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CN D - Centre national de la danse 1992 - Director : Hernández, Téo

Choreographer(s) : Diverrès, Catherine (France)

Present in collection(s): Centre national de la danse

Integral video available at CND de Pantin

en fr


CN D - Centre national de la danse 1992 - Director : Hernández, Téo

Choreographer(s) : Diverrès, Catherine (France)

Present in collection(s): Centre national de la danse

Integral video available at CND de Pantin

en fr


Tauride is a work that Catherine Diverrès created in 1992, during a four-month residence at the National Centre for Contemporary Dance (CNDC) in Angers, following a commission initiated by the Orléans Production Centre

Drawing its inspiration from the events that were underway at the time in ex-Yugoslavia, the work is based on the words of Aeschylus, Pathei mathos, “suffer and learn”. It is worth noting that “Tauride” was the name that the Ancient Greeks gave to the Crimean Peninsula, which was an area where incredibly barbarian invasions took place over a long period of time. Here, Catherine Diverrès chose to pursue this old conflictive emblem, if such can be said, and to reinvest it with the present and current events of the conflict between the Serbs and Croats.

During the creation process, she proposed three themes to the eleven performers: “each of you must choose a hero from mythology, a figure from the Bible, and five images that you would take if you were to leave and never come back” [*]. She concocted the framework of Tauride around the material produced by this individual research. The figures of Iphigenia and Electra, in particular, strive with vigour and fury to embody the stake of war and the stake of abandoned illusion.

Tauride began this autumn. The war was raging in Yugoslavia, the rise of extremism throughout Europe was crazed. We worked in this atmosphere of barbarism, which was so far yet so close, as if heightened by the present”. [1]

For this new creation, the filmmaker Teo Hernandez, who had already worked with the Montet-Diverrès tandem on the works Pain de Singe [2], Le Printemps and Concertino, created four films.

A film was made using the choreographic material from Tauride, coproduced by the CND Film Library and the TNDI (National Theatre of Dance and Image) of Chateauvallon. It should be mentioned that this film was one of Teo Hernandez’ last works, as he died in autumn 1992.

The film opens with tree branches on fire, a real furnace announcing the desolation of a future landscape of ashes, carried along by the second movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, with its incredibly definite emphases. “Glories of men, even the brightest beneath the Heavens melt upon the earth and are destroyed with our black-scarfed assault and the warlike rhythm of our feet”. [3]

In Tauride, the dance is frequently embraced by the group, as if to better express all the hellishness of a gregarious juice against which no-one can do absolutely anything. A terrible feeling very quickly grafts itself unto the dancers’ frantic rushes, a feeling of absolute loss, following a battle which was doomed to be lost, as if every sensitive encounter between the bodies bore within a promise of declared war – and as such, of death. “It only takes two for war to be declared, for intolerance to impose its iniquitous law”. [4]

Here, it is impossible to display gestures, as they are constrained from the moment they are initiated to the moment they are performed, to never really be able to be accomplished. Teo Hernandez’ camera shoots the bodies like flashes of lightning, fractionally juxtaposing the power of their folly against the permanent threat of surrounding shadows. The bodies wander, seem to be thrown into an arena with no way out, constantly echoing their own limits. As such, imprisoned by themselves, they sketch out an asphyxiating journey.

Tauride, produced almost ten years after the creation of Instance, which was the first work of Studio DM, was globally considered by critics as the choreographer’s work of maturity. Tauride, awash with tangible pessimism, positioned Catherine Diverrès, and perhaps for the first time in her career, as an artist who was dealing seriously with the asperities of her time, even if the foray into politics could only take place through the perceptive, as, from the choreographer’s point of view, “the work with the body does not produce discourse. (...) We are more sensitive, reflective than political, if not in our way of acting. In the works, this aspect only exists in the manner that it can touch. It is often the utopia of the act of creation, this hope that the work will instigate confusion, that it will provoke another vision, perception of what we live, and even more than that, that it will contribute to changing attitudes, mentality towards the world. » [5]

Alice Gervais-Ragu

[*] Muriel Guigou, La nouvelle danse française, Paris : l'Harmattan, 2004, p. 95.
[1] Catherine Diverrès about Tauride, paper for circulation from Studio DM
[2] Work by Bernardo Montet (1987)
[3] Aeschylus, The Eumenides
[4] Catherine Diverrès about Tauride, paper for circulation from Studio DM
[5] Catherine Diverrès, interview with Irène Filiberti, April 2009


