On January 7, 2015, the evening of the Charlie Hebdo attack, I was deeply shaken. That evening, I established the project Une minute de danse par jour (One Minute of Dance a Day), to act as a sensitive presence in the world. I wanted to give myself a daily activity, small but genuine and repeated, working towards a poetics of action, of personal commitment, alone or in relation to others. The attacks of the following days reinforced that determination.
In this world that is our own, since January 14, 2015, I dance every day, armed only with sensitivity, in order not to give in to anesthesia, fear, or paralysis, to create living connections with other beings and with environments. How can I act locally, infinitesimally, to my own scale, to create connections and break down walls?
This project also has a direct relationship with my doctoral research subjects:
Local micro-political relationships to the environment, people, and material
Somatic work on the consciousness of the body in movement
Expanded and altered states of perception
Connections to oscillatory-vibratory life
Proposed alternatives to the dominant regime of representation
Performative commitment in the moment
Oscillations between personal and public space
Ever since January 14, 2015, I dance for a minute or a little more, every day, simply, without editing or effects, in the place and state of mind I find myself that day, with no special technique, staging, clothing, or makeup, nothing but what is there. And I post the dance online the same day.
I dance inside or outside, in public or private places, alone or with others, strangers or people I know, sometimes friends.
I dance as protesters demonstrate, to effect a living poetry, to act through sensitivity against the violence of certain aspects of the world.
This is the solution I found: an action to my own measure, a concrete, repeated action that may redraw lines, disrupt the design, shake up the norms.
I was also inspired in this project by a phrase of Nietzsche’s, drawn from Thus Spake Zarathustra: “And lost be the day to us in which a measure hath not been danced.”
To me, that means that we must live, we must live in motion, remain in motion.
I was also influenced, as I developed this project, by a Chinese proverb: “Drop by drop, water pierces stone.”
水滴石穿 : water – drop – stone – pierce
In other words, a small, repeated action can eventually have a great effect.
My drop of water is these dances—daily, interstitial, unarmed and unshielded; the stone is a certain hardening of the world (insularity, hierarchy, consumerism, dogmatism), a disconnection from nature (environment, animals, plants), and the lack of an active poetic dimension in daily life.
For me, Une minute de danse par jour is a commitment: esthetic (conscious), poetic, ethical, and microlithic. Within my own personal scope, it is radical.
I continue to dance every day, to bring forth a place of greater sensitivity in the world, to create circulation across divisions, between categories and bodies.
I believe that is possible; I act on that belief.
Every day, I begin from the beginning, as though each dance were the first; everything starts fresh, body and dance; everything is to be danced, re-danced, for a minute and a little longer.
Dance the life that passes and vibrates in the interstices of the common round, that vibrates in the intervals between the shiny images that claim to represent and replace our world.
Seven frequently-asked questions
1. Do you really dance every day?
2. Have you ever missed a day?
– No, I can’t imagine doing that.
3. How long will you keep doing this?
– I don’t know. As long as it feels necessary, as long as I can keep it up.
I once said: maybe October 2017. That would make 1001 days. We’ll see …
4. Don’t you worry about repeating yourself or running out of ideas?
– The formal qualities of the dance aren’t important to me, nor fresh ideas; what is important is the relationship created with a person or a place. And that is never the same. It’s commitment in action.
5. Does this require courage on your part?
– Yes. All my courage.
6. Are there days you just don’t want to dance?
– That’s not an issue. The project is to dance every day, regardless of mood or condition. There are days I’m available only with difficulty, overbooked, or exhausted, but it’s not about me. That’s not the point. I’m not trying to dazzle, I dance in and for the moment, whether banal or unique, whether I’m alone or in front of people, in good shape or not, I do it. Sometimes, the moment makes me a gift.
7. Do you know where you’ll dance today?
– No, neither where nor when.
But for some time now I sometimes make appointments to dance.
Every day, to begin from the beginning (July 23, 2015)
To dance every day, for a little over a minute.
To dance the everyday, the environment, the physical elements, the circumstances, sometimes the event.
To dance regardless of mood or condition, to dance in all weathers of the body.
To be satisfied with little.
To have, certain days, the surprise of the present’s presents, the simple and indescribable joy of an unexpected arrangement.
To dance every day, even those when one doesn’t want an image, when one would like to be invisible, to dance, to go for it.
