Getting to know independent artist Manon Servage

Manon Servage is a French-born, London-based dance artist who has recently moved to the UK capital to develop their dance practice.

Independent artist Manon has choreographed pieces such as Spectrum, a dance on film that celebrates the beautiful differences lying between us as individuals. Spectrum seeks to reject the ‘labels’ and often harmful stereotypes projected onto us, and in the film, offers up a ‘spectrum’ in which everybody’s nuances can be seen and, it is hoped, accepted.

The film opens on a dance studio warmed by the red brick and cream plaster on its wall. A lone body is in the shot with his back to the camera, wrapping only himself into his arms until other hands join his to touch in togetherness. Hands are then revealed to belong to bodies as the camera zooms out to show dancers dressed in neutral clothes, with their backs to us too, swooping and swaying swan-like to the gentle pings of the piano.

What follows is a series of frames where the dancers part and then, as if inevitably and irresistibly, come together again; dancing in duets for a few moments only for more bodies to make it three, four and five. The choreography is slow and lyrical, with tides of deep bends, turns and scoops that follow a soothing rhythm. Spectrum is a beautiful dance film that showcases how, despite our differences, our bodies always find a curious way of connecting with each other, and, coming together.

DAJ: Thanks for sharing your film with us, Manon! Could you tell us more about yourself before we chat about it?

Manon: I was born in a small town in France near Annecy. This is where I started ballet when I was 3 years old. I quickly understood that it was all what I wanted to do in my life so I have been training more intensively quite early on. After auditioning in the prestigious school Dance Area Geneva. I got into their professional ballet and contemporary education. Alongside this I was attending workshops worldwide to gather even more knowledge and experience. It appears quite clearly that with that busy schedule I had to be homeschooled to be able to pursue my dream, which was another good challenge. Luckily I was very supported by my family.

Then I moved to Paris on my own at 15. There I pursued on training in even more styles and also started freelancing.

DAJ: What’s the contemporary dance scene like there? What’s it like being an artist in France?

Manon: Paris has some very beautiful dance artists and companies, especially when it comes to ballet I believe. In my opinion the contemporary scene there is not as developed and diverse as can be in London for example. I personally had a little bit of a hard time to find the contemporary dance that was really speaking to me in Paris. This is also why I kept on travelling so much, eager to discover more. However, in my opinion France is also quite willing to help out the artists and their creative development which can make it quite a nice space to start flourishing as a dancer or artist in general.

DAJ: What do you hope you achieve in London as an artist?

Manon: For me London as a lot to offer, it is very diverse and seem limitless which I loved. Here I see myself integrating a contemporary company in the near future and really investing myself into their work, getting to know them in depth. I am yet not fixed on a specific one since I am very open to a lot of styles… But I also don’t like and don’t want to limit myself to one thing. Because I am a very creative being, I want to keep on developing my own work as a choreographer, carrying messages that are dear to my heart and getting to know myself as an artist even more because this is a never ending journey. I also want to keep on meeting up with various artists for different projects so we can build something bigger together.

DAJ: What advice would you give to fellow independent artists?

Manon: I think that as hard as being an artist can be, one thing that is really important is to keep on falling in love with your craft. Keeping that passion going, keeping on being curious and never losing our imagination. The dance industry can be very overwhelming and quite often make us dislike what we do but I believe that relying on that passion and on the WHY we do what we do is something that can help us grow, or at least it does help me a lot.

DAJ: Tell us about your choreography. What are your research interests?

Manon: I have various choreographic approaches. Most of the time, I will start creating from a topic that is really intriguing me or moving me in the period of my life that I am in. I am always really interested in the multiple ways the human body can work, both speaking about the relationship between the body and the soul but also in between two human beings or more for example. My choreographic approach is also really “non-binary”. That means that I do not see and create on people as being labelled as male of female but as humans only, trying to dig deeper into their pesonality and what makes them unique before all.

Furthermore, I also get really inspired by the nature, the geometry present everywhere and the internal sensations ones can feel in any given situation. This has been heavily influencing my choreographic process.

Finally I am someone who is very curious and always love to experiment and learn new things, never really settling on something with makes my choreographic works quite diverse and evolving I believe.

DAJ: What’s next for you?

Manon: I have a lot of upcoming projects. As I am now freelancing in London but also in Europe, taking part in different stage and screen productions both in contemporary and commercial dance. I also have 2 short films coming that will hopefully turn into a full stage performance by the end of 2023.

You can follow Manon on their Instagram, head to their website to watch Spectrum and more works here.