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1924 was a particularly wonderful year for the man who declared: “I have always loved playing seriously.” Francis Picabia (1879- 1953), the indefatigable artist, writer and enthusiastic letter writer, was working on 391, an avant-garde Paris revue, using it that year to fight on two separate fronts: the academisation of Dada, which he dismissed with one of his polemical, brutally funny texts, and the pretentions of the nascent surrealism of André Breton, which he suspected was only a pathetic means of seizing power in the Parisian art world. He drew, he painted, he chatted with his co-conspirators Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray and between the laughter and the tears, found the time to work on Relâche or on editing his one novel, Caravansérail, which was both autobiographical and lost for a long time, it was only finally published after his death. With devastating cynicism, incomparable lucidity and humour, this Satyricon of modern times is that of an actor and spectator who sends up, sends off and records with jubilation the day’s current inventions and disorders, settling scores, denouncing fakes, blow-hards and pretenders. An ode to movement and to moments of everyday life, between dinners at Prunier and unbridled delights, jazz bands and the new dances, roulette at Monte-Carlo, exhibitions and visits, opium, car races or spiritualism seances at his home on the rue Fontaine, Picabia intertwines the art scene and the Parisian nightlife of the 20’s, mocking André Breton, costing out Eros and blasting the fake values of the artists sucking up to the powers that be. Caravansérail is a literary gem, and Relâche would be the same thing onstage. Both the novel and the dance work show us what it was like at that time, when all of Paris was a party, as Hemingway wrote. This was the time, set during the period between the two World Wars, at the exact moment when the conventions of bourgeois humanism inherited from the 19th century were collapsing, precipitated by the events of 1914- 18 and by the arrival of European fascism and the Nazis, at the end of the international economic debacle which came about after the crash of 1929. Walking on this tightrope strung between two eras, when the dreams of the new Man were flourishing with the art happening all over Europe, from France to Germany, from Italy to Hungary, from Holland to Russia, between Dada, Bauhaus and Constructivism, the renewal of these art forms resonated for Picabia and his friends with the renewal of certain forms of life.
Relegating old forms of blackmail to what he termed “eternal beauty,” to “noble or overly solemn subjects,” it was with ferocity and humour that the man who declared that he preferred “a chair at the Paris Casino to one at the Académie Française,” attacked the art that had become a mere accessory or a piece of bourgeois furniture – a lie which could be bought, a conveyor of conventions, whose declared romanticism or rebellion against command would set off corrosive yet always joyful salvos.
As for Relâche, it was with the complicity of his elder in salutary insolences, Erik Satie, that Picabia conceived it, along with the young, elegant René Clair, an art critic and writer in a sleeping Paris, a director who was an intact breath of freshness, whom he asked to direct the Entr’acte cinématographique which he had sketched out. And Jean Börlin, the dancer and official Swedish choreographer - was assigned the task of translating onto the bodies a part of the choreography of the piece, which was otherwise taken care of by the overwhelming kineticism of the scenographic art object he conceived of as a set, somewhere between blinding sculpture and flashing luminous tableau. He was asked to speak three of the most familiar languages spoken by audiences in certain dark Parisian theatres of the time – music hall, circus and ballet – to twist them into a sort of braid in which quotes and puns and insinuations of a deliberate casualness would undo the normal hierarchies and communicate his enigmas. Between collage and montage and these newer procedures of the art of that time, the curtain went up on a fiction. And while the “bride” of art, once “stripped naked by its bachelors,” gets dressed in order to later undress them – it is to the audience that Picabia asks this question: what is the Entr’acte (something taking place between two acts) for those who are on Relâche (in French the word means a day of no performance, or that the theatre is closed)?
An instantaneous ballet in two acts, a cinematographic entracte and The Dog’s Tail
Conception 1924 : Francis Picabia
Music : Erik Satie
Choreography : Jean Börlin
Film : René Clair
Reenactment - 2014
Choreography : Petter Jacobsson and Thomas Caley
Historical research and dramaturgy : Christophe Wavelet
Set design : Annie Tolleter
Lighting : Eric Wurtz
Historiacal research about the 1920s: Carole Boulbès
Costumes : Costume department of CCN - Ballet de Lorraine
Swedish dancer and choreographer. Born in Härnösand, Sweden, 13 March 1893. Studied at the Royal Theatre School, Stockholm, pupil of Gunhild Rosen, 1902-05; later studied with Mikhail Fokine, Copenhagen, and José Otero, Madrid, 1918-20. Dancer, Royal Theatre, Stockholm, 1905-1918: second soloist, from 1913; after period of independent study and experiments in choreography, leading dancer in recital financed by Rolf de Maré, Paris, 1920, leading to establishment of company: sole choreographer and principal dancer, Ballets Suédois, founded and financed by de Maré, based in Paris and touring widely in Europe and U.S., 1920-25; also appeared in two films directed by René Clair, Entr'acte (1924) and Le Voyage imaginaire (1925); dancer, Théâtre des Champs Élysées, Paris, 1925, also touring in recitals, including North and South America; leading dancer in recital with his own pupils, Paris, 1929. Died in New York, 6 December 1930.
