Preview - Compagni S'Poart: Na Grani
French choreographer Mickaël Le Mer to present his latest work at Glasgow's Tramway
One of the dance world’s many attributes is its ability to cross the language barrier unscathed. Dancers let their bodies, rather than their mouths, do the talking – a form of communication that needs no translation. Instead, dance has its own language, the subtleties of which span both orientation and geography. It’s something Mickaël Le Mer, founder of French hip hop outfit Compagni S’Poart, discovered during the making of his latest work, Na Grani.
Created as part of France-Russia 2010, a year-long cultural celebration across both countries, the work took Le Mer outside his comfort zone. ‘For this piece I had three challenges,’ he says. ‘This is the first time I have choreographed female dancers, worked with foreign dancers, or with contemporary dancers. All these new constraints brought a freshness to the creation and extra motivation. I tried to stage who the dancers are in their hearts, not what they seem to be, and the differences between them enriched the work and influenced my choreography.’
Le Mer started Compagni S’Poart in 1996, having worked with renowned French hip hop companies such as Käfig. Na Grani came about when Le Mer travelled to a contemporary dance festival in the industrial Russian city of Yekaterinburg. He later returned there to teach hip hop, and recruited Russian dancers to help him with the piece.
‘Various meetings I had, the city itself and its location gave me the desire to create Na Grani,’ says Le Mer. ‘My primary intention was to express humanity on stage, inspired by the dancers’ relationship with each other.’ Aside from the dancers, Le Mer has also worked closely with set and lighting designers – both of which play an important role in the piece, with uses neon light and moveable blocks to suggest an urban environment.
‘Collaboration with the artists is about exchange and talk,’ says Le Mer. ‘Whether it’s lighting, set design, music or costumes. First I give ideas, they propose things, we trade, then I make a choice. Each part is a unique creation for the piece.’
Tramway, Glasgow, Fri 13 & Sat 14 May.