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Avatars and free shows: Democratising dance at Lyon’s Dance Biennale

Avatars and free shows: Democratising dance at Lyon’s Dance Biennale
Copyright euronews
Copyright euronews
By Andrea Bolitho
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Don’t know much about contemporary dance? The Lyon Biennale makes it easy, accessible and fun with the Fagor Experience.


The Fagor factory in Lyon once churned out washing machines, but now it is a hub of creativity: the vast industrial space has been taken over by choreographers from around the world as part of the city's Biennale de la Danse, one of Europe’s most famous dance festivals.

There are leading artistic projects for youngsters, and free performances and workshops for people to join and watch. Fully booked almost immediately, the Fagor Experience is an initiative that the Biennale's artistic director, Dominique Hervieu, would like to see live on.

"To me it was an artistic and social innovation, especially given that all the performances are carried out by young Lyonnais aged 15 to 25, and when I see how they’re received, I think yes, we absolutely must continue," she told Euronews.

Pierre Giner's I-Dance digital dance floor means there is no excuse not to dance: create an avatar, and the software does the rest.

The focus, though, is on reality. Dance duo Rauf 'Rubberlegz' Yasit and Brigel Gjoka perform the French premiere of “Neighbours Part 1,” ahead of the full version at Sadler's Wells in London next year.

"It’s a piece that relates to a relationship about two people, two dancers, two different backgrounds, two cultures, that meet together and share this knowledge together on stage," said Gjoka.

Yasit, who's also a dancer and choreographer, added: "It was a very difficult process (…) It’s not how we would individually move if we had created a solo piece – this is us building a totally new language, to communicate."

Immersive and innovative

The Fagor Experience is an immersive, multi-media performance that almost defies description, bringing together video, dance, music, photography and art.

One of the main aims of the Biennale de la Danse is to engage the next generation of dancers and dance lovers,with a packed programme of workshops and performances bringing together young amateur dancers and world-renowned choreographers.

Noé Soulier, who manages the National Centre of Contemporary Dance in Angers, recreated his piece "Removing" for 40 students from dance schools in Lyon and Angers. He aims to create a new physical vocabulary by exploring everyday movements.

"It’s a performance based on simple, practical goals -- hitting, avoiding and throwing – and it’s those goals that I use to choreograph the movement, to create the movement. But they’re done with imaginary objects and there’s always something that’s diverted, there’s always a distortion: for instance we’re going to hit with a fragile part of the body, like the rib cage or the throat," he explained.

In "Entropic Now," choreographer and filmmaker Christophe Haleb explores the role of young people in our urban public spaces and their desires for the future, after he was inspired by their stories and energy.

"It made me want to explore the city through its youth, their way of getting involved and committed, of gathering in public spaces, in urban spaces – and their way of appropriating them: through urban sports, urban dances, gatherings, fashion – basically youth in the city.”

Journalist • Andrea Bolitho

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