The style of Alain Platel’s dance company, the “ballets C de la B”, has grown so familiar we tend to forget that once upon a time the Belgian choreographer was starting off as a self-taught-man. Those pelvis, legs and feet are the anchor of explicit movements, those arms cutting through the air, those grabbing, caressing and tearing hands are as many shades of the sublime.  

Nicht Schlafen plays with all of the above-mentioned codes. By way of introduction, please find attached some torn gunny  walls and a strange altar of dead horses. The decor makes a unique time zone happen, where the early years of an uncertain and shaky 20th century and the beginning of this century with its load of bucked up nationalisms, Trumps, Daesh and Brexit overlap.

Nicht Schlafen, Alain Platel, illustration Araso
Nicht Schlafen, Alain Platel, illustration Araso

Steven Prengels’s musical landscapes, the dangling mikes amplifying mouvements on the set and the beasts gasping beyond the grave create panoramas for archaic beauties and anxiety. The implicit words of historian Philipp Blom about Europe between 1900 and 1914 resonate through Gustav Mahler’s most famous symphonies including the masterful tear-filling 5th.

One could not have dreamt of a better way to re-open MC93 after the venue had shut down for three years to undergo major transformations. Those caravagesque images, flamboyant bodies, tribal incantations sung and knocked on the floor by voracious animals with absolute abnegation lay the foundations for tomorrow. 

Nicht Schlafen, performance seen at MC93 in Bobigny between May 24th and May 27th 2017.
Currently on a European tour