photo: Wolfgang Schäfer (left), Daniel Theunynck (right)

Collaboration Moeno Wakamatsu and Lê Quan Ninh

As part of Summer Normandy Dance Workshop.   Official Site:   Lê Quan Ninh
Open to dancers and musicians. 
Musician has choice to join from the day of arrival of Lé Quan Ninh (often on Day 2 or 3 ) or to join from Day 1 with dancers with all physical and dance training to understand the work of the dancer.  If joining as musician, in the online registration (inscription), please note “as musician” next the date of your participation. If joining from later date, workshop price will be adjusted.  Workshop participation cost is same for musicians as for dancers.

Introducing Lê Quan Ninh

(written 2019 by Moeno Wakamatsu)

It is my very first time that I invite another artist to join me to collaborate for a seminar. I am very honored that it is Lê Quan Ninh. There have been several landmarks of great impression or realization that I can remember in my dancing life, and one of such experiences was when I played for the first time with Le Quan Ninh in 2007. It was an experience of incredible clarity of being, and also an intense battle of presences — as if the self would be swallowed if not strong, at the same time there was a pleasure of being swallowed and to be left self-less. The fragility and the absolute, transparency and density — all at once.

I would like to approach this collaboration as a Laboratory with Ninh and the dancers (and musicians) who will join us.   In “Seminars” or “Workshops”, often people come expecting to be taught. On the contrary, what I would like to “teach” is rather how we can learn from listening to our own selves and the world, and to become the listening.  I would like to offer some guidance to facilitate this listening.   Although for the sake of practicality I use the words seminars and workshops, I prefer “a “Laboratory” where we pursue honest experiences without sense of right or wrong, but not to be tolerant on ourselves for not facing truth, to be strict without judgements or criticisms, to make “mistakes” which are not mistakes, to face great excitement as well as great frustration — and through all of it to calmly breathe.

I believe that much of what I try to share with dancers in my workshop will become clear in the presence of Ninh and his work, experientially, physically, sensorially.  I am often working with things that are not so easily visible or able to be distinguished by the senses except through sensitivity and silence of the consicousness.  However, the art of Ninh will suddenly intensify what is there, what is normally not visible nor audible. As vibrations of his sound, one will experience reality physically and organically.

When I stand on stage with Ninh, his presence, his silence, his sound are one: his playing and the sense of space and time cannot be separated — he simply magnifies and intensifies the felt world, making vibrant. Suddenly, a space that before was nothing will become animated, filled with magic. Ninh’s sound enters through skin, through flesh, not violently but in a way that one cannot resist against. One can sense the flesh vibrating differently from bone, the bone differently from organs, the hair, the fluid, the air that make us — the vibration is like a consciousness that enters and fills the body — the body can no longer withstand this heightened awareness, and explodes or implodes into movement. In movement, the sound continues to penetrate. As the sound makes substance of the space around and makes substance of our body, we become the substance of the sound and the outside world.

Ninh’s work has transformed how I experience “sound”. When I speak about “Ninh’s sound”, I speak not only about the sound that comes from his instruments, but the sound when he plays no physical sound…. If there can be such thing as a “quality of silence”, his silence can have infinite qualities. It would make appear not only the sound of the space or the sound of the breathing of the audience, but even the inaudible sound of the consciousness in the space, or the sound inside my body, sound of my thinking, sound of the audience thinking, sound of memories and feelings. Yet on the other hand, I have experienced with Ninh’s work, as the awareness begins to almost lose the sense of time, I would slip into what seems (feels) like a complete silence — even if the space is filled with actual sounds — as if there is nothing, as if no sound exists, and I do not exist. It makes me wonder “what is subjectively a sound to me?”

Playing with Ninh I compared once to wearing red shoes — that the body begins to dance without my will. It is as if the sound and the dance take the will of the world. The body moves without one’s permission, the control wants to lose itself. Or the body will be compelled not to move at all, yet in this non-movement the dance overflows into space.
Balancing on the tightrope of uncertainty and great sense of realness — I cannot help that I tremble from excitement and even notice a smile pass on my face as I battle to keep my concentration.

I would want any dancer to experience the richness and the pleasure (and the risk) of playing with Ninh. 

[© 2024 Moeno Wakamatsu. All Rights Reserved.  Unauthorized use prohibited.]

Lê Quan Ninh Biography

Born in 1961 in Paris.

Classically trained, percussionist Lê Quan Ninh * has led a musical activity shared between interpretation of contemporary music and free improvisation since the early 1980s.

He was one of the founding members of theHelios Quartet, percussion ensemble from 1986 to 2012 (creations by Jean-Pierre Drouet, George E. Lewis, Kaija Saariaho, Jean-Christophe Feldhandler, Jean-Louis Charpille, Daniel Koskowitz, Vinko Globokar, Giorgio Battistelli, Chrichan Larson, Luc Therminarias, Georges Aperghis, etc.)

With the cellistMartine Altenburger, he founded in 2006 theset]h[iatus, a contemporary music ensemble whose members are both performers and improvisers (creations by Vinko Globokar, Peter Jakober, Steffen Krebber, Jennifer Walshe, Anthony Pateras, Jürg Frey, etc.)

He is one of the voluntary artistic advisors of theRyoanji Associationand the festivalThe Sound of Musicwho develop – mainly in New Aquitaine but also well beyond – a work of creation, awareness and transmission dedicated to contemporary musical creation.

As an improviser, he devoted himself to several regular training sessions with artists like Daunik Lazro, Michel Doneda, Beñat Achiary, Dominique Regef, Paul Rogers, Peter Kowald, etc. and more occasionally met a very large number of others. He currently plays regularly in the trioKrči+Nwith Emilie Škrijelj and Loris Binot.

He maintains a special relationship with dance (Franck Beaubois, Marie Cambois, Clara Cornil, Olivia Grandville, Masaki Iwana, Patricia Kuypers, Fine Kwiatkowski, Yukiko Nakamura, Michel Raji, Kirstie Simson, Moeno Wakamatsu, Toru Iwashita, Emmanuelle Pépin, Anna Pietsch …).

He was one of the founding members of the associationThe Filibusterin Toulouse from 1988 to 2002, a collective of improvisers from all disciplines (music, dance, experimental cinema and video, performance, etc.) and participated in the collective for several yearsHearing/Speaking.

He published in 2010 with Mômeludies editionsImprovise freely – ABC of an experience of which a revised and expanded edition was published in 2014 by the same publisher. This work has been translated into English and available from the editionsPublishing Studio. A 2018 addendum is available to read in theResource Review.


Lê Quan Ninh © 2023

Performance Moeno Wakamatsu & Lê Quan Ninh 2010

2016 Bordeaux