To encounter the world around one.
To work, for better or for worse, towards a poetry of interstices.
To dance alone or with others. To connect, to be alive in the physical world. To be mobile.
To resist the temptation to do something, to seek out the spectacular.
To welcome it if it wants to appear, but otherwise:
Undo, decenter, sense, feel, live.
Redraw lines, disrupt the design, shake up the norms.
Dance the moment, the eternity of a second, time passing or flying.
Every day, to begin from the beginning, as though each dance were the first;
everything starts fresh, body and dance;
everything is to be danced, re-danced, for a minute and a little more.
The 200th dance will be like the first, an empty page, space, the unknown.
Dance the life that passes and vibrates in the intervals between the shiny images that claim to represent and replace our world.
art (lowercase “a”), beauty (lowercase “b”), life … (February 8, 2016)
With my minute of dance, I dance, every day, in the interstices of daily life. I slip between things, with them, I accompany them an instant on their way, I summon the invisible, the unformed, the sensed. I don’t aim at polemic or confrontation, in a binary mode; I exist in multiplicity, interweaving, heterogeneity. Here, no uppercase “A” Art, not Representation, but an art (lowercase “a”) mingled with life, which becomes indissociable from it. An ephemeral attempt, the beating of a butterfly’s wings, an experiment. The Chinese proverb says: “Drop by drop, water pierces stone.” Is this possible? I don’t know.
Some days, fortunately rarer than others, the stone is especially hard, made up of certainties, received ideas, contempt, sexism, segregation, fear, hierarchies of all kinds. But, other days, carapaces, callouses, defenses soften, dissolve, or shatter, an unknown space opens up, a new experience, without a predetermined qualification, is possible. Poetry emerges, breaks the shell of the known so the unformulated may bloom, the unimagined make itself welcome. And that is magnificent, that is beauty; not with an uppercase “B.” Here is nothing transcendent or sublime, but life itself, intense, infinitesimal, sometimes imperceptible or droll. The heart beats, the cheeks flush. We are alive together, interweaving our differences, on the Earth, today.
500 dances with the world (May 27, 2016)
Since the terrorist attacks of January 2015, 500 days ago, I have committed myself to a daily act of poetic resistance: Une minute de danse par jour.
Most of the dances have taken place in Paris, but some elsewhere. Wherever I am, I dance with the city, its people, its private or public spaces, nature. This is my way of militating for poetry in action, a poetry of daily life and interstices, a connection to life, a living-together ungoverned by codes and categories. Today, after 500 days and as many minutes of dance, I don’t plan to stop, for the moment:
We are going through a peculiar period, both difficult and full of promise, in France and in the wider world as well. Although certain discriminatory or dogmatic attitudes are growing stronger, it seems to me that one can feel a growth of new alliances, solidarities, new openness and a collective awakening of consciousness. I want to accompany this period of upheaval: one dance every day, each belonging to a specific day, like a crystal drawn from the flowing stream of time. I feel I must “rip” every dance out of the present time. And this action requires me to activate the highest intensity of which I feel capable at a given moment—thus, a variable intensity. But something burns in each instant, like a match bursting into flame.
Every dance, like a news item, is posted online the same day, then archived chronologically on this website.
Sometimes I find myself dreaming or imagining what this project might have been in other periods of historical transition (the Industrial Revolution, the 1930s, the aftermath of World War Two) and I tell myself that it is important to go on, now, to bear witness in my own way to the liminal period through which we are now living. I gave myself a date beyond which I would not continue this project: mid-October 2017. That would be a thousand and one days. I don’t know if I’ll make it; I’m halfway there, and it seems daunting. Perhaps I will stop soon, in the middle of things. Then it will be: a thousand and one days, perhaps …
Thank you for your messages and comments, which have accompanied me, fondly, along this journey.
What happens really, what we live, the rest, all the rest, where is it? What happens every day and recurs every day, banal, everyday, obvious, common, ordinary, infra-ordinary, background noise, habitual, how to be aware of it, interrogate it, describe it? […] But where is our life? Where is our body? Where is our space? […] How to speak of these “common things,” how to track them, rather, how to unearth them, how to release them from the mire in which they are stuck, how to give them meaning, language: let them speak at last of what is, of what we are. (L’infra-ordinaire, Georges Perec)