For this new production Abou Lagraa has joined forces with the uncompromising director Mikaël Serre, a first in his journey as a choreographer. With this he has made a U-turn, with the desire to return to his original writing style – that of 'Nuit Blanche' and 'Cutting Flat' – without a mix of genres or hip-hop, and with high-level dancers who are able to throw themselves into it. There has also been a shift with the decision to choreograph a piece based on a text and to involve a director in the narrative structure. “I have always worked on abstraction; today I find it more enriching to choreograph based on a text, with the chronology of a narration that helps me to express myself more profoundly. That said, it isn't easy – you have to find the balance between dance and words. It's not theatre either, even though there are two actresses. It's something much freer.”
Devised as the first part of a series of three pieces, 'Le Cantique des Cantiques' examines the meaning of the word love, in a couple but above all towards others in our current society. It examines sexual identity, the place of women and intolerance, subjects that the choreographer has already tackled but this time reworked with a new maturity. “I feel better equipped to take on these topics which I'm passionate about – some of them are approached through the events of today, of this world which has been driven mad by the rise of fundamentalism. As a Muslim, I find it interesting to work on this text that comes from the Bible and the Torah. What open-mindedness it took to incorporate erotic and sensual texts into these sacred books, written two thousand years ago, given our knowledge that religion censures pleasure.” For Mikaël Serre, the religious context was different: “Religion was not yet as rigidly constructed as it is today. We are returning to its origins. The text attests to past that is ancient but generous, with feelings made visible, such as love and sexuality, with this quest for meaning, the idea of the unknown, of God. These people had a message to pass on the future generations, but the potential openness was obviously not pursued.”
A culture destroyed by religious fanaticism, the refusal of a society where there is dialogue between religions, homosexuality upon which some people spit without accepting it in themselves, sexual frustration, the man who fears a women's body, the regression of a society, of human rights: Abou Lagraa wants to talk about all of this and 'Le Cantique' allows him a dual reading. Then, there's love, which is not necessarily beauty – revealing violence, demanding commitment. The common thread is these three different duets inspired by the themes of the poem. “They allowed me to work on the concepts of fusion, ambiguity, the man/woman division, lyricism, the opposition of modesty and eroticism, the parity of desire, the transformation of states, separation, calm, solitude. Societal situations emerge within this structure.”
Mikaël Serre's theatre work is the opposite of the choreographer's dance; anchored in the real, disturbing, a refusal of aesthetics. For the first time he has joined up with a team, a demanding artists and no theatrical text. Though the challenge terrifies them, they are nevertheless delighted by this common space that enables them to get their own artistic vision moving. “This antagonism in our respective approaches is disturbing,” says Abou Lagraa. “However, it also allows us to mutually support each other so we can go in each other's direction, which brings a great deal of strength. With him, I have learnt not to let go of ideas that may be disturbing. For example, there is a scene that I would not have seen through if I had been on my own.” “His suggestions have allowed me to work on how a dialogue between composition and space is created, and to look deeper into what the two actresses might suggest,” adds Mikaël.
After two years of work, Abou Lagraa says that he has been deeply moved by this text, finding himself in the service of a poem and a production: “Its apparent simplicity hides a great complexity what has taken us very far in our research, as though it was the one that decided where we should go. The open road was exhausting and amazing, constantly bringing us back to today's world, between cruelty and hope.”
Source : Compagnie La Baraka
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