“Blowin’” was created in May 2007 at the MC93 in Bobigny as part of the Rencontres chorégraphiques de Seine Saint-Denis (Choreographic Encounters of Seine Saint Denis). In this creation for 8 dancers and 2 musicians, Catherine Diverrès explores the relationship between dance and music, by privileging improvisation which “gives priority to the moment and the performer” (paper for circulation from the Triangle, 22-23 November 2007), instead of writing and composition. The music played on stage by the percussionist Seijiro Murayama and the saxophone player Jean-Luc Guionnet interacts live and direct with the dance as it shares the same space.
In response to a journalist, Catherine Diverrès comments on the title of the creation and the image of the dandelion used to illustrate the programme and provides some insight: “One day when I said: “I’m not trendy” (in French “I don’t fly with the wind”), Laurent Peduzzi, the stage designer, began singing one of Bob Dylan’s songs “Blowin’ in the Wind” – the answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind, so, isn’t truth blown by the wind? – a political song. Blowin', breathing, vital for us dancers. The image of a dandelion is related, everyone has blown on a dandelion clock. The beauty of this plant species, with its fine stalks, for me, represents the work on the stage, a whole team at work, this is something that I uphold greatly”. (C. Diverrès, in B. Bonis, “Je suis une femme d'écriture”, Danser, May 2007, n° 265, p. 19)
Highly inspired by the ancestral I Ching, the Book of Changes which the choreographer states she has been reading for thirty years, “Blowin'” is imbued with the Asian spirit, which she sought to build on during a residence project in China, which was shelved and which here is rehabilitated. This work, explains the choreographer is “an event that is guided, signposted, but which will move, each time, in different directions as regards organizing durations and articulations”.
Beyond the relationship between musicians and dancers, all the relationships involved in the choreographic discipline are put back into play: the duration of themes, relationship with the public, its relationship to space, up to the choice of the themes addressed, which are left to the programmer. “Through these decisions and these coincidences construction emerges, the possibility to perceive an organic whole...” states the programme which accompanies the creation of the work (Rencontres chorégraphiques de Seine Saint-Denis (Choreographic Encounters of Seine Saint Denis) programme, 12-13 May 2007).
The entertaining daring of “Blowin’” is in the fact that it is up to each programmer to choose three elements among six improvisation principles proposed for their impact on the performance stripped bare of all psychology and literary approach: unity, opposition, accumulation, transformation, earth (kun), sky (qian). “Each principle involves spatial organization and a particular composition pattern, which catalyzes new learning”, states the choreographer, “we have to learn to see, to decipher, to situate ourselves, to transform ourselves – to lose, to find a place within the group. Body to body, horde movements, moments of solitude sketch abstract figures experiencing ritual, daily and imaginary moments. Setting the tempo to these lines, the saxophone player and the drummer move, travelling through space and sound, going from ecstatic energy to meditation”. Matching the choice of three of these principles, three figures written by the dancers and Catherine Diverrès explore the grotesque, lyricism, Eros, nostalgia. The proposal selected for the performance that the film shows alternates the following elements: lyricism (figure), transformation (principle), nostalgia (figure), unity (principle), grotesque (figure), accumulation (principle), Eros (figure), earth (principle), grotesque (figure), opposition (principle), lyricism (figure).
In I. Filiberti’s opinion, by “including the programmers and the public in her choices”, “Blowin’ pushes the notion of choice, specific to improvisation, to its political level” (I. Filiberti, Catherine Diverrès, mémoires passantes. Paris: Centre national de la danse; L'Oeil d'or, 2010, p. 92). For Catherine Diverrès, it is definitely a way of involving each individual a little more in the development and reception process of a show: “random improvisation empowers the performers and the programmers” (C. Diverrès, in B. Bonis, “Je suis une femme d'écriture”, Danser, May 2007, n° 265, p. 19).
Due to a lack of budget, the stage design imagined by Laurent Peduzzi was reduced: the performers move around on a stage, lit simply by naked light bulbs, like the rest of the venue, for the sake of harmony. Part of the public is located on the stage itself based on a schema imagined by the programmer except for in proscenium and traverse configurations.
