Végétal [les pierres et le tipi de bois]
““Végétal” is the desire to find the chlorophyll that runs in my veins. A raw material. Tree, vegetable world, growth. Reunions with the tree that I am. It was my discovery of Andy Goldsworthy's work, and the instant feeling that our research takes the same energies as a starting point” (Régine Chopinot, quoted in the Sigma 31 programme, Bordeaux, where the piece was performed in November 1995).
Starting from personal research into the birth of gestures which led her to confront the elements, Régine Chopinot discovered the work of the English artist Andy Goldsworthy through the land art movement, in which artists create temporary works, generally in the open air and sculpted from natural materials. The choreographer was struck by the resonances with her own research ideas. Goldsworthy is internationally recognised and has had his works exhibited all over the world; “Végétal” is the first time he worked on a performance and would repeat this experience with “La Danse du temps” (“Dance of time”) in 1999, again with the Ballet Atlantique-Régine Chopinot (BARC). As part of the process of creation, the company went to the Scottish countryside to build nests and huts. A project filmed in the forest, the results of which are now part of the BARC archive catalogue, deposited in the CND (National Dance Centre) library, it was begun in 1996 but never saw the light of day.
In a large circle on the ground, the dancers of “Végétal”, using simple gestures on the ground or vertically, handle natural elements: stones, leaves, pieces of wood, to build shapes, to carve clay and to celebrate nature.
This piece is made up of five parts: Ground, Seed, Root, Branch and Leaf.
For the first tableau, Ground, three dancers, whose bodies ascend and descend, are arranged around a heap of red clay. Then, for Seed, six dancers build a column of stones. For the third tableau, Root, on the wall located at the back of the stage, a giant work, based on a projection of ferns by Goldsworthy, symbolises the roots, which are also brought to life by a dance on the ground which brings to mind the movement of snakes. The fourth tableau, Branch, returns to the construction of a nest using tree branches, using the circular movements of the dancers in the dust of the red clay. Lastly, for the final tableau, Leaf, dried leaves are placed in the centre of the stage, which the performers dance around before coming together again in a small circle.
In this piece, Chopinot works with the theme of the elements, as would also be the case in “Paroles du feu” (1997). Her research also led her to a sort of slowness – even if the dancers do not slow down their movements – with a purified dance, humble, without the artifice of the show, and, for the first time in a long while, without costumes of Jean Paul Gaultier!
During the whole piece, Knud Viktor's sounds of nature are added to the gestures of the dancers who handle the natural elements (noises of leaves, tree branches). “Végétal” was in fact the result of the collaboration between BARC and the poet and sound painter Knud Viktor. This artist, based in Lubéron and who works in the field of environmental sound art, is passionate about the sounds of plant and animal life and also works for the radio.
This piece also marks the beginning of a long-term working relationship with the lighting technician Maryse Gautier, who since then has often collaborated with Chopinot on the lighting for BARC's pieces. Maryse Gautier was spotted by Chopinot in 1994 and their collaboration still continues in 2013, on the Cornucopiae dance company's piece “Very Wetr!”.
In 1995, Chopinot had been based in La Rochelle for almost ten years, she had the respect of her peers and the admiration of her audiences, so she could allow herself to launch another large production following “ANA” and “Saint-George” (15 dancers for “Végétal”, 13 for “Saint-George”, 19 for “ANA”).
Recognised today as one of the choreographer's major works, “Végétal” was a relative failure with audiences. Criticisms were often not very kind in France, even though the piece was a real success in Japan!
“Végétal goes beyond dance. It is about travelling in the movement as you would in space, until you feel its essential fibre, almost beyond a minimal threshold of perception [...] the lengthy and deep interrogation of a gesture, until it releases the organic and imaginary texture which it conceals.”
Laurence Louppe, in Art press, April 1996
“If we are convinced by the relevance of her visual goal, we are less so by the choreography and the dance, which seem to be trying to find their position. In “Végétal”, because it openly confronts a sound landscape and a plastic universe, the dance seeks its nature. It's a pity, although you do end up getting plenty of fresh air during this show.”
Marie-Christine Vernay in Libération, 15 November, 1995
Updating: February 2012
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
Ballet Atlantique-Régine Chopinot (BARC)
Choreography : Régine Chopinot
Interpretation : Rebecca Adam, Dimitri Chamblas, Régine Chopinot, Guillaume Cuvilliez, Marie-Françoise Garcia, Virginie Garcia, Gilles Imbert, Hiroko Kamimura, Samuel Letellier, Georgette Louison Kala-Lobé, Elodie Pallaro, Esteban Pena Villagran, Jie Peng, Michèle Prélonge, Duke Wilburn
Set design : Andy Goldsworthy
Lights : Maryse Gautier
Technical direction : Yanick Ros
Sound : Knud Viktor
Other collaborations : Recherches Michèle Pagnoux - Assistante Ruth Barnes - Régie lumière Régis Montambaux - Régie son Antoine Strippoli - Régie générale et plateau Shalladyn Khatir - Chinage des vêtements de travail Seema Usman - Retouches et couture Boumy
Duration : 100 minutes
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