Daniel Larrieu's Pierrot is in black

Daniel Larrieu’s Pierrot is in black. Not a mourning kind of black, rather the color of the night all wrapped up in its mysteries and transparency games. A gracious, clever like a cat Daniel Larrieu appears on stage with his customary lightness and impertinent gesture. A dancer, choreographer, author, gesture consultant, he who has a fondness for the shadows comes back in the spotlight with his latest piece Littéral, for which he is all of the above.

Daniel Larrieu in Littéral by Araso
Daniel Larrieu in Littéral by Araso

A 2017 creation, the work gathers six dancers and just as many brooms, which are suspended or held. The performers, whether males or females, successively put on the Pierrot dress over their ecru tights and baby pink skirts. The acting’s subtlety sets the accuracy of the gesture by the milligram, with mime and repetitions. The dance is the non-dribbling type, conscientiously avoiding the prettiness trap. 

Littéral is an infinitely poetical piece, in which everything was chosen with care until the traditional brooms made in France. It releases a sweetly dated, regressive perfume that gives way to aesthetics’ pleasure.

Littéral was presented by the Théâtre de l’Aquarium on June 17th 2017 in June Events Festival

Illustration © Araso

The apocalypse according to Hofesh Shechter

Grand Finale sounds like an apotheosis. In reality it’s a compilation, some enlivened Shechterian abstract. The Israeli choreographer gathered all of his distinguishing features including his very Rabbi Jacob-esque moves in this testament. War and violence, both recurring themes since Political Mother in 2010 are explicitly referred to through images of terrorism. There are very few moments without bodies dropping or corpses being dragged. In case one had forgotten what the world looks like in this early XXIth century, Grand Finale is a heavy reminder.

Hofesh Shechter, Grand Finale, illustration by Araso
Hofesh Shechter, Grand Finale, illustration by Araso

One can argue that Hofesh Shechter doesn’t renew himself much. But is it necessary? Upon seeing these bodies convulsing over highly saturated basses, this oven-sky night club, these dancers over performing a physical exuberance, one  is tempted to think they could die after spending just one night dancing like that.

Over the thick black walls ready-to-print gravestones, beyond the live orchestra hopping on stage in a hotchpotch of sounds of the world: there they are. Precious moments of wild, tribal and uncompromising dance.  

Hofesh Shechter, Grand Finale, world premiere in La Villette with the Théâtre de la Ville until June 24th 2017 

Illustration © Araso

Ali Charhour's ballet of shadows

Each and every move happens on the dot in this performance. Everything is under control yet reeks of freedom.

With May he rise and smell the fragrance, Ali Charhour glorifies the voice of a woman in mourning while playing with the codes of a both traditional and modern Arabic world. She sings the lamentations as her son (Ali Charhour), still warm, is laying convulsing at her feet. Her phenomenal vocal spectrum covers lullabies and the barking of a bitch with equal grace. The body is uncensored, but by its own hair. The thick, black hair of stunning Hala Omran cascades down her naked breasts in the same way that Abed Kobeissy’s covers his face. The latter forms the musical Two or The Dragon with Ali Hout, also performing on stage with his hair down to lower back. 

Hala Omran in May he rise and smell the fragrance by Ali Charhour, illustration © Araso
Hala Omran in May he rise and smell the fragrance by Ali Charhour, illustration © Araso

Traditional dances find a second life nested in Ali Charhour’s frail yet grown masculine pelvis. His slender silhouette beats the floor to the rhythm of the percussions playing live or to the silence of his own body hitting the surface.

A series of incredibly poignant images are put in depth of field with cinematographic aesthetics thanks to a brilliant kaleidoscopical light design.

Somewhere between dream, death, femininity and poetry, a male raises from of the ashes. 

Performance seen on June 6th 2017 at the Théâtre de l’Aquarium within the June Events Festival.

Nicht Schlafen: Alain Platel's plea for the 21st century

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

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