This creation is also a test for improvisation as a means of composition, for Catherine Diverrès who very early on established herself as a woman of writing in response to the American influence of the 1980s. The work, presented as a radical reassessment of the choreographer’s language and writing, “shatters, disperses and dismantles the fundamentals, so that they may be re-established through other perspectives, strengths and weaknesses probed and set against other challenges and opportunities” (I. Filiberti, “Blowin ou l'écriture en question”, Les cahiers du CCNRB, 2007, n°1, p. 6-7): “I began by asking myself how I could create a ‘precipitate’ from my previous works and autonomously extract the principles which are always combined in the creations. How could I find the colour of each principle, clearly and legibly highlight the fundamental notions: space, time, movement?” (C. Diverrès, in I. Filiberti, “Blowin ou l'écriture en question”, Les cahiers du CCNRB, 2007, n°1, p. 6-7)
Updating: July 2014
Catherine Diverrès has said, “Conscience, our relationship with others, this is what creates time”, ever since her first choreographic creation. She is a sort of strange meteor, appearing in the landscape of contemporary dance in the mid-80’s. She stood out almost immediately in her rejection of the tenets of post-modern American dance and the classically-based vocabularies trending at that time. She trained at the Mudra School in Brussels under the direction of Maurice Béjart, and studied the techniques of José Limón, Merce Cunningham and Alwin Nikolais before joining the company of Dominique Bagouet in Montpellier, then deciding to set out on her own choreographic journey.
Her first work was an iconic duo, Instance, with Bernardo Montet, based upon a study trip she took to Japan in 1983, during which she worked with one of the great masters of butoh, Kazuo Ohno. This marked the beginning of the Studio DM. Ten years later she was appointed director of the National Choreographic Center in Rennes, which she directed until 2008.
Over the years, Catherine Diverrès has created over thirty pieces, created her own dance language, an extreme and powerful dance, resonating with the great changes in life, entering into dialogues with the poets: Rilke, Pasolini and Holderlin, reflecting alongside the philosophers Wladimir Jankelevich and Jean-Luc Nancy, focusing also on the transmission of movement and repertoire in Echos, Stances and Solides and destabilising her own dancing with the help of the plastician Anish Kapoor in L’ombre du ciel.
Beginning in 2000, she began adapting her own style of dance by conceiving other structures for her creations: she improvised with the music in Blowin, developed projects based on experiences abroad, in Sicily for Cantieri, and with Spanish artists in La maison du sourd. Exploring the quality of stage presence, gravity, hallucinated images, suspensions, falls and flight — the choreographer began using her own dance as a means of revealing, revelation, unmasking, for example in Encor, in which movements and historical periods are presented. Diverrès works with the body to explore the important social and aesthetic changes of today, or to examine memory, the way she did in her recent solo in homage to Kazuo Ohno, O Sensei.
And now the cycle is repeating, opening on a new period of creation with the founding of Diverrès’ new company, Association d’Octobre, and the implantation of the company in the city of Vannes in Brittany. Continuing on her chosen path of creation and transmission, the choreographer and her dancers have taken on a legendary figure, Penthesilea, the queen of the Amazons, in Penthésilée(s). In returning to group and collective work, this new work is indeed another step forward in the choreographer’s continuing artistic journey.
Source: Irène Filiberti, website of the company Catherine Diverrès
More information: compagnie-catherine-diverres.com
Compagnie Catherine Diverrès
Choreography : Catherine Diverrès
Interpretation : danseurs Fabrice Dasse, Julien Fouché, Marta Izquierdo Munoz, Sing Im Kweon, Rafael Pardillo, Emilio Urbina, Thierry Micouin, Filipe Lourenço
Set design : Laurent Peduzzi
Live music : Seijiro Murayama (percussions), Jean-Luc Guionnet (saxophone)
Lights : Catherine Diverrès et Eric Corlay - Conseil lumière Marie-Christine Soma
Costumes : Cidalia da Costa assistée de Claude Gorophal
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