Erwan Le Louër – co-founder of le gramme.
What feeds your style? What inspires you?
People inspire me most. It might be friends or total strangers I come across in the street or observe on the stage or screen. Each person’s story, their posture, the way they behave, the words they use, their vision of the world, make me want to experiment, explore other aspects of my personality on stage.
Who are the people you really admire?
Pina Bausch is a legend to me and many others. Few performances affect me as much as the ones I have seen by her. And Nureyev, one of the guiding lights of our ballets. He still influences our style. Our teachers were his students, and his strength, character and originality come to us through them, as a legacy. Florence Clerc, for example, was one of his leading dancers, with whom he often danced. When I work with her, everything seems easier because it is more intelligent and deeper; through her teaching, I learn from Nureyev.
I’d also say Marie-Agnès Gillot, a great artist, who got as much out of dance herself as she put herself into dance. Lastly my friends and fellow dancers who I work with every day. They are also my models. Hugo Marchand is a little like my twin: we have parallel careers, but we’re also very different. Hannah O’Neill and Léonore Baulac are outstanding dancers, they inspire me. I dance with them – with an emphasis on “with”. We understand each other, so we respond in a much richer way. As we dance together, it is like having a conversation in motion.
What is the best compliment you can receive as a dancer?
It’s really a visual compliment, almost – something beyond words, more of a state. You occasionally glimpse it when someone sees their first dance performance, or the one they needed to see. It opens something inside them – a door between them and us. It’s like when someone gives you a look and you can tell they have finally fallen in love, and you feel the same way. Compliments on the technical perfection of a movement or sequence touch me much less than those moments.
Is there a city that inspires you or reflects your personality?
Paris, my adopted city. Though we’re not really alike, I feel at home here. Because it’s a wonderful bazaar, there’s so much going on culturally you can see something different every day. I love Tokyo too. I feel passionate about it - a mixture of fascination and anxiety, because its culture, my polar opposite, is almost always impossible to penetrate, even though I dance there a lot. And between the two, there’s a hamlet on a hill in Givry, in my native Burgundy…
I would like to go on living like children do. Even if people say I’m immature. Only people who stop living in the moment, in a state of pure joy, use that word. Being spontaneous, trusting to chance, going from one surprise to the next, makes me happy. I don’t like to plan or organise things, though I have to. I like the idea of having a free afternoon, and just “seeing what happens”. You should never stop yourself from being a little mad, as long as it takes into account the madness of others. Some dream of being adults, others want something of childhood to remain - I’m one of the latter. I like ingenuousness – it’s a way of seeing beyond the conventional world of money, so-called virility, and the image. I take immaturity as a compliment. I like it, it makes me feel alive.
How would you describe your creative style?
I like to challenge myself. I don’t want to be conventional. I want my performances to have as much integrity and authenticity as possible. When I perform in the role of Prince Albrecht (Giselle), for example, I live the story and the ballet as if I, Germain, was living them in 2020, on the street. Obviously, I perform roles where I’m in love with women, and I experience them as I would with a man.
What is your favourite dance step or sequence?
I really like pirouettes, the renversé, and the petite batterie, but ultimately, I try to make sure my dancing flows. Dance should be seen and experienced like a poem, otherwise there is a danger it becomes more like circus.
What is your favourite ballet?
I’ve always dreamed of dancing Boléro. For lots of reasons. Because of the movie “Les uns et les autres” by Claude Lelouch, which I saw as a kid. I also admired Jorge Donn, and then Nicolas Le Riche and Sylvie Guillem. Because it’s a trance, the meeting of a little death and an ode to life. It’s a mixed, universal role. The choreography explodes the genre but is for the public. Béjart’s work never gets old. Nor does my dream! I’ve wanted to dance it since I was a child…
What is the biggest challenge you have met?
Another advantage of my desire to remain childlike is how kids dive head-first into things, sure of themselves, and only then realise they’ve overcome a challenge. For me, it was Nureyev’s classic production of Romeo and Juliet. It’s an incredibly difficult ballet with almost more steps than musical notes. The exhaustion becomes transcendental; it serves to express Romeo’s love for Juliet, his anger, and his death. Exhaustion can put you on edge, make you experience this relentless struggle of two people who, in just three days, fall in love and then die. I like this exhausting and ultimately realistic vision of love – it’s a far cry from romance and sentimentality.
Do you have a professional routine?
I make a habit of not making a habit of things. I don’t get into routines - the little things that fetter rather than free; they can be addictive. I try to do things a little differently every evening, to refresh myself, explore new avenues, never feel complacent.
Dance that’s pretentious, or simply entertaining and beautiful but affects no one. When the choreographer thinks the movement they produce speaks for itself. The result is dance in form only, with a total lack of sentiment – the opposite of a Cunningham, for example. His sentiment is so intelligent and intelligible in its abstraction. From this abstraction emerges an emotion, which is always the result of chance;
If you weren’t a dancer, what would you be?
Minister of Culture.
Where’s your favourite spot, the place where you can usually be found?
At the opera house, almost every day, whether I’m working there or not, it’s my second home. Or on the other side of the stage, in the audience.
Your most cherished object? How much does it weigh?
My glasses are the first things that come to mind. I like them – they’re an extension of myself. But I really prefer the drawing of a star-shaped bunch of carrots by Fabrice Hyber that my boyfriend gave me for my birthday.
What matters in life?
The people I love and the relationship I have with them: my boyfriend, my family and friends. They define who I am. They are the ground on which I rest. Because of them, I am never alone, even when we are not together.
Which LE GRAMME object(s) do you own? How do you wear or use it/them?
Officially I have three bracelets: a bangle and two 15gr ribbons in 925 silver. I often wear them with the 21gr ribbon in polished silver that I gave to my sweetheart – that’s how I discovered the brand, in fact. I stack them or wear them with the back part facing the front.
If LE GRAMME was a ballet, which one would it be?
Without a shadow of a doubt, Rain, by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker. It has no backstage or backdrop. The stage walls serve as the set. The only prop is a circular arch of ropes suspended from the ceiling against which the dancers brush. The figures are geometric. The ballet is mineral, mathematical, spontaneous and ungendered.