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Daily Inspiration: Meet Jean-François Alcoléa

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jean-François Alcoléa.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Hi everyone. I am Jean-François Alcoléa, the Artistic Director of an artistic multidisciplinary French-based Company. I was born in Marseille, France, where I grew up until my adolescence. I studied music graduated in piano, chamber music, theory and composition and went through many music bands and ensembles as jazz, French song, rock and classical. I love diversity, as a flourishing power, but also as a means of sharing and exchange with people. As a composer, I co-created my company more than twenty years ago, in 2000, to develop my own productions. I naturally included to my music other artistic disciplines, and my shows reflect my plural universes, combining music, sound effects, lighting, still images and moving images, street arts, dance, spoken words in different languages, and visual creations.

During ten years, I taught the piano, theory and chamber music, I guess this is the reason why I have great interest in transmission, loving to share, making workshops and masterclasses.

Having a great interest in history, ethnology, and sociology, I have created a body of site-specific work, linking a specific location to in-situ research, bygone memories, assembling collections of tributes by local inhabitants with audio and iconographic testimonies; and from these elements creating experiences as unique original shows that reflect a poetic evocation of both the subject and the site. I am now creating shows as well as permanent site-specific installation productions.

According to me, the roots of Arts are in echo with sharing, and for me, especially during live shows, I mean, the energy created in the room during the performance. And as well meeting other cultures I have the chance to perform in France, of course, Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain, Romania, Morocco, UK, Canada and I love to meet the US Audiences, where I have been there in different states, and performed many times. And I am so excited to come back again several times in 2022!

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
In Art Industry, when beginning, it is such a challenge to create your company and develop your own productions. The most challenging at the beginning was to get partners who will help me to bring my productions and share with audiences. Fortunately, I had the chance that some people trusted in my art and gave me such a great hand, in the US as well. And that is the reason why I am still here now, keeping-up and creating this wonderful work. We used to perform from 90 to 130 shows a year before the pandemic. Of course, Covid suddenly stopped us like a rocket in flight and also a part of my crew changes then. The fact that you have to schedule postponed events though you do not have any future perspective, it was so weird and tricky. With no gatherings, no shows, no workshops, not any activity in person, and no idea of when would end or start the next lockdown in this or that country. So I found other processes to stay and develop creativity. It is still tricky now. For instance, last month, we cancelled our tour in Canada less than three weeks before the dates. And in February, the outcome of our US tour was uncertain until we were on the ground! I have the chance to have great US Partners who supported me and were so welcoming. We did it!

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I create multimedia shows, and, on another end, I perform them as a musician. There is something incredible as magic when I first start my work with the music, for instance, and then the sound design, and still images, then moving images and then lights and set design. I have an idea in my head, that can evolve during the process of creation, of course. And I am working with my team, to create materials, separately. It’s the same in composition, I have an idea in mind and start to write the bass, then the violin, then the piano, imagine sound design. When I am earing, the composition played live by musicians I can have this magical feeling, a deep emotion, like something you had in mind become real. And it’s the same when we are rehearsing and the show become to have the final shape you had in mind… something like magical happen and become real. These universes I will share with audiences. As a performer, live performance brings and creates a very special relationship during the show with people. I love this energy which I feed on to offer, in return, my performance to the audience. And because audiences are different in each city, in each venue, in each country, my performance is also fed on this different energy. And that’s why each performance is different to me. I am touring in the United States, performing my live movie-concert Right in the Eye, based of Méliès’s films. At the end of the show, I see the people with a large smile in their faces, so happy after this 1h15 trip experienced together. Above all, this is what I love: Art is a powerful medium of communication and education.

He is a quote one person of the audience, after a performance at the Sheldon Theater, Red Wing, Minnesota:

“Still riding the high from this performance at the Sheldon tonight. I bought tickets on a whim because I’m a vintage movie fan, but spent far more time focused on the live performers. Jean François Alcoléa is simply put, a creative genius. I loved every second of this amazing event”.

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
In Art, as in many fields, nothing can be taken for granted! Like in sport, you need to practice, practice, practice. Since you’re often alone, sometimes, you can be discouraged at times. So, never give up! Even when you have an idea that can seems unformal for other people. In that case, you deeply know how to distinguish when you got an idea from a whim. So, for your idea become real, follow your own path and work in that direction. And stay open to opportunities during your way, oftentimes, answers are on your way.

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