Marie Béland is a dance artist based in Montreal, Canada. She graduated from the University of Québec in Montreal (UQAM), where she received the William Douglas Award of Excellence as a student in dance creation. In 2005, she founded her company, maribé – sors de ce corps and created maribé – live in Montréal during a summer residency at Studio 303, and then Twis-manivelle, declared one of the top 5 dance performances of 2005 by ICI magazine. Then comes Dieu ne t’a pas créé juste pour danser, presented at Tangente in October 2008 and toured in the Maisons de la Culture de Montréal (a system of neighbourhood theatres) thanks to the Montreal Arts Council, RAYON X : a true decoy story, co-presented by Tangente and the Festival Les Coups de Théâtre, BEHIND : une danse dont vous êtes le héros, which has been performed again at the Festival TransAmériques in 2011 and at the Festival ArtDanThé (FR) in 2012, Vie et mort de l’élégance (2012), which won a silver medal at the Jeux de la Francophonie (FR) in September 2013, Révélations, presented in the Festival GREC (ES), BLEU – VERT – ROUGE (2013), presented last winter at l’Agora de la danse and finally BETWEEN (2015), presented in double feature with BEHIND : une danse dont vous êtes le héros at the Festival ArtDanThé and at the Théâtre 140 (BR) in 2015, and shortly at l’Agora de la danse (2016). In 2010, Marie left for a two-month residency at the Berlin’s TanzWerkstatt.
Parallel to her work on stage, Marie Béland is interested in site-specific performance, multidisciplinary work and teaching. In 2008, she was commissioned by the Théâtre de Verdure to create Les Précédents, an architectural choreography presented more than 40 times since its creation. She also is a founding member of La 2e Porte à Gauche, an organization that creates and produces contemporary dance events which take place outside of traditional dance venues, in places such as apartments, stores, bars, parks, and which aim to question different relationships between artists and their audiences. Most notably, L2PAG has produced: Te situes-tu dans l’in situ ?, projet Vitrines, The Art (pronounced dehors), 7 ½ à part., and Blind Date : un rendez-vous chorégraphique, 4quART, Danse à 10, and his coming forward with a new project presented in hotel rooms for January 2014. In 2009, she also founded the collective Le P.I.Q.U.A.N.T. (Le Projet Indisciplinaire Québécois Utilisant les Arts Nécessaires à son Travail) with two musician colleagues. Their first collaboration won the award for the “Best Francophone Show of the Year” at the Fringe Festival 2009. In 2011 it will be presented again at the USINE C in Montreal. She also is the writer and signer of rock band Chacal-radar.
ARTISTIC DECLARATION OF MARIE BÉLAND
In my work, I invite the public to perceive art and dance as systems that respond to the same rules as those governing our society, in particular those harmonizing relations between people. My works are sometimes radical and they discipline the undisciplined with precision and finesse. Their apparent carefree spirit reveals a thoughtful reflection on human nature and social issues: I address dance, spectacle and dance performances to reveal their undersides, their mechanisms and even their failings. I question the parameters of dance: its favored codes, the way it invests the body and the stage, its clichés and its conventions, as metaphors of the codes and habits of our social fabric. What brings us together, what do we like, how do we react and why? Questioning the art of dance becomes a pretext to construct a portrait of the human being, its beauties, its desires, its failures. How dance, by its mechanisms and its trends, reflects the beings that we are and our individual, group and societal choices.
My choreographic signature combines dynamic physicality, absurd humor, popular culture and public engagement in a construction of meaning that can both unsettle and delight My movement esthetic preoccupations are focused more and more on gestures that go beyond form to become a conveyor of the piece’s meaning, its proposition, its conceptual expression. The performers use the human body in all of its senses to become the incarnation of an idea and its expression. They do actions rather than execute shapes. The body is not the ends but the means. It is important that the meaning of the work emerges from the movement. I prioritize a “hybrid language”, a diversified vocabulary where movement, words and sounds overlap. My primary tool remains body movement but to go further in the transmission of my reflections to the public, I do not hesitate to mix different elements of artistic expression that are not necessary those of dance.
In my propositions, the eventual spectators’ experience is at the heart of the choreographic choices. I like to assume confidence in the intelligence of the spectator and to leave them the choice – the right – to their own experience with an art work. My relationship with the public is frank and colored with humor. For several years now, I have shared with viewers my preoccupations about performance by using them as creative motors, either by asking about dance appreciation through a reflection on its failings (Dieu ne t’a pas créé juste pour danser, 2008), or by x-raying a show to reveal its mechanisms, its backstage actions as well as its artifices (RAYON X : a true decoy story, 2010), or by giving the spectator the liberty to reconstruct the show from visual clues with only glimpses of the body (BEHIND : une danse dont vous êtes le héros, 2010), or by questioning the influence of images and words on the mediatized body (BLEU – VERT – ROUGE, 2013) or, finally, by questioning the performers’ quest for authenticity in learning another’s role (Révélations, 2014). For each of these creations, I worked to propose a dance that was at once accessible and intelligible, one that relies as much on the entertaining aspect of performance as on its role as a mirror/critic of society.
– marie b.