Phia Ménard

Phia Ménard

Born 1971

Watching Jérôme Thomas’ show « Extraballe » in 1991, Phia Ménard realised she felt a strong desire to train in the performing arts and in particular in the art of juggling. She began training in modern dance, mime and acting. She trained with the juggling master, Jérôme Thomas, and went on to join his company, performing in numerous shows up until 2003. In 1997, alongside her work with the company, she continued her dance training and performed in two short pieces choreographed by Hervé Diasnas and Valérie Lamielle.

She founded the company Non Nova in 1998 and created « Le Grain ». It was with her solo show

« Ascenseur, fantasmagorie pour élever les gens et les fardeaux » (« Elevator, Phantasmagoria for elevating people and burdens », created in 2001, that she first gained recognition and critical acclaim as a creator. Admired for her singular way of working, the scène nationale Le Carré in Château-Gontier invited her to be their associate artist from 2003 to 2006. There, she and her team (and Le Carré’s team) developed a form of stage work where the spectacular, visual aspect of juggling is downplayed and challenged, in favour of a new relationship with her audience. Numerous performance pieces, shows and events sprang from this work:

« Zapptime, rêve éveillé d’un zappeur » (« Zapptime, Daydream of a Channel-Hopper »), the conference-show « Jongleur pas confondre » (« Juggler, don’t confuse ») with the sociologist Jean-Michel Guy, « Fresque et Sketches 2nd round », and the “off-piste” projects: « Est-il vraiment sérieux de jongler ? » (« Is it really serious to juggle? »), « Ursulines Dance Floor » and « Ursulines Mushroom Power ».

In 2005 and 2007 she developed her work on the notion of “unjugglability”, devising two pieces, « Zapptime#Remix » and « Doggy Bag » and two forms of cabaret, « Jules for ever » « Touch it » with the musicians from the sextet “Frasques”.

In 2008 her artistic career took a new direction with the project « I.C.E. » – « Injonglabilité Complémentaire des Eléments » (« Complementary Unjugglability of the Elements »), with the aim of examining the imaginative aspect of transformation and erosion through natural matter and the elements.

In January 2008, she created the piece « P.P.P. » (Position Parallèle au Plancher/Parallel Position to the Floor) at the performing arts centre Les Nouvelles Subsistances in Lyon. This was the first piece in « The Ice Cycle». In November she created the performance piece « L’après-midi d’un foehn version 1 » (« Afternoon of a Foehn Version 1 »), the first piece in « The Wind Cycle », at the Natural History Museum in Nantes.

In 2009 she collaborated with the collective La Valise on the project « Coyote Pizza » creating the performance piece « Iceman ».

In 2010, invited by the Festival of Avignon and the SACD to create a piece for their « Sujets à Vif » program, she worked with the sound poet Anne-James Chaton, creating the performance piece « Black Monodie », the second project in the Ice Cycle.

In October 2011, she devised two new shows for « The Wind Cycle »: « L’après-midi d’un foehn » (« Afternoon of a Foehn ») and « Vortex ».

At the CIFAS (Centre International de Formation en Arts de la Scène)/(International Centre for Performing Arts Training) in Brussels, she initiated a study into questions of gender and mood, named « In the Mood » with the philosopher Paul B. Preciado.

In 2012 she received the award for Best Physical Theatre at Edinburgh Fringe Festival for « L’après-midi d’un foehn version 1 » (« Afternoon of a Foehn Version 1 »).

In January 2014, she received the decoration of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (a Knightship in Art and Literature) from the French Minister of Culture and Communication, Aurélie Filippetti. That same year she became associate artist at « Espace Malraux Scène nationale de Chambéry et de la Savoie ».

In 2015, she became associate artist at the Théâtre Nouvelle Génération – Centre Dramatique National de Lyon and at the Centre Chorégraphique National de Caen / Basse-Normandie, throughout 2016, 2017 and 2018.

In June 2015 she created « Belle d’Hier » (« Yesterday’s Beauty ») which was premiered at Montpellier Dance Festival at the Opéra Comédie.

In 2017, she became associate artist at the Théâtre National de Bretagne in Rennes. She was invited to create a show for la Documenta 14 in Kassel and there she premiered « Contes immoraux – Partie 1 : La Maison Mère» (« Immoral Tales – Part 1 : The Mother House »). She also created and premièred « Les Os Noirs » (« Black Bones ») at l’Espace Malraux, Scène Nationale de Chambéry et de la Savoie (September). She started working with the 79th year group of drama students at the ENSATT drama school (Ecole Nationale Supérieur des Arts et Techniques du Théâtre).

In 2018 she devised and directed the opera « Et in Arcadia Ego », based on Jean Philippe Rameau’s compositions, for the Opéra-Comique in Paris, with Christophe Rousset, founder of the baroque musical ensemble « Les Talens Lyriques », and the writer Eric Reinhardt.

She created « Saison Sèche » (« Dry Season») a show about violence against women, co-written with Jean-Luc Beaujault. The show premiered at the 72nd Festival of Avignon in 2018.

The performance piece « No Way » premiered at the “Veillée de l’Humanité” – the National Theatre of Chaillot, Paris, for the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

The 11th December 2018 Phia Ménard gave a talk at the UNESCO Art Lab for Human Rights and Dialogue on the theme of Freedom and Art.

In 2019, she received the award Le Topor/SACD de “La vie dans tous les sens” and the Jury’s Prize in the 53rd Belgrade International Theatre Festival 2019. She became president of the drama school association l’Ecole du TNB (Théâtre National de Bretagne) in Rennes. 

In 2020 she created the piece « Fiction/Friction» with the Year X students from the TNB drama school. She also devised and directed the 79th final year show with drama students at the ENSATT drama school in Lyon for an edition entitled “La Démocratie, qu’est ce que c’est amusant” (“Democracy, isn’t it amusing”).

On the 22nd of June 2020 “Le Syndicat de la Critique” (the Critics’ Association) for theatre, dance and music awarded Phia Ménard the Critic’s Prize in the category “Dance and Performance”.

In January 2021, she performed in « A D-N », choreographed by Régine Chopinot.

In 2021 she created « The Trilogy of Immoral Tales (for Europe) », witch premiered at the Festival d’Avignon in July the same year.

In 2023 she creates « ART.13 », witch will premiere at la Biennale de la Danse of Lyon in september.

Her work has been performed in Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Bulgaria, Brunei, Burkino Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Chili, China, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, Equator, The Federation of Russia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Haiti, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kosovo, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Portugal, the Republic of Cape Verde, the Republic of Serbia, Scotland, Senegal, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Togo, The United Arab Emirates, The United States, Uruguay, Yemen.


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