Catherine Dunoyer de Segonzac: a question of passion
Catherine Dunoyer de Segonzac trained in classical and contemporary dance. In 1978 she founded Pivoine, an association dedicated to dance education in Lille. Together with Eliane Dheygère, she created Danse à Lille in 1983 which has since become an annual festival of contemporary dance and a centre for choreographic development based at Le Gymnase in Roubaix. In 2005, de Segonzac was selected to participate in Outremer / Beyond the Sea – an initiative by Visiting Arts, Arts Council England South East and the French Embassy in London - and travelled to the Ziff festival of the Dhow Countries in Zanzibar. Danse à Lille was a host for the follow-on initiative Cross Over, which saw delegates from the south east of England visit Northern France to see performances, and network with French dance organisations. As Director of Danse à Lille, de Segonzac runs an artistic programme dedicated to supporting emerging and established choreographers and dance companies, principally through Les Repérages – an international network with an annual festival devoted to the promotion of new choreography.
The festival is a platform and meeting point for around fifteen participating countries across Europe, North America, Brazil and Tunisia. In creating an opportunity for dance companies to perform to new audiences Les Repérages acts as a promoters’ platform with many works progressing to the international touring circuit. The concentration of young artists in the same space at the same time also facilitates an exchange of ideas and skills and is central to de Segonzac’s notion of choreographic development. In bringing together a range of artists in this way, the forum acts as an intense professional development residency and outside of the festival season the network provides resources and support structures for contemporary dance creation.
Les Repérages international partnerships exemplify de Segonzac’s belief in the unique benefits of intercultural artistic practice. Her recent Witness Statement for Europe now | Europe next (www.europe.culturebase.net/contribution.php?media=59) speaks of the enrichment that comes from cultural “confrontations”. She encourages artists to seek, create and participate in “culture shocks” that take the individual on a journey out of the self and into their environment, a process which paradoxically becomes a means for exploring the depth and range of possibilities of the self as an artist. Inviting international companies and artists to Danse à Lille and Les Repérages brings, in her view, “a kind of breath” to the festivals: the crossroads of cultures nourishing both dancers and choreographers whilst developing an awareness of international contemporary dance practice for audiences.
Danse à Lille and Les Repérages have attracted many of the artists synonymous with the recent history of contemporary dance - Philippe Decouflé, Angelin Preljocaj, Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Jiří Kylián, Lucinda Childs, Lia Rodrigues and Michel Groisman to name but a few. Roubaix is one of France’s Centres de Développement Chorégraphiques, a point of origin and return for northern France’s rich and diverse contemporary dance scene where multidisciplinary work and premieres are frequently programmed and aligned within a structure that welcomes a distribution of both productions and ideas. Danse à Lille also organises workshops with guest choreographers and delivers a wide teaching programme in schools, social centres, hospitals and prisons.
Placing choreographic creation within this permeable environment brings not just artistic exchange but the opportunity to debate and dissect the nature of that exchange. Les Repérages is a platform to discuss, argue and analyse the works presented between those engaged in the same creative act but holding different sensibilities, and for de Segonzac, connecting with the audience in the passion of this event promotes healthy debate amongst dance professionals.
Ultimately Les Repérages and Danse à Lille act as an anchor for dancers and choreographers through offering administrative and logistical support, in providing training and access to studios, and in convening a performance platform before a local, regional, national and international audience. But beyond the practical infrastructure bestowed under de Segonzac’s Directorship, is the embodiment of her own commitment to emerging dance artists for whom she argues, the single most important factor sustaining a thriving dance sector is always passion.
Born in Morocco, Catherine Dunoyer de Segonzac initially trained in classical dance, and then in contemporary dance. She was the pupil of Hideyuki Yano. In 1978, as an educator, she founded the association Pivoine. In 1983, with Eliane Dheygère, she created Danse à Lille, which was initially a biennial, and then an annual season of contemporary dance.
Danse à Lille has now become a centre for choreographic development and has collaborated with an impressive number of cultural organisations (theatres, operas, museums…) both in France and internationally. Today it focuses on supporting young talent and innovative contemporary dance projects. It is directed by Catherine Dunoyer de Segonzac and located in Roubaix. It runs an artistic programme as well as co-producing, running residencies and education activities. The organisation also coordinates the Repérages network, which involved 15 different countries and holds an annual festival in March.
This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.
(01 January 05 - 31 July 05)