James Carlès is a researcher and choreographer. For the past 30 years, he has worked on the heritage of the African diaspora in the Western world, from the 19th century to the present day.
The question he raises in his work is that of the territorial legitimation of the African diasporic populations, their own rooting, and their positioning with respect to how others look at them. This work nourishes a process for the reconstruction of the history of choreographic art of Africa and its diaspora.
Alongside his work as a researcher, James Carlès is a dance soloist and an outstanding performer. He has been the interpreter and artistic collaborator for many “musical ensembles” ranging from Baroque to contemporary music, without forgetting Jazz; as well as for choreographers such as Carolyn Carlson, Robyn Orlin, Mark Tompkins, Heddy Maalem and Ali Moini.
James Carlès’s work can be approached through a multi-dimensional prism.
First, a dimension of scientific methodology: he works with researchers who participate in and observe the artistic process. This process updates technical aspects relating to the body and thoughts, as well as conceptual tools that allow other ways of understanding the contemporary world.
His projects also reveal a participative dimension, due to their design as co-constructions, bringing together amateur and professional dancers and artists, researchers whether or not from the academic world, and people simply because they possess proven know-how or practices...
His work raises genuine questions as to the movements between "scenic" writings, a reflection on exile and uprooting as possible source of enrichment.
Associate artist at Astrada-Jazz In Marciac from 2012 to 2014, associate researcher at the LLA Créatis laboratory of the University of Toulouse-Jean-Jaurès, choreographer for a number of companies and structures both in France and overseas...
In 2015, James Carlès co-produced the webdoc ”Danses noires” on Numeridanse. He explores in it the origin of present-day urban dances. From Africa to the USA, via Europe, he stresses their inter- and cross-cultural nature (as Katherine Dunham and Pearl Primus already stated) and puts into perspective their social and political dimension. This interview comes complete with many additional videos, photos, drawings and resources.
The festival “Danses et continents noirs”, created by James Carlès 20 years ago and that has since rallied a large number of partners including the Consortium Universitaire euro-philosophie (Germany, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Austria, Brazil, Colombia, etc.) forms the dissemination and mediation means of this research work. As a cultural concept for African know-how and its diaspora, the festival enhances our reflection on the contemporary world.
James Carlès set up his company in 1989. In 1999, the Festival “Danse à Toulouse”, to become in 2007 the festival “Danses et Continents Noirs”, entered the scene, a showcase of this atypical approach to the valorisation of social dances.
The project grew over the years to become today the Centre Chorégraphique James Carlès. The Centre now groups both the school of dance and the professional training centre, as well as the company James Carlès Danse & Co, the international festival “Danses et Continents Noirs”, together with teaching residence courses with artists.
Today, James Carlès’s work in the Centre Chorégraphique is structured around two original and unique methods: R.E.S.E.T. and JC DANSE.
The first method is a means of rebalancing the body through a physical, energetic and metaphysicalpreparation. By using the body’s energies as an immunity shield, it helps us cope with our everyday physical and psychological disorders. The second method prepares the dancer and helps him/her build up their technique, interpretationand creativity, together with the development of their choreographic writing.
These methods, both of which have been used for more than 20 years in a personal capacity, before being taught for several years at the Centre Chorégraphique James Carlès, have become key bodily practices for both students and dancers.
The choreographer’s intention within this structure is asserted:
- Throw off the existing aesthetic categorisations by asserting a “contemporary” identity with multiple roots; that is to say, a dynamic and outgoing identity, generously nourished by different choreographic and artistic traditions.
- Be attentive to the links existing between “bodily movements”, “scenic movements” and the social cultures that underlie them.
- Construct and support artists and teachers masters of their words (or those of others)
- Offer a better collaboration network with French and international cultural structures and artists
With the aim of creating conditions to offer the best possible professional opportunities to dance students of all generations.