Régine Chopinot created “Les Garagistes” [The Mechanics] in September 2005 for the Dampf Festival in Cologne. Described as a “solo for three” by the choreographer, the piece brings together Régine Chopinot, the musician Gianni-Grégory Fornet and the lighting specialist Maryse Gautier, who engage in a process of the thorough review of choreographic mechanisms.
For 50 minutes, on a stage adorned only with the lights of Maryse Gautier and of a bank of projectors, the three actors work with the elements that make up the performance: G.-G. Fornet plays keyboard, guitar, sometimes saturating the volume and playing with its loops, while Régine Chopinot strips down gestures and movement, freeing them. With what is not exactly a complete absence of choreographic devices, rather a dismantling of them, the three protagonists perform laboratory work, relayed by the sound work of Nicolas Barillot. In line with “Trans(e)” (2000), it is the listening which constitutes the keystone of the work being developed here; it is through listening that the energy released by the actors circulates from one to the other.
As Régine Chopinot will recognise, the austere nature of this piece demands an acuity of perception from the spectators that is often badly understood. She returns to the source here, strips down gesture and movement to rediscover its simplicity and prepares a new skin that related to her imminent departure from the Centre chorégraphique de La Rochelle (La Rochelle Choreography Centre). The essence of the choreographic luggage that she prepares to carry and work with is what she presents on stage. In December 2007, she put forward a new version of the piece entitled “Garage”, which she also presented as the evocation of a mental place where she would have stored elements of her work in order to be better able to detach herself from it and to reinvent herself.
“Les Garagistes" is a piece that pushes, like couch grass, through the cracks of our collective time, when the Chapelle Fromentin remains empty; public holidays, weekends… The fabrication of “large” pieces: “WHA”, “O.C.C.C” is a fragmented series of unforeseeable acts, of life moreover, appearing in the hollows of a time too large to remain smooth but too intense not to always remain tense. “Les Garagistes” is a small research department where choreographic mechanics are completely dismantled, it is the laboratory where new materials are tested and then exploited by the dancers of the company. “Les Garagistes” are the freest discoveries. They are also recreations, always new, of the origins of my work. It is an anabasis. […] We are four garages in total: Maryse Gautier is looking for the light, its dynamism, its quality, its density, Gianni Fornet, the music. He recycles it, he recovers it, throws it. He sorts it. Nicolas Barillot guides the sounds, their colours, sources, amplifications. And me, I look for the various supports and the successive conditions of the expression of some of the simplest physical and mental gestures. I discover how I remember and how I invent. I discover how to forget, I recreate."
R. Chopinot, quoted in the Centre Pompidou's programme, March 2007
« Régine Chopinot continue donc d'inciter au réveil contre toutes les formes d'assoupissement à l'œuvre ici et là dans le champ social. Les Garagistes prolonge, à sa manière, cet état de vigilance à l'échelle de l'intime. Les trois auteurs de la pièces sont de véritables ouvriers de la scène, même si Maryse Gautier (lumières) reste dans l'ombre. (...) On sent que Régine Chopinot cherche en elle des résonances, tandis que le musicien, sans la quitter de l'œil, pince ses cordes et que des carrés lumineux s'éteignent comme on ferme une paupière. Le corps écoute, la musique regarde, la lumière parle.
“Régine Chopinot therefore continues to discourage all forms of apathy found almost everywhere in society. “Les Garagistes” prolongs, in its own way, this state of vigilance on a personal scale. The three authors of the piece are all real stage technicians, even if Maryse Gautier (lights) remains in the shade. (...) One feels that Régine Chopinot seeks in it resonances, while the musician, without letting her out of his sight, strums the strings of his instrument and that luminous squares are extinguished in the way one closes one's eyelids. The body listens, the music watches, the light speaks. “Les Garagistes” cultivates rapid fire humour, using Kung Fu film extracts with tearful heroines, their desperate hearts illustrated by two hands beating like wings, accompanied by the Asian strains of the guitar. The dancer lies on her back on the floor, under the bituminous crossfires of the projectors, perched high above the stage. “Les Garagistes”, with its reduced manpower, is no meagre performance however. With few means, a minimum of effects but a great deal of savoir-faire, live-show at all levels, the artist makes a success of an unconventional work, with variable geometry that changes from performance to performance. Here, nothing is fixed; everything is invented in an endless motivity. Chopinot, in whatever field, is never conservative.”
Muriel Steinmetz, L'Humanité, 22 November 2005
Updating: February 2013
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
Performance : Régine Chopinot
Live music : Gianni-Grégory Fornet
Lights : Maryse Gautier
Sound : Nicolas Barillot