3.1 Victor: Breaking through


3.1.1. History and Motivations

Victor started dancing at an early age and has always found support in this by adults:

“I don’t remember asking for doing dance, it was always there. The teachers said to my parents, hée, he is quite good.. (…) I was really having fun, it’s the best game you can do.. Imagining things. (…) For me it was connected with pleasure, happiness, beauty..” (1.1)

His career as a dancer went very smoothly so far; as a kid he danced at school, and later he took dance-classes. After high-school he was accepted at the conservatory in Paris, and after that he joined Emio Greco / PC.

Something that surprised me in Victor’s story was that, already when he was very young, his desire to dance went together with fear. After describing a childhood performance, he told me: “But always with fear, also. (…) Feeling bad about being so exposed.” (1.2) Victor has mixed feelings about being looked at, struggles with ‘perfectionism’ (which makes him ‘think to much’ ) and he doesn’t like competition: “When I feel competition, I get stock. (…) This I don’t like in dance, this auditions and competition, ahh.. really strange.” (1.2)

At the conservatory the teacher Florence Vitrac helped Victor going through his perfectionism, by working with images and other sensory input: “You don’t do it with just the motivation of.. I am going to do it well. Like it has to be. (…) She brings your attention somewhere else.” (1.5)

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3.1.1. Movement while talking: Pleasure versus fear (2 min.)

3.1.2 Victor: Motivations in Relation to the Work of Emio Greco / PC

In my conversations with Victor, on his work with Emio Greco / PC, the main theme was what he calls his desire to ‘breakthrough’: “I wanted to breakthrough (…) I wanted something to breakthrough me.” (2.3.1).

Especially in the performance ‘Extra Dry’ Victor experienced ‘breaking through’ sometimes: “In ‘Extra Dry’ I went trough, sometimes I went trough trips where, I think I went beyond..” (2.3.1).

As with most important things in life, it’s hard for Victor to describe – or for me, and you, to understand – what he exactly means by ‘breaking through’. I believe it has to do with something he also experienced in the work with Florence Vitrac. The possibility to go ‘beyond yourself’ (which might be the wrong words), by focusing on physical sensations. “It’s not that you go beyond yourself, because actually you feel closer to your self. (…) It solves something in your self, some stupid issues, I don’t know..” (2.3.1)

Those ‘stupid issues’ (which I called above ‘perfectionism’), have (amongst others) to do with looking, thinking and being in control: “I wanted to breakthrough (…) I wanted something to breakthrough me (…) That I don’t have always this overview, I know what I am doing, I know what I look like (…) sometimes I am not crazy enough” (2.3.1)

“The time that it doesn’t work, they see me for an hour, suffering and so pathetic. (…) I kind of think the audience is a voyeur of my pain, you know. (…) Other times, I don’t know what I am thinking, but, maybe I don’t really think. (…) I look at them (the audience) as they look at me. We just look at each other.” (2.7.2)

If Victor manages to ‘break through’ his ‘stupid issues’ he enters a world of; sensation, not pretending, excitement, being in the moment, freedom or maybe – ‘life itself’. He didn’t say this explicitly, but trough out our conversations I had the feeling that for Victor his ultimate motivation to work with Emio Greco / PC, is that it offers him a way to feel (or be) in touch with ‘life’:

“You get addicted to sensation.(…) In all the pieces, there are sensations that are good, ah.” (2.1.2)

“There is a sort of excitement, ahh, you feel like an animal yourself.” (2.4)

“That’s what I feel (…), when you are really in a piece, in this state of being ready, there is no lying” (2.4)

“Those moments are mine, mine and of my partner. (…) I can end the piece feeling I was talking. (…) I was liberated for saying it. (…) Let’s do it, let’s live it, life.” (2.6)

To my impression what Victor calls ‘breaking through’, is very much related to what Sawami calls ‘the real I to come out’ (see 3.2).
In the words of Victor: “It’s not that you go beyond yourself, because actually you feel closer to your self. (…) It solves something in your self..” (2.3.1)

“When you get to this last part (of ‘Extra Dry’), you feel like reborn, like pure.” (2.7.2)

3.1.3 Victor: The Movement Material of Emio Greco / PC

What is it, that makes that Victor experiences the movement material of Emio Greco / PC as a chance to ‘breakthrough’?

In our conversations several elements came out. One of them is that the work is tough. It brings you in a ‘survival state’ – a primitive state of immediate action (and as such, not, less, or ‘different’ thinking): “You get very tired, and then you have two choices somehow. (…) You undergo, or you still have hope. You fight, you fight for life. (…) You have this really deep energy of fighting. Breaking through to get to, eh… an end. (…) Somehow you don’t think, you don’t have these thoughts that pull you down.” (2.3.1)

“The core of it, there is something very animalistic and primitive.” (2.4)

Another element is, that the work goes far in exploring what movement can do, on the level of physical sensation of the performer. Emio is: “Going deep into something. (…) He goes to search for what can come out of this movement. If you go really deep with it.” (2.1.2)

For instance in a movement where the dancer rotates his/her arm fast for quite a long time – so the blood goes to the hand – and after this raises the hand, so the blood flows back again: “You feel all the blood going through the arm like this. It’s kind of liberating.” (2.1.2)

What interests me in the quote above is that Victor calls the physical sensation of blood flowing back to the body, ‘liberating’. For me this suggests that the chance to ‘breakthrough’ that the work of Emio Greco / PC offers him, not only comes from the fact that the work is tough or that it goes deep into physical sensations, but also that it explores physical sensations which are in itself ‘connected’ to ‘liberation’. Or, maybe: that the movement material does not refer to ‘liberation’, on the level of meaning, but that it really is ‘liberation’, on the level of the body.
In different ways Victor talked about the movement material of Emio Greco / PC as something that ‘opens’ the body: “You are unlocking things inside your own, in order to go on (…) like keys, you do grr, grr, grr, and then you can open the door.” (2.5)

“Your body was on fire for a while. (…) Your flesh, and especially the skin, are extremely sensitive. (…) You can feel your skin touching the air.(…) All the space that is inside the skin it is, eh.. it is space, hi..” (2.7.2)

A last element, related to breaking through’ that I want to mention here is something that Victor showed me through his movement while talking, rather than that he explained it to me in words. (If I am right in my reading of his movements.) Victor regularly pointed at ‘a thin line through the body’, which he called a ‘essential source of movement’.
Is this ‘thin line’ what appears when his body ‘opens’? Or maybe what remains when his body opens? And could it be that what Sawami (3.2) calls ‘the real I to come out’, is for Victor ‘a thin line’ – ‘like a snake’?

“The core of it (the movement material of Emio Greco / PC), there is something very animalistic and primitive. (…) But still in this animalistic there is something that is thin, you can see precision. It’s a lizard you know, this kind of animal. It’s a bird, tsi, tsi, tsi..” (2.4)

“After such a trip (‘Extra Dry’) you have only this thin energy. Not in the sense of little but in the sense of essential.” (2.11)

“I’m snake.. I’m like a snake..” (2.11)

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3.1.3 Movement while talking: Breaking through (5 min.)

Bram Vreeswijk, 2012

Motivations for Movement