Mort de l'Empereur (La)

Author : Nadj, Josef
Creation date : 1989

Hungarian Josef Nadj, who has been dancing for Mark Tompkins or Catherine Diverrès, invents shows where childhood memories mix up with tales. A theatricality of resurgence, a memory in motion.


Nadj, Josef



      Josef Nadj was born in 1957 in Kanjiza, a province of Vojvodina in the former Yugoslavia, in what is today
Serbia. Beginning in childhood, he drew, practiced wrestling, accordeon, soccer and chess, intending a career
in painting.
      Between the ages of 15 and 18, he studied at the fine arts high school of Novi Sad (the capital of Vojvodina),
followed by 15 months of military service in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Afterwards, he left to study art history and music at the Academy of Fine Arts and at the University of Budapest,
where he also began studying physical expression and acting.
      In 1980, he left for Paris to continue his training with Marcel Marceau, Etienne Ducroux. Simultaneously he
discovered modern dance, at the time in a period of swift expansion in France. He followed the teachings of
Larri Leong (who combined dance, kimomichi and aidido) and Yves Cassati, also taking classes in tai-chi, butoh
and contact improvisation (with Mark Tompkins), began himself to teach the movement arts in 1983 (in France
and Hungary), and participated as a performer in works by Sidonie Rochon (Papier froissé, 1984), Mark
Tompkins (Trahison Men, 1985), Catherine Diverrès (l’Arbitre des élégances, 1988) and François Verret (Illusion
comique and La, commissioned by the GRCOP, 1986).
      In 1986 he founded his company, Théâtre JEL – “jel” meaning “sign” in Hungarian – and created his first work,
Canard Pékinois, presented in 1987 at the Théâtre de la Bastille and remounted the following year at the
Théâtre de la Ville in Paris.
      Up to now, he is the author of about thirty performances.
      In 1982, Josef Nadj completely abandoned drawing and painting to dedicate himself fully to dance, and would
not begin showing his work again until fifteen years later. But in 1989 he began practicing photography,
pursuing it without interruption to the present. Since 1996, his visual arts and graphic works, most often
conceived in cycles or series – sculpture-installations, drawings, photos – have been regularly exhibited in
galleries and theatres.
      In 2006, Josef Nadj was Associated Artist for the 60th Festival of Avignon, presenting Asobu as the festival's
opening performance in the Court of Honour of the Palais des Papes, as well as Paso doble, a performance
created in collaboration with the painter Miquel Barcelo at the Celestins Church. In July 2010, he returned to
present Les Corbeaux, a duet with Akosh Szelevényi.
      To mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Anton Chekhov, Valery Shadrin, director of
the Chekhov International Theatre Festival and Artistic Director of the Year 2010 France-Russia,
invited Josef Nadj for the creation of a show dedicated to the playwright, which was performed in Moscow and
St. Petersburg.
      Josef Nadj was present at the Prague Quadrennial of 16 to 26 June 2011. TheQuadrennial held in Prague since
1967, is the most famous event in the world for performing arts. More than sixty countries attended this
year. Josef Nadj was selected to participate in the project "Intersection" based on intimacy and performance. An
ephemeral village was created, which consisted of boxes (“white cubes / black boxes") that stood for
thirty world-renowned artists, each one represented by a different box.
      Since 1995, Josef Nadj has been the director of the Centre Chorégraphique National d’Orléans.


Prizes and honors received by Josef Nadj

Prize of the critics at the Festival « Mimos 1995 » in Périgueux (France), for Comedia tempio

First Prize of the public at the 32nd festival « BITEF » in Belgrade in 1998, for Woyzeck, ou l'Ébauche du vertige

First Prize « Danza & Danza » of the critic, Italy, saison 1996/1997, for Les Commentaires d’Habacuc

First Prize of the public and critic, and the award for best direction, at the 1998 « Mess », the Sarajevo
International Theater Festival, for Le Vent dans le sac

« Masque d’or » of the best foreign performance presented in Russia for the year 2000, with Les Veilleurs

Critics' Grand Prize in dance 2001-2002 from the Syndicat professionnel de la critique de théâtre, de musique
et de danse (French Union of Theatre, Music and Dance Critics), for Les Philosophes and Petit psaume du matin

« Masque d’or » of the best foreign performance presented in Russia in 2002 with Woyzeck, ou l'Ébauche du

In 2002, Josef Nadj is Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for the contribution of his works to the
influence of the arts in France and accross the globe.

In 2005, the Association Française d'Action Artistique of the French Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs
awarded him its “Artistic Creator Without Borders Passport”, honouring the international dimension of his work
and in recognition of his pieces and the importance of their circulation beyond French borders.

Choreography prize by the Société des Auteurs, Compositeurs Dramatiques for his work.

VIIIe « Prix Europa / Nouvelles Réalités Théâtrales » – awarded on June 2006 in Turin (Italy), for his work.

Premis Fad (Foment de les Arts Decoratives) Sebastia Gash International 2006 of Arts Parateatrals in Barcelona
(Spain), for Paso doble

« Artiste émérite » prize - NEMZETI ERÖFORRÀS MINISZTERIUM – ERDEMES MÜVESZ – awarded on the 15th
March, 2011 in Budapest (Hungary)

In 2011, Josef Nadj is promoted Officier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for the contribution of his works to
the influence of the arts in France and accross the globe.



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CNC - Images de la culture collection

CNC - Images de la culture collection

Under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture and Communication, the Images de la culture catalogue, managed by the Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée (CNC - National Centre of Cinematography and the moving image), presents 300 of its films devoted to dance. Bringing together recordings of shows, dramas, talks and documentaries, this collection reveals the invaluable diversity of aesthetics and approaches of the choreographic art from the 20th century to today.

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