Tauride is a key moment in Diverrès’ choreographic journey, a move from the tactile reactions of a group in a state of waking reverie (Concertino), to the introduction of a sort of collective memory of the bodies reintegrating today’s human being into the space of tragedy. The title itself, Tauride, instantaneously crystallizes the cultural references that lie dormant within each spectator and enable them to become totally immersed in a performance where tension and beauty never waver. (...). This work is the masterful realization of the manifold attempts that a myriad of choreographers have made to express an atmosphere of uncertainty, of violence, and also a certain decadence, that the end of our century is going through. This time round, Catherine Diverrès has managed to inscribe movement in traditional theatre which she exposes in an original form filled with high emotional intensity. The initial idea was to ask each of her eleven dancers to identify themselves, based on their affinities, with a hero from Greek tragedy. This led to an anthology of rich, heterogeneous material. It was sorted, shaped by the stage team and produced as if it were a film by Diverrès.
Nothing narrative or documentary transpires through this work. The scenes that follow on one after the other merge or collide in a vinous light, make fictional and real characters appear suddenly from our memories captured in everyday violence, yet already contemplated in a mythological dimension. The entire performance draws its strength from this constant oscillation between attitudes evoking war, attacks, torture, the injustice of today’s world, refocused on the Mediterranean Basin and their osmosis with Aeschylus’ tragedy. (...)
There is a lot of dancing in Tauride, there is also a lot of talking. The Company, seduced by an incisive, violent and mastered choreography, is propelled into a space inhabited by the music, the recorded dialogues, the projections of film. (...). Tauride: spectral analysis of an era at the end of its rope, strewn with sirens wailing, horses galloping, Beethovenian accents, Jankélévitch and Kazuo Ohno’s voices, avoids atomization through Aeschylus’ tragedy, which it uses as its backbone. It is to be contemplated as a key moment of contemporary creation. »

Marcelle Michel, “Tauride Diverrès”, Libération, Tuesday 10 March 1992.

“Compelled by the urgency of denouncing the far-right and intolerances, Catherine Diverrès created Tauride in Angers (...). Reference to sacrifice in Greek tragedy, yet burning with relevance. We see an old woman going to vote, as if she was accomplishing a sacred duty, an image that is perhaps more effective for convincing the undecided than any election speech whatsoever. In spite of her intense distaste for unequivocal situations, the choreographer decided to put all her weight into the fight this time round. And, she strikes hard, her soul tormented, terrified that she will not be heard. At the end of the performance, later in the night, someone said that she had cried because she hoped to see the public standing, lobbying. Yet, the public had never applauded her so much ever before. »

Dominique Frétard, “La mort a le visage bleu”, Le Monde, 11 March 1992

“Women veiled in black, a classical chorus occasionally forgetting its role and immersing itself in the fray, men fighting, lost to anger, the images follow one another, in this dance ever-so able to produce them, and ever-so solid as well in the body language that sustains them. Especially as she is accompanied by eleven performers magnificently swept away by the urgency”.

Chantal Aubry, “La danse contre la barbarie”, La Croix, 24 July 1992

“A mixture of lounge-style pulsations and ritual gestures, Tauride reconnects with the myth and the tragic role which it reinterprets. Drawing from this fracture, traversed by the magnitude of its cruelty, Catherine Diverrès prompts reflection that leaves no room for nostalgia or the temptation of prophetism”.

Irène Filiberti, Catherine Diverrès, mémoires passantes. Pantin : Published by L'Oeil d'or, Centre national de la danse, 2010

Updating: March 2014

Diverrès, Catherine

Catherine Diverrès has said, “Conscience, our relationship with others, this is what creates time”, ever since her first choreographic creation. She is a sort of strange meteor, appearing in the landscape of contemporary dance in the mid-80’s. She stood out almost immediately in her rejection of the tenets of post-modern American dance and the classically-based vocabularies trending at that time. She trained at the Mudra School in Brussels under the direction of Maurice Béjart, and studied the techniques of José Limón, Merce Cunningham and Alwin Nikolais before joining the company of Dominique Bagouet in Montpellier, then deciding to set out on her own choreographic journey.

Her first work was an iconic duo, Instance, with Bernardo Montet, based upon a study trip she took to Japan in 1983, during which she worked with one of the great masters of butoh, Kazuo Ohno. This marked the beginning of the Studio DM. Ten years later she was appointed director of the National Choreographic Center in Rennes, which she directed until 2008.

