Epitomizing Régine Chopinot's encounter with Jean Paul Gaultier, “Le Défilé”, designed for sixteen performers, focuses on a fanciful, delirious fashion show. Presented for the first time at the Pavillon Baltard in Nogent-sur-Marne back in the autumn of 1985, this ballet opened the second season of the young Théâtre contemporain de la danse (TCD – Contemporary Theatre of Dance).
Blurring the boundaries between a choreographic performance and a fashion show, this real-unreal fashion parade takes place on a “T”-shaped podium, with dimensions adjusted to offer the performers a freedom of movement that would have been unthinkable with the dimensions used in the world of fashion. Fourteen décors follow on one after the other, around themes that aim “to sometimes intensify morphological particularities and to sometimes invent them, with strikes of prostheses and accessories” :
“I La bosse de la danse (the dance hump) / II Les hommes bijoux (the jewellery men) / III Les jokers / IV Les mariés (the bride and groom) / V Les derniers “cri-nolines” (the latest “cri-nolines”)/ VI Les accessoires encombrants (Cumbersome accessories): les vacances de m'sieur Dame (Mr-Mrs' holidays), Cloche-pied Cloche-tête (hopping, head-hopping) / VII Les bronzages (suntans) / VIII Les coussins (cushions) / IX Les souvenirs de vacances (holiday memories): Rome, St. Tropez, les bains romains (Roman baths) / X Fenêtres sur corps (Body windows) / XI Les vieux slips (old pants) / XII Manque d'air (lack of air) / XIII Les puzzles / XIV L'étalage (the display)”
Right in the middle of this joyous outpouring, the dancers, blending in with actors and models, parade in costumes that are evermore burlesque one after the other, snapped at under a flurry of camera flashes conjured up by a stroboscope created by the lighting designer Gérard Bouche, inciting attitudes provoked by their costumes. Because the costumes are not just the subject of the work, they are also genuine partners. As a result of their weight, their texture, “the fabrics appear to be animated through their own kinetic potential, and the dance, that awakens it, has to adapt and integrate its reactions”: “Michèle Prélonge and Claire Servant, two performers in “Le Défilé”, evoke, for example, the element of slowness, introduced in their dance by the voluminous white-knit crinolines that they wore in the “Derniers cri-nolines” sequence. These crinoline dresses with panniers were not only heavy to hoist around during repeated jumps and knee-falls – whereas the impression they gave was one of subtle lightness -, but, due to their flexibility and volume, their responsiveness was not on cue during turns and twists. There was little evidence of the effort of rhythmic adjustment that was involved, and of the energy required to make it. The dance work did not appear more than the bodies of the dancers themselves” .
Financed essentially by private partners, “Le Défilé” would go on to tour internationally. As such, it was presented at the Palladium in New York, the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, the Villa Médicis in Rome, in Milan, at the Lille Festival, the Zénith in Montpellier, the Maison de la Danse in Lyon, etc.
Marc Caro produced a video version in 1986, “Le Défilé [clip]”, where he retained only four extremely short sequences: “Fenêtres sur corps”, “Dernier cri-noline”, “Les Mariés” and “Les Vieux slips” accelerated. On 13 September 1987, Régine Chopinot presented the new version of her “Défilé” at the Maison des arts et de la culture (MAC) in Créteil, which was now reduced to twelve performers.
