Virve Sutinen: How would you describe your relationship to hip hop?
Anne Nuyen: I didn’t make a conscious decision to become a choreographer. I simply felt the need to change the image associated with hip-hop dance and promote the virtuosity of its performance after spending a long time as a breakdancer taking part in battles and performing for other choreographers. I challenge the dance form and the intended purpose of on-stage performances. I take an interest in the geometric transposition of hip-hop moves, which are mostly circular and have to be performed within the stage, a square space. I examine the relationship between the performer and the audience, the relationship to the partner and the sense of togetherness on stage. For me the essence of hip hop lies in a desire to reconnect with our animal instincts, a need for physical exuberance, a desire to transcend the forms and energies that surround us. By combining freedom of movement and technique, hip-hop dance speaks to everyone. By choreographing its moves, I am seeking to amplify its implicit meaning.
VS: Where did you find support as a young artist with an urban-dance backround?
AN: The first thing I produced was in written form, my “Manual of the City Warrior”, a collection of poems in which I express the feeling of freedom one can experience when dancing, and relate urban dance to architecture. The choreographer Faustin Linyekula, for whom I danced at the time, urged me to choreograph a solo around these poems: “Square Root” thus came into being in 2005. It was an instant hit within the profession, and I performed the solo around the world for many years, while continuing to nurture my passion for breakdancing in battles and cyphers. At the same time I was developing my own dance company and building my career as a performer for contemporary and hip-hop dance companies, such as the famous “Black Blanc Beur”. I am very thankful in that many people who had seen my solo helped me on with my following productions. I also found real support on an institutional level. For instance, since 2012 I have been giving an artistic workshop on hip-hop dance at Sciences Po Paris.
VS: What is your role as an artist in society?
AN: The artist is meant to seek into the unknown, to try and derive meaning from it. I concentrate on gesture as a symbol, the body as the object of ownership, movement as a primary need, the stage as a priority platform for sharing. I want to question the limits of our freedom, our image of freedom, our desire for freedom. Though choreography I want to build symbolic spaces where powerful, liberating, frenzied dance becomes a magical ritual designed to make us take a renewed interest in the present, in the potential of our own lives. When I produce a show, I try to engage the dancers and those who observe in a transformative experience. To choreograph is to show representatives of humanity projected in an image of a codified world. The bonds between these individuals, the bonds between them and their world, and the bonds between them and the ‘otherwhere’ represented by the audience, represent the path that each individual must follow, either as a performer or as an onlooker.