Interview With Karine Saporta - 28 January 1992

Karine Saporta is considered one of the most prestigious personalities of contemporary European dance. With higher education in philosophy and sociology in France and the USA, she has continuously developed her research in the direction of dance, from video to photography. In 1982 she founded the company that bears her name. In 1990 she did her first own photo exhibition and worked at the choreography of Peter Greenaway's film, "Prospero's Books". She has come to Bucharest as part of the complex cooperation program France-Romania, "La Danse en Voyage". Choreographic itinerary, stages, meetings, interplay. "Dear Mrs. Karine Saporta, you're in Romania for the first time. For a week you are working with our dancers, students of the Academy for Theatre and Film and schoolchildren at the ChoreographyHigh School in Bucharest. The work technique you approached surprised them." "The work we do at the company I lead in France is invisible, untouchable. These are probably the dimensions we look for. The to be or no to be dimension… In fact whether a knee is turned or not is not essential, even if are looking for the form. It would be too easy. Everything that seems contradictory starts to disappear when we really think, profoundly. Contradictory are the so-called dimensions of the self and of personality, after which we start having a more profound and open expression. The contradiction decreases. The thought is in some regards a way of understanding reality, less different from sense or sensuality, from a tactile understanding. A method of getting in contact with reality is through the spirit. Everything is based on a logical structure, one can sometimes meet maths in an emotional territory. The world of figures, of mathematics is totally opposite to that of emotions. I tell this to my students very often." "You've studied philosophy and sociology, you've done courses of classical and contemporary dance in France and the USA. Has this changed your idea of dance?" "For a dancer that wants to surpass herself or for a choreographer that wants to find a specific language, the way in which she creates movement is something odd. That constant fight between the rigor you've got to have in order to attain the emotion, and the emotion itself, which is not for the public. That fight related to the form and the thought. That fight probably lies at the center of my work.""Ten years ago you attended the courses of the great artist Hideyuki Yano, nowadays no longer with us, who was one of the pioneers of French contemporary dance. Was he a model for you?" "I studied dancing with him and I reached a quality of very pure form. When he showed us choreography fragments, he would allow improvisation a dominating role. My eyes were half closed, I remember this very well, I was thinking… now he will stop me, but he would never change anything. You had to find the move exactly as you had done it before, but that presupposes hard work. What's important is to find yourself, and through this Butoh philosophy you manage to understand how to train, how to move and breathe in order to attain that something which fits your personality. This is what I'm doing now at the course in Bucharest." "This is a new choreographic approach for our dancers, who have not worked in this manner so far." "Perhaps, but I like this game of improvisation. This bet we all make, whether dancers or choreographers, is metaphysical. Socially it may not be an efficient bet, the only efficiency being only the answers to questions like what is time?… What is the limit, what is time's role in the present, the past, the future. So I'm attempting a transgression into the metaphysical problem." "You suggested an interesting exercise today in the hall. You gave them a theme which had to be realized in ten positions – chosen by the dancers. Then you let them improvise for 15 minutes, asking them not to simplify their moves but, on the contrary, to let their body move, discovering a choreographic phrase after the set period. Did you relate to time in that exercise?" "It's true that time is an important dimension of moving, i.e. the move always takes a certain amount of time. They come one after the other like in a picture. You can see six pictures at the same time, but this does not apply to moving, because the dancer is the one deciding the duration of every move." "These are rather associations, almost the faithful translation of emotions that may have already been present in our head. Can the public perceive such odd images?" "When I dance, I've got the strong sensation of a mysterious fire under my skin. I think there are connections within us, circuits between all dimensions. And that which seems paradoxical or contradictory disappears once we think more profoundly. There are certain states of the soul that resemble deserted stations, museum stations where no train ever comes anymore. You might say they are stories, they are in fact stories of associations, of images, of movements, and what I do is to disarticulate what we normally see as well built. You could say this is only an apparent incoherence, actually an incoherence of the conscience. But the stories are actually more profound, more mysterious. I think all my great meetings provoke a kind of short circuit, a very powerful electrical shock, and in order to survive that moment I have to create. I think this happened to me in the Soviet Union where I had to think in French. I couldn't otherwise." "After this visit, in 1982, you did 'The Fiancée with Wooden Eyes', noticed 6 years later at the Avignon Festival?" "Yes, I often remember childhood episodes: coming back from school, the dance courses when everyone was resting. In the show I inserted pictures from a film that had been made in the Soviet Union 8 years before, and whose negative was destroyed, excerpts that somehow remind me of my origin. Depending on the way one of the dancers was moving, the others pretended to take over his move. Even if they look asleep, as if they weren't there, they make automatic steps, against their own will. Flashes here and there from a devastated Russia. It is, I think, my forefathers' heritage, the heritage of people I had considered gone, but who live in my memory.""You have worked with one of the most paradoxical filmmakers, Peter Greenaway. Did this experience bring anything new to you?" "We were talking about figures a little earlier; I find just that in Greenaway's work, this apparent way of capitalizing on contradictory dimensions which are, however, part of our presence in the world. Peter is a person who thinks very much, but he is instinctive at the same time." "In Bucharest you will present a show just as exciting, 'Carmen', an adaptation of Merimée's story. However, your show has been given a very modern touch. How do you think the Bucharest public will perceive you?" "I am always interested in the new perceptions of the dance I propose. When studying Japanese culture, the dances, rituals, I could notice a strong essential connection between Spain and Japan. There are three words that interest me a lot, that, by means of their interdependence, answer in fact different questions: to die happy, cruelty and metaphysics. The code of honor, pride, sensuality, the game of violence and cruelty, here are the strange affinities between the two cultures. I hope to come back to Romania in order to understand your culture better."

by Silvia Ciurescu