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Dance at the crossroad of the arts
2018 - Director : Plasson, Fabien
Choreographer(s) : Hervieu, Dominique (France) Merzouki, Mourad (France) Bory, Aurélien (France) Rocailleux, Camille (France) Guerry, Thomas (France) Cherkaoui, Sidi Larbi (Belgium) Nikolaïs, Alwin (United States) Massine, Léonide (Russian Federation)
Author : Anne Décoret-Ahiha
For the American choreographer Merce Cunningham, “dance is an independent art.” But, he adds, other elements may come in and enrich it.
By interacting with architecture, music, circus or theatre, with which it shares the common ground of space, rhythm, virtuosity, narration… dance explores new possibilities and is ceaselessly reinventing itself. The eight sequences of this Theme illustrate this point. A panorama which emphasizes the openings in which dance, as a living art, continually participates..
Parade – Léonide Massine
As producer and director of the Ballets Russes, Serge Diaghilev saw ballet as the place where the arts could flow together: dance, music and painting contributed on an equal footing to the created work.
Parade premièred in May 1917 in Paris. Léonide Massine signed the choregraphy, Jean Cocteau came up with its subject, Erik Satie wrote the music for the ballet and Pablo Picasso, for whom this was the first collaboration with the performing arts world, designed the sets and costumes. The painter and the choreographer accomplished here, in the words of Apollinaire, “the marriage of painting and dance, of sculpture and facial expression, which is a clear sign of the birth of a more complete art.” (Ballets Russes programme, May 1917).
Crucible - Alwin Nikolaïs
For Alwin Nikolaïs, choreography is an art of totality in which movement, colour, form and sound play an equal part. Approaching the stage with the eye of a painter or sculptor, he was one of the first to find a dynamic role for lighting and image techniques. The luminous slide projections and optical effects, like here in Crucible, transform the dancers' bodies into a sort of mobile screen, which shows displays of colours and sketches glowing forms. By the combined action of dance and light, the whole stage space is set in motion to produce a theatre of abstraction, where each member of the audience can let his or her imagination run free.
Les 7 planches de la ruse - Aurélien Bory
In Les 7 planches de la ruse, Aurélien Bory revisits the principle of the Tangram, a traditional Chinese game consisting of 7 geometrical parts which can be combined in many different ways. On stage, the blocks – transformed into wooden giants – are moved, assembled and built into a mobile architecture which increases the dance's available spaces. This is the point where architecture and choreography meet: both address the issue of space, perspective and how the world is perceived.
Terrain vague - Mourad Merzouki
In this sequence of Terrain vague, Mourad Merzouki's choreography displays the range of points of support that dance can make use of. Whether this is the ground, the true partner for the break dancer, or a mast that invites the defying of gravity, the dancer can vary the points of contact – feet, hands, head – with the support offered by the stage set. Free, then, to explore the celestial heights, the dancer turns into an acrobat or stunt pilot.
Tempus fugit – Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
In the 1960s, Merce Cunningham expressed the notion that movement “is expressive beyond all intention”: it recounts nothing but itself and dance speaks of what it is to be alive. This concept, which makes a clean break with the codes of the choreographic genre and leads to a very formalised approach to movement, does not prevent today's choreographers turning back to theatricality and calling upon text where necessary, “saying” as much acting. In Tempus Fugit, by the Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, the dancer suddenly begins speaking. But her voice is soon swallowed up again by gesture. As if words are not enough – or as if they disturb – the other dancers come back rapidly to lend a hand, in a kind of half-invented sign language borrowed from Indian dance.
Le corbeau et le renard - Dominique Hervieu
Rather than illustrating this literary work, Dominique Hervieu prefers to turn to montage effects. First of all, the text is recited in several languages, and transformed into the sound material for the choreography. This is then superimposed on video projections, confronting the real with the imaginary, the living with the virtual, to create an unconventional reading with mixed accents of the original story.
Echoa - Arcosm
The four protagonists of Echoa unveil a story without words for us in this show. In embarking on a kind of pantomime, the performers involve the body equally in its musical and movement capacities. The breath, the chest, the mouth are transformed into a musical instrument and add their sound to the choreography. Here dancer and musician merge, become echoes of each other.
El Farruquo y su grupo - el Farruquito
In this sequence, the young and talented Farruquito links a fervent series of "taconéos" (stamped with the heels), defying the rhythm of the guitars and “palmas” (clapped accompaniment), to the enthusiastic encouragement of the musicians and singers. Here it is the dancer's foot, with its stamping, which becomes the percussion instrument and plays a full part in the musical performance.
In more depth
AMAGATSU, Ushio, DE VOS, Patrick (trad.). Dialogue avec la gravité. Arles : Actes Sud, 2000. 43 p. (Le Souffle de l’Esprit).
BEJART, Maurice. Lettres à un jeune danseur. Paris : Actes Sud, 2001. 45 p. (Le Souffle de l'Esprit).
BOUCOURECHLIEV, André. Igor Stravinsky. Paris : Fayard, 1982. 427 p. (Les indispensables de la musique).
Centre national de la danse, Département du développement de la culture chorégraphique, Cité de la musique (collab.). La formation musicale des danseurs. Pantin : Centre national de la danse, 2005. 38 p. (Cahiers de la pédagogie).
DUVIN-PARMENTIER, Bénédicte. Pour enseigner l'histoire des arts : regards multidisciplinaire. CRDP de l'Académie d'Amiens, 2010. 270 p. (Repères pour Agir Second Degré).
NOISETTE, Philippe. Couturiers de la danse. Paris : Editions de La Martinière, 2003. 163 p.
« Cirque et danse : un rapport ambivalent de séduction », in Arts de la piste, 2005, n° 36, Paris, Artcena, p. 15-39. (Hors les murs).
CORIN, Florence (dir.). « Danse et architecture », in Nouvelles de danse n° 42/43, Bruxelles, Contredanse, novembre 2003. 218 p.
IZRINE, Agnès. « Les ballets russes », in Danser Hors série, Monaco, éd. du Rocher, 2010, 119 p.
Anne Décoret-Ahiha is an anthropologist of dance, doctor of Paris 8 University. Speaker, trainer and consultant, she develops proposals around dance as an educational resource and designs participatory processes mobilizing corporeality. She animates the "Warming up of the spectator" of la Maison de la Danse.
Text and bibliography selection
Maison de la Danse
The "Dance at the crossroads of the arts" Course was launched thanks the support of General Secretariat of Ministries and Coordination of Cultural Policies for Innovation.