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Dance and percussion
2018 - Director : Plasson, Fabien
Choreographer(s) : Mae-Ja, Kim (Mae-Ja, Kim) Maharaj, Birju (India) Khan, Akram (United Kingdom) Acogny, Germaine (Senegal) Berna, Miguel Angel (Spain) Stoffer, Ted (United States) Guerry, Thomas (France) Rocailleux, Camille (France) Duszynski, Dominique (Germany) Sammarco, Ennio (Italy)
Author : Camille Rocailleux
Throughout human history, percussion instruments have accompanied our music,rituals, and dance.
In the West, in the early 20th century, growing awareness of non-European music also generated more interest in rhythm and gave a new dimension to compositions for percussion.
The foundations of this new music can be seen in particular in the works of Stravinsky, Debussy, Bartók and Varèse. For example, in the instrumentation of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, the percussion section takes centre stage.
With Ionisation by Varèse in 1930, the first piece exclusively for percussion, the possibility of a repertoire solely for percussion was born, a repertoire that would continue to blossom with composers like Carlos Chávez and John Cage. The latter's artistic collaboration with the choreographer Merce Cunningham marked an important chapter in the history of dance.
Chum, Ku Shinmyung - La Chang Mu dance company
In Korea, the creativity of the ChangMu Dance Company is founded on their complete mastery of all aspects of Korean traditional dance, including shamanic, Buddhist and folk dances, social dances and the dances of the court.
This show offers us captivating choreography searching for modernity and freedom, drawing its original strength from a deeply rooted folk tradition. The music, played on traditional, mostly percussion instruments, is based on traditional melodies and rhythms, while very liberally borrowing from a rich repertoire of folk dances.
Kathak - Birju Maharaj
In Kathak, Birju Maharaj immerses us in the delicate art of the eponymous Indian dance.
He uses his extreme personal dexterity to demonstrate the dazzling facets of this traditional, precise dance with its fascinating steps. The play is of nuances and contrasts, and the musical quality of the gestures are a true delight, while the rich and complex rhythmic exchanges between Maharaj and his tabla player are exhilarating and show a rare precision.
Gnosis - Akram Khan
With Gnosis, with a more contemporary approach, the suggestive dance of Akram Khan allows us to see and hear all the subtlety of music played on the sarod, a plucked string instrument, cello and snare drum.
With his ability to bring music and dance to life, Khan confirms his status as a complete artist and a choreographer with a rare narrative vision.
Waxtaan - Germaine Acogny
On the stage, eight African dancers are accompanied by live music from five percussionists from the Ecole des Sables playing djembes, doum-doums and other small percussion instruments. Sometimes the dancers also participate in the musical discourse by tapping on a table to create polyrhythms, or by using their own bodies as percussion instruments.
They give a virtuoso demonstration of the riches of a repertoire that extends through Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast, Benin, Congo and Senegal. So many countries, so many rhythms, styles and choreographic identities participate in this search for origin, without nostalgia or attachment to the past because: “it’s the moment of looking back in order to be able to look forward” says the Franco-Senegalese choreographer Germaine Acogny who gives the piece a political dimension.
Solombra - Miguel Angel Berna
Miguel Angel Berna wants to express his folkloric heritage in innovative ways.
For Solombra, the choreographer works with singers and musicians who play several percussion instruments including traditional castanets and the wooden drum called the “cajón”. The show is the expression of his liberal and personal vision of the fusion of the Aragonese folklore with flamenco and contemporary dance, based on a musical concept clearly rooted in the foundations of a cultural past, but also very innovative with its exotic and charming influences from Arab, Jewish and Christian music, skillfully arranged.
Aphasiadisiac - Les Ballets C. de la B.
The musical universe of Aphasiadisiac of Ballets C. de la B. explores many and varied influences, combining the energy of Slavic melodies with the rhythms of bossa nova. A hugely effective soundtrack that mixes pop, classical and traditional Czech music, supports it.
All the performers participate in the music and the live drums create an incredible electric atmosphere on the stage. Here drums and percussion impose rhythms, create suspense, provoke powerful energetic impulses and sometimes even play a direct part in the theatrical situations that develop among the dancers.
The visual impact and the unusual use of these percussion instruments also gives them a scenic role and a spectacular dimension, in particular when one of the musician-dancers climbs the wall to reach his drum which is suspended vertically in the stage set.
Echoa - Arcosm
Echoa also exploits performers’ versatility and brings together dancers and percussionists in the same physical and musical ensemble. On the stage, the presence of many percussion instruments constitutes the principal element of the stage, and creates the image of the space where the action takes place.
Here all is dance, all is music. The contact, the hands placed on one another, the feet on the ground, the portés and even the breathing of the performers contribute to the piece's great rhythmic score. The musicians’ gestures become the choreography to the point of completely freeing them from their instruments that makes us forget the rigour of the very precise timing – an invitation to “see the music and hear the dance” as Balanchine so eloquently put it.
Barroco - Association Woo
Barroco is in constant evolution, and appears as onomatopoeia, a whistle, a rhythmic refrain. Two dancers “switch” between the symmetrical and the asymmetrical, contradictory or mutually supportive movements, keeping the spectator in suspense throughout the piece.
In reality, this duet is actually a trio, created by the dancers with the musician, weaving a time-space link that is in constant movement. The drummer-guitarist carries the beat, the tempo, the time that we cannot stop but which is always present, which sometimes tears us apart but which also brings us together. The accents, the variations and the nuances of the musical interplay nourish the dance and have a permanent influence on it.
Here, the rhythm defines the relationship to time, to the space between two sounds, an interval, a suspension. It drags, leaves a trace and pushes forwards, allowing fluctuations and giving free rein to the sensual, the suspended, to initiative or to the chaotic.
In more depth
OHANA, Maurice (1913-1992). Quatre Études chorégraphiques (18’), Ballet pour ensemble de six percussionnistes, CD Schott (Mayence), 1955.
Camille Rocailleux studied piano, musical writing and classical percussion from 1984 to 1999 and won the 1st Prize at the National Conservatory of Music in Lyon. Since 1997, he has performed in various ensembles such as the Orchester National de Lyon, the Opéra National de Lyon, the Orchester National de Toulouse or Ensemble Odyssée. In 2000, he founded the Arcosm Company with Thomas Guerry, with whom he creates musical and choreographed pieces. In addition, he receives many commissions for compositions for the theater, the cinema and the television, for instrumental formations, he evolves in the middle of the French and international song alongside artists such as Daphne, Benjamin Biolay, Camille, Caroline Rose ... Today he deepens his exploration of musical theater, imagining atypical crossings between very varied forms of expression such as body percussion, lyric singing, growl death metal, human beat-box etc.
Texts and discography
Maison de la Danse
The Parcours “Dances and percussion” was made possible by the support of the General Secretariat of the Ministry for Culture and Communication – Department for the Coordination of Cultural Policy and Innovation (SCPCI)