 A. Suquet, “Chopinot”, Le Mans: Ed. Cénomane, 2010, p.31.
 A. Suquet, op. cit, p.33.
Updating: March 2012
Régine Chopinot, born in 1952 in Fort-de-l'Eau (today known as Bordj El Kiffan), in Algeria, was attracted to choreographic art from early childhood. After studying classical dance, she discovered contemporary dance with Marie Zighera in 1974. She moved to Lyon where she founded her first company in 1978, the Compagnie du Grèbe, which included dancers, actors and musicians. Here, she created her first choreographies. Three years later, she was awarded second prize in the Concours chorégraphique international de Bagnolet (Bagnolet International Choreographic Contest) for “Halley's Comet” (1981), later known as “Appel d'air”. Her next pieces of work “Délices” (Delights) and “Via”, introduced other media including the cinema to the world of dance. In 1983 with “Délices”, Régine Chopinot began her longstanding partnership with the fashion designer, Jean Paul Gaultier, which would characterize the period, which included works such as “Le Défilé” (The Fashion show) (1985), “K.O.K.” (1988), “ANA” (1990), “Saint Georges” (1991) and “Façade” (1993). In 1986, Régine Chopinot was appointed director of the Centre chorégraphique national de Poitou-Charentes (Poitou-Charentes National Choreography Centre) in La Rochelle (where she succeeded Jacques Garnier and Brigitte Lefèvre's Théâtre du Silence), which went on to become the Ballet Atlantique-Régine Chopinot (BARC), in 1993. Régine Chopinot made a myriad of artistic encounters: from visual artists like Andy Goldsworthy, Jean Le Gac and Jean Michel Bruyère, to musicians such as Tôn-Thât Tiêt and Bernard Lubat.
At the beginning of the 90s, she moved away from – according to her own expression – “ultra-light spaces” in which, at a young age, she had become acknowledged, in particular through her partnership with Jean Paul Gaultier. She then became fascinated with experimenting on confronting contemporary dance with natural elements and rhythms and on testing age-old, complex body sciences and practices, such as yoga. In 1999, as part of “associate artists”, Régine Chopinot invited three figures from the world of contemporary dance to partner with her for three years on her artistic project: Françoise Dupuy, Dominique Dupuy and Sophie Lessard joined the BARC's troupe of permanent dancers and consultants-researchers, as performers, pedagogues and choreographers.
In 2002, she initiated the “triptyque de la Fin des Temps” (Triptych of the End of Time), a long questioning of choreographic writing and creation subsequent to her creation of a voluntary state of crisis of general notions of time, of memory and of construction. “Chair-obscur”, her first chapter, focused on erasing the past, the memory, whilst “WHA” was based on the disappearance of the future. “O.C.C.C.” dealt with the “time that's left”, with what is left to be done, with what can still be done, in that simple, yet essential spot called performance. In 2008, “Cornucopiae”, the last work created within the Institution, concluded the end of a form of performance and opened the doors to another approach to sensorial perception.
Concurrently to her choreographic work, Régine Chopinot worked, as a performer, with other artists that she was close to: Alain Buffard (“Wall dancin' - Wall fuckin'”, 2003; “Mauvais Genre”, 2004), Steven Cohen (“I wouldn't be seen dead in that!”, 2003). In addition, she trained and directed Vietnamese dancers as part of a partnership with the Vietnam Higher School of Dance and the Hanoi Ballet-Opera (“Anh Mat”, 2002; “Giap Than”, 2004). In 2008, the choreographer left the CCN in La Rochelle and created the Cornucopiae - the independent dance Company, a new structure that would, henceforth, harbour creation and repertoire, all the works of Régine Chopinot. In 2010, she chose to live and work in Toulon, by its port.
Since 2009, Régine Chopinot has been venturing, questioning and intensifying her quest for the body in movement linked to the strength of the spoken word, through cultures organized by and on oral transmission, in New Caledonia, New Zealand and Japan. These last three years have been punctuated by a myriad of artistic creations: choreographies and films resulting from artistic In Situ experiences were created as part of the South Pacific Project. A privileged relationship initiated in 2009 with the Du Wetr Group (Drehu/Lifou) bore its fruits with the creation of “Very Wetr!”at the Avignon Festival in July 2012 and went on to be reproduced at the Centre national de la danse (National Centre for Dance) in February 2013.
Last update : March 2012
Jean Paul, Gaultier
Choreography : Régine Chopinot
Interpretation : Alain Buffard, Geoffrey Carey, Régine Chopinot, Herman Diephuis, Poonie Dodson, Pascale Henrot, Eric Larrondo, Vera Motta Buono, Anna Pawlowsky, Michèle Prélonge, Rita Quaglia, Monet Robier, Elaine Rudnicki, Stéphane Sednaoui, Patrice Touron, Tomeo Verges, Frédéric Werlé
Original music : The Residents
Lights : Gérard Boucher
Costumes : Jean Paul Gaultier
Settings : Bernard Boisvin, Gilles Laboulandine, Marc Begon
Technical direction : Pierre Setbon
Sound : André Serré
Other collaborations : choréologue Noemie Perlov - illustrations Pauline
Duration : 60 minutes
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