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Questions of Practice: Choreographer Boris Charmatz on “Re-Enchanting” Public Space Through Dance

Choreographer and dancer Boris Charmatz spoke with curator and Center colleague Simon Dove about his large-scale, outdoor works, and how dance can activate public space. “Dance is a fantastic medium…to make people meet, to exchange things because dance is very instant,” Charmatz says. “Dance is the right medium to re-enchant the public sphere.”

With Center support, Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design brought Charmatz to Philadelphia for a residency and public presentation of his performance piece for 24 dancers, Levée des conflits (Suspension of conflicts), in September 2016. As part of this residency, Charmatz led a workshop and performance of Levée des conflits on the terrace of The Philadelphia Museum of Art during its “Museum as Score” symposium. Charmatz will return to Philadelphia in 2018 to co-curate Drexel University Westphal College’s Philadelphia Museum of Dance at The Barnes Foundation.

Boris Charmatz is a choreographer, dancer, and director of Musée de la danse (Museum of Dance). With Musée de la danse, Charmatz initiated projects including préfiguration, expo zéro, rebutoh, brouillon (rough draft), 20 Dancers for the XX Century, Fous de danse (Mad about dance), and Petit Musée de la danse. Charmatz served as associate artist of the 2011 Festival d'Avignon, and he has collaborated on projects with museums around the world, including MoMA and Tate Modern.

Simon Dove is an independent curator and educator, and a co-curator of Crossing the Line. Dove previously served as curator and artistic director of Springdance, the international festival of new developments in dance and performance in the Netherlands, from 2000–07. Prior to that, he ran the Yorkshire Dance Centre in Leeds, one of the first National Dance Agencies in the UK, and was the founder and artistic director of Vivarta, the first contemporary South Asian performance festival in the UK.