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Les Rencontres chorégraphiques internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis

A review of the history of the Rencontres chorégraphiques internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis, from the Concours de Bagnolet to this day.

From the Concours de Bagnolet to the Rencontres chorégraphiques

Bagnolet, 1969. The former dancer Jaque Chaurand created a choreographic competition then known as Les Ballets pour Demain. Its aim was to welcome young dancers with creativity problems in order to showcase their work. When he launched the future Concours de Bagnolet, he did not imagine he was setting up “a machine that would act as a resonator and a barometer for the development of the Nouvelle danse française”*.

*Marcelle Michel, an extract from “IV siècles de danse en France” (4 centuries of dance in France), a dossier from the 3rd Biennale de la danse de Lyon 1988. To consult here.

"Le rêve d'Helen Keller" - Bernardo Montet and Catherine Diverrès

Le Rêve d'Helen Keller

“The Concours de Bagnolet will play a key role in the emergence and affirmation of contemporary dance” 

Marie-Christine Vernay – Libération, May 25th 2000

"Marché noir" – Angelin Preljocaj

Marché noir

Maison de la Danse de Lyon
1987 - Director : Picq, Charles

Choreographer(s) : Preljocaj, Angelin (France)

It was between 1976 and 1985 that the outstanding artists of the Nouvelle danse française were discovered: Dominique Bagouet, Jean-Claude Gallotta, Karine Saporta, Maguy Marin, Dominique Boivin, Régine Chopinot, François Verret, followed by Catherine Diverrès, Bernardo Montet and Catherine Diverrès, Mark Tompkins, Mathilde Monnier, Angelin Preljocaj, Odile Duboc... along with very many others.

"Les sentinelles" – Nacera Belaza

In 1986, the management board of the Concours de Bagnolet went back to the journalist Bernadette Bonis. With the help of Odile Duboc and Quentin Rouiller, she gave the competition its European dimension. This grassroots competition initiated by Chaurand became more structured, thus raising its quality.

In 1988, the competition took on international standing under the initiative of Lorrina Niclas. She reshaped the definitions with wisdom and pragmatism. She set up the CIBOC, the Centre International de Bagnolet pour les Œuvres Chorégraphiques (Bagnolet International Centre for Choreographic Works). In 1995, the Concours was renamed Rencontres chorégraphiques internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis, and held every other year at the MC93 in Bobigny. 

"Tremor and more" – Herman Diephuis

Tremor and more

In 2000, Anita Mathieu was named director of the Rencontres and turned the competition into a festival. As from 2003, the festival has been held every year again, and the performances spread out between various theatres. 

A festival of discoveries for all spectators

The Rencontres chorégraphiques de Seine-Saint-Denis are a moment of shared universal stories

Anita Mathieu, interviewed by Laure Le Fur – La Croix, 25 juin 2018

"Solaire" – Fabrice Lambert

A groundbreaking festival dedicated to contemporary choreographic writings, the Rencontres chorégraphiques internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis present works taking a sharp but poetic look at our world, while constantly questioning it. The festival is closely monitored every year by broadcasters as a crossroads of the trends that have been impacting choreographic creation for some time now. 

"Elementen I - Room" – Cindy Van Acker & Ballet de Lorraine


CCN – Ballet de Lorraine

Choreographer(s) : Van Acker, Cindy (Switzerland)

A community of international artists is presented each year in more than ten theatres of Seine-Saint-Denis hosting the festival, in order to make this project part of city centres to generate dialogue around the contemporary arts scene.

"Madri e figli_Padri e figli"  - Virgilio Sieni

Each year, the highly ambitious festival des Rencontres internationales de Seine St Denis offers to reveal to the public artistic and human adventures by opening up their eyes to cosmopolitan horizons.” 

Seine St Denis Tourisme

Echoing the festival itself, the Rencontres organise all year round choreographic workshops and workshops for the sharpening of critical faculties (“ateliers du regard”), as well as various show appreciation sessions. Respectively, they are projects aimed at the discovery and practice of contemporary dance led by dance professionals (choreographers, professional dancers, videographers, etc.) Work continues throughout the festival, in particular with the arrival of people who would not necessarily dare to enter a theatre alone. 

These sessions are prepared together with the structures who wish to benefit from them. 

Their contents vary to suit them as aptly as possible to the public concerned.

"Keep Calm" - Michel Schweitzer 


Risky, seething, unpredictable, the festival (...) comes across as a splendid anomaly.” 

Rosita Boisseau - Le monde, 14 mai 2008

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