“Solides (à propos des fondamentaux de la danse contemporaine)”, is a proposal made by Catherine Diverrès, halfway between a performance and a conference, imagined for 8 dancers and premiered in November 2004 at the Mettre en scène Festival, organized by the Théâtre national de Bretagne et de Rennes (TNBR).
As per what is suggested by its subtitle, this work strives to decrypt contemporary dance through the elements that characterize it through a series of twelve thematic scenes: time, space, forms, dynamic, random, weight, free dance, objects, ma, minimalism, expressionism, happening. Linked to the words of leading choreographers, these parameters are illustrated, one after the other, through movement and space.
Catherine Diverrès presents her intentions in notes from 2003: “The idea is for this proposal to be collective research work, shaped by a perspective and punctuated with the words of a few leading choreographers who marked the breakaways, the developments, in this human and aesthetic adventure known as contemporary dance. What is contemporary dance, no, what are the events that make up the physical, spatial, gestural foundation of this language; perhaps a form that is pedagogical, but above all poetic, far from the performance because structured by the exacting nature of the subject. A trip as such, real through time, a passage like in any creation, however small it may be”. (C. Diverrès, TNB programme for “Solides”, from 13 to 16 December 2005). A small pedagogical booklet written by the critic Gérard Mayen accompanies this show.
Beyond the educational exercise, Catherine Diverrès asks: “What is still relevant and active today in choreographic production of creations that have ever such different aesthetics?” For this choreographer who positioned herself totally against the American trend of the 1980s by going to follow the teachings of Kazuo Ohno in Japan, “Solides” is also an assessment of the avant-gardes: “Solides is a digression in this warrior-like journey. The choreographer takes a break to question the fundamentals that have structured contemporary dance. What is left of a century of breaking away from classical ballet? What is still relevant, irreversible?”
Intended to “get as close as possible to the public”, as the choreographer says, the scenic set-up in “Solides”, imagined by Laurent Peduzzi, is light and entertaining: a stage trimmed with a blackboard on which the dancers write in chalk the keys that they progressively provide, which follows a cumulative logic.
“Solides” was widely performed from its creation in 2004 until 2007. Adapted in German, Italian and Spanish, its universal reach was affirmed and confirmed the European direction that the CCNRB had already initiated with “San” and “Cantieri”.
In 2014, the work was reproduced by a smaller, 7-dancer team, with only Kathleen Reynolds remaining from the original cast. A variation, “Petits solides”, designed as a hands-on workshop around the fundamentals of contemporary dance, proposed to children and to families, accompanies this reprise.
Claire Delcroix, March 2016