A wheelchair user with a passion for movement and life, France came to London to participate in Candoco’s first International Summer School at Stoke Mandeville in 1995. There she met and worked with all the founding members of the company and had a huge impact on us all. She was bold, curious and full of life and we were all super excited by her energy and creativity. In fact some our our lasting memories of her are when she took the dance floor at the evening discos, as well as her rigorous but playful approach in the studio.
Kuldip Singh-Barmi, founder member of Candoco, struck a particular connection with her and subsequently travelled to Montreal to do some research and development with France, and later co-created a duet with her, called ‘Etc…’. Later France met Candoco Artist Jemima Hoadley and came over to another Candoco Summer School in 2001 specifically to work with Jemima. Their collaboration continued to grow over the years, with Jemima returning to work with France in Quebec and finally choreographing ‘All in an Instant’ for her company.
These two artistic relationships and her awareness and involvement with Candoco were, I believe, instrumental in France’s pioneering journey. She went on to develop her dance practice as a performer, teacher, choreographer and activist before founding Corpuscule Danse in 2000 with Martine Lusignan and Isaac Savoie.
Corpuscule Danse was the first professional integrated dance company in Quebec and through their choreographic commissions, conferences and education work, France was able to realise her artistic and social vision to provide opportunities for disabled people to dance in professional and inclusive dance settings.
In this way, France’s work with Corpuscule Danse has helped redefine and develop contemporary dance in Quebec.
Everyone from the Candoco community, past and present send their love and warmest wishes to France’s husband, company, friends and family. France was a truly fabulous person and artist; passionate and pioneering.
Charlotte Darbyshire, Artistic Director. 7th May 2021.