Claire Vivianne Sobottke portant la robe cheveux dans Until our hearts stop de Meg Stuart - illustration Arasao

Meg Stuart’s ode to the skin

Meg Stuart’s creations are usually as aesthetically striking as they are committed.

«Until our hearts stop has been built on touch and contact» says the choreographer by way of introduction. And we might as well stop here.  In this piece created in Munich in 2015, nudity enables six performers to touch, smell, and taste the other to intoxication. It’s on the verge of sexuality.

«Until our hearts stop has been built on touch and contact»

Indeed, this a piece about intimacy rather than sexuality. People running around on stage in the nude, playing with each other’s genitals, smacking each other sighing with pleasure, the catharsis effect is a guarantee. Live jazz music framed by heavy velvet curtains places the scene somewhere in between a private club, a playground and a cabaret.

Claire Vivianne Sobottke wearing the hair dress in Meg Stuart's Until our hearts stop - illustration Araso
Claire Vivianne Sobottke wearing the hair dress in Meg Stuart’s Until our hearts stop – illustration Araso

Meg Stuart’s definition of intimacy starts with caring. It involves a serious amount of risk-taking, letting go and giving in. The audience is invited to join in and bond with the band sharing a cigarette, a piece of clay, cake and whisky, all of this being part of the show. It ends on one question: who wants to take care of us?

Until our hearts stop was seen at Théâtre Nanterre-Amandiers between April 26th and 30th 2017.

Le jour de la bête, live sketching, Araso

A collective pleasure

« Strength, balance, courage and common sense » is the motto of Spanish castellers, those Catalan performers known for their human towers. Aina Alegre’s latest creation finds her origin at the foot of those towers. Except that they look more like human individual performances and overlapping trembling bodies.

« Strength, balance, courage and common sense »

Le Jour de la Bête, features a dancer like a young horse snorting crazily like a young horse beating its hooves, rearing up and down on a slippery sandy floor. There are some individuals, a group and some flamenco. One can feel the (confusing) diversity of both influences and quests converging to climax: collective pleasure and childlike bursts of laughter.

Le jour de la bête, live sketching, Araso
Le jour de la bête, live sketching, Araso

It seems natural that Aina Alegre would build her piece around the notion of hearth, «this place where the fire burns». An attractive, warm fire where things merge and transform.  « The pyre is a companion for evolution » according Gaston Bachelard’s The Psychoanalysis of fire. A fire necessary to any creative processes, a fragile development where anything can surface.

Performance seen at the CDC Carolyn Carlson on April 27th 2017.

In situ live sketching © Araso

Kaori Ito Hiroshi Ito by Araso

Time is art's raw material

In 800 Signs

« Why am I always afraid to lose something? » « Why am I always stressed? » « Why do I feel lonely even when I am happy? » « What am I looking for in art? » « What does it mean to expect a baby? »

The audience doesn’t pay much attention to the recorded voice to begin with. People after people stop chatting and head after head turns to the stage. How many people ask themselves the same questions? How many times a day? The funny voice goes on tickling the clichés: « Why do people tell me I am Vietnamese when I’m tanned? »

A three-months pregnant Kaori Ito performs her own work of art, Je danse parce que je me méfie des mots, which translates into I dance because I am afraid of words. She dances alongside her father, visual artist Hiroshi Ito who hasn’t decided to grow old just yet. Since the piece’s early days in 2014, he’s only got younger, more energetic, slightly thinner if anything.

The Japanese choreographer introspects her own path both as a woman and a dancer between Japan, the US and France where she finally settled in 2003.

More Signs

To tell her story without words she goes back to nursling stage. Crawling onto the floor, her faced covered in a baby paper masy, she screams like the infant trying to find their balance up to a vertical posture. Her body was shaped very early by European dance training, placing its core «a lot higher than for regular Japanese people».

The torsions of her body, her joints, even her toes betray the hardship of elaborated practice and the inevitable load of suffering that comes along with it. As she frowns and cries, it seems that her own skin is about to crack open. Learning relentlessly, perfecting her craft across three continents and confronting radically opposed methods has probably given Kaori Ito her distinctive cat-like yet festive graceful moves.

« Why do I feel lonely even when I am happy? »

Meanwhile, a slender Hiroshi leaps up from sitting straight contemplatively on a chair. Swinging around on a light foot, he dances subtly with a smile. As a sculptor he conceived the show’s scenography, dominated by a black nylon monolith in the shape of a giant cactus. But not a single thorn will come between the pair. A lifting of the veil reveals a pile of chairs, making the tension drop. If this is what fear looks like, if this is what death really is then there is nothing to be afraid of. It’s a living impulse, a legacy from a father to his daughter.

Hiroshi et Kaori Ito, Je danse parce que je me méfie des mots, illustration © Araso

Hiroshi et Kaori Ito, Je danse parce que je me méfie des mots, illustration © Araso

Calling out to her own father, asking questions such as «Why do you smoke? » « How many polyps did they remove from you? » « Why do you eat at three in the morning? » « How much longer are you going to live? » is a way for the young woman to re-establish contact with someone she’s gone so far away from. It’s also her challenging the authority of the father, going as far as switching roles. The daughter commands a « sushi » « miso soup » « Champs Elysées » « Madonna » or even a « Michael Jackson » dance, and the father obeys hilariously.

