Interview and Photos by Ida Zenna
In 2011 I met Jasmine Morand in Munich at I-Camp Theatre. I was booked to photograph the program „Tanzbescherung“ and she presented 2 choreographies. I was really fascinated by her way to see things and interpreted them. We had the chance to work again some years later and I am really glad to see what she achieved till today.
Jasmine, tell us more about your choreographic approach and about your company, which has a very interesting name!
Last year I celebrated the 10th anniversary of my company Prototype Status in Switzerland. It gave me the opportunity to look back on the artistic path I have covered. I was interested to observe the varying aesthetics that have come together gradually to become a choreographic language of my own.
In my choreographic approach, the recurring theme is the question of space: how to bring the spectator into a slightly altered, twisted or even timeless universe. Constantly playing with perspectives, vanishing points, physical laws and gravity…
Ah! The name is indeed somehow atypical! “Prototype” first of all it’s a racing category in which my father was involved, as a driver and engine constructor. It’s a tribute to his memory. Furthermore, in my opinion, any artistic work is a prototype in itself. I believe that we don’t create anything, but that we reformulate, dissect, bring together in an innovative way what surrounds us to reveal a new aspect of it.
Is there a relation between the three works I photographed?
These three pieces are dear to me, but mostly it’s the people with whom I had the chance to collaborate on these projects that constitute the essence of this experience. They also contributed in one way or another to the foundations of the projects that followed. I see each new creation as a deeper layer, a more focused exploration of the themes that continue to challenge me.
When I look at these images you captured, it is the particular texture of the ground that seems to me to best underline this aspect.
In CASO & CAOS, the sand creates a floating island, in DON’T PANIC, the accumulation of crumpled newspapers and in LUI & ARTEMIS, the rice that fills the bench on which the dancers begin and end their odyssey.
Is your way to create similar to the past?
Today, my latest creations have come away from a frontal scenic setting. I prefer installations where there’s a permeability between the dancer’s space and the spectator’s.
(As with MIRE, a piece for twelve dancers presented last January in Paris and at the Holland Dance Festival. In this piece, the audience is invited to lie on the floor around a cylindrical structure and observe the dancers through a giant mirror placed on the ceiling. The effect is surprising and distorts our usual notion of gravity.)
How do you play and interact with the scenic elements of these three productions? what else makes them unique for you?
In my piece CASO & CAOS (2009), the space is defined quite simply by the presence of sand covering a small area of three meters in diameter on black ground. Elina Müller Meyer, for whom this solo was choreographed, appears to literally emanate from this restricted surface. Many spectators came to ask me if there was a motorised turntable under the sand dragging the dancer through her rotations! It seemed to them that she was levitating, being moved by forces beyond her will!
Though most of the play is bathed in a meditative atmosphere, it ends on a high note with the appearance of an automated vacuum cleaner. Stealing the spotlight from the soloist, the vacuum sucks up some of the sand, before spitting it out further on. This final hint is a reminder, especially to myself, that one must work seriously but never take oneself too seriously!
What about the next pieces?
2012 I‘ve choreographed DON’T PANIC, this piece has taken many shapes before finding its final form (with the collaboration of David Russo and Pedro Dias). Here, the profusion of newspapers stifles the spectator’s vision as well as the dancers, both figuratively and literally. The audience gradually discovers the dancers struggling in this rough and unstable terrain, offering up a comical and cynical dance. DON’T PANIC is not necessarily the piece that best characterises my aesthetic line, but it reveals a constant desire for creative and playful experimentation.
On LUI & ARTEMIS (2015)the stage is split in two by a six meter long bench, covered with grains of rice: the space at the front of the bench represents the intangible present, while to the back of the bench lies an uncertain space which remains in darkness. The bench becomes a wall, a caesura in time and space. Hence the idea of covering it with rice, to bring a symbolic dimension. Paradoxically, the rice represents as much the celebration of life and fertility as it does death and the underworld.
I owe the name of the piece to the two incredible dancers who joined me in this adventure. Artemis Sacantanis, ex-soloist of the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz and Peter Jolesch, ex-soloist of the Bayerisches Staatsballet in Munich.
I wanted to work on the question of the couple, of sharing, tending towards a message of hope. I turned to these two artists who, thanks to their age and personality, carried this experience within them. Their willingness to share remains intact. An urgency lives in them, where artifice no longer has a place, where their bodies carry an emotion and a crystalline discourse through the fullness and simplicity of their presence. I am always touched to see an elderly couple, hand in hand, and I am reminded of what George Bernard Shaw wrote: Youth is wasted on the young.