Swiss Grand Award for Dance 2019
Maria Ribot was born in Spain in 1962 and has lived in Geneva since 2004. She holds dual Spanish and Swiss citizenship. She began her classical dance training at the age of 13 in her home city of Madrid. In the early 1980s she continued her studies under Rosella Hightower in Cannes, then later in Germany and New York. She settled in Madrid in 1984 and there created her first work, “Carita de ángel”, in 1985. In 1986, together with Blanca Calvo, she set up the group Bocanada Danza, which was disbanded in 1989. Since 1991 Maria Ribot has been working under the professional name La Ribot as a dancer, choreographer, video artist and visual artist. In 1997 she moved to London, where she discovered live art in galleries and saw parallels with contemporary dance. She has been living with Gilles Jobin in Geneva since 2004, complementing her choreographic work with teaching at the Haute École d’Art et de Design (HEAD) where, along with colleagues including Yan Duyvendak, she developed and directed the “art/action” programme from 2004 to 2008. In 2017, the Tanz im August festival devoted a retrospective to La Ribot, as will the Festival d’automne in Paris in autumn 2019.
La Ribot choreographed her first solo, “Socorro! Gloria!” (1991) as a humorous cabaret entertainment. Working from movement and using stage props and costumes, she parodies two female stereotypes: the flustered woman unequal to the task of making a public address, and the professional stripper. The work was aimed at a new audience and became the inspiration for a 13-part series of “Piezas distinguidas” that were performed in 1993–94. A second series of short works created in London, entitled “Más distinguidas” and numbered 14 to 26, saw La Ribot present her body as an “objet d’art”. A third series, “Still distinguished”, followed in 2000 and was performed both in galleries and in major theatres. That same year La Ribot began creating video works. In 2011 she launched a further series, “PARAdistinguidas” for five dancers, including fellow 2019 award winner Marie-Caroline Hominal, while the fifth series, “Another Distinguée” premiered in 2016. One key work from La Ribot’s extensive repertoire is the duo “Gustave” (2008), created with the then director of the Centre National de Chorégraphie, Mathilde Monnier. More than a decade later they teamed up once again for “Please, Please, Please” (2019), in which they turn their attention to their children and a generation of the future. “Happy Island”, a group piece that La Ribot created with the inclusive company Dançando com a Differença from Madeira, Portugal, reveals a new facet of her artistry.
Simona Travaglianti, chair of the jury:
“La Ribot mixes up genres to create effervescent effects. Her methods are explosive. Hers is an art that is powerfully feminine. Originally from Madrid and now based in Geneva, she creates projects that blend a distinctly mischievous political radicalism with a breath of fresh air, humour and irony. All of her art, her taste and her daring are channelled towards distinctiveness: she employs a method that is physical, scenic and performative to zero in on the crucial moment, the vital spark. Whether she’s dancing exclusively, testing the norms and boundaries of artistic conventions, or choreographing inclusively on her happy island, she surprises us, defies understanding and amuses us, while at the same time encouraging us to question our attitudes to the world.”