Independently of his partners and collaborators, the “interlocutor” Josef Nadj has chosen and the territory
where he has decided to venture for his next new work are not a writer (nor an artist) and his world, but rather
one of the founding works of Chinese civilization and wisdom. Simultaneously a mode of thought, a vision of
the world and of life, and an attempt to seize, grasp and understand the whole, the Yi Ching or the Book of
Transformations is a composite and collective work, elaborated over the course of centuries.
The platform, the initial “text” of the Yi Ching, consists of sixty-four hexagrams (forms each composed of
six positive or negative lines) attributed to the legendary Fu Shi, offering, based on concrete elements, a global
and hyperstructured representation of the universe in its infnite diversity. This representation is governed by the
principle that everything constantly changes. According to which, in other words, each form is permanently
susceptible of mutating, transforming itself or converting itself into another form. The specifc image Nadj draws
upon is water, which has no form in itself, but marries the form of that which contains it.
Josef Nadj calls upon the Yi Ching on a dualistic level – structural and poetic. He conceives of this new
piece as a web (one meaning of the word Ching) of which each knot corresponds to one of the sixty-four
hexagrams. Added to this is the idea that each one of us – and more largely, each being, living or inanimate – is
also a knot in a web. Sum of experiences and successive transformations, submitted to a network of complex
infuences that act on it and sometimes modify it deeply, at its turn and simultaneously it is capable of
exercising its own infuence, acting upon itself as well as interacting with the world and the beings which
Nadj has also found inspiration in the texts of commentaries corresponding to each hexagram, “deducing
by pure intuition”, devising sixty-four micro-events of extremely variable duration and nature – their respective
forms could just as well be reduced to a single sound or image as they could be developed into a complex
sequence. The unfolding of these events constitutes the dramaturgy of the piece. Envisioned like the weave of a
net, it will be brought forth throughout the course of rehearsals.
The piece brings together a double quartet, four dancers and four musicians. Akosh Szelevenyi’s music,
composed in parallel with the choreographic score, will literally be at the heart of the action, the
instrumentalists situated at the center of the scenography, affrming their presence on stage.
The Entracte project
In this project, foremost is the shared willingness to “change perspectives”, to escape the conventional
modes of relationship between dance and music, to attempt to reach a greater degree of osmosis, a genuine
interweaving of the two. “I don’t want the music,” says Nadj “to ‘fall into line’ with the dance, but rather for it to
take part in the material of the event from the beginning.” This guiding principle has an immediate incidence on
the process itself of the creation of the piece – it is no longer a question of working separately or in parallel, but
rather of uniting from start to fnish musicians and dancers in a shared working space and a shared creative
space. Developing the choreography with and within the constant physical presence of the musicians and their
instruments. And vice versa, entering the active presence of the dancers’ bodies into the research concerning
the fabric of the sound and music.
In order to give every chance to the shared work of research and confrontation, of elbow rubbing and
exploration, of actions and reactions, Josef Nadj planned on allowing the work to develop over several months,
freeing the collaborators as much as possible from the constraints of production, and especially from the
character of urgency that had marked his previous experiences with Akosh Szelevényi.
For both artists, the inherent characteristics of improvisation, with what it assumes of liberty, invention,
and discovery, but also of listening and openness with others, is essential. (In this regard, Nadj insists on the
clearly dramatic dimension of musical improvisation.)
This means that independently of the duration of the creative process, beyond the role taken on by
improvisation during the creation (in other words, within the conception of the piece and the totality of its
components – choreographic, musical, dramatic, visual and scenographic), the improvisation will continue at
the end of the process, in the fnished work itself.
Akosh Szelevényi links this attachment for improvisation with an aspect of his own approach, consisting
– especially in his duets with Gildas Etevenard – of constantly shifting and experimenting, including with new
instruments such as the gamelan or the harmonium for himself, or the trumpet or the gardon for Gildas
Etevenard. Which fnds form in his willingness to offer up zones of “lack of control” – a conception of art that
he shares with Josef Nadj.
THE MUSIC IN ENTRACTE
Josef Nadj and Music,
An encounter with Akosh Szelevényi
Perhaps the frst thing to recall is the importance of music for Josef Nadj – the role it played in his
training, the decisive place he has always carefully allotted to it in his stage work, and his collaborations,
sometimes long-term, with the musicians from whom he commissions original music for his works, sometimes
performed live onstage, as is the case for La Mort de l’Empereur, Les Philosophes, Asobu and Paysage après
l’orage. As for the colour of his musical choices, they turn in part to traditional music in all its diversity, but
above all to jazz and improvisational music.
Nadj’s encounter with Akosh Szelevényi, a musician originally from the same region, therefore seems
almost a foregone conclusion. It led, following several years of exchange and observation, to a frst
collaboration in 2003, when the Volcan, Scène Nationale du Havre, gave Josef Nadj carte blanche to organize a
“Hungarian Evening”. He invited Akosh Szelevényi to participate, to appear in the exclusively musical frst part,
but also to compose the music for the choreographic and musical performance piece that constituted the
second part of the evening – a performance prepared in seven days, that set the groundwork for Eden, a piece
that premiered the following year.
In 2006, Josef Nadj was the Associated Artist for the Festival of Avignon, and he notably included in the
program a certain number of music concerts – Phil Minton and Sophie Agnel; György Szabados; Archie Shepp,
Tom McLung and the Mihály Dresch Quartet; as well as Akosh Szelevényi in a duet with Gildas Etevenard, and
then in a trio with Joëlle Léandre and Szilárd Mezei. Nadj also called upon Akosh Szelevényi and Szilárd Mezei
to compose, and perform (accompanied by the drums of Gildas Etevenard and the string bass of Ervin Malina),
the music to Asobu, his own new work for the Court of Honour of the Papal Palace at Avignon.
Finally, in December of the same year, once again with Akosh Szelevényi and Gildas Etevenard, Josef
Nadj mounted Paysage après l’orage, a new version of Last Landscape (2005) for one dancer and two musicians.
For Akosh – who during previous collaborations with stage director François Cervantes had already
grasped the effects of the direct confrontation between the music and the presence of a body onstage – all of
these experiences were like the preparatory stages to the concretization of a project with Nadj already long in
the works. A project that would allow him to approach as close as possible to the music and to put into play his
musical conception of movement.
The Music of Entracte
With Entracte, the question for Akosh Szelevényi is not of defning a style or a form, nor of a priori
composing melodies, but above all of working and composing in concordance with Nadj’s scenic conception,
in other words, returning to the concrete and physical dimension of sound.
Or rephrased again, to seek (or fnd) the organic links between music and physical elements or
phenomena, bringing the music to refect or convey these elements or phenomena. Which presupposes,
specifes Akosh, being ready to abandon categories, structures, and habits (notes / instruments / composition)
“to remain receptive to what surrounds us.”
Which is why, at this stage, the instrumentation is not fxed (and even the invention and fashioning of
new instruments is not excluded), but it has been limited to acoustic instruments, often traditional or even
ancestral, in other words, “natural”.