Moving Socially with Mette Ingvartsen

For twenty years, choreographer Mette Ingvartsen has been creating socially and politically engaged performances.

2023 07 07 FDM Skatepark Mette Ingvartsen La Criee c Festival De Marseille Pierre Gondard 37

The key question she raises is whether we can create a world that revolves around joy and pleasure rather than repression of desires.

Mette Ingvartsen (b. 1980) extends her dancing to other artistic disciplines. Her creations form not only a permeable practice full of music, voice, technology and nature, but also encompass ethical issues, and everything you can imagine beyond just the physical movement. Her choreography is an awake and playful observation of the world and as a spectator you leave the space feeling good. Perhaps this is because her work embodies a desire for a more perfect reality? “Inventing possible realities”, is what she calls this herself.

Skating and dancing
It’s Tuesday, 9th of May 2023, in Paris. About an hour before the show starts in La Villette, a gang of Parisian skaters is taking in the stage. They have been permitted – even requested by the choreographer – to do this, because she wants them to experience what that smooth, light wooden floor with its perfectly calculated slopes feels like. It’s also a way of luring this young audience into the all too highbrow performing arts space.

2023 07 07 FDM Skatepark Mette Ingvartsen La Criee c Festival De Marseille Pierre Gondard 36

When the music starts, the young skaters know they have to take their seats in the stands for Mette Ingvartsen's new show Skatepark. Twelve other skaters and dancers between the ages of 11 and 35 have come to occupy their park on stage for an hour and a half. Some of them have only been skating for about a year, others have been moving on wheels for more than half their lives.

In Skatepark (2023), Ingvartsen does more than just investigate the flow and energy of these skaters. Beyond their acrobatic loops, she wants to show their environment. Her intention is to create an exchange between skate clubs and a traditional dance audience. Skateboarding is a very individual activity - you do it on your own. However, skating is very communal at the same time because you watch each other, learn from each other, share space and spend time hanging out together. It's about control and freedom.

2023 07 07 FDM Skatepark Mette Ingvartsen La Criee c Festival De Marseille Pierre Gondard 29

When Mette Ingvartsen takes something on, she wants to understand everything about it, and so she started observing the phenomenon in its social context. In Brussels, she went to the Ursuline skate park near the Brigittines Chapel. At first, she took her children, but later she visited the skate park alone. She observed for a very long time. Until she understood their behaviours, their agreements and their frictions.

In the show Skatepark, you immediately understand that agreements to avoid crashing into each other are of utmost importance. This is especially literal - you can see the skaters beaming as they slide past each other with extreme precision within a few millimetres. Ingvartsen became particularly intrigued by skateboarding as a counterculture, with its anarchic approach to public space and property. She also noted how this unusually heterogeneous community takes shape in an almost organic way – something she sees as a nice metaphor for Brussels, and for our whole reality.

Read the full interview here.

Skatepark, 26. - 28. oktober 2023