Fellows at 30: Noémie Lafrance

Fellows at 30: Noémie Lafrance

“I did something I think most artists need most in this kind of hyper-productive environment; I took some time to think, research and write about my work and process.” – Noémie Lafrance

To kick off the new year and celebrate the 30th Anniversary our Fellowship Program, NYFA interviewed 2013 Fellow in choreography, Noémie Lafrance. Noémie Lafrance is an acclaimed choreographer, film director, conceptual artist, writer and producer based in Brooklyn, and is known for her innovative work in public spaces as well as engaging in public interventions. Noémie will be featured in an exhibition that NYFA is curating in collaboration with the Media Center opening on Thursday, February 4, 2016 at 6 PM. This event is part of DUMBO’s annual First Thursday celebration.

Please also note that the application for the 2015-2016 award cycle is now open. This year’s categories are Architecture/Environmental Structures/Design, Choreography, Music/Sound, Photography, and Playwriting/Screenwriting. All applications must be submitted by Thursday, January 28 at 11:59 PM (EST). Good luck!

NYFA: This year choreography is one of NYFA’s Fellowship categories. In 2013 you received a NYFA Fellowship in choreography, what did you do with that support?

NL: I did something I think most artists need most in this kind of hyper-productive environment; I took some time to think, research and write about my work and process.

NYFA: You are a site-specific choreographer who seldom makes work performed in a traditional theater environment. How do you think about space and dance? How does film function in your individual practice?

NL: Dance is a spatial form, it deals with space (and time), I am particularly interested in place, in the materiality and meaning of place and its poetic impact on a language that can only be expressed through the physical realm. Film was a tool for me to exceed the life that I needed to take beyond its flattening role as (pure) documentation.


NYFA: You are the founder of Brooklyn-based nonprofit Sens Production, what made you want to start this organization? Are some of your projects better served through this model?

NL: The nonprofit corporation model for the arts is completely inappropriate to the real needs of art in my experienced opinion but it’s the best we’ve got in terms of a possibility for creating an autonomous financial support system within the confines of our economic system. It’s important to remember that the arts are in eternal conflict with this economic system that we all must participate in to various degrees of desires and obligations, we simply can’t afford to ignore that fact, and we are better off actually embracing it, otherwise we are left frustrated or in the blindness of denial, hence always keeping an eye on the broader picture is what keeps us alive…

NYFA: As an active member of the dance community for over twenty years, in your opinion, what about choreography has changed since you’ve been in the field? How have technological advancements influenced your practice?

NL: From my vantage point as an artist interested in the integration of sites and audience in live work, I feel that in the last 10 years, and not just in dance but in all artistic and design fields, there has been a significant rise of interest in what I see as the essence of what I’ve called site-specific over the years. We need a new term though, that one is quite dated. The idea is that things are integrated into other things, that they are not isolated from or without interactions with (viewer, user, spectator) – Interactive, integrated, experiential, immersive are key words – and their influence certainly comes from the transformation brought about by internet culture. To me those ideas are a return to the physical or the tactile, yet they come from a digital culture that has removed us from the live “experience.” I question the place of dance as a form in where they meet or will eventually meet…

NYFA: Do you have any exhibitions or projects on the horizon?

NL: Yes but they are somewhat secret for now, I am working on what I call a choreographic instruction.


Follow the work of past and present NYFA Fellows on Twitter at #NYFAFellows30 and find out more about the activities planned for our 30th Anniversary on our website. NYFA’s Artists’ Fellowship Program awards $7,000 grants to individual artists in New York State. Applications are currently open with a January 28 deadline.

– Madeline Scholl, Program Associate, Alumni Relations and 30th Anniversary

Images, from top: Choreography for Audience by Noémie Lafrance, film still © Sens Production, 2012; Melt by Noémie Lafrance film still © Sens Production, 2010; Descent by Noemie Lafrance © Sens Production, 2003.

Amy Aronoff
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