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.

Karin Viard's humanity lesson

We would have loved an even more radical, truer, freer Vera. Karin Viard’s version of her character is delightful yet too light although a tiny over loud-mouthed. An archetype in due form, she doesn’t go in for subtleties.

Perched on her patent leather pumps, hugged in her red leather pencil skirt, her lips painted in eternal red, she wears her blond hair braided in a crown, a striking resemblance to Ioulia Tymochenko. Vera is the epitome of the self-made lady with an iron will. Compassion has deserted her breastfed by the most violent kind of ultra-liberal capitalism body.

Vera is the epitome of the self-made lady with an iron will.

Karin Viard in Vera. Illustration © Araso
Karin Viard in Vera. Illustration © Araso

As she started her casting agency, Vera made success her new religion, and consumo ergo sum her credo. And yes, she goes as far as counting the roses on her father’s tomb – just to make sure she didn’t get swindled. And so what? An even bigger corporation bought out her company. The world is at her feet.

It’s never too late to walk away.

It turns out the war machine that’s just swallowed her and her business is even greedier that she is. And they are quick to be rid of the old school tyrant.

As the system spits her out like an undigested molecule, Vera recalls with emotion France, Karin Viard’s character in Cedric Kalpisch’s movie Ma part du gâteau  (My piece of the pie).

We all have known at least one Vera. We might even have been in her shoes for a while. Either way, it’s never too late to walk away.

Vera was seen at the Théâtre de la Ville – Les Abbesses in April 2017

Vera is a play by Petr Zelenka, translated from Czech by Alena Sluneckova, stage version by Pierre Notte, stage direction by Élise Vigier & Marcial Di Fonzo Bo assisted by Alexis Lameda, decor Marc Lainé, Stephan Zimmerli, costumes Anne Schotte, make-up and wigs Cécile Kretschmar, images Nicolas Mesdom, Romain Tanguy, Quentin Vigier.

With Karin Viard, Helena Noguerra, Lou Valentini, Pierre Maillet, Marcial Di Fonzo Bo, Rodolfo De Souza.

Twerk: Josephine Baker’s secret children

Paris 1920s. Josephine Baker, lead dancer at the Folies Bergères, creates her famous Danse Sauvage, giving birth to the iconic banana skirt. Her unprecedented style, her erotic moves and her funny side shook up the old continent in its colonial vision of black culture. Joséphine, frowned-upon by puritan USA, propels on European scenes a great deal of glitz and glamour topped with her irresistible humor, which continues to inspire others to this day.

Her unprecedented style, her erotic moves and her funny side shook up the old continent in its colonial vision of black culture.

With Twerk, François Chaignaud and Cecilia Bengolea pursue their work on popular music, of which they accentuate the audacious, sensual and provocative sides with an outstanding physical performance. On DJ Sylvere’s overpowering blasting music, yellow lips suck on ice sticks whose colors match those of the outfits. Unbridled rhythms, freed bodies and an Ibiza-worthy light creation shine up to the last rows.


Anna Pi, Cecilia Bengolea and Alex Mugler in Twerk, illustration © Araso
Anna Pi, Cecilia Bengolea and Alex Mugler in Twerk, illustration © Araso

The backside muscles duo between a François Chaignaud in a nude thong crowned with a wig à la Afida Turner and an ultra-synchronized Alex Mugler in pink pants, both of them doing the splits, is the banana belt of the 21th century.

Performance seen within Répertoire, Carte Blanche to Cecilia Bengolea and François Chaignaud at the CND, on March 31st 2017.

Illustrations © Araso

Amala Dianor's happy medium

A few days after Man Rec, Amala Dianor showed at the 104 in Paris Quelque part au milieu de l’infini [Somewhere in the middle of infinity], a 2016 creation for three dancers.

It can be tough to define a distinctive identity under such a prolix label as « urban cultures », which is too often associated with a claiming approach. In contrast Amala Dianor’s work is about building harmonies. Anchored in a very “new school” type of Abstract dance, he elaborates sentences in a light grammar rid of any complexes. In the lineage of De(s)genération, Quelque part rests upon a happy medium between styles, which is growing into a distinguishing signature of Amala Dianor’s. Pansun Kim – who dances also with Emmanuel Gat, blends in perfectly.

Amala Dianor, Quelque part au milieu de l'infini, illustration © Araso
Amala Dianor, Quelque part au milieu de l’infini, illustration © Araso

Amala skims lightly through any obstacle standing in the way of aesthetic pleasure. He leads us to a spectacularly comfortable space, where nothing else than beauty of sound and movement matters.

Laying down under the white sky particles that raise up from the black screens like the snow falls on top of the Kilimanjaro, the trio of abandoned bodies compose a final image that sums up to a lesson of simplicity and obviousness.

To find one’s feet, one may want to follow Amala’s lead: leave your shoes at the door.

Quelque part au milieu de l’infini was seen at 104 in Paris within the Séquence Danse Festival on March 28th 2017.

Illustrations © Araso