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Régine Chopinot created “K.O.K” in November 1988 at the Maison de la culture in La Rochelle, a ballet inspired by boxing, a sport that she became fascinated with when it was broadcast and popularized by Canal +, a young, inventive French pay-TV channel. Not only enthralled by the body language of this sport but also by the comments that assimilated it to dance, Régine Chopinot decided to create a performance based on this world. Although the influence of television on this work may seem insignificant, it did have an impact: Régine Chopinot's choreography owed a lot to the way sports programmes were made, which were always at the cutting-edge of technical advances in the audiovisual field.
Initially, Régine Chopinot had thought about reproducing a boxing match to a tee (after having imagined using boxing body language to pastiche a classical ballet): the mythical encounter between Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvelous Marvin Hagler in Las Vegas in 1977. But she was quickly forced to give up the idea: “It was just a dream to think we could have done it. Only boxers can take part in a fight in the ring. It's impossible to reproduce someone else's match. A boxing match isn't like a ballet that can be communicated, passed on” . So, she decided to work out her own fights. For the next two years, Chopinot and her dancers swapped their dance studios for a gymnasium where they took part in sustained English boxing training with a well-known coach.
Created for four boxer-performers and an actor (Jean-Hugues Laleu), the matches that oppose Poids Chiche (R. Chopinot), Alonso Plumard (Joseph Lennon), Archie Black (Lee Black) and Boo Bull (Poonie Dudson) take place in twelve rounds, on a rotating ring designed by Marc Caro, backed by a very precise soundtrack produced by André Serré, mixing noises of crowds (boos, applause, etc.), of the match (announces, whistles, refereeing, etc.), beats of tango and lyrical music, notably interpreted by the soprano Marie Atget. These twelve zany rounds were described as follows, in the communication materials that accompanied the work:
1st round: An irreplaceable coach: Mr Benamou conducts intensive training for five dancers 2nd round: The infernal duo 3rd round: 3 minutes – 1 minute – 3 minutes – 1 minute: ritual 4th round: The mythological décor of an arena created by Marc Caro: the ring is central 5th round: Long live Mohamed Ali, adieu to butchery boxing 6th round: All is played out between six eyes – The face-to-face of the boxers under the eyes of the referee 7th round: Looking for a boost in Marie Atger's voice 8th round: Naked by Jean Paul Gaultier 9th round: In matches where there's no K.O., it's often the decisive stage 10th round: Boxing, this noble art, a weaveworld of technical fancywork, 11th round: The complicity of sound with André Serré and of light with Gérard Boucher 12th round: Last round: Choreography and production by Régine Chopinot.
Marked by a series of setbacks, the achievement of “K.O.K” was one of a saga and its final creation date was postponed for five months, meaning it had to be dropped from the Montpellier Danse Festival programming. Yet, its colossal ambitions would go on to be rewarded and reviews would be unanimously confident about its success. Régine Chopinot produced a video clip, a totally “must-do” means of communication, entitled “K.O.K [clip]” at the same time as she created her work.
This creation, which arrived during a period in which Régine Chopinot had become a highly-sought-after media phenomenon, was a means for her to rediscover her art, as Annie Suquet suggests in her 2010 book on the choreographer: “In a rather more discreet way perhaps, boxing reminded Régine Chopinot of what she expected from dance, when she was thinking that she may have strayed from the path. In boxing, the necessity to train pushes the individual's mental and physical resources to their limit.”  When “ANA” (1990), her next creation hit the scene, she said to the press: “My ballets were pyres where I burnt my dance. Boxing helped me rediscover my body and the pleasure of movement...” 
 R. Chopinot in an interview with Michel Chemin, “Régine Chopinot, la danse qui fait bing !”, see Régine Chopinot's artist file, CND (National Centre for Dance) media library.
 A. Suquet, “Chopinot”, Le Mans: Ed. Cénomane, 2010, p.41.
 R. Chopinot quoted by Brigitte Hernandez, “La brise Chopinot”, Le Point, 5 November 1990, No. 946, p.27.
Updating : March 2012
Régine Chopinot, born in 1952 in Fort-de-l'Eau (today known as Bordj El Kiffan), in Algeria, was attracted to choreographic art from early childhood. After studying classical dance, she discovered contemporary dance with Marie Zighera in 1974. She moved to Lyon where she founded her first company in 1978, the Compagnie du Grèbe, which included dancers, actors and musicians. Here, she created her first choreographies. Three years later, she was awarded second prize in the Concours chorégraphique international de Bagnolet (Bagnolet International Choreographic Contest) for “Halley's Comet” (1981), later known as “Appel d'air”. Her next pieces of work “Délices” (Delights) and “Via”, introduced other media including the cinema to the world of dance. In 1983 with “Délices”, Régine Chopinot began her longstanding partnership with the fashion designer, Jean Paul Gaultier, which would characterize the period, which included works such as “Le Défilé” (The Fashion show) (1985), “K.O.K.” (1988), “ANA” (1990), “Saint Georges” (1991) and “Façade” (1993). In 1986, Régine Chopinot was appointed director of the Centre chorégraphique national de Poitou-Charentes (Poitou-Charentes National Choreography Centre) in La Rochelle (where she succeeded Jacques Garnier and Brigitte Lefèvre's Théâtre du Silence), which went on to become the Ballet Atlantique-Régine Chopinot (BARC), in 1993. Régine Chopinot made a myriad of artistic encounters: from visual artists like Andy Goldsworthy, Jean Le Gac and Jean Michel Bruyère, to musicians such as Tôn-Thât Tiêt and Bernard Lubat.
