A little background

To inaugurate this blog I thought I'd give a little round-up of what I've done so far, before I get to what I'm up to these days.

Basically I started dancing very young. Ballet mostly. I've only stopped for about three years when I had to write up my PhD thesis; and then my first post-doc kept me off the dancing tracks. Paradoxically, it's when I was working towards my PhD that I danced the most. Everyday 2 hours at lunchtime, except for sundays. That's also when I realised that I had acquired a sound ballet technique thanks to a teacher I always remember with extreme fondness: Geneviève Guillée -- and when I'm in Paris, time permitting, I always try to go and take a class with her.
Geneviève Guillée, de l'Opéra de Paris.
Her warmth and support as well as her teaching have always been precious to me, and still today, in ballet class I often feel her presence and influence, as if she were sitting on my shoulder, whispering corrections and encouragements into my ear. She was my teacher for 7 years, in my child and teenage years in Paris, before my family moved to Switzerland.

Later, when I started my PhD in Switzerland, and moved to Berne, I looked for a ballet class and found City Ballett Halamka (now City Ballett Halamka-Otevrel, since the sad passing of founder, director and teacher Ivana Halamka). My ballet practice became a daily one, and although I was asked then if I wanted to make a career out of dancing, I well knew that I was already too old to start a career then (I was 27); so, instead, I took all the opportunities I could to dance; as practice and on stage. I joined the semi-pro company attached to the school and took part in a number of shows (the photo in my About section is of a solo dating back to those days). 

In 2008, my work took me to Oxford, and I decided that my 3 years break from dancing had to end; the chase for a new ballet class started again, like after each of my moves. I was lucky to find Susie Crow (of the Royal and Sadlers' Wells Royal Ballet) and now go to as many of her classes as my workload permits. More than a ballet teacher, Susie is a choreographer, and thanks to her, I had a chance to perform again. She choreographed a piece around Dante, for an event where music, dance, and poetry combined forces to evoke the Divine Comedy.

Getting back into dancing after that long break was hard and frustrating, and I'm not sure I'll ever completely get back to the level I had when I left Switzerland. 

But dance is a lifetime learning experience, and if on some aspects I'm sure I'll never get back to where I was, I'm still progressing; and I'm also having regular epiphanies... "If I held my upper back better, my landing from jumps wouldn't feel so lead-loaded!"; "Holding the turn-out of my standing leg really helps for balances, be it at the barre or in the middle, on demi-pointe or on flat"...
Those epiphanies are always a joyous moment where it feels like I've found a secret to unlock the way to improvements, and often also one when I think "if only I had understood that earlier!" :)

In many ways, moving to Oxford has opened my mind, probably because I'm happier in my job than I've ever been before, I'm now ready to try things out, to get a bit more adventurous with my dancing, even to try and choreograph ("awanturnik!!" would say someone I know).

So I've taken up butoh, and go to contemporary dance classes when I can. I'm also giving a go to improvisation. And amidst this exploration of new dance forms, I always find tips and tricks that feed my ballet practice, and vice-versa. 

And this is the point at which this blog starts.

Now, in the light of those new dancing adventures, I would like to document and share my thoughts on how butoh, contemporary dance and ballet keep feeding each other in my dance practice. How do they help me find my expressive tone, how do they influence my dancing vocabulary? And in my attempts at choreography, how do these findings make their way into steps, narratives, tableaux? What kind of processes are at play, and what kind of movements and movers inspire me?