Marie Béland graduated in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in contemporary dance creation. She then founded her company, MARIBÉ-SORS DE CE CORPS, to support her choreographic work. At the same time creator, project leader and collaborator, she began her trajectory by researching a singular gestural signature. This approach was quickly replaced by the creation of experimental and performative works, with the intention of questioning the fabrication of performance, the commonplace reflexes in dance creation and the artifices of the stage. At the dawn of the 2010’s, she opened a new chapter in her work by paying close attention to the choreography produced by our bodies in the process of speaking, a state she describes as “body-speak”. Her practice has led her to collaborate with some of Montreal’s leading performers, including Anne Thériault, Marilyne St-Sauveur, Simon-Xavier Lefebvre, Rachel Harris, Peter Trosztmer, Andrew Turner, to name but a few. She also collaborated on theatrical, musical and multidisciplinary productions.
For the past 20 years, Marie has distinguished herself through works that invite reflection from both young and general publics, and that have been presented in theaters, festivals, private and public spaces in Quebec, Canada, Europe and Africa. Drawing from our different uses of the body and the gestures that make up our daily lives, Marie organizes banal movement to make it danceable and complex. The stage acts to reveal the troubled zones of fiction inverting the true, the false and the plausible. Her creations approach live performance as a social and aesthetic phenomenon, an opportunity to study the transformations that our ordinary bodies undergo in contact with the stage. She is currently working on a new creation that addresses sisterhood through cyclical ritual practices.
Marie is also a co-founder of La 2e Porte à Gauche (2003-2018), and is publishing her master’s thesis in 2019 entitled Cartographie de la scène: les forces en jeu dans le spectacle vivant, which seeks to question the object of performance and understand its workings. She is, as well, a member of the EDCM faculty, and acts as a lecturer at UQÀM.
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.