Ready? Play!

Saturday 23rd June 2018

On Tuesday, I performed a 10 minute piece with my friend and collaborator, pianist Mikaela Livadiotis. Things didn’t quite go as planned, but the audience enjoyed it!

Mikaela Livadiotis & Yanaëlle Thiran performing ‘Musical Toys’ at New Lights Piano festival, 19/06/2018. Photo by Madeleine Rose Elliott

The event – We had been invited to play together at New Lights Piano Festival, a festival of contemporary piano music curated by Trinity Laban student Mahsa Salali. Mikaela decided to play some of Sofia Gubaidulina’s ‘Musical Toys’ (composed in the late 1960s). Together, we selected 7 out of the 14 short pieces in the score. I started improvising and setting movements to them at the end of May.

The performance space, a beautiful concert hall called the Peacock Room, was where we had we won the Gladys Puttick Improvisation Competition in 2017. In other words, I was familiar with it and had fantastic memories linked to it. However, on Tuesday morning, I found out that the grand piano would be placed in the middle of the room, with audiences sitting all around it. Having choreographed my micro-pieces on the assumption that the piano would be behind a small rectangular dance space, which all audiences would watch from the same side, I had to quickly remap my pathways in space.

Yanaëlle Thiran performing ‘Musical Toys’ at New Lights Piano festival, 19/06/2018. Photo by Madeleine Rose Elliott

Lesson learnt: performing is like teaching: even when you plan and rehearse for hours, you never know how it is going to go until the class or show is over. You have to be ready to make small adjustments (and sometimes even big changes) on the day, on the spot, in the space. And that’s what we did.

How it went: I managed to spin, hop and slide around the piano, turn a page in Mikaela’s score in the middle of my dances, and play the first four notes of ‘The Echo’ – this last action being the only one that was part of the initial plan. The performance felt pretty blurry from the inside, but I played with it. If musicians “play”, why should we, as  dancers, be so serious about our work? What if I “played” my choreographies instead of merely “performing” them?

Mikaela Livadiotis & Yanaëlle Thiran performing ‘Musical Toys’ at New Lights Piano festival, 19/06/2018. Photo by Madeleine Rose Elliott

I enjoyed looking at spectators around me, surprising them and seeing them smile at me at various points in the piece. Judging from the generous applause they gave us at the end, our proximity with them and playful use of the space really hooked them. A young composer who was in the audience came to me and said that she really enjoyed my interpretation of the music, and the connections between my movements and Mikaela’s performance. The curator’s mum herself told me that she found our piece very touching.

What next? This collaboration with Mikaela is an ongoing process which we’re hoping to take further, so watch this space for future performances and concert dates! I will carry on working on three of these ‘Musical Toys’ next week and perform them again on Saturday 30th June at Hoxton Hall (more info: Come along!


‘Earth, Sea and Sky’: videos

‘The Water of Tyne’ (still from performance video), February 2018

Thursday 10th May 2018

The A440 Choir’s show ‘Earth, Sea and Sky’ is now on YouTube!

Here are the four pieces I created and performed for them last February, in my order of preference:

(1) ‘The Water of Tyne’:

As I created this piece, I started developing what could be called Flying Fabric Floorwork Technique. I would like to take this movement research further and explore a broader range of images and metaphors. These seem to emerge easily when floorwork vocabulary is complemented or amplified by the echo of a piece of fabric in motion. What do you think? Would you like to see more of this work?

(2) A birdsong improvisation with flautist Sophie Baylis:

(3) ‘As Torrents in Summer’:

(4) ‘The Singer’ sung a capella by Rosemary Morris:

When I spoke to my friends, audiences, choir members and other dancers involved in the show, they all had different preferences among these four pieces, so I would be curious to hear what you readers think.

Which one of these pieces do you find most memorable, accomplished, effective or visually pleasing in terms of choreography? Please note that the birdsong piece was a structured improvisation. I didn’t really choroegraph it: I just practiced it a couple of times with Sophie and responded to the sound of her flute in the moment 🙂

Petit mois, petites créations

Février 2018 ? Terminé. Le plus petit mois de l’année a filé. A quoi étais-je donc occupée ? Notamment à créer, répéter et présenter une série de solos avec et pour la chorale A440 de Reading.

