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Buzz, 2-22: Americans not in Paris
More Provincialism from the Rencontres Choregraphiques 'Internationales';
Nik hits the Road to the Provinces
Copyright 2006 The Dance Insider
The Provincial Internationalists
PARIS -- I have a new
standard answer for American-based choreographers who ask me how
to get their work seen in Paris: 1)Be dead a long time or 2)Have
created your work before 1970. The latest proof: The just announced
line-up for the Rencontres Choregraphiques (so-called) Internationales
which, once again this year, has invited no choreographers from
the country that -- BONJOUR -- invented modern dance.
I would have no complaint
-- or anyway, less grounds for one -- if the festival did not claim
an 'international' terrain, but it does. How, then, to explain a
line-up of 14 companies half of which are French, with the rest
coming from the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Turkey,
and South Africa (the last being France's reigning deity of non-dancey
dance Robyn Orlin, who this time around isn't even claiming she'll
be dancing but calling her work an 'installation.' If the installation
is as installed as Orlin's dance works are danced, expect empty
In addition to Orlin,
the line-up includes Frenchies Lluis Ayet and Rita Quaglia, Kubilai
Khan Investigations, Fabrice Lambert, Roser Montllo Guberna and
Brigitte Seth, Caroline Picard, Emmanuelle Vo-Dinh and David Wampach.
Germany sends Jochen Roller and Neuer Tanz, Turkey Aydin Teker,
Portugal Claudia Dias, and the Dutch choreographer Michael Laub,
whose riveting "H.C.
Andersen Project" at last year's festival included a
sort of stealh Yank dance-maker, Greg Zuccolo.
When I asked Rencontres
director Anita Mathieu how exactly a festival that claimed to be
international could exclude Americans, she answered, lamely, that
"American companies do not communicate very much and rarely send
their information." As I noted before, this defense parallels the
excuse of an exclusionary country club that, "We're not anti-Black;
they just never apply!"
A more likely explanation
is that if Mathieu -- and the Paris presenting cabal in general
-- were to actually program CONTEMPORARY American choreographers,
the relative laxity of contemporary French creators might be exposed.
But let's test her defense;
the festival's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of course, it may also
be our darn sunny disposish that makes French presenters -- as distinguished
from French dancegoers -- sneer at Yankee doodle dance-makers. I
was reminded of this quality when the ebullient dancers of Utah-based
Ririe-Woodbury played here two years ago. They made it through the
pantheon because the company was presenting the work of Alwin Nikolais,
as much an institution here as any American choreographer not named
Isadora or Merce could hope to be. But if Nikolais was what sold
the company to the presenter, what clearly won over the audience
at the Paris show I caught
was the infectious optimism of the performers. (How can you not
be won over by an ensemble one of whose leading lights is named
The response to the
run at the Theatre de la Ville - Sarah Bernhardt was enough to convince
presenters throughout France. This and next month, the company is
making a return engagement, with gigs scheduled for Bourges (February
28 and March 1), Nevers (March 2 and 3), Bayonne (7 and 8), Arachon
(10 and 11), Tarbes (14), Blagnac (17 - 19), St. Etienne (21) and