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beatrice massin

©Laurent Paillies_edited.jpg




GENERAL KEYWORDS: Baroque choreography, Community-making, Improvisation, Kinesiology (applied anatomy for dance), Music-space relation, Notation (Beauchamp-Feuillet)

CHOREOGRAPHIC WORKS: Que ma joie demeure, Mass b, Requiem-la mort joyeuse 

PEOPLE: Buirge, Susan; Carlson, Carolyn; Fonteyn, Margot; Lancelot, Francine; Nikolais, Alwin; Nureyev, Rudolf; Tikhonova, Nina

PLACES: CCN / Ballet de l’Opéra national du Rhin, Maison de la Danse de Lyon (Charles Picq Archives)

CITATION: ​Interview with Béatrice Massin, Marina Nordera, Pantin (09/07/2022). Project “Mnemedance”, Collection Mnemedance (#Mnemedance17) URL:<>, (accessed dd/mm/yyyy). 


general info


BEATRICE MASSIN is a French contemporary choreographer whose work stems from material based on the French Baroque dances of the 17th and 18th centuries. In her conversation with dance historian MARINA NORDERA, they unfold their discussion around four main axes in relation to Massin’s work: personal memories, the transmission of dance knowledge, the relation between history and memory and the body-as-archive. In the early days of her dance training, Massin was exposed to a dance education in ballet and contemporary dance respectful of the individual personality of the dancer and she remains passionate about a kind of training that prompts the dancer to "unlearn", thus to forget, an established technique in favour of individuality and active intersubjectivity in performance. Her work manifests a strong music-space relationship which acts as a key element in the transmission and actualisation of historical dances inside a collaborative context of mutual trust between choreographer and dancer(s) in the performative process.

©Patrick Berger .jpg

©Patrick Berger

interview questions




What is your first dance memory? 



What is your first memory of a dancer who inspired you? 



When did you begin to define yourself as a dancer? 



Which are the experiences of your dance education that stay in your memory? 



What have you decided to forget about your training as a dancer?



Can you specify the processes of unlearning in relation to memory?



Do you have any mnemotechnics for remembering what you have forgotten?



Is there any room for nostalgia for the period of your training?



Are there any autobiographical elements in your choreographic work? 



Can you go back to Que ma joie demeure and its connection to autobiography? 


What forms of transmission have you come across during your career?



How has your way of transmitting choreography changed over time?



How do you build collaboration and trust in the creative process? 



How do you build community within your dance company? 



Do you recognize the thread of your transmission in the work of the dancers who have worked with you and are now choreographers themselves? 



Are you a transmitter of what you learned from Francine Lancelot to the dancers you have worked with?


How does your work integrate dance history? 



Do you look at the sources of baroque dance today like you did 40 years ago?



Have you taken distance from the Beauchamp-Feuillet notation? 



What is the tool for retrieving memory in choreography?



Has your way of choreographing changed through time from composing steps to devising a structure?



You said that the performer's memory is linked to the emotion of space. Could you say more about this idea?


What kind of knowledge do you keep in your body? 



Is it only kinesiology that transformed you?



Is your body an archive of techniques?



Do you have any archive of your work?  



Do you have any audiovisual material of your work?   



Have you developed a notation system for documenting your work?



What is the notion of repertoire for you?



Do you like redoing your pieces several years later with new collaborators? 



How do you re-work on a role?

©Jean-Pierre Maurin.jpeg

©Jean-Pierre Maurin



BEATRICE MASSIN, choreographer and specialist in baroque dance, is first of all a contemporary dancer. In 1983, she joined the company Ris et Danceries, directed by Francine Lancelot, as a performer and choreographer. In 1993, she founded the company Fêtes Galantes and since then she created Que ma joie demeure, Un Voyage d'Hiver, Songes, Un air de Folies, Terpsichore, La Belle au bois dormant, Mass b, Fata Morgana, ABACA and, in 2022, Requiem-la mort joyeuseAs a choreographer, she has been commissioned for Le roi danse, a film by Gérard Corbiau (1999); Le Loup et l'Agneau (2004); D'ores et déjà for the Tercentenary of the Paris Opera School of Dance (2013); Le bal des kaleïdoscopes (CNDC d'Angers, 2016); Vivaldisco (CNSMDP, 2018); Le Joueur de Flûte (CCN/Ballet de l'Opéra national du Rhin, 2022). In 2003, she founded the Atelier baroque, which allowed the company to develop its important transmission role. In 2018, she created La Fabrique des Ecritures to invite other choreographers to experiment with the baroque material. The first guest is Mickaël Phelippeau with Lou and the second, Gaëlle Bourges, with Loulou (la petite pelisse) in 2022.

MARINA NORDERA is a dancer and a cultural historian (PhD at the European University Institute, Florence). She is Professor and member of CTEL (Centre transdisciplinaire d’épistémologie de la littérature et des arts vivants) at Université Côte d'Azur, where she is Head of the Arts Department and in charge of the PhD program in Dance Studies. She has published extensively on dance historiography, oral and written dance transmission, body and gender in early modern Europe. She is the co-editor (with S. Franco) of Dance Discourses: Keywords in Dance Research (2007); Ricordanze. Memoria in movimento e coreografie della storia (2010) and The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Memory (forthcoming). She also co-edited Les arts de la scène à l’épreuve de l’histoire (2011); Pratiques de la pensée en danse (2020) and three issues of the journal Recherches en Danse (2014, 2015, 2016). She is currently editing the volume A Cultural History of Dance in the Early Modern Period (1450–1650), part of the Bloomsbury series A Cultural History of Dance, and co-editing (with S. Andrieu) Traversées: carrières, genre, circulations.

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