At the beginning of the 90s, she moved away from – according to her own expression – “ultra-light spaces” in which, at a young age, she had become acknowledged, in particular through her partnership with Jean Paul Gaultier. She then became fascinated with experimenting on confronting contemporary dance with natural elements and rhythms and on testing age-old, complex body sciences and practices, such as yoga. In 1999, as part of “associate artists”, Régine Chopinot invited three figures from the world of contemporary dance to partner with her for three years on her artistic project: Françoise Dupuy, Dominique Dupuy and Sophie Lessard joined the BARC's troupe of permanent dancers and consultants-researchers, as performers, pedagogues and choreographers.
In 2002, she initiated the “triptyque de la Fin des Temps” (Triptych of the End of Time), a long questioning of choreographic writing and creation subsequent to her creation of a voluntary state of crisis of general notions of time, of memory and of construction. “Chair-obscur”, her first chapter, focused on erasing the past, the memory, whilst “WHA” was based on the disappearance of the future. “O.C.C.C.” dealt with the “time that's left”, with what is left to be done, with what can still be done, in that simple, yet essential spot called performance. In 2008, “Cornucopiae”, the last work created within the Institution, concluded the end of a form of performance and opened the doors to another approach to sensorial perception.
Concurrently to her choreographic work, Régine Chopinot worked, as a performer, with other artists that she was close to: Alain Buffard (“Wall dancin' - Wall fuckin'”, 2003; “Mauvais Genre”, 2004), Steven Cohen (“I wouldn't be seen dead in that!”, 2003). In addition, she trained and directed Vietnamese dancers as part of a partnership with the Vietnam Higher School of Dance and the Hanoi Ballet-Opera (“Anh Mat”, 2002; “Giap Than”, 2004). In 2008, the choreographer left the CCN in La Rochelle and created the Cornucopiae - the independent dance Company, a new structure that would, henceforth, harbour creation and repertoire, all the works of Régine Chopinot. In 2010, she chose to live and work in Toulon, by its port.
Since 2009, Régine Chopinot has been venturing, questioning and intensifying her quest for the body in movement linked to the strength of the spoken word, through cultures organized by and on oral transmission, in New Caledonia, New Zealand and Japan. These last three years have been punctuated by a myriad of artistic creations: choreographies and films resulting from artistic In Situ experiences were created as part of the South Pacific Project. A privileged relationship initiated in 2009 with the Du Wetr Group (Drehu/Lifou) bore its fruits with the creation of “Very Wetr!”at the Avignon Festival in July 2012 and went on to be reproduced at the Centre national de la danse (National Centre for Dance) in February 2013.
Last update : March 2012
Choreography : Régine Chopinot
Interpretation : Lee Black, Régine Chopinot, Poonie Dodson / Mervyn Francis, Joseph Lennon et Jean-Hugues Laleu
Additionnal music : "Zuelgnung" de Richard Strauss soprano Marie Atger pianiste Elizabeth Cooper
Lights : Gérard Boucher
Costumes : Jean Paul Gaultier
Settings : Marc Caro
Sound : André Serré
Other collaborations : Chant Marie Atger - Piano Denis Dubois - Entraînement Zoubid Benhamou de l'équipe Jean Bretonnel
About « KOK »
- Sylvie de Nussac, "Sauts périlleux et uppercuts", Le Monde, 23 novembre 1988, p. 14. - Bernard Merigaud, "Combats de KOK et autres histoires", Télérama, 25 mai 1988, p. 16-17. - Jean-Claude Dienis, "Chopinot : n'être jamais là où l'on m'attend", Danser, novembre 1988, n° 61, p. 44-47. - Marjorie Alessandrini, "Victoire aux poings", Le Nouvel Observateur, 26 janvier 1989.
- Chantal Noetzel-Aubry, "Régine Chopinot, boxeuse poids danse", La Croix, 23 janvier 1989. - Jean-Marc Adolphe, "Nous allons gagner ce soir", Vent d'ouest, Maison de la culture de La Rochelle, novembre-décembre 1988, p. 2. - Jean-François Abet, "Chopinot boxeuse à la vitesse du break", Libération, 17 septembre 1988. - Chemin Michel, "Chopinot, rounds d'observation", Libération, 4 novembre 1988.
Régine Chopinot, KOK, [s.l.] : ARP ; Cie Chopinot (CC Poitou-Charentes) , 1989, 45 min.