Birdsong improvisation by Sophie Baylis & Yanaëlle Thiran. Desborough Theatre, Maidenhead, 18/02/2018

En vue du spectacle “Earth, Sea & Sky”, la chef de choeur Lucy Joy Morris m’avait invitée à improviser un duo avec la flutiste de sa chorale et à créer 3 solos sur 3 des morceaux qui allaient être chantés.

Pour prépares ces chorégraphies, je me suis basée sur les enregistrements que Lucy m’avait envoyés, ainsi que sur les paroles des chansons. Comme vous le voyez ci-dessous, je les ai annotées pour structurer chaque pièce :

Par chance, ces chansons n’étaient pas longues et contenaient des refrains avec lesquels je pouvais jouer dans mes danses. Ayant passé 5 mois à créer une chorégraphie de 20 minutes, j’avais décidé d’être efficace, et je n’avais pas le choix : il fallait boucler ces trois fois 2 minutes 30 en une dizaine de jours !

Pas question, cependant, de me contenter de “vite fait bien fait”, ou de copier-coller ma signature chorégraphique personnelle. Pour donner un style distinct à chaque morceau et détourner mes pas habituels, j’ai choisi d’utiliser des accessoires. Mes vieux chaussons de jazz et un bâton noir trouvé par hasard ont ajouté du caractère à mon interprétation du chanteur (“The Singer”). Autre exemple, l’image de la rivière Tyne m’a donné l’envie et l’idée de danser avec un long tissu bleu, dans un registre plus lyrique.

‘Water of Tyne’ by Yanaëlle Thiran and the A440 Choir. Desbourough Theatre, Maidenhead, 18/02/2018

J’ai pris plaisir à le faire onduler, serpenter et tourner autour de moi, tant dans les airs qu’au sol. Il fallait bien ces 4 mètres de beauté bleuté pour amplifier mes mouvements et leur donner une résonance égale à celles des 40 voix de la chorale. J’ai ri de me prendre les pieds dedans et de me prendre la tête dessus, tant les réactions de cette rivière rebelle étaient changeantes, et ce même quand je pensais la manipuler clairement ! Avec ce court solo, je n’ai fait qu’effleurer son énorme potentiel de mouvements et de métaphores, mais j’espère bien le développer dans de prochaines pièces.

‘As Torrents In Summer’ by Yanaëlle Thiran and the A440 Choir. Desbourough Theatre, Maidenhead, 18/02/2018

Pour “As Torrents In Summer”, par contre, je n’ai eu recours à aucun autre artifice que mes capacités techniques et des vêtements blancs. Je cherchais une pureté et une clarté qui répondraient à l’aspect spirituel ou sacré de la musique. Un simple chemin, en diagonale à travers l’espace, et un alliage de travail du sol et d’élévations m’ont servi à former un pont entre ciel et terre, et ce vraiment littéralement dans ma position finale.

Curieux de voir le résultat ? Restez connectés : les vidéos du spectacles seront bientôt publiques 🙂

‘Swapping Shadows’ reviewed

Sunday 11th February 2018

Many thanks to those of you who spoke to me, texted or emailed me after having seen ‘Swapping Shadows’ in January. Your thoughts and encouraging words are all gathered in the ‘spectators’ book’ I have been compiling, alongside the following official reviews:

Yanaëlle Thiran’s charming Swapping Shadows brought warmth and light to the evening. Solo pieces showcased Yanaëlle Thiran and Shivaangee Agrawal’s individual skills in contemporary and Bharatanatyam styles, but it was the duets which were eye- catching and heart-warming: a real dance sisterhood. Yes, Indian forms and contemporary dance are old companions, but the delicacy, respect and genuine curiosity for each other’s form and expression promised something fresh. The audio narrative didn’t engage, but I was gently swept away by the visuals: smooth shapes, loose tumbles and harmonious lines with effective, uncomplicated lighting. Eye-soothing synchronisation, syncopation, mirroring and the dancers’ personal connection made Swapping Shadows joyfully easy to watch.

