A plural itinerary
Do not be fooled by appearances. Behind the appearance of a young man crowned with prizes and awards*, associate artist from 2018 to 2021 at the Malandain Ballet Biarritz, Martin Harriague is an atypical artist with a singular career. If it is common at thirty-six years old to have already worked with several international companies, the list of those with which he “cut his teeth” as a dancer denotes a particular openness of spirit and styles. Ballet Biarritz Junior, Ballet National de Marseille, Noord Nederlandse Dans in the Netherlands and the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company in Israel, joined by a desire to rub shoulders with this famous Israeli dance and “understand from the inside a complex political situation”.
Another originality, he started dancing at the age of nineteen, taking his first barre at the age when others are named stars. Until then, apart from a fascination for Michael Jackson, whose concert in Paris made him want “to be in the place of the singer”, Martin Harriague had not felt any particular attraction for the world of dance. A performance in Biarritz of The Nutcracker by Thierry Malandain suddenly decides his vocation. Where others, however, would dream of being a prince or princess, he rather imagines himself “one day creating a world” like the one he has just discovered. The young Basque then wrote to the choreographer to express his desire to dance. Malandain answers him and suggests that he train in Bayonne, with Jean-Marc Marquerol, a former member of the Paris Opera. Beginning of the adventure. Quickly, he will catch up and go through the stages. “Dancing was a way to get to choreography,” he admits today. “Before directing others on a set, I had to understand from the inside what it meant to be a performer. From the outset, I reasoned like a stage man. In parallel with my ballet classes, I took singing and theater lessons. It is important to have a vision on everything.” The same appetite led him to compose the music for some of his pieces, or to take a lighting course with Tom Visser, who notably collaborates with Crystal Pite and Alexander Ekman. The goal ? Now being able to create his own lights and his own scenography.
* In 2016, Audience , Critics’ Prize and 2nd Prize in the competition for young choreographers in Biarritz for Prince. In 2015, Scapino Ballet Rotterdam Prize at the Hanover competition, Audience Prize and 3rd Prize for choreography at the Copenhagen competition in 2015 for Beauty and the Beast; Public Prize and 2nd Prize for choreography at the Stuttgart competition for You Man.
Martin is in turn, a scenographer, a dancer, a performer, a light designer, a composer, a musician, a singer… and who likes to summon different disciplines to explore different media and formats: ballet, opera, video, small form, large numbers or even duets.
His signature continues to stand out through his personal projects or collaborations with other artists. His dance, he sees it as a “dance… which dances.” Forged over the course of his collaborations as a performer, his choreographic language is physical, explosive, often intended to be telluric, the movements are thus firmly anchored in the ground, gravity is never far away mixed with a virtuosity dictated by the music: “I’m not afraid to make a musical piece, where the bodies become the notes and the instruments. I am also in this search and I regret, moreover, that contemporary dance is a little distant from it.”
And then, driven by a sense of drama not devoid of sarcasm, Martin seeks to give substance to emotions through an assumed theatricality, and it is easy to feel what in our time makes him vibrate positively… or negatively. Wishing to “transmit a message”, Martin expresses in each of his creations his questions and fears about the future of the world. Thus, Sirènes created in 2018 for the Malandain Ballet Biarritz and Fossile produced by the Korzo in 2019, point to the ecological emergency while America created for the Leipzig Ballet using Donald Trump’s voice as a soundtrack, paints a portrait of the vitriol of the world’s leading power.
Sensitive to humour, he considers it “a good way to convey messages” – and cultivating a certain theatricality, “necessary to prevent the dance from becoming a pure aestheticism and to anchor the show in a form of reality, with, among other things, the use of voice, video, or using everyday gestures”.
So many seemingly contradictory ingredients that he links like a cook: “I develop my own recipes. Both technical and instinctive, my signature is based on a classic grammar, with something spicy, provocative. The essential axis remains the body in movement, the physicality, the “dance that dances”. I like to play with bodies in space, and twist the lines to better highlight them”. It is no coincidence that his theatrical references are playwrights like Pipo Delbono or Rodrigo Garcia…
1986 Born in Bayonne, France
2005 Begins ballet and modern dance with Jean-Marc and Michèle Marquerol in Bayonne
2007 – 2008 Dancer at the Ballet Biarritz Junior, direction Thierry Malandain
2008 – 2010 Dancer at the Ballet National de Marseille, directed by Frédéric Flamand, where he made his choreographic debut with Neko-San Showcase, presented as the first part of La vérité 25x sec by Frédéric Flamand at the Festival de Danse et des Arts Multiples de Marseille in 2009
2010 – 2013 Dancer at Noord Nederlandse Dans (The Netherlands), directed by Stephen Shropshire. One of his pieces Of Suits Spots & Fur entered a company’s repertoire for the first time in 2011
2013 – 2018 Dancer at the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company (Israel), directed by Rami Be’er
2014 2nd Prize for choreography at the International choreographic competition of Stuttgart (Germany) for Open Mic. Suffocation
2015 Scapino Ballet Prize at the International choreographic Competition of Hanover (Germany) for Beauty and the Beast
Audience Prize & 3rd Prize at the International choreographic competition of Copenhagen (Denmark) for Beauty and the Beast
Audience Prize & 2nd Prize at the International choreographic competition of Stuttgart (Germany) for You Man
2016 Audience Prize, Critics Prize and 2nd Prize at the Competition for young neoclassical choreographers of Biarritz for Prince
2018 – 2021 Associate artist at CCN Malandain Ballet Biarritz