Le Quotidien des Plateaux – a view from behind the camera

I had the great pleasure of being part of the web-tv team at Les Plateaux, in CDC La Briqueterie from 23rd-26th September 2016. 4 days, 17 companies and shows to capture, and 11 people behind cameras to do so. Here’s a sneak peek behind the scenes!

What is Les Plateaux about?
Les Plateaux is a platform for young choreographers to show their latest works and projects. It takes place every year for a weekend at the end of September. This year was the 23rd edition, curated by Daniel Favier director of La Briqueterie. The idea is to gather international programmers for them to discover what’s happening here and now in terms of performance-making. La Briqueterie being part of the Aerowaves network, the rendez-vous involves international partners. This year an especially wide range of geographic connections was displayed, with Australians, Korean & European dance artists and companies gathered at the border of Paris.

It all takes place in a frenzy in the beautiful glass and brick-wall building of La Briqueterie – a former brick factory opened in 2013 as a space for contemporary dance – and the impressive MAC in Créteil.

For the past six years, each edition of Les Plateaux has been accompanied by a team of young writers, reporters or photographers, producing a daily follow-up on what’s cooking during these intense three days. For this festival the idea was to try out the format of web-tv and produce a series of short videos (from 30 seconds to 3 minutes) to post online every day.

We were a group of 9 very enthusiastic dance & video lovers chaperoned by the two film-makers from All we can do is dance Bertrand Guerry & Thibaut Ras.

How was it?
The first day was meant to set things in motion. After introducing ourselves and getting quickly acquainted with the filming gear we took a look at the quite heavy schedule and everyone started to pitch ideas. We had a common sheet where everyone kept writing the most extravagant or relevant wishes and goals for the following days. Different categories had previously been defined by Bertrand & Thibaut: Bodies, Ears, Eyes, Feet… in order to catch different atmospheres in the course of Les Plateaux. These gave us a guideline, but everything was left in our hands. A whole body of work to put together one piece at a time in a team spirit.

And then… it was on! We had such freedom while making our films, and for this we have to thank our amazing mentors who just put this insane equipment in our hands and said “Go ahead and try it out, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, try, fail, try again but above all go for it!”. How to film dance & dance-makers is such a fascinating process, and having this time to experiment and learn was a blast for us all. We had the opportunity to try out filming devices so well-made for dance, that gave a great impression of fluidity and freedom of movement.

Producing a film requires several steps. From the initial idea to the upload, it’s a time consuming process. And it was very satisfying to see a whole thing produced in a day, from the idea you had in the morning to the video shared online and being available for everyone to see in the evening…

Filming is also heavy, in every sense. You have to carry many things around in order to capture images and sound, thus it creates a special setting and relationship with the person in front of you. You’re intrusive while filming and have to figure a way to allow a kind of intimacy to emerge. Also the fear of disturbing was a factor, while gently pushing the doors of rehearsal spaces during working sessions. Everyone is here to present work to professional programmers and curators. It’s a delicate time during which we didn’t want to impose. But every encounter was really sweet and every artist was able to give us some time.

My thoughts on all this
You don’t get to see many shows (I saw something like 2.5 I think) but to experience what’s going on right before and right after. Being in the rehearsal studios, being there for the sound and lighting checks you happen to be in the heat of things being done. You get to explore the doubts, to witness the waiting, to talk and share with the companies. And thus to film Katia Medici’s make-up process to become La Castiglione, to meet the Australian company of James Batchelor softly putting up their brick wall setting or French dancer Nicolas Martel rehearsing his lines in a hallway.
There was undeniably a thrill and beauty of watching a piece from a totally different perspective. Seeing Meytal Blanaru’s Aurora from above, crawling under the spotlights was something special. I was chasing her, playing with her choreography and I almost had the feeling she was playing with me too. I’m sure all the participants would have lots to share about the fact that seeing a piece through a camera lens gives you a really specific vision on the work. And by choosing the way you frame it, you are proposing a specific story about it.

That’s one reason why filming has for me a lot to do with writing. Before leaving the meeting room with all your equipment you’ve got to know at least a bit what you’re aiming for. Holding a camera in your hand is a way of writing right on the spot. Every sound and image is instantly telling something, encapsulating a special time and place and most of all, your very own outlook on things. What was really exciting about that was also the necessity to adapt to reality all the time. When something quite magical is happening right in front of you and you don’t want to miss it. It’s as if you are caught in a thrill, a rush of adrenaline that keeps you going and just asking for more…

I remember filming Igor & Moreno singing was quite something. Being on stage turning around them, following their every move was truly amazing. I remember being super-excited to come back the next morning and starting to edit with my co-director on this piece, Christine. And then you get to re-write everything during the editing process on your timeline: cut, paste, erase, create your own vision.

Another great highlight was the team effort we put into it. I think every single clip was made by at least two people, often more, then often a couple more people gave advice during the editing process. There was so much to do and we did so much! 60 videos at the end of the week, far more than anyone expected, all made in joy and with no problem whatsoever getting in the way.

There is so much room to make for singular visions, whether it’s by writing or filming dance. Such an experience conveys the feeling that a lot is possible and doable even in a very short amount of time, when you’re part of a wonder-team and when your work is warmly welcomed by the viewers & the artists. At the end of the day, everyone just wanted to carry on with it all…

And in case you were wondering, we managed to wrap this all up while laughing our heads off, there’s proof here, if you need it.

Marie Pons took part in Springback Academy at Spring Forward festival in Barcelona in April 2015. Read more of Marie’s writing for Aerowaves.

Marie Pons