– Stephanie Brown

'Swapping Shadows' at The Place's Resolution festival, 23/01/2018. Photo by Madeleine Elliott DSCF3509

‘Swapping Shadows’ at The Place’s Resolution Festival, 23/01/2018. Photo by Madeleine Elliott

Yanaelle Thiran performs in her own duet opposite Shivaangee Agrawal. Shadowing each other in movement, they begin at a distance before investigating the whole space. Approaching and retreating from a low level spotlight they split into their constituent roles for solos – Thiran’s languid, long-limbed shapeshifting versus Agrawal’s Bharatanatyam-inspired stamps and whirls – before regrouping. The accompanying texts in French and English are less distracting than the music tracks whose variety unseats an otherwise elegant, well-plotted work.

– Neil Norman

'Swapping Shadows' at The Place's Resolution festival, 23/01/2018. Photo by Madeleine Elliott DSCF3598

‘Swapping Shadows’ at The Place’s Resolution Festival, 23/01/2018. Photo by Madeleine Elliott

These reviews were published on The Place’s website on Wednesday 24th January 2018. Read more at:

P.S. If you are reading this and have any more thoughts on the piece, please drop me a line. Your feedback will surely inform or help shape my future choreographic projects!

“Swapping Shadows” ou échanger d’ombres

Dimanche 4 février 2018

Ce texte, ceux et celles d’entre vous qui étaient au théâtre The Place le 23 janvier dernier l’ont entendu, apprécié et demandé en version écrite. Le voici donc :

Reste dans l’ombre.
Reste dans l’ombre.
Écoute, observe
Sans dire un mot.
Ensuite, enfin, lève la main.

Si mon ombre avait un bruit,
il serait doux,
ça ne fait pas l’ombre d’un doute.
Pas menaçante pour un sou. Rien à craindre.
Vous, dans la pénombre.
Elle, aussi.
Sur un pied d’égalité,
Ou à peu près.

Surtout, surtout, surtout : ne pas vous faire de l’ombre.
Prendre toute la lumière ?
Devant vous, dans l’obscurité ?
Qui m’y autorise ?
Qui m’en empêche, hein ?
On échange ?

Des parts d’ombre …
Des doutes …
En pleine lumière.
Du bruit. Ma respiration, le martèlement de mes pas.
Bouger. Plus vite que mon ombre. Plus vite que mon ombre ! M’arrêter ? Au risque de vous ennuyer ? Non ! Vous n’êtes pas là pour ça. Vous ayez choisi de passer votre soirée à l’ombre des jeunes filles de fleur, des danses de jeunes chorégraphes émergentes, prometteuses … Originales ? Ou suiveuses ? A leurs côtés, je ne suis sans doute que l’ombre de moi-même. Balbutiante. Débutante. Vulnérable.

On échange ?

L’ombre de Londres,
Mes héros, ces géants,
Fantômes de The Place,
Chorégraphes, enseignants,
Hantent mes mouvements,
Hantent mes pensées.

Naviguer sur leurs traces, ne pas sombrer
L’illusion : les suivre comme leur ombre. Y croire !
Je n’arriverai … ja-mais
Je n’arriverai peut-être jamais à les dépasser.
Seulement les suivre !
Discrète, muette comme une ombre,
Non, pas muette comme une tombe.

Pour aller de l’avant.

Texte écrit et enregistré par Yanaëlle Thiran pour Swapping Shadows

Première : Londres, 23 janvier 2018.

