artistic practice?
I wrote the project before the public health crisis and experiencing lockdown. During quarantine, I was really struck by the how the internal and external dimensions of movement are shared. We usually associate movement with actually moving from one place to another. But I stopped doing this during lockdown. Yet the sensation of movement was extremely powerful, linked to another quality of movement, more inner, deeper, belonging to the rhythm of thought and emotions that we may have experienced during this time, such as fear or vulnerability. But all this is too much for just one solo. I am at a point where I have a lot of material, and I need to put some of it to one side to concentrate on what I really want to work on.
Luar Maria benefits from the support of the French Institute of Brazil, she is laureate of the French Institute program Cité internationale des arts in 2020
En savoir + sur le programme de résidences à la Cité internationale des arts
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