La belle dame - Francine Lancelot
During the era of ballet de cour (court ballet), ancestor of classical ballet, the performance, which combined poetry, music and dance, took place in the centre of large function rooms with one or several rows of gallery seating along three sides where spectators would sit. The royal family, seated on a podium in the centre of the audience, would discover a succession of “appearances” or choreographed sequences. The different “appearances” in the Belle dame highlight the geometrical figures and combinations that the choreography sketches on the ground.
Le lac des cygnes - Marius Petipa
With the arrival of permanent structures, based on the “Italian-style” model of a scene, dance moved from the courtyard to the theatre and adopted a centrestage scenic set-up.
As well as offering an opportunity to develop the use of machinery, the scenic set-up also influenced ballet codes and rules. The en-dehors, which requires the femurs to rotate outwards and which facilitates lateral movements, the organization of movements around the axial plan and the enduringness of the centre of gravity is based on and incorporates the rules of perspective. The splendour of collective choreography relies as such on the way the plans, lines and axes of the space are perceived by the spectators. Marius Petipa excelled in this register, as illustrated in this extract from Act II of Lac des cygnes.
Roaratorio - Merce Cunningham
Merce Cunningham who focused on Einstein’s theory of relativity, rejected the idea of a single perspective and of the centre as the spot where the gaze is held. The scenic space is free from any form of hierarchy and takes on another dimensionality: the dancers are no longer evolve through a centrestage-type relationship but are able to turn their back to the public. They can also remain sitting down, on the stage, before beginning to dance. Because, as Cunningham said, “a motionless body takes up just as much space as a body that moves”.
Sanctum et Imago – Alwin Nikolaïs
Like Cunningham, Alwin Nikolaïs chose multipolarity. Lighting, décors, costumes and choreography work hand-in-hand to produce a theatre of abstraction. Nikolaïs’ exploration of the scenographic possibilities of the space was accompanied by specific work on the body. Because to inhabit the space on the stage, dancers need to inhabit the space within themselves.
Collection particulière - Maria Donata d'Urso
Maria Donata d'Urso split the space horizontally into two parts by a thick plate of glass comprising longitudinal slits. The dancer, who is positioned between the two edges, has to organize their supports in order to remain suspended. By using this ground that is raised and divided, the choreographer develop a reflection on the body, its structure and its surface.
Défilé - Régine Chopinot
Through this piece of work Régine Chopinot reinvents a burlesque-style fashion show. Restricted by the dimensions of the podium and its set-up, right in the middle of the spectators, seated along the three sides, just like in a “real fashion show”, Chopinot’s choreography focuses on back and forth movements, between front-facing and at-a-distance. Marc Caro produced a video clip of the performance which, thanks to the camera, highlights even more the impact of the narrow depth produced by the scenic set-up.
Défilé de la Biennale
Inaugurated in 1996, the défilé (parade) is in keeping with the popular tradition of street performances. It is an intense moment of sharing, working together, which helps strengthen social links.
Desa Kela Patra
In Bali, performances take place outdoors, like here in front of the Sebatu village temple. The area used for dancing is based on the set-up of the xylophone orchestra, known as Gamelan. The dancers, surrounded by musicians and inspired by their rhythms, perform one of the treasures of Balinese choreography, once reserved only for the court of kings and princes.
Stronger - Wilkie Branson
Public places, stations, woodland, stairways. Fields, construction sites, museums... A myriad of places open to highly unusual choreographic experiences spearheaded by contemporary choreographers. In the video-dance Stronger, the ground decorated with a forest, scattered with leaves and roots, offers unstable supports for the break-dance figures. The rolling landscape, obstructed by rocks and trees, offers the two B. Boys, unusual supports, irregular heights and depths, which induce the choreography to blend climbing and sliding.