Photos : Madeleine Rose Elliott

Costume : Akshy Marayen

Lumières : Sally Somerville-Woodiwis

Behind the scenes: ‘Swapping Shadows’

2018-01-22 Costumes IMG_5409_1024

Costumes drying after our last rehearsal at Elizabeth House, 22/01/2018

Sunday 28th January 2018

‘Swapping Shadows’ premiered 5 days ago to a sold-out theatre. No wonder it took me a couple of days to land from cloud nine. I have been wanting to blog about it, without knowing where to start from. What to show? What to share? I wish you could all have experienced the piece live. How could photos and reviews account for it? Should I let you read what other people thought, or share my own text and thoughts first?

Well, let me take you backstage, where it all began and where everything took shape. Photos, texts, reviews and footage from the show will follow little by little over the next few weeks.

On Monday this week, Shivaangee and I had our very last rehearsal at Elizabeth House. Our costumes and lighting designers Akshy and Sally came to support us and check all final details. One of Shivaangee’s friends also watched us and gave us very encouraging feedback that morning. The centre’s director Nathalie Renaud saw our last run through the piece and said it took her on a journey – a journey I hope to continue further, with many more spectators…

2018-01-23 Roses IMG_5412_1024

Four roses for my four collaborators, discreetly displayed in the dressing rooms. The Place theatre, 23/01/2018

Tuesday was the big day, with a 3-hour long technical rehearsal on stage, and the show’s premiere in the evening. The time had finally come to put our dance under the spotlights! It was a joy to tread across the stage and see everything come together, under the eager eyes of our photographers.

Between the tech run and the actual show, I took a break and shared some cupcakes with my sister who had freshly arrived from France. We stopped by the florist, so I could buy roses for my collaborators before picking up our parents and their friends from St Pancras International station. I left them shortly before 6pm to get into the zone for this long-waited-for performance.

Studio 7 was empty – a white blank page where calmness and focus would prepare me to ‘write’ the night. Between the dark windows and familar sounds of stamping feet above my head, I saw my 18 years old self, Second Year student at LCDS. There in this very studio, she used to come, solo. Rehearsing, trying again and again to make movements that would match this or that piece of music. Here she was again. Morning ballet class. Hair in a bun and leotard. Fighting for turn out, jumping, pirouetting, sweating… and perhaps not breathing enough.

2018-01-23 Backstage 19.21.02

Pre-performance selfie in Studio 7, 23/01/2018

Now there I was. Singing the last tune of my piece. Same dancer, same (but even further trained) body, now aged 23. A graduate, returning, wanna-be emerging artist. Dancer/choreographer, proud to have her work programmed at The Place’s Resolution festival. To me, performing there felt like homecoming. It was The Place where I belonged.


Du temps et de l’espace !

Jeudi 14 décembre 2017

A dix jours de Noël, alors que toute la faculté de danse du conservatoire Laban est en vacances, Shivaangee et moi profitons du calme et de l’espace du bâtiment. Des studios vides et libres comme des pages blanches. Le décor idéal pour chorégraphier les derniers morceaux de “Swapping Shadows” – à savoir, le prologue de la pièce et nos solos.

'Swapping Shadows' (preview). London, 03/12/2017. Photo by June Essex

Yanaëlle Thiran et Shivaangee Agrawal dans “Swapping Shadows” (preview). Londres, 03/12/2017. Photo: June Essex

Eh non ! Je n’avance pas vraiment dans l’ordre chronologique. Franchement, je n’ose même pas calculer le nombre d’heures, de jours et de semaines de répétitions que nous avons déjà consacrées à cette création. L’important, c’est que notre duo prend vraiment forme maintenant. Patience, vous verrez … Rendez-vous à The Place le 23 janvier

Au fait, avez-vous réservé vos places ?

Ou, vous qui êtes à l’étranger, avez-vous jeté un coup d’œil au site du théâtre ? Il faut le voir pour le croire : mon nom est au programme ! Et pas seulement sur internet : “Swapping Shadows” apparait aussi dans la brochure papier que j’ai photographiée pour vous. Devinez à qui sont ces ombres :

Pages extraites de la brochure du festival Resolution 2018 à The Place

Pages extraites de la brochure du festival Resolution 2018 à The Place


Note for my English speaking readers: fear not! There is more to come soon, and my next post will be in English of course.