New York manufacturer of fine dance apparel for women and girls.
Click here to see a sample of our products and a
list of web sites for purchasing.
With Body Wrappers it's always performance at its best.
Go back to Flash Reviews
Review 1, 12-19: Unaccustomed Fit
Plenty in Nothing from Laurent Pichaud & Co.
By Melanie Rios
Copyright 2003 Melanie Rios
Sponsor a Flash!
PARIS -- Living up to
its billing as an unconventional theater, the Menagerie de verre
completed another season of its Inaccoutumes (or Unaccustomed) festival
Saturday. The Menagerie's string of so-called choreographic events
has included some of the edgier, up-and-coming French art-makers.
Saturday's performance, titled "Feignant" (or Pretending), was a
fulfilling closure, as Laurent Pichaud directed his company x sud
in a soft and substantial evening of improvisation-based work.
A spacious white performance
area, which alternates as a studio, comes to a clean silence as
the doors close and the spectators settle on the cushion-lined risers.
In good keeping with the post-modernist vibe, the performers are
sitting in the audience dressed in casual clothing. Note of course
that they are wearing hip casual clothing, with some thought to
non-repetition of similar colors.
Clunky shoes and all,
three of these "ordinary people" walk on stage. They check in with
each other and close their eyes. They initiate a run together. Or
maybe one performer initiates a run and the others follow, attempting
to stop at the same time. Since this is an improvisation-based work,
I am guessing on what was agreed on as a movement score for this
section. (A movement score in improvisational work can be defined
as the delineations or "rules of the game" that will shape the movement,
although these rules are often set to be broken or forgotten if
there is compelling reason to do so.) In this score, as all three
movers succeed in stopping in sync they begin to stretch the aim
of the game and develop more lee-way to now stop intermittently.
Although they are aided by the sound of their stepping to sense
their location, they occasionally run into each other, which explains
their use of wet noodle shooting arms forward as a sensory device.
The man behind the lighting board, who owns a stopwatch, calls out
"STOP." Eyes begin to open as the dancers transition into the next
movement score, in which David Subal remains alone and close to
us in stillness. We watch him as the percussive patting of the rain
playing the window panes in increments brings me to a rare piece
-- I mean peace. I will continue to be grateful that Pichaud has
resisted using any music other than the sound of the stepping coming
from the movers and the incidental rain during this production.
It speaks of his search for the innate phrasing that results from
the responsiveness of the dancers to the inner impulses that motivate
Some time has elapsed
-- much or little, depending on who you are -- as some of the other
movers return to the space. They look at Subal, and just when I
am intrigued by their mutual gazing, he walks off (casually of course),
and the other four are left with eyes fixed in arbitrary directions,
with an unaffected intensity that makes me think their thoughts
have been stalled -- it's stunning.
An impulse to break
the calm begins a trajectory of bursting, short-lived but continuous
movement phrases that propel the group from the one side of the
space to the other. The dancers play off each other's timing as
one quirky explosion shoots off another spasm of unfinished business.
The practical awkwardness necessary to play out this next movement
score seems enchanting to me and I am catching on that this evening
is the result of a long process of investigation in improvisational
structures. "Tuning," an indispensable and favorite concept to the
world of improvisational dance, is taking place within the dancers,
in relationship to each other, with the space, the audience, and
even the weather, which is in on it. Facing the mirror-lined wall,
Albane Aubry gives us the impression that she is looking straight
at us when in fact she can't see us at all. There is no inspired
drama or practiced neutrality in her exploration. A 21st-century
human is home. Laurent Pichaud repeats the mirror paradox with the
same disarming effect.
With some humor in regard
to the homemade feeling of the venue, the whole crew of movers goes
about officiously changing the "set." Gauzy curtains are tucked
behind the mirrors lining one of the studio walls and a clear square
glass propped up by a red clamp is added to the translucent square
that has been hanging in the center of the space throughout. A long
metal winch is used to open the ceiling windows and left hanging.
Everyone adds sweaters to their outfits by pulling them on over
their heads as they walk to their new beginning.
Five of the dancers
become involved in an energetic flurry in the background and again
they borrow material from each other, sabotaging their movement
impulses by arresting them halfway through their realization and
diverting them on to the next unexpected place -- which in turn
will be inhibited and re-directed. In the foreground Subal engages
in a lengthy exploration of a stationary dance, curtailing the impulses
even sooner so that the solo is kept subtle and the arms near the
torso. The background stompers are creating the accompanying sound
and I am completely won over.
Hooray for the dismantling
of tension in an already uptight world. What a joy to encounter
the work of Pichaud, who is making some effort in real time to be
all there and to take his fine company of converts with him. It
is not often that I see a creator who trusts himself with the material
to feel that what he has is enough, I think to myself. However,
as soon as the word 'enough,' as in complete and clear curiosity,
itched and scratched, comes to mind, out comes -- Oh no, ouch! --
the TEXT. Yep, a dancer takes a book behind the translucent glass
and reads an excerpt (Hannah Arendt, "What is politics?") while
Nathalie Collantes, from the back row of the audience, echoes some
of the words being read. It was later explained to me by the company
manager, Chantal Scotton, that this section had been added at a
later date to address the situation facing France's Intermittent
performing artists and technicians, who face a reduction in benefits
starting next month. The protest in other performances often takes
the form of eliminating the final bow in exchange for reading or
displaying on a screen a text about their plight. Maybe it is almost
impossible for any one of us to ever feel like we are doing enough.
Despite this episode,
which depleted my piggy bank of dreams of an alternative, kinesthetically-based,
intelligent world added to by this work of Pichaud, I am sufficiently
impressed with the work to recover my rapport. By this time, Anne
Lopez is looking for a place to lie down or to sleep, near the radiator
maybe, or over there halfway to where she was going. The movers,
Albane Aubry, Anne Lopez, David Subal, Remy Heritier, Nathalie Collantes
and Laurent Pichaud, have spent the evening seemingly changing their
minds on very short notice, redirecting, tapping into their developed
abilities to be present and aware. The charm is that they always
seem to be ready even if to do nothing at all, which sometimes adds
up to a lot anyway.
Melanie Rios is a France-based Fulbright scholar concentrating
on contact improvisation and improvisational performance. A Guatemalan-born
freelance improviser, choreographer, and teacher, Rios has choreographed
for the Ballet Moderno de Guatemala, the Ballet de Cali in Colombia,
Group Motion Dance Theater, and the Saint Joseph Ballet. She has
performed site-specific improvisations as a soloist or with her
Mosquito Dance Company at the 25th Sao Paolo Biennal, the Philadelphia
World Dance Alliance celebration, Montpellier Danse, the Contemporary
Art Museum in Mexico City, and elsewhere. A 1994 graduate of Juilliard,
Rios is a past recipient of the Kennedy Center's Fellowship of the
Go back to Flash Reviews