Kathy Laurent Pourcel, a dancer against all odds

the essential
At 23, the Agenaise Kathy Laurent-Pourcel is a professional dancer. A singular journey intertwining passion and combat.

It is on the wildly catchy tune of My Way by Nina Simone that she appears on the screen. Dressed in simple jeans and a turquoise leotard, AirPods in her ears, she lights up the night quays of Bordeaux with her dance steps. Large throw, pirouettes and contemporary figures, Kathy Laurent-Pourcel, originally from Agen, has a smile on her face when she performs. His naturalness is disconcerting, his innate grace. Looking at her, one might think that all the doors have opened before her, but quite the contrary. His journey has been strewn with pitfalls. For what ? Because she suffered acts of discrimination during her career: “I was told that I was a stain”. But braving this obstacle does not scare her, she is a go-getter, and has been since she put on her first ballet shoes at the age of ten. “When I was little, I took circus and gymnastics lessons. I loved acrobatic tricks, but something was missing. That’s how I switched to dance,” explains Kathy. A flame that she stoked during her five years at the Agen Conservatory, from classical to contemporary lessons.

Aborted dreams

A devouring passion, a “kind of artistic bulimia”, which led him to join the Camille-Jullian high school in Bordeaux offering a dance option. “It was great, I had the satisfaction of being like a professional dancer. We had masterclasses and choreographers came to teach us bits of their creations. But above all, each year, we went to the European capitals of dancing for a week”. She remembers the shows in Lausanne, her choreographies in the Berlin metro and her dance steps in the streets of Brussels. “I had this inexplicable need to dance. I had to evacuate a lot of things and dance has this power to do good”, she says. She then leads her studies, but also her lessons at the conservatories of Bordeaux and Agen. A frantic pace for his young age which resulted in a shoulder injury and the partial cessation of discipline. “I kept telling myself that my body was no longer capable of it,” she recalls.

She, who dreamed of becoming a classical ballet dancer, no longer feels able to continue on this path. For a time at least. Because even if Kathy decides to move towards a degree in science education, she quickly returns to her first love during her college years. “I decided to take the dance option at university and I fell back into it. I relearned to love dance with a more breast-based learning”. From then on, she resumed intensive lessons to catch up and followed, after obtaining her license, training as a dancer. She revives. She is rebuilding. Once her certificate of professional dancer in her pocket, she flies to Paris where she will not be at the end of her surprises.

“Blacks in France”

In June 2020, on leaving confinement, Kathy posted a photo shoot on Facebook, carried out with a friend, on the absence of black dancers in France. Four months later, she received a private message from a journalist from France 2 wishing to make a documentary on the subject. She believes in a joke. But despite some reluctance she launches. “Go deal!”. In “Blacks in France” (1), broadcast on January 18, 2021 in front of 2.9 million viewers, the Agenaise recounts her career, but also all the discriminating behavior and remarks she suffered in her daily life as a dancer: “A black swan is a stain”, “you are too fat”. She explains how the material of the dancers is not suitable for black skin and that she had to dye. “It was the first time that I put words to what I had experienced. I realized that it was not normal. Nobody has the right to forbid anyone to dance and especially whatever its color, its weight or whatever”. At 23, Kathy realized her dream. She joined two dance companies including “Remue Ménage”, combines video clips and photo shoots. “Today, I’m a dancer and I’m super proud of it.”

(1) The documentary “Blacks in France” directed by Aurelia Perreau and the writer Alain Mabanckou, gives voice to black people of all ages and from all walks of life.