A magnetic, sacred and vibrant exchange, Lifeguard is a call to communion. Hymn to the body, awakening of the senses, it is a new space for sharing between performer and public.
For a piece to exist sometimes the spectator must touch it, open up to the tactile sensations of movement. With the body as offering, Benoît Lachambre presents with Lifeguard an intimate performance where the magnetic charge of bodies is revealed. Pushing the limits of connection, performer and audience explore a new territory of exchange. Resonance chamber, transmitter and receiver, Lachambre’s body becomes a social connector triggering a cosmic dance.
In silence, or with his voice providing deep vocals as he dances to the music of Marvin Gaye, a Brahms violin concerto or the electronic strains of A Tribe Called Red, Lachambre modifies his environment, capturing the vibrations that are transmitted by the audience and circulating around him. At times minimalist, at others quite vibrant, the movement follows the unpredictable dance of lives reunited. Stirring, vital and sometimes playful, Lifeguard rekindles our need to be together sharing a sacred ritual. A shifting architecture where the other becomes the guardian of energies. A singular communion of the senses.
Produced by Par B.L.eux
Choreographed and performed by Benoît Lachambre
Outside eyes Valérie Lanciaux + George Stamos + Anouk Thériault
Technical Director Samuel Thériault
Musical Composition Tomas Furey
Acknowledgments to Alexandra Bertaut
With the support of CDC Atelier de Paris-Carolyn Carlson + Centre National de la Danse de Pantin + La Ménagerie de Verre (Paris)
Presented in association with Agora de la danse + Tangente
Written by Elsa Pépin
Translated by Neil Kroetsch
Premiered at Festival June Events, Paris, on June 18, 2016
Benoît Lachambre (Montreal) Par B.L.eux
A prominent artist of his generation, the choreographer and performer Benoît Lachambre has been active in the dance milieu since the 1970s.
Renowned for his exploratory approach based on a hyper-awakening of the senses, he founded his company Par B.L.eux in 1996. Its emphasis on dialogue between collaborators and choreographers has led to several works, including Délire Défait (1999), 100 rencontres (FTA, 2005) and Is You Me (FTA, 2008). Lachambre promotes international exchanges and has worked with several internationally renowned choreographers such as Boris Charmatz, Sasha Waltz, Marie Chouinard, Louise Lecavalier and Meg Stuart. He is also an outstanding teacher who has presented classes and workshops all over the world for the past 20 years, as well as the recipient of many prizes and distinctions including a Bessie Award in 2006, the Grand Prix de la danse de Montréal in 2013 and its best choreography award in 2014 for Prismes.
A FTA veteran, in recent years he has presented Chutes incandescentes with Clara Furey (2012), Snakeskins (2014) and Hyperterrestres with Fabrice Ramalingom (2015). The first part of a triptych that dissects our understanding of presence and the resonance of movement, Lifeguard pursues his cherished experimentation on non-conventional ways of communicating with the spectator. The piece had its world première at the June Events festival in Paris in June 2016. In this spirited walkabout installation, the body of the performer is attuned to the language of the senses and to instinct, discovering new ground for human dialogue.
Lifeguard changes depending on the audience, as it takes place in an open space for an unspecified period of time. Why did you choose fundamental instability?
Instead of conceiving the choreography as fully mastered action, I was interested in the act of being choreographed, in the magnetism between people and the transparency of bodies. I observe a shifting spatial architecture that could be called the radiance of bodies, as well as the dynamics of communication.
I’m trying to establish connections, to explore mobility; it’s almost cosmic. In order for Lifeguard to begin to exist, the audience is invited to move around. It is that mobility that generates the choreography, all those mobile, constantly changing elements beyond our control.
How do you prepare for such a performance?
It is a very personal piece, but at the same time very collective. I’m never alone. Group dynamics make for a communal work. People consider things collectively, they form micro groups. We never know what’s going to happen. I modify my behaviour in order to modify possible linkages, alternating between moments of silence, moments when I speak or dance to different pieces of music, when I manipulate my voice or suggest a brief pause to listen.
When the resonance chambers of the body change, the spatial dynamics also change. To listen to the innate dance of the body I use the mobile sensations of internal and external spaces, notably the support of the exterior arch of the foot, which opens up the pelvic diaphragm. The body becomes a mobile container, both receiver and transmitter of the dynamics of connection, a space that receives but always stays connected.
If there is no connection to exterior elements, there is no connection to the interior; it’s complementary. I also use the energy of fluid dynamics to slide energy along the length of the body, a movement innate to the human being. That’s why I ask spectators to touch me, for they are also part of the choreography, by their very presence.
Can that be seen as an invitation to the audience to reconnect with an instinctive and underestimated knowledge?
Instinctive knowledge has been oppressed in the same way our spirits were oppressed during colonization, and also by economic structures based on extreme individualism. I am not against individualism, but when it becomes extreme and oppresses the community, valuing instead only pyramidal, hierarchical structures, it is dangerous. Let’s try to dispense with those models to show that it is possible to feel things in other ways.
Since childhood I have always felt the presence of colonized bodies and minds, the existence of mind control. In Lifeguard I use different pieces of music, as well as a series of Amerindian place names that have been reclaimed and modified. I hope to make people aware that those words mean things beyond our ken, that we recognize the fact that their origins and initial meaning have been repudiated.
How does Lifeguard fit into your oeuvre?
The piece was born of necessity and has become a playful way to save my life, hence the title. In the past I did quite a lot of somatic movement, a technique I’ve been teaching for 20 years and that has been a helpful tool in creating my choreography. I am now directing my creative focus on the dynamics of connection, which allows for somatic work. This piece responds to a need to transform notions of artistic presentation and thus question our social habits, to take delight in the spatial body, to partake of a communal body.
Instead of the conventional separation between performer and spectator, I am attuned to the dynamics, the forces, the sensory levels that unite us, that awaken and influence our consciousness. We need to find ways of reconstructing our connection to space and to the environment. To my mind, the role of the artist is no longer to distract or entertain or to help us forget our worries for a moment, but to bring back the dynamics of community by experiencing qualitative connections.
« Déployée sur des rythmes tribaux ou des harmonies savantes pour piano et cordes, [la] force d’interpellation [de Benoît Lachambre] est sidérante. »
Smaranda Olcèse-Trifan, À bras le corps, 2016-06-20
« Lachambre ne cesse d’interroger et de surprendre, ce dont témoigne encore sa nouvelle création, Lifeguard, un solo s’inspirant du grotesque et diminuant encore l’espace entre le performeur et son public. »
Hervé Pons, Les Inrockuptibles, 2016-06
“Benoit Lachambre remains an incredible performer and an inspiring artist whose collaborations continue to flourish.”
Stephanie Fromentin, Danscussions.com, 2015-05-29, about Hyperterrestres
“Benoît Lachambre’s (…) status as contemporary shaman of the theatre is something that is becoming more and more obvious to all eyes on the prize. It seems that whatever Lachambre touches turns to gold.”
James Oscar, Nelligan, 2015-05-29, about Hyperterrestres