SMASH #8 - module #3
peaceful warrior
Matthieu Burner
Oct 10 – Oct 21, 2016

In this journey, we will learn to tap into our wild and unexplored dimension to re-discover the power and joy of dance, being moved by ourselves, by others and by space. We will anchor our presence deep in our physical body to start this journey, challenge our past-conditioned habits and surrender to our emotions in order to articulate and organise in space what is deeply touching us: this is a process I call ‘Dance’. The goal is to reconnect with our true inspiration and all our multiple facets, to experience a meaningful and self-nourishing approach to our ever-dancing presence.

Western society teaches us to rely on the ´outside´ for basically everything - for survival, for answers, for satisfaction. We will invert that process and turn our focus inwards, to our inner perceptions, to trust the invisible source of inspiration and to suspend sight-based decisions. It will bring us to a solid Now that is not only happening in front of us, but that is felt, tasted and appreciated as a flow of presence between our physical body, our emotional self and the outer world. This will be the fertile ground in which we'll plant the seeds of our dance.


Well it’s where it all happens, where it all begins and ends too. Nothing else survives beyond it. We know it, but how much do we live in it?

We'll use several paradoxical approaches to escape the need of the mind for control and rational thinking in the form of games that trick ourselves into being more wholly in a felt experience of the present. We will start from propositions like: trying the impossible, looking for ourself, making mistakes, not being where we are, irregular breathing, leaving time… These paradoxical tasks will help us to leave the head, and literally to under-stand, stand under our mental control, maybe in the heart? or even deeper. The aim is to cultivate a playful ground around our physical, emotional and mental limitations, so that restrictive perceptions can become (now) fresh motivation and a new source of inspiration for our dance.

Nature, animals and babies are so powerful because they are in such complete sync with who they are and totally immersed in their experience of the now. 
On the intellectual level, it is a great start to confront ourselves with the common conception of "contemporary dance": the dance of now. Now, here, is not a concept about a period of time. It is a sharp state of being, an altered state of consciousness compared to our daily awareness, that unifies our cells, our emotions and thoughts. In this place, we can freely interact and use all our strengths and weaknesses with our environment in order to create a meaningful dance that touches the performer as much as the observer. It is an invaluable state in my experience to be able to truly create, because it is moved authentically by something that is happening beyond fear, judgment, drama and ego: beyond ourselves. From there we will get a sense of unity with all the joyful and absurd paradoxes that we all carry.

How to get there?

Plants never went to university, animals don’t study theory before jumping over a river, and babies know how to breathe from scratch. We already carry all the knowledge, but along the way we got disconnected. Today our knowledge is secondhand: from a teacher, a book, the Internet, and is less and less experimental. Our city lifestyle is far from the natural reality of the planet we stand on: The Earth. We lost our instinctive user’s manual. We don’t grow our own food anymore; instead we spend our days in non-living artificial environments.
Based on Osho and Carlos Castaneda’s exercises, we will create a daily physical routine to wake up the living qualities of the earth in us. We will centre and ground ourselves with exercises like the earthquake, the flowing river around rocks, presence as wind, formless as a cloud, to become peaceful with the so called wild nature in us. For this process we will connect directly to the related elements in the surrounding parks of Berlin to get first hand knowledge. On an anatomical level, this process is meant to tame the animal in us by making us conscious of our reptilian brain at the base of the skull. This area of the brain acts like a fire wall that when opened can let in new experience or consciousness. It deals with our basic survival and is motivated by fear. Once we work together with it, we can reconnect in the body to what the Tao called ‘the lower Tan Tien’ where our primordial forces reside. It is the power plant of our body.

Our bodies are also made of personal memories, experiences and history; our "imprinted past" - so to speak - which strongly conditions our actions by creating patterns to which we refer to as our reality. In our perception we then label some of those experiences as negative, bad for us and other as positive, good for us. With the powerful tool of the ‘Zero Point’, coming from Quantic Consciousness, we will balance those two polarities to become like a battery. Needing and using the negative as much as the positive pole, simply because the energy has to flow. Remembering that the side we have labelled ‘negative’ is an incredible source of latent energy and creativity. Standing on the safe floor of our daily routine, we will be ready to knock at those closed doors and let them reopen so that the body can embody and begin to process those energies into new choices, new possibilities, new movement. We will become vessels guided by the powerful and intimate vibration of life in a relaxed and simple presence. We will avoid any drama using the power of the chi kung smile, Osho’s laughing approach, and look at the stars to remember how small we are.