Over the years, Catherine Diverrès has created over thirty pieces, created her own dance language, an extreme and powerful dance, resonating with the great changes in life, entering into dialogues with the poets: Rilke, Pasolini and Holderlin, reflecting alongside the philosophers Wladimir Jankelevich and Jean-Luc Nancy, focusing also on the transmission of movement and repertoire in Echos, Stances and Solides and destabilising her own dancing with the help of the plastician Anish Kapoor in L’ombre du ciel.

Beginning in 2000, she began adapting her own style of dance by conceiving other structures for her creations: she improvised with the music in Blowin, developed projects based on experiences abroad, in Sicily for Cantieri, and with Spanish artists in La maison du sourd. Exploring the quality of stage presence, gravity, hallucinated images, suspensions, falls and flight — the choreographer began using her own dance as a means of revealing, revelation, unmasking, for example in Encor, in which movements and historical periods are presented. Diverrès works with the body to explore the important social and aesthetic changes of today, or to examine memory, the way she did in her recent solo in homage to Kazuo Ohno, O Sensei.

And now the cycle is repeating, opening on a new period of creation with the founding of Diverrès’ new company, Association d’Octobre, and the implantation of the company in the city of Vannes in Brittany. Continuing on her chosen path of creation and transmission, the choreographer and her dancers have taken on a legendary figure, Penthesilea, the queen of the Amazons, in Penthésilée(s). In returning to group and collective work, this new work is indeed another step forward in the choreographer’s continuing artistic journey.

Source: Irène Filiberti, website of the company Catherine Diverrès

More information:

Hernández, Téo

Both similar to yet different from Jean Rouch, Teo Hernandez (1939-1992) used a Super 8 camera, which was much more economical and lighter than the 16 mm substandard one adopted in France by “cinéma vérité” followers, when filming the town, nature, mythology, the body and dance. He edited his films directly whilst shooting, the way Jonas Mekas did, without the hassle of touch-ups or pentimento. His shots, in terms of their length, never eclipse the sequences and consist of snapshots, flashes, blinks and flickering reminiscent of structural film. Between two blurs produced by sudden zooming, the image is incredibly sharp. A distinction can be drawn between the extra-cinematic movement and what is shown, even if sporadically, by the impressionistic framing, which is astonishingly vivacious. The dancer’s momentum has little to do with the apparent agitation, which is under control, the relentless spurts, the approximate focusing around the chosen or given subject. The cinema vérité, as illustrated by Teo Hernandez, plays with the dialectics of “fraternization-alienation”, based on “aesthetics of the improvised, of awkwardness, of spontaneity”, as stated Edgar Morin. In an article from 1983, Teo Hernandez touched on the type of momentum that inspired him: “The cinema is a profound and violent impulse, a reaction of complete perception, an effort to survive and to regenerate”.

In 1985, he met Bernardo Montet whose work inspired him to make the soundtrack VITRIOL (1985) and the films Pas de ciel, coproduced by the TNDI (National Theatre of Dance and Image) of Châteauvallon, and Vloof l'aigrette ! Pain de singe (1987). Among the twenty or so productions that he can be credited for, several films stand out, such as Salomé (1976), Michel Nedjar (1978), Cristaux (1978), Nuestra Señora de Paris (1982), etc.

Nicolas Villodre


“Teo Hernandez was one of the key figures in the currents “école du corps” (‘body cinema’) in France in the 1970s. His prolific and protean work, mainly filmed in Super 8 format, is marked by Baroque mysticism and sensuous attention to the male body. This programme presents several rare, unreleased films emerging from the luminous symbiosis – devoted to the duende – between the cinematography of Teo Hernandez, dancing filmmaker, and the choreographic act of Bernardo Montet.”

Teo Hernandez / Bernardo Montet, Centre Pompidou, 14 October 2009

latest update: November 2014


Choreography : Catherine Diverrès

Interpretation : Luis Ayet-Puigarnau, Thierry Bae, Fabrice Dasse, Catherine Diverrès, Katja Fleig, Olivier Gelpe, Anne Koren, Vera Mantero, Bernardo Montet, Marion Mortureux, Rita Quaglia, Giuseppe Scaramella

Set design : Jean Haas

Text : Jean Giraudoux, " La guerre de Troie n'aura pas lieu ", Grasset, 1935

Original music : Fred Frith

Additionnal music : Beethoven, Schoenberg, Xenakis

Lights : Pierre-Yves Lohier

Costumes : Cidalia Da Costa, Manon Martin

Sound : Luis Ayet-Puigarnau, Bernardo Montet, Denis Gambiez

Duration : 27 minutes

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