ARTISTS Biography

Dancer & chorographer born in 1968

The respiratory techniques of yoga are at the source of Myriam Gourfink’s endeavors. The idea is to seek after the inner urge that leads to movement. Guided by breath, the organization of bases of support is extremely exact, while the consciousness of space is shaky. The dance becomes slow, tedious within continuous time. This knowledge of movement and space makes possible the conception of choreographies without studio rehearsal. Thanks to what it suggests of a dance situation, there is no need to move in order to feel dance : the senses and the intellect reconstitute it.

As do musicians, she uses a symbolic writing system to compose the geometrical universe and poetic evolution of dance. Having studied Labanotation with Jacqueline Challet Haas, she undertook a quest, using this system as a point of departure, for the formalizing of her own compositional language. Each choreography encourages the performer to be conscious of his acts and of whatever passes through him. The scores activate his participation : he makes choices, carries out operations, confronts the unexpected within the written text, to which he responds instantly.

For certain projects, the scores include computer programs for the scrambling and real-time re-generation of the pre-written composition : the program runs the score in its entirety and generates millions of possible compositional sequences. The performer, via captor systems, guide the process of modification of the choreographic score, which they read on LCD screens. The computer setup is thus at the core of the space-time relationship. As the piece proceeds, it makes possible the structuring of as yet untried contexts.

A leading figure in choreographic research in France, but also the guest of numerous international festivals (springdance in New York City, the Künsten Arts festival in Brussels, the Festival de la Bâtie in Geneva, the Danças Na Cidade festival in Lisbon etc.), Myriam Gourfink was artist in residence at the IRCAM in 2004-2005 and at the national Fresnoy-studio for contemporary arts in 2005-2006. From january 2008 to march 2013 Myriam Gourfink has been director of the Programm for Choreographic Research and Composition (PRCC) at the Royaumont Foundation. From 2012 to 2015 she is artist in residence at the Forum de Blanc-Mesnil.

APPROACH

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.

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. 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.