A radical and active presence will be required to act upon what we feel rather than what we think and to be able to confront ourselves with others’ feelings and points of view. A warrior of acceptation that stands for what she/he feels without engaging in confrontation or concurrence. The Warrior asks for fragility, openness, trust, following our hearts, coming down to our guts and being kind in the middle of storms of energy. We’ll use Grinberg exercises to teach our nervous system to learn to relax within states of intensity, by learning to dissociate what we feel with how we respond. We will play games in public spaces such as breaking rules, being someone else, meeting strangers, so that we get used to being outside of the frame of so called normality, breathing in the state of the unknown in order to relax into our singularity: Trusting ourselves as a unique source of movement.

We will also use clown based exercises to learn to fall and to fail in front of others, to have fun with ridiculous situations, to stand up again from scratch, to be exposed in a process and to finally let go of any outcome. It will bring us a unique engagement where our dances become the experience of our lives. It is a solid commitment where whatever happens; we'll be there to learn from it.

On this path, reconsidering our way of listening will be of great help. We will give to the act of listening the meaning of letting spaces, places, presences and sounds penetrate ourselves and interact with our core. So that each of us can discover a place of friction within ourselves where movement becomes indispensable and existentially requested. Dance as a need. We will use here the energetic approach of Vipassana Meditation that decentralises ourselves from any fixed point within us in order to listen with all surfaces of our vibratory selves, noticing the subtle messages that other’s presences send in space. It is a way to connect with the essence of things rather than to their appearance. Listening is the perfect medium to understand and experience time and space as one.

It will allow us to breath bigger in our presence, to let more in and to let more happen. It will be our entry point to collaborate with others in sharing the same space and time, but from different perspective, creating the frame of a real exchange by witnessing and acting within the group, so that each participant’s presence can trigger and enrich the other's research processes. I will propose to you different formats where we can experience the different roles of watcher and mover, finding new meanings and modalities of exposing oneself to an audience and of perceiving, as an audience, exposure in an empathic mode.

The Peaceful Warrior is a sharp, blossoming and yet very quiet place of inspiration. We will work every day to reach this place in order to identify the vibrant subjects you want to work on, and to articulate personal strategies to conduct your own research. Then we will be able to construct and develop structures based on emotion and meaning for your own personal work, where the consciously channeled emotions that we carry in our action become the start of a dramaturgy, of a piece, of a journey.

"I would not believe in a god who could not dance"
F. Nietzsche


When Matthieu was nine years old, Mirjam Bern - an ex-dancer of Merce Cunningham - started an improvisation dance class in his small village in France. He was immediately drawn there by curiosity and a desire to expand his body. He then started taking regular contemporary classes in Grenoble, to teach his body knowledge, skills and openness. As Matthieu resembled a girl, he got asked to replace an injured female dancer in L'album Junior, a company for young performers. From then on, he entered the creative process of constructing pieces and then touring around France. Discovering bodily experiences and sharing them with other dancers and audiences became the hub of his life. And it has never stopped!

Those first ten instinctive years of dancing brought Matthieu to a point where he realized that he needed to confront his body and his perceptions of different techniques and conceptions of movement. Matthieu began studying at the National Contemporary Dance Center in Angers, and after that worked as a professional dancer with the Philippe Saire Company in Switzerland. Later he went on to work with Dominique Dupuy, Felix Rückert, Eun Me Ahn, Tino Segahl, Arthur Kuggeleyn, Fabrice Lambert.

In 2003, born out of recurring frustrations with the people he worked with, Matthieu and Nabih Amaraoui started to gather ideas, emotions, music, systems of movement and intentions in Berlin. The AMARAOUI BURNER PROJECT was founded. First they created duets, as the core of the company was based on their personal relationship. This led to the realization that the interaction between the two dancers was way more powerful than the solitary action of each one. That brought about "One to One", a duet exploring the social dominating/submissive behaviours that we perpetuate. The duo then delved deeper into these energies, trying to explore them on a more raw level, creating several works on the theme. Their last production "Them" is the first group experiment and is currently touring Europe.

Matthieu is currently involved in a long-term collaboration with choreographers Laurent Chetouane and Boris Charmatz.

Since 2012, he is engaged in shamanic practices with master plants. He teaches and works around the world to initiate and explain the benefits of those ancestral practices. He is also interested in the alchemic process of preparing plant based medicine. He is currently working on regular basis as a shaman in a healing centre in Costa Rica and is a student of theÊTaoist Astral Healing Method.

All those practices are the rich base on which he develops hisÊeducational activities with dance professionals, teachers, students, and non-dancers. This journey of the Peaceful Warrior is directly linked to his practice as a choreographer, performer and human being.


Oliver Fantitsch
Guglielmo Grimaldi
Carecchio Elisabeth