The memory of the bodies, words recorded on tapes, give to the notion of time some unprecedented density, Proustian even. A tangible material, time sculpts the sublime pas de deux between father and daughter, suspended with insane intensity.

Kaori Ito, Je danse parce que je me méfie des mots, at the Théâtre de la Ville – Espace Pierre Cardin until May 11th 2017.

Illustration © Araso

Christian Rizzo, Le Syndrôme Ian, illustration Araso

Trance therapy

Nine dancers on a golden plate made of the same gold used by the people of Israel to erect the golden calf at the foot of mount Sinai. Images sometimes speak louder than words, yet the rave trance music comes on top of the sacred.

Introspection: 14 year-old Christian Rizzo awakes in London to the sound of David Bowie like others come to a spiritual awakening through assiduous practice of Buddhism. Le Syndrôme Ian gathers most of the choreographer’s talismans: the sacred, music to reawaken Chaillot and a revisited section of folklore –here, the ballroom dances for two.

And of course there is the smoke. A smoke to take a breather, a smoke to wear as a mask, a smoke to create accelerating tunnels through time. A hyperlapsed night.

Night butterflies move and groove between neon lights with branches like rays of cold suns. The relentless phototropic ballet doesn’t even notice the black hairy animal poking punctually the edges of the set. The creature strikingly resembling the garbage man in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive progressively emerges in multiples.

Christian Rizzo, Le Syndrôme Ian, illustration Araso
Christian Rizzo, Le Syndrôme Ian, illustration Araso

At the end they are legion, colonizing the dance floor before collapsing, dead.

Curtain, the golden age of nightclubs is over.

Le Syndrôme Ian was awarded the FEDORA – Van Cleef & Arpels prize for Ballet 2015
The performance was seen in Chaillot on April 26th 2017.

Illustration by Araso

Peeping Tom: in Mother's name

Moeder. The Mother. There always comes a time in life when parents and children switch roles. The parent becomes the child with that same need for care and support till the end of life. In the meantime, one may try to be building their own life, sometimes whilst giving birth.

Following Vader (Father) in 2014, which takes place in a nursing home, Peeping Tom dance company reaches a new level of creativity with this new opus, characterized by a wild sense of humour and enhanced by their usual creative genius. They establish a compressed time zone that puts each generation and their neurosis on an equal footing.

Moeder, Peeping Tom, illustration by Araso
Moeder, Peeping Tom, illustration by Araso

A museum attendant just like his father who also works with him, the boy has to face simultaneously his mother’s death, his father’s widowhood and the birth of his first child, a daughter permanently placed in an incubator, a box that becomes too tight as the girl turns seven.

In this quicksand of hospital and museum, anything can happen at any time. A drawing of a heart suddenly starts bleeding from the wall, a living sculpture turns into a zither player and a kleptomaniac heiress makes mad love to the coffee machine.

In the world of the Peeping Tom, shady and sparkly are never too far apart.

Moeder was seen at the Théâtre de l’Onde in Vélizy-Villacoublay on April 22nd 2017.

Carte Blanche César Vayssié à la Ménagerie de Verre: Volmir Cordeiro, Julia Perazzini, Raphaëlle Delaunay et Dominique Gilliot by Araso

The happy marriage of art and technology as celebrated by César Vayssié

Cocking a snook at the electoral holograms in the last runs of the French presidential race, César Vayssié’s carte blanche at the Ménagerie de Verre, of which he is an associate this season, is a select apéro with handpicked friends. Its symbol is the Spritz, with its ice cubes and orange slices calling out for summer.

Dancers and non-dancers, performer/storyteller and actress engage in à deux or groups silent conversations through live screens. This is exalted generation Y, a larger than life snapchat or skype.

Carte Blanche to César Vayssié at the Ménagerie de Verre: Volmir Cordeiro, Julia Perazzini, Raphaëlle Delaunay and Dominique Gilliot by Araso
Carte Blanche to César Vayssié at the Ménagerie de Verre: Volmir Cordeiro, Julia Perazzini, Raphaëlle Delaunay and Dominique Gilliot by Araso

Volmir Cordeiro’s long silhouette plays hide and seek with a hoody, Raphaëlle Delaunay in mini-short and multi-coloured pants moves in a slow-motion kind of hip hop, Julia Perazzini, with her red lips and her trickling hair embodies melancholy with grace and Dominique Gilliot brings in some comic relief at the mike. Meanwhile, host César punctuates the show with out of sync interventions, either in a tuxedo or a t-shirt whilst appearing pregnant with a balloon.

A sublime light design enhances the primary colours, flashing greens, flamboyant reds and intimate blues giving to the party, besides a hangover after-taste, its population of lonely souls looking for a new kind of collective harmony.

Carte Blanche to César Vayssié, performance seen at the Ménagerie de Verre on April 21st 2017, with Volmir Cordeiro, Raphaëlle Delaunay, Julia Perazzini, Dominique Gilliot and César Vayssié.

Illustrations © Araso