Participation, a medal and a confession: I’m coming back!
Posted 22 February 2016 by Marie Béland
Dancers from the company maribé-sors de ce corps, Jeux 2013
I took part in the last edition of the Jeux de la Francophonie, in 2013, and it turned out to be an absolutely unique experience in my life as an artist. The context was very different from my professional practice, since I was measuring myself against others – not just other works and other artists, but other cultures as well. What distinguishes me from the rest – what are my strengths, my signature? What is the cultural aspect of my work and my dance? In attending four evenings of dance presentation I saw a panorama of approaches to dance, an overview of the ways that our respective cultures influence and transform this form of expression. Dance can be understood in so many different ways, practiced by bodies that have been shaped through cultures and traditions. I was very moved to see how much this form that we all share could have such radically different esthetic characteristics.
Getting caught up in the game of competing
We are always comparing ourselves to others – but the fact that this comparison was the focus of our encounter made me all the more determined to shine and be the best that I could possibly be. I relived the childhood pleasures of sports events one competes for medals and honour. Every day, in my practice, I try to do better, to go farther than I did in earlier works, in previous ideas. And when this desire for transcendence was transposed into the context of the Games, I became fiercely competitive! At the same time, I was terrified by the idea of being judged so severely. Making presentations in front of juries always involves a certain measure of vulnerability – you know that your every movement is being scrutinized, and that the slightest false move could spell disaster. You put yourself at risk. At the same time, however, I was confident – I’d been chosen to represent my country, people believed in me and in my work. I also had a fabulous team that was motivated and ready to give their all to win a medal.
Measuring yourself against the world
The Games are a milestone in the continuum of one’s artistic practice. They provide an opportunity to take stock of your own work and that of others, a chance to be exposed to a wealth of ideas that we rarely have the occasion to see in one place. I was so proud of this experience, which I consider a high point in my artistic journey to date. In fact, I intend to try again for the 2017 Games, since I am a bad second-place winner: this time, I want to come home with a gold medal! And I also want to be able to see all those people that I met from so many places - Belgium, Cameroon, and Burkina Faso – and with whom I did not have enough time to truly explore their vision of what our art form can be.