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À La Rochelle, il n'y a pas que des pucelles...

À La Rochelle, il n'y a pas que des pucelles...

A La Rochelle il n'y a pas que des pucelles...

[In La Rochelle, there are not only virgins...] 

Behind this title with its merry rhyme, the amalgam of a sea shanty –  “Les Filles de La Rochelle” (The Girls of La Rochelle) – and of the name of a trawler anchored in the port of La Rochelle – the “Pucelle des mers” (the “Virgin of the seas”) – Régine Chopinot delivers a “cruel tale” with a nautical flavour, as her first creation as director of the Centre chorégraphique régional de Poitou-Charentes (Regional Choreography Centre of Poitou-Charentes) in La Rochelle.

She calls on a set designer, Didier Perréton, for the first time, whose stage device contributes to the narration. On the stage, a brilliant fabric hung under the fly system reflects the dancers and makes them turn 45 degrees: “The shimmering cloth above the dancers in the darkness of the first tableau? (...) more like battle fields, the time of wars where the horses' hooves raised clouds of billowing dust. A bit like the Battleship Potemkin…” [1]. This stage device would later be developed on a monumental scale in the set design for “ANA” (1990). A map in green and ochre is drawn on the floor, “like in school textbooks” the choreographer would specify, while the cardboard walls rise up to form a room in which remote-controlled spiders and boats sit, evocations of the universe populated with the pipe dreams of a child's bedroom.

In this bestiary ballet, vaguely narrative, Régine Chopinot plays a ring master who would orchestrate a modern flood: “I play the role of fate a little” she explains in an interview given to Lise Brunel, “that which makes the transition between the destruction of society and the discovery of the animals, which happens at the end of the world” [2]. The eight dancers, transformed into animals using headdress-masks which proved the finishing touches to the jumpsuits armed with tails and wings, costumes invented     by the fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier – each one adopting the costume corresponding to his Chinese astrological sign – leaving for a better world, fleeing chaos of the work.

Deeply affected by the Chernobyl disaster and the attacks which affected France at the time, Régine Chopinot took legends from the historical French provinces of Aunis and Saintonge and the pitiless universe which they evoke – that of the sailors' relationship with the ocean which nourishes them, carries them, soothes them and destroys them, but also with the storms and the wreckers – warning: only the animals will survive.

[1] Interview with Lise Brunel, « La Pucelle des mers », Le Matin, 12 December 1986.
[2] Interview with Lise Brunel, op. cit.

Programme extract

“It is a cruel tale about the worst aspects of modernity, above all about the bloody and revolting, the foolish and absurd, about the topicality of these last months. A look at a world right in the middle of a phase of collective decay. As often used in order to “ape” the humans, the characters here are animals. Nine animals, which are no more animals than we are, who board cardboard cut-outs in order to reach a “new world”. Adventures, pirouettes, storms and the turbulent environment of the end of the human world… Who, among these survivors, will reach, will have deserved to reach, this new promised land? Does it exist? A morality tale, an angry outburst too… »

Aline Apostolska, programme from the Cargo, Grenoble (February 1987)

Updating: February 2013

Chopinot, Régine

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.

More information

cornucopiae.net

Last update : March 2012

Chopinot, Régine

 

À La Rochelle, il n'y a pas que des pucelles...

Choreography : Régine Chopinot

Interpretation : Régine Chopinot, Herman Diephuis, Poonie Dodson, Ellen Karcher, Michèle Prélonge, Rita Quaglia, Monet Robier, Michio Suzuki, Frédéric Werlé (interprètes Distribution MC 93-Bobigny : Régine Chopinot, Herman Diephuis, Poonie Dodson, Michèle Prélonge, Rita Quaglia, Monet Robier, Frédéric Werlé)

Lights : Gérard Boucher

Costumes : Jean Paul Gaultier (réalisation des costumes des animaux par les Ateliers du Costume)

Settings : Didier Perreton

Other collaborations : Choréologue Noemie Perlov - Son André Serré - Effets spéciaux Claude Chaussignand

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