Nature’s Language in Movement, BODY, and Life

Geometry of Dance with Illan Riviére

BY NIKHITA WINKLER

Note: This essay was first published in Stance on Dance’s spring/summer 2022 print issue. To learn more, visit stanceondance.com/print-publication.

Geometry is embedded in the fabric of life and art. Nature evolves from sacred geometry, supporting growth and maintaining balance in the strongest, most malleable formations. I use the word ‘sacred’ because of the inherent role geometry plays in the design of life; our DNA, energy force, and direction of evolution. It is with this knowledge that dancers can reflect on our own journeys; our phases, strengths, and weaknesses, in light of the geometrical compositions which we are drawn to and through which we create art. Illan Riviére has lived all his life in nature, spending countless hours escaping into, listening, observing, and absorbing nature’s wisdom. He says, “Nature teaches us the major things of the body. I heal through nature. It has been a natural way for me to escape every day without questioning myself or others.”

Dance is Illan’s first language, a way for him to speak out loud and “an excuse to express myself,” as he states it. Born in France, Illan started teaching dance when he was 11 years old. In addition to dance, he creates his own music, jewelry, and paintings. He describes himself as a dreamer, dancer, creator, and artist who expresses through different mediums. In the effort to recognize and communicate his fluid, melting, and continually evolving dance language, Illan created a label for his work so that others can relate. He calls it Neo Fusion: a language that is “open and embraces more than one thing. A melting fusion of mixed influences from situations, emotions, textures, color,” essentially all the experiences that move through Illan’s life and dreams. Neo Fusion is a language Illan is devotedly shaping through his curiosity to dive deeper into ONE movement philosophy that invites others to find their own path in a constantly changing world.

Illan looking down with a greenish hue to the photo

Photo by Neï’Mad Photography

As Illan and I reflect on the interconnectedness of life and geometry, Illan recalls a time when he “was not very calm, and needed sharp, straight, clean, precise, impressive lines” to keep himself aligned and confident in the lifestyle of a young, travelling artist. As he outgrew this phase of his professional life, he “detached from the lines and everything started to melt. Now, I dance through waves versus arrows. Instead of forcefully pointing my arrows in the direction I want to go, which consumes a lot of energy,” Illan trusts that his destiny will naturally unfold, and so the geometry of his dance changes. Geometry in the body and space is essential in the science of dance to understand concepts of weight, time, energy, effort, and direction. I would add that dancers, like geometry, are perfectionists; they try to achieve perfect lines, circles, and curves. Illan’s love for symmetry is expressed through his body art, articulated by tattooed lines and significant shapes from head to toe. His home, which I had the opportunity to visit, is decorated with self-made paintings of circles, and his jewelry is treasure made from another man’s trash. Illan’s love for geometry is a love for illusion and a love for nature. Despite his obsession with lines, Illan understands that “a perfect line is not natural. Nature grows in curves and spirals.”

Other geometrical elements in dance such as space, presence, and the relationship between performer and audience, student and teacher, help us to understand who we are in the moment. Illan’s connection with space is not separate from his body, but an extension thereof. His sensitivity to space is expressed when he confesses, “I tend to dance with my aura.” From a very young age, Illan would meditatively observe elements in his space and in nature until he had embodied their qualities. This deep connection with his surroundings drives his curiosity to explore. As a dance teacher, Illan believes that before anyone can receive new experiences, express themselves, and cross boundaries, they need a safe space in which they feel confident and connected. “As soon as a person feels safe to express, anything can happen.”

Illan mid jump in the air with clothing flying around him.

Photo by Neï’Mad Photography

Illan continues to challenge his own limitations by being open, curious, and allowing influences to come to him. He also challenges himself by making difficult situations easier through playfulness. “Through playfulness I grow faster.” Illan’s story teaches us that “there is space everywhere, in your mind, your body, your soul.” He uses the image of pushing the membrane and inviting what is outside in. It is exactly how everything in nature grows and expands. As such, Illan encourages us to leave space in every aspect of our lives for mistakes, for misunderstanding, and for change. I remembered the empty bird cages hanging from his roof; their doors were never closed because Illan doesn’t believe in strong conviction or strong influence without space. “As soon as you create space, you can defend what you stand for without anger, and with much more calmness. When you have space, you can understand the opposite thought that is also true for someone else.” Illan’s advice for people who want to break through their comfort zones is simply to “stay in your comfort zone but make it bigger, make it yours. Take a dose of risk, a dose of self-respect, a dose of standing in belief but also trying something new.”

Our conversation concluded with these words: “Think less and trust in the intelligence of the body. Meditate more. You contain a lot. Be more detached from the image of a mover and what you can do with the body and be more present. Less expectation and embrace everything that you already have.” As dancers, we sometimes get lost in the performance of dance when maybe we should be getting lost in the meaning of dance as a language of nature. A language we are communicating with, and that is communicating through us.

Illan floating in a dark pool with fabric floating with him.

Photo by Neï’Mad Photography

~~

To learn more, visit www.illanriviere.com.

Illan Riviére is an artist, dancer, dance teacher, and movement philosopher. He was born in France in 1993 and currently lives in Spain where he co-owns a creative space called Casa MOGWAÏZ, located in Reus. Illan is defining his years of dance experience and research through his ONE Movement Method that consists of three connected phases: Feel & Follow, Manipulate & Transform, Create & Become. Illan’s work is accessible on his website, illanriviere.com, where he offers online classes, retreats, and keeps an archive of his jewelry and music, which is for sale.

Nikhita Winkler is an African contemporary dancer, choreographer and dance teacher from Namibia who currently resides in Spain. She founded the Nikhita Winkler Dance Theatre in Namibia, which closed in 2021 due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, Nikhita’s work focuses on writing, communication, and public speaking; she is a member of a virtual, advance public speaking club at Toastmasters International and a speaking coach. As a recognized woman of influence in Namibia, and recipient of a 2019 Confident Woman Award in the Arts, Nikhita’s work is dedicated to the upliftment of youth, women, and children. 

Note: This essay was first published in Stance on Dance’s spring/summer 2022 print issue. To learn more, visit stanceondance.com/print-publication.

One Response to “Nature’s Language in Movement, BODY, and Life”

  1. Jacqui van Horsten

    Beautifully written. This makes me remember what one can achieve when you’re in The flow. It’s like an out of body experience which seems to come from your sub-conscious. People accomplish amazing things when they’re in The flow. I remember dancing in that state and you mom asked me when I learned to dance like that. It wasn’t something I learned, it was just my body, the music and I just enjoyed the experience.

Leave a Reply

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS