Myriam Gourfink: Breathing Monster

Issue #04: Dance Is Massive.

Myriam Gourfink has fascinated the French choreographic landscape for the past 10 years. Her rigorous yet challenging works have reached critical and public acclaim. Dancehouse choses two reputed dance critics to introduce her to the Australian audiences.

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Myriam Gourfink notation

Myriam Gourfink has fascinated the French choreographic landscape for the past 10 years. Only recently, her rigorous yet challenging works have reached critical and public acclaim. Her pieces now tour the world and the choreographic composition software she invented, LOL, proves new movements are possible.

Dancehouse has invited Myriam in June this year. We chose two reputed dance critics to introduce her to the Australian audiences.

Enhanced Treshholds

Jean-Marc Adolphe

Dance involves bodies. Yes, but more than that… It involves bodies at work, committed, thoughtful bodies, bodies that are aware of the time/space continuum that they render visible, or at least perceptible. This is the case for every genuine expression of choreographic creativity: if the body is at work, it must be driven by an intention, a thought, a goal, carried by currents that are not necessarily linear, and where there is often conflict between techniques for control and the desire for unrestrained expression.

Focusing on this conflict, intrinsic to every physical body in a state of dance, Myriam Gourfink has created a field of resonances. Rarely has a choreographer ventured so far in her simultaneous exploration of the organicity of movement and “constraining scripts”. From her first solos (Beith, in 1996, and Waw, in 1997) to her forthcoming productions of Bestiole and Une lente mastication, the vibratory line of a determinedly innovative dance has produced a portfolio that is already significant, numbering around twenty dance productions. But beyond this body of work that has continually expanded and forged a performance model distinct from ambient styles, Myriam Gourfink has used a wholly arborescent kinesthesia, which has become the very heartbeat of her choreographic research. By slowing time-spans, giving space to the echo of “micro-movements”, and honing perceptions inspired by the disciplined practice of yoga, she has forged a unique, poetical expression of presence.

Simultaneously, the need to write dance scores has led her down the road to scripts inspired by Labanotation, most often used a posteriori to refine her choreographic vocabulary, rather than to inspire composition. The use of computer software or motion captors does not function as prosthetics that would program an enhanced body: these techniques, serving a choreographic concept, are there to accompany the introduction of threshold enhancement. If dance produces a flash (apparent or real) at the same time as a tremor, its magnitude can only be measured, or felt, in the passageways that it opens in the boundaries of our perception. Which no doubt explains the recurrent theme of the visible perception that dance awakens. In other words : what does dance (and in particular Myriam Gourfink’s dance) invite us to see, beyond what is merely recognizable?

In-View In Perspective

Gérard Mayen

Myriam Gourfink’s dances are only ever performed slowly. Her one-hour productions hardly develop more than a single, infinite expression. For others, two or three minutes would be enough. And moreover, her productions are all the same. We’ve just stretched the point, imagining what an uninformed spectator, at least one unreceptive to Myriam Gourfink’s art, might have to say in the first instance.

The essence that would be captured by observation only skim the surface. However, for nearly fifteen years now, her determined research has explored a world whose limits seem to extend each time we believe we have reached them. This quest is endless, which goes beyond the veil of token appearance and is forever reinvented. Breathtaking, she inhales. With Myriam Gourfink, timescales are indefinably plastic, multi-dimensional and multi-directional, nourished in complete porosity by the vibrations of a body that flows across them by reflecting and projecting its own perceptions. This has to be understood as respiratory, reversible and fleeting, neverending. It is minimal. But not minimalist. Because it is infinitely enriched with activated, diversified and well-constructed data. From where does Myriam Gourfink’s expression originate? From a flow of deep internal respiration. This flow is intensely laden with multiple imaginative particles whose perceptive function itself is a source of supply. The well-developed practice of Tibetan energy yoga, several hours a day, enables her to master the most subtle nuances of the “female force centre”, via contractions and relaxation of the genital organs and related respiratory connections in circulatory flux.

The composition software, LOL, produced in collaboration with musician Kasper T. Toeplitz and dancer-choreographer Laurence Marthouret enables her to create a time-space context that is flexible, composite and reversible. This choice of technology uses the dance score as a context for spontaneous invention without relegating it to a conservative role of posterior scripting. The composition is performed in real time, according to the open structures which are drawn from the speculative, auto-reflexive and auto-fictional dimensions generated at the core of the perceptive function itself. Myriam Gourfink’s dance seeks expression within liaisons that are not invisible in nature, but which are deliberately derived from the in-view perspective – that which is not seen but could be seen, in which the art form can operate by liberating the unleashed potential of forbidden evidence.

Texts published in MOVEMENT #62, special edition on Myrial Gourfink , jan-march 2012.
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