Dramatist point of view
Sometimes, among contemporary choreographies, of which many may appear to be modern mysteries inaccessible to reason and laymen, a piece of great obviousness is born. MAMMAME is such a piece, or rather has become one after being perceived as a dancing object not identifiable with creation in 1985.
Beneath its cabalistic title and despite it MAMMAME is, in fact, a fiery venture seeking elucidation. Of what? How? In what it proclaims on the stage through each movement, each burst, each shock - the necessary integrity of the body. Without words, it replies to the world, in almost a militant way, that the human body is one and indivisible, that it is a divine machine of blood, sweat, skin and soul. And suddenly, of course, in this time of unbearable events, the message takes on its true strength. A buffoon makes, for us, this terrible observation that the obvious has become today a utopia.
MAMMAME is, undeniably, to be classed in “pieces of life”. But is it only a succession of harmoniously placed bursts or is it a story? “In dance, said the choreographer, some of us enjoy telling stories whereas others not at all.” We can therefore ask ourselves whether his quest is not leading him to try and make choreographic works with two faces, you could say cubist, that make it possible, depending on the standpoint of the spectator, depending on the meanders of his mind, to see simultaneously on the scene an abstraction, a narration, an abstraction, a narration, in the same way as, by playing with a hologram, you can see two aspects of a same image.
MAMMAME appears to enable this approach. Through the history of the “MAMMAME” tribe it is possible to tell (oneself) a story. Jean-Claude Gallotta does it. “MAMMAME, a garrison town in the Arkadine desert, on the 20th June of a leap year. The dance opens with the fall of a man.” A kind of endangered species the “MAMMAMES” dance the Cabscholle…
But those who prefer games of the body and abstraction, sound and meaning, will firstly see in the word “MAMMAME” a sort of 12-legged phonetic caterpillar. This crawling, unending word (mammamemammamemammame…) recalls that any dance takes its source in the ground. As for all caterpillars, we look for the head and tail, “MAMMAME” is a palindrome whose name we chew rather than pronounce.
Thus relieved of the burden of carrying a meaning, this succession of letters can be understood as a simple onomatopoeia which recalls that the mouth, the lips, the vocal chords, the larynx, right through to the sounds that come out, are also to be choreographed. Even prevented from giving access to the least evocation, the title “MAMMAME” says the dance. Pronounce it, and already something in you starts to dance. Chew it and you outline with your lips something similar to a choreographic movement. By giving the spectator this title to put in his mouth the choreographer does not give him a key but offers him the body and soul of the production. “MAMMAME” is a choreographed dance to be eaten.
It thus belongs to an art of regeneration, that is to say that intends humbly to help reconstitute in us the human part that our guilty indifference to the world devitalises each day a little more.
Claude-Henri Buffard – January 1998
After a trip to New York in which he discovered the work of Merce Cunningham, Lucinda Childs, Steve Paxton, Trisha Brown, Stuart Sherman and Yvonne Rainer, Jean-Claude Gallotta – with Mathilde Altaraz – founded the Émile Dubois Group in Grenoble in 1979, which, in 1981, joined the Grenoble Arts Centre as a dance creation unit. This was where Ulysse was born, a playful ballet using both classical and modern vocabularies.
The Émile Dubois Group became the National Choreographic Centre and took up Ulysse again in 1984 for the Olympic Games Festival in Los Angeles, the American Dance Festival, the Holland Festival and the Avignon Festival.
This was followed by: Les Aventures d’Ivan Vaffan, Les Louves and Pandora. In 1986, Jean-Claude Gallotta was asked to be the director of the Grenoble Arts Centre – renamed “Le Cargo” -, thereby becoming the first choreographer to be appointed to run this type of institution.
In 1987, the ballet Mammame was performed at the Montreal International Festival of New Dance: the Canadian press (dance and theatre) awarded him the prize for the Best Foreign Performance of the Year. In 1989, after some ten audiovisual collaborations with, for example, Claude Mouriéras and Raoul Ruiz, Jean-Claude Gallotta produced his first full-length film: Rei Dom – La Légende des Kreuls. This was followed by Docteur Labus and Les Mystères de Subal.
Jean-Claude Gallotta then resigned as director of the Grenoble Arts Centre and published his first book, Mémoires d’un dictaphone.
During the 1991-1992 season, two choreographic creations combining dance, words and music were performed: La Légende de Roméo et Juliette, performed in November 1991 for the Albertville Olympic Arts Festival, and La Légende de Don Juan, performed in June 1992 for the Universal Exhibition in Seville, as a joint production with the Avignon Festival. Jean-Claude Gallotta then shot his second full-length film: l’Amour en deux.
1993: publication of Les Yeux qui dansent (interviews with Bernard Raffalli).
In July of the same year, Jean-Claude Gallotta recreated Ulysse at the Châteauvallon Festival. This was followed by a long international tour.
1994: Prémonitions, a new choreography created in Grenoble. 1995: at the request of ‘Lyon Opéra Ballet’, Jean-Claude Gallotta composed La Solitude du danseur, four solos performed to music by Erik Satie. Gallotta then worked with Nicholas Hytner and Sir Charles Mackerras to produce La Petite Renarde Rusée, an opera by Leos Janacek, performed by the Théâtre du Châtelet.
At the Châteauvallon Festival, Jean-Claude Gallotta choreographed and performed the solo Hommage à Pavel Haas. In Grenoble, he created La Tête contre les fleurs for the company. This was followed in 1996 by Rue de Palanka, and in 1997, La Rue (an event for 3,000 spectators) and the creation of La Chamoule ou l’Art d’aimer.
A longstanding collaboration was set up with Japan, at the invitation of the director Tadashi Suzuki: from 1997 to 2000, Jean-Claude Gallotta ran the dance department at the new Shizuoka Performing Arts Centre, training and directing a permanent company of eight Japanese performers. In 1998, Jean-Claude Gallotta also directed Le Ventriloque by Jean-Marie Piemme and Le Catalogue by Jean-Bernard Pouy, and wrote Pierre Chatel for “l’Adieu au siècle”.
Jean-Claude Gallotta created Les Variations d’Ulysse for the Paris Opera Ballet, which was performed at the Opéra Bastille in 1995, and repeated in 1998. He also created Nosferatu in May 2002 to music by Pascal Dusapin; the ballet was performed again in spring 2006 at the Opéra Bastille.
In 1999, he created Presque Don Quichotte at the Douai Hippodrome; the piece was also performed in Shizuoka, Japan. In 2000, he created l’Incessante, a solo for Mathilde Altaraz, at the Avignon Festival as part of Le Vif du Sujet. In 2001, he created Les Larmes de Marco Polo for the Lyon International Biennial.
In 2002, he created 99 duos at the Chaillot National Theatre, the first part of a trilogy on ‘People’. In 2003, he prepared Trois générations for the Avignon Festival, which was eventually cancelled. The piece, which includes children, former dancers and the Company, was performed at the Rampe d’Echirolles in March 2004.
It was performed in May of the same year at the Chaillot National Theatre and was repeated in November 2005. The same year, he worked with the director Hans-Peter Cloos to produce a show combining dance, theatre and music, Les sept pechés capitaux by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. In 2006, he created Des Gens qui dansent, the third part of the trilogy initiated by 99 duos and Trois Générations and, in 2007, he repeated his flagship piece from the 80s, Ulysse, under the title Cher Ulysse.
In 2008, Bach danse experience with Mirella Giardelli and “L’Atelier des Musiciens du Louvre”; Armide by Lully with the conductor William Christie and the director Robert Carsen at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris; Chroniques chorégraphiques - season 1, a sort of “stage movie” that allowed him to pursue his poetic research into genres and people.
In 2009, he created l’Homme à tête de chou, with the original words and music by Serge Gainsbourg in a version recorded for the show by Alain Bashung. In April 2011, he performed a solo with Faut qu’je danse ! as a prelude to the recreation of his trio Daphnis é Chloé in Grenoble.
In October 2011, again in Grenoble and with a piece for thirteen dancers, he took on Igor Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps, which he presented in April 2012 at the Chaillot National Theatre, Paris, along with Tumulte and Pour Igor in the first part.
At the end of 2012, he is to present Racheter la mort des gestes - Chroniques chorégraphiques 1 at the Théâtre de la Ville, then at MC2; in early 2013, his recreation of Yvan Vaffan (first performed in 1984) will enable him to continue his work on the repertoire, alternating with his creations and thereby pleading for a certain “continuity in art” and seeking patiently to share with his audience the same story: the story of a shared artistic history and future.
In October 2013, he directed the singer Olivia Ruiz in El Amor Brujo byManuel de Falla, a piece presented together with Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale, a show on which he worked together with the conductor Marc Minkowski and the director Jacques Osinski.
For the 2014-15 season, he presented The Rite and its Revolutions (including the first performance of Xenakis’s Jonchaies and Six Pieces for Orchestra, op. 6 by Webern (Homage to Angela Davis) at the Philharmonie de Paris, and in June he gave the first performance of The Stranger, based on the novel by Albert Camus at the MC2 in Grenoble.
He is opening the 2015-2016 season with My Rock at the MC2 in Grenoble, and at the Théâtre du Rond-Point in Paris.
In 2009, he adapted Serge Gainsbourg's album l'Homme à tête de chou (performed for the occasion by Alain Bashung), created with singer Olivia Ruiz, Volver, presented in 2016 at the Biennale de la danse de Lyon; he also worked on rock figures with My Rock (2004) then My Ladies Rock (2017). In September 2017, the Adami, Maison des artistes interprètes and the Théâtre du Rond-Point gave him carte blanche to stage two exceptional evenings around the work of Bob Dylan, with performers from all disciplines, including the group Moriarty.
Since the end of 2015, Jean-Claude Gallotta has been associate author at the Théâtre du Rond-Point in Paris. The Groupe Émile Dubois is housed at the MC2: Grenoble.
In September 2018, he presented Comme un trio, based on Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan, and the re-creation of l'Homme à tête de chou at the Printemps de Bourges festival in April 2019. He is preparing a new creation for the autumn of 2020, entitled Le Jour se rêve, with musician Rodolphe Burger and visual artist Dominique-Gonzalez Foerster.
More information : www.gallotta-danse.com
Groupe Émile Dubois
At the end of the 1970s, a handful of young choreographers burst onto the French scene. Jean-Claude Gallotta was one of them. In 1981, he created his company, the Groupe Emile Dubois, with Mathilde Altaraz, and eight dancers (four men and four women), inspired by Merce Cunningham’s and John Cage’s choreographic revolution in New York. These dancers were not recruited on technical criteria alone but also on their personality, their difference and their desire to integrate a group: one hails from theatre, another from the world of architecture, while a third is a doctor.
The G.E.D. was invited to set itself up as a creative unit within the walls of the Maison de la Culture de Grenoble, today the MC2. One of its first pieces, “Ulysse” (1981), was immediately recognised as the founder of the Nouvelle Danse Française. The choreographer surprises us with a “ballet blanc” (white ballet), which does not destroy the classical fabric but rather plays with it and incorporates it into contemporary gestures.
In these first few years, the G.E.D. helped give rise to the concept of the Centres Chorégraphiques Nationaux (French choreographic centers). The Grenoble CCN is one of the first, set up there in 1984.
At the start of the 1990s, the G.E.D. produced shows known as D.T.M. (dance, text, music) according to the idea that the notion of dance had to go beyond the simple question of bodily motion and must incorporate sound, voice, words and meaning.
In the course of time, although the team of dancers was renewed, the importance that the choreographer grants to the quality of human relationships has led each interpreter to follow the company for a number of shows, just like Thierry Verger since 1992 or Béatrice Warrand since 1995.
The G.E.D. thus embarks on a journey throughout the world, a choreographic style that, inspired by Cunningham, has developed in a highly personal manner with, in particular, the introduction of a gestural humour and a permanent reflection on the uniqueness of the body of “those who dance, those who have danced, those who would like to dance, and those who perhaps will never dance”.
At the end of 2015, the G.E.D. left the setting of the CCN to resume its first identity, while also continuing to work within the MC2 Grenoble. Jean-Claude Gallotta also became associate author of the Théâtre du Rond-Point in Paris.
The G.E.D. presented “Volver” in 2016, revived “My Rock”, created “My Ladies Rock” in 2017, and prepared “Comme un trio” after Françoise Sagan’s Bonjour Tristesse (autumn 2018), as well as the recreation of “l’Homme à tête de chou” (spring 2019).
In addition to Jean-Claude Gallotta’s creations, the G.E.D. also manages the transmission of repertoire pieces and awareness-raising actions with schools and amateurs.
The Groupe Émile Dubois / Cie Jean-Claude Gallotta is supported by the French Ministry of culture and communication as a Company with a national and international reach. It is also supported by the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region and the Département de l’Isère.
Source: Groupe Émile Dubois
More information: www.gallotta-danse.com
Choreography : Jean-Claude Gallotta
Choreography assistance : Mathilde Altaraz
Interpretation : Annabelle Bonnéry, Jean-Pierre Bonomo, Caroline Boureau, Ana Caetano, Darrell Davis, Lysiane Magnet, William Patinot, Yarmo Penttila, Thierry Verger, Béatrice Warrand
Original music : Henry Torgue et Serge Houppin
Lights : Sylvain Fabry et Jean-Claude Gallotta
Costumes : Jean-Yves Langlais, Jacques Schiotto
Production / Coproduction of the choreographic work : Centre Chorégraphique National de Grenoble avec le soutien de l'Espace Malraux – Scène Nationale de Chambéry / Savoie
Duration : 68'
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The “Nouvelle Danse Française” of the 1980s
The “Nouvelle Danse Française” of the 1980s
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