Héla Fattoumi

1965

Director of a choreography centre, Belfort

"What motivates me is that search for the unexpected, for intensity and new encounters."

My career path

I’m a dancer, choreographer and the director of VIADANSE, the national centre for choreography (CCN) in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, founded by Fattoumi-Lamoureux & Co. We travel and give performances both nationally and internationally. The centre supports creation and research and helps resident companies put on performances. We have also partnered with the French Ministry of Education and propose productions with people living in the Belfort region and in neighbouring Switzerland.

What motivates me is that search for the unexpected, for intensity and new encounters. That moment in the darkness of a theatre when the audience awaits with bated breath the show they’ve come to see. That moment they hope to be captivated and taken to another world. At the heart of it all is that feeling you get when you’re on the edge of the real world and the story is unfolding before you, whether it’s our story or someone else’s.

My career path. It’s been more of a discovery – that I was born in a world where a woman’s body is so precious that we’re taught to protect it, keep it locked up and held back in an oppressive environment. So I’d like to thank my mother, and my university professors who helped me realize that dancing is a powerful and unique creative art. Thank you for letting me dare to do my first solo. Thank you to all the choreographers who didn’t choose me when I went to their auditions. Thanks to them, I had to follow my own path and become more confident in myself. But I wasn’t alone for long, because Eric Lamoureux, who had just left the world of football, joined me on my path. He blew me away with his energy, boldness and sense of freedom.

Gérard Violette, who was the director of the City of Paris theatre until 2008, supported us enormously by putting on our shows at his theatre. Thank you to the artists who came together to create our shows – choreography is an art form born from a collective effort.

A downside or obstacle ? Dance is an ephemeral art ; you have to work tirelessly for it to gain recognition, starting from scratch every time. You have to convince people and explain. Preserving dance as an original art form rather than a cultural industry is a full-time commitment. At times you get discouraged because proper recognition is never guaranteed. One of the challenges is getting more visibility for your choreography even though choreographed dances are commonplace. In the beginning, so many girls in dance school dream of going professional. And yet, women in management roles are a minority. It makes no sense ! Of the 19 CCNs in France, only four are directed by female choreographers.

I’m proud of my artistic collaboration with Eric Lamoureux for the past 30 years. He has been a faithful companion on my journey through life and in the creation of art. It’s a fascinating, never-ending adventure that will always throw new opportunities our way. We both thrive on the risk and the freedom we have to make creations based on our aspirations and through trial and error. We continue down this path, rejuvenated by our work – the cornerstone of any adventure worth fighting for. I’m proud to have helped break stereotypes associated with dance, but it’s an endless fight.

The Proust Questionnaire

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Au-delà de votre profession

La littérature, le cinéma, les arts visuels et la création contemporaine en général.

Des personnes qui vous inspirent

L’anthropologue Françoise Héritier, la sociologue Fatima Mernisi, la militante féministe Wassila Tamzali et tant d’autres encore. Des poètes comme Fernando Pessoa, Henri Michaux, des philosophes comme Edouard Glissant, Edgar Morin.

Un livre & un film

Les œuvres de Marguerite Duras et de Nathalie Sarraute et Persona (Ingmar Bergman) et Stalker (Andrei Tarkovski).

Un modèle

Dans la danse, la littérature… celles et ceux qui résistent à la marchandisation, à la simplification. La chorégraphe Maguy Marin et l’écrivaine Marie N’Daye.

Un objet

Je ne sors jamais sans une bouteille d’eau et de quoi écrire.

Une couleur

Les couleurs profondes et lumineuses

Un rêve

Régler tous les problèmes en dansant.