Jean Börlin, a Swedish ballet dancer who studied Bournonville and Italian techniques before training with Mikhail Fokine in Stockholm and Copenhagen, was the principal dancer and choreographer for the Ballets Suédois. In that capacity he collaborated with some of the foremost composers and artists of his time--including Erik Satie, Jean Cocteau, Francis Picabia, Fernand Leger, and Paul Claudel--to create some of the most innovative ballets of the early twentieth century.
Rolf de Maré, the founder of the Ballets Suédois, hired Börlin in 1920 and based his company in Paris. Apart from de Maré, Börlin, and a few dancers from the Stockholm Royal Opera, there was not much else that was Swedish about the Ballets Suédois. Originally de Maré had wanted to use the company as a vehicle for translating Swedish folk themes into modern theatre, but the Ballets Suédois made a name for itself with avant-garde ballets combining the choreography of Jean Börlin with the work of French librettists, composers, and painters.
With its first Paris season in 1920, the Ballets Suédois established itself as the artistic successor to Diaghilev's declining Ballets Russes. Comparisons of Börlin to Vaslav Nijinsky, the principal dancer of the Ballets Russes, were inevitable. In fact, Paul Claudel conceived L'Homme et son désir in 1917 as a vehicle for Nijinsky, who, it turned out, could not perform the role because of his disintegrating mental health. In 1921, after seeing Jean Börlin and the Ballets Suédois, Claudel and his collaborators offered the ballet to the new company. Whether or not Börlin's dancing was like Nijinsky's, his choreography was certainly similar to Fokine's.
Börlin's choreography adhered closely to the "five principles" Fokine had formulated for the Ballets Russes: movement corresponded to subject matter, period, and musical style; dance and gesture advanced dramatic action; dancers' entire bodies were used; the corps de ballet was integral to the ballet rather than just ornamental; and the dance was combined with other arts. Börlin's movement was described by some critics as very much like pantomime and not very "dancey", reflecting his emphasis on expression rather than a traditional dance vocabulary. His use of popular dances such as the shimmy and the foxtrot in Within The Quota, to music by Cole Porter, is an example of movement corresponding to subject matter, period, and musical style.
After staging their most ambitious piece, Relâche, in 1924, de Maré and Börlin decided to disband the Ballets Suédois. Börlin gave recitals in South America and two more concerts in Paris before he died in New York at the age of 37.
Source : Gale Group’s website
Born in Stockholm, Petter Jacobsson started his studies in dance at the age of three and was further educated at the Royal Swedish Ballet School, he later graduated from the Vaganova Academy in St.Petersburg in 1982.
As a principal dancer with the Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet in London between 1984 to 1993, he toured the globe dancing all of the renowned classical roles as well as appearing as guest artist with numerous international companies. In 1993, he moved to New York to begin a freelance career, studying with Merce Cunningham and working with Twyla Tharp Dance Company, Irene Hultman Dance and later Deborah Hay.
Petter and Thomas Caley started working as a creative team in the mid nineties, choreographing works for Martha@Mother, the Joyce Soho in New York and the choreography for the opera Staden at the Royal Opera in Stockholm, a commission for the 1998 Cultural capital of Europe.
In 1999, when Petter was appointed the artistic directorship of the Royal Swedish Ballet in Stockholm, they made the move to Europe to continue their artistic collaboration. An exceptional embodiment of their work for the RSB was the creating of two immense happenings,In nooks and crannies 2000 and 2001. The project included the Royal Ballet, Opera and Orchestra, as well as independent artists who took-over non-traditional, yet possible, performance spaces occupying the entire Royal Opera House of Stockholm. Petter received "Choreographer of the year 2002” from the Society of Swedish Choreographers in recognition of the modernisation of the Royal Swedish Ballet.
After years of collaboration, Petter and Thomas established an independent dance company in 2005 - works include Nightlife, Unknown partner, Flux, No mans land- no lands man,The nearest nearness – in 2002 they won a “Goldmask” for best choreography for the musical Chess with Björn Ulveus and Benny Andersson (ABBA).
As of 2011, Petter is leading and choreographing together with Thomas Caley for the CCN Ballet de Lorraine in Nancy. Their curating for the CCN invites as well a wide variety of artistic talent from around the world. Each invited creator joins in the active questioning of a specific theme. La saison de La 12/13, Tête à tête à têtes 13/14, Live 14/15, Folk + Danse = (R)évolution 15/16 and Des plaisirs inconnus 16/17. To insure a lively and non fixed use of the art form they continue their searching through installations for the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris and Musée Pompidou Metz and an original initiative LAB-BLA-BAL, where a series of open house art experiments, workshops, and discussions are given at our choreographic center.
Source : Ballet de Lorraine
More information: http://ballet-de-lorraine.eu/en/
Art critic and curator, Christophe Wavelet co-directed the activities of the Quatuor Knust project (1993-2001), sat on the editorial boards of the journals Vacarme and Mouvement, watched over the activities of the international research pole at the National Center of Dance, then directed the LiFE- International Place of Emerging Forms (2005-2010), institution dedicated to the production and diffusion of contemporary scenes of art. His articles and essays are published in numerous magazines and occasionally in exhibition catalogs. Prioritizing discursive projects from different cultural areas, in 2012 and 2013 he was the laureate of the Akademie Schloss Solitude, and worked on an essay and the French translation of Writings of the Brazilian artist Helio Oiticica. He also designed and curated the "Scenes de Geste" program at the CND in November 2015.
René Clair was born on November 11, 1898 in Paris, France as René-Lucien Chomette. He was a writer and director, known for Le silence est d'or (1947), Les grandes manoeuvres (1955) and Les belles de nuit (1952). He was married to Bronia Clair. He died on March 15, 1981 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, France.
Francis Picabia, (born January 22, 1879, Paris, France—died November 30, 1953, Paris), French painter, illustrator, designer, writer, and editor, who was successively involved with the art movements Cubism, Dada, and Surrealism.
Picabia was the son of a Cuban diplomat father and a French mother. After studying at the École des Arts Décoratifs (1895–97), he painted for nearly six years in an Impressionist mode akin to that of Alfred Sisley. In 1909 he adopted a Cubist style, and, along with Marcel Duchamp, he helped found in 1911 the Section d’Or, a group of Cubist artists. Picabia went on to combine the Cubist style with its more lyrical variation known as Orphism in such paintings as I See Again in Memory My Dear Udnie (1913–14) and Edtaonisl (1913). In these early paintings he portrayed assemblages of closely fitted, metallic-looking abstract shapes. As Picabia moved away from Cubism to Orphism, his colours and shapes became softer.
In 1915 Picabia traveled to New York City, where he, Duchamp, and Man Ray began to develop what became known as an American version of Dada, a nihilistic art movement that flourished in Europe and New York from 1915 to about 1922. In New York Picabia exhibited at Alfred Stieglitz’s gallery, 291, and contributed to the proto-Dadaist review 291. About 1916 he gave up the Cubist style completely and began to produce the images of satiric, machinelike contrivances that are his chief contribution to Dadaism. The drawing Universal Prostitution (1916–19) and the painting Amorous Procession (1917) are typical of his Dadaist phase; their association of mechanistic forms with sexual allusions were successfully shocking satires of bourgeois values.
In 1916 Picabia returned to Europe. He settled in Barcelona, where he published the first issues of his own satiric journal 391 (named in reference to the New York review). He subsequently joined Dadaist movements in Paris and Zürich. In 1921 he renounced Dada on the grounds that it was no longer vital and had lost its capacity to shock. In 1925 he left Paris to settle in the south of France, where he experimented with painting in various styles. He returned to live in Paris in 1945, and he spent the final years of his life painting in a mostly abstract mode. Picabia was notable for his inventiveness, adaptability, absurdist humour, and disconcerting changes of style.
Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica
Erik Satie, original name in full Eric Alfred Leslie Satie, (born May 17, 1866, Honfleur, Calvados, France—died July 1, 1925, Paris), French composer whose spare, unconventional, often witty style exerted a major influence on 20th-century music, particularly in France.
Satie studied at the Paris Conservatory, dropped out, and later worked as a café pianist. About 1890 he became associated with the Rosicrucian movement and wrote several works under its influence, notably the Messe des pauvres (composed 1895; Mass of the Poor). In 1893, when he was 27, Satie had a stormy affair with the painter Suzanne Valadon. From 1898 he lived alone in Arcueil, a Paris suburb, cultivating an eccentric mode of life and permitting no one to enter his apartment. Beginning in 1905, he studied at the Schola Cantorum under Vincent d’Indy and Albert Roussel for three years. About 1917 the group of young composers known as Les Six adopted him as their patron saint. Later the School of Arcueil, a group including Darius Milhaud, Henri Sauguet, and Roger Désormiere, was formed in his honour.
Satie’s music represents the first definite break with 19th-century French Romanticism; it also stands in opposition to the works of composer Claude Debussy. Closely allied to the Dada and Surrealist movements in art, it refuses to become involved with grandiose sentiment or transcendent significance, disregards traditional forms and tonal structures, and characteristically takes the form of parody, with flippant titles, such as Trois morceaux en forme de poire (1903; Three Pieces in the Shape of a Pear) and Embryons Desséchés (1913; Desiccated Embryos), and directions to the player such as “with much illness” or “light as an egg,” meant to mock works such as Debussy’s preludes.
Satie’s flippancy and eccentricity, an intimate part of his musical aesthetic, epitomized the avant-garde ideal of a fusion of art and life into an often startling but unified personality. He sought to strip pretentiousness and sentimentality from music and thereby reveal an austere essence. This desire is reflected in piano pieces such as Trois Gnossiennes (1890), notated without bar lines or key signatures. Other early piano pieces, such as Trois Sarabandes (1887) and Trois Gymnopédies (1888), use then-novel chords that reveal him as a pioneer in harmony. His ballet Parade (1917; choreographed by Léonide Massine, scenario by Jean Cocteau, stage design and costumes by Pablo Picasso) was scored for typewriters, sirens, airplane propellers, ticker tape, and a lottery wheel and anticipated the use of jazz materials by Igor Stravinsky and others. The word Surrealism was used for the first time in Guillaume Apollinaire’s program notes for Parade. Satie’s masterpiece, Socrate for four sopranos and chamber orchestra (1918), is based on the dialogues of Plato. His last, completely serious piano works are the five Nocturnes (1919). Satie’s ballet Relâche (1924) contains a Surrealistic film sequence by René Clair; the film score Entr’acte, or Cinéma, serves as an example of his ideal background, or “furniture,” music.
Satie was dismissed as a charlatan by musicians who misunderstood his irreverence and wit. They also deplored the nonmusical influences in his life—during his last 10 years his best friends were painters, many of whom he had met while a café pianist. Satie was nonetheless deeply admired by composers of the rank of Darius Milhaud, Maurice Ravel, and, in particular, Claude Debussy—of whom he was an intimate friend for close to 30 years. His influence on French composers of the early 20th century and on the later school of Neoclassicism was profound.
Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica
After studies of mathematics preparatory class and medecine studies, Luc Riolon begins to make films within the framework of his Faculty of Medicine, then met the famous choreographers of the 80s (Maguy Marin, Mark Tompkins, Josef Nadj, Daniel Larrieu Daniel, Odile Duboc, Josette Baiz, Angelin Prljocaj, etc.) with whom he shoots numerous films (re-creation for the camera, the illegal securements). In the 80s with the American choreographer Mark Tompkins he introduces the video on the stage, broadcasting live on big screens the images which he shoots with his camera by being on the stage with the dancers, mixing live images and pre-recorded images. With Daniel Larrieu he participates in the creation of the famous show WATERPROOF, the contemporary choreography which takes place in a swimming pool, by filming live) the dancers dancing in the water and mixing the live images with pre-recorded underwater images. This choreography has been shown in many countries (USA, Canada, Spain, England…)
Then he collaborates during 10 years with the famous french TV producer Eve Ruggieri for her programs" Musics in the heart ". He shoots with her of numerous documentaries about classical music, opera singers and dance. From 1999 he directs documentaries of scientific popularization, by following researchers attached to the resolution of a particular ecologic enigma. These two artistic and scientific domains which can seem separated are nevertheless, for Luc Riolon, connected by the same approach : the deep desire to understand the world, by the art or by the scientific research, and to restore it to the largest number. Among his recent scientific documentaries, we can quote for example " The Enigma of the Black Caiman ", Living and dying in the swamp " or " The Nile delta: The end of the miracle ". “Chernobyl, a natural history ? “ These documentaries of scientific popularization recently have been awarded in international festivals.
Artistic direction / Conception : Conception 1924 : Francis Picabia
Choreography : Jean Börlin // Reprise 2014 : Petter Jacobsson et Thomas Caley
Interpretation : CCN - Ballet de Lorraine
Artistic consultancy / Dramaturgy : Recherche historique et dramaturgie : Christophe Wavelet
Set design : Annie Tolleter
Original music : Erik Satie
Video conception : René Clair
Lights : Eric Wurtz
Costumes : Atelier costumes du CCN - Ballet de Lorraine Avec la participation des élèves de la section broderie du Lycée Lapie de Lunéville
Other collaborations : Recherches historiques sur les années 1920 : Carole Boulbès