Johanne Saunier

Date: 05/10/2006
Place: Johanne's house

Without any expectations, Johanne Saunier came to Belgium because of a dancing position at Rosas through an audition. She danced in the company for 12 years. Brussels is the only place where she really feels at home, both professionally and personally. Although she is regarded as belonging to the French rather than to the Flemish dance field, she is active in both. Therefore, she is very aware of the gap between the two communities and the differences between them. Pieces from the Flemish side are always more person-based while the French side relies more on ideas and abstractions. Internationally, Belgium is mostly known for its Flemish choreographers and companies. Saunier does not claim to be part of the Brussels dance community. But whether she likes it or not, she is part of it because of her work and her teaching at PARTS. Through her teaching job, she gets an idea of the different ‘waves’ in the dance field that are shifting through the years. ‘Conceptual’ waves alternate with waves that focus on mere movement. Saunier wants to create work that is not influenced by those different ‘moods’.

It was not always easy to get accepted in the dance community because she did not follow “the traditional path of a choreographer”. She has always been a performer in the first place. That she does not belong to a company anymore does not mean that she does not want to collaborate with others. On the contrary, working in dialogue with others is much more fruitful. She does not have a sense of freedom in her profession because she is so dependent on the fluctuating dance field. One piece may tour a lot, the next one won’t. Only in the studio she is completely free. Once a piece is finished, she depends on the choices of presenters and the tastes of the moment (what is ‘in’). A successful piece gives her recognition and freedom (also financially). The freedom is even bigger when she is given the possibilities to continue her work because it is appreciated. A big change in her life was having children. The interview shows that combining a family and a dance career is not evident at all. The parents of her kids’ school have no understanding of her professional reality of unemployment and sporadic contracts. Her sense of belonging is only in her body.

Her top priority is finding a balance in her life between her family and being a mother on the one hand and realizing her artistic projects and staying in shape on the other. Artistically, she does not want to pin herself down to what people associate her with, but she wants to keep experimenting.

renewable energy – feel attached – cross-over – Christmas time abroad – claim – fortunate time – children – isolated – moods – groovy – division – tremendous – person-based – stick to – energetic performer – filter – disconnected – fruitful – totally out of place – speed – invest herself – conditioning – little pocket of freedom – difficult to meet – visibility radar – stay in shape – re-think – recipe – anxiety – scenery – house in Provence


click on the pictures for a full-screen slideshow.

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