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Flash Review, 3-9: Born to be Wild
