Sunday, August 11, 2019

Agnès Benoit (FR) / Books on the Move – Interview with our guests at L1danceFest 2019

L1danceFest 2019
Movement-based International Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts
18th annual edition organized by L1 Association in Budapest

Interview with Agnès Benoit / Books on the Move 
Books on the Move has recently become an accompanying event for many motion-based festivals. What was your intention with this initiative?
– In 2006 I moved from the U.S. to Berlin where I had been studying and teaching for 10 years. Dance literature had been an important companion to my work as an artist and teacher.
When I arrived to Berlin away from a university context, I asked myself ‘where does one find dance books?’. Have you ever tried to find the dance section in a general bookstore? Very often they are at the bottom of a shelf, in a far corner, as if counting on dancers’ physical flexibility. One will find at the most 5 to 7 books one of which might be on contemporary dance, if you’re very lucky.
That year I saw the piece Choreographing Books, conceived and performed by Peter Pleyer. On stage were about forty dance books scattered on the ground. Peter would tell stories either about the authors, or about his own experience reading those texts, always in relation to dance history. I saw this performance a few times and I noticed that young dancers wanted to know more about this literature. Bringing dance books into the studio had been very important in my dance training and I realised that I was very much interested in making dance literature available to our dance community.
Photo: Bernadette Loupias
– What is the main objective of Books on the Move, which was previously in Berlin, now in Bordeaux?
– It took two years for this project to come to existence. I founded Books on the Move in 2008, in Berlin. First it was mainly a traveling and online bookstore. I was setting up small bookstands in different dance venues, theaters, dance studios and conferences. I mainly traveled on my bike through Berlin or by car or train when going to other German cities, with the idea to make this literature specialised in contemporary dance, performance studies and somatic practices visible and accessible to dancers, audience members, students and artists.
In 2013, I moved back to Bordeaux, France, where I’m from. Books on the Move developed into a non-profit organisation with the help of Stéphanie Pichon and a group of volunteers. We now travel throughout France and Europe and we have expanded the catalogue to other languages beyond French, English and German. We gather new books depending on encounters and requests.
We have also developed the pedagogical aspect of this project, we now offer workshops and different activities focusing on movement, writing, speaking, languages and reading. And we organize custom-made events for festivals such as reading nap-time, book exhibits, discussion with artists…
– You will be present during almost all of L1danceFest this year, how do you take part in the festival and what books do you plan to bring with you?
This is my first time at L1danceFest and in Budapest. So I’m very excited to discover the festival and get to know the Budapest dance community. I’m coming by plane with one suitcase full of books: about 40 titles, 23 kgs! I will be bringing books in English, I hope this is ok, and as it is the first time, I will bring a wide selection going from artist writings to theoretical essays, as well as texts on somatic practices and so on.
Books on the Move functions without trained booksellers. I’m a dancer, Stéphanie is a journalist and all the other volunteers come from different backgrounds. We’re not a real bookstore. We’re much more. Books on the Move is about sharing. Not necessarily sharing what we know, but sharing among each other. Artists are bringing us books, talking about their work, students are asking questions, audience members are wondering about a specific movement practice… Conversations always take place around a book or around a performance that just took place. Books on the Move is a meeting place, a place of exchange. So during my stay, I will make myself available, maybe if there is time and space we can organise a reading nap-time, an informal talk. Let’s see!
– Interview was made by Emese Kovács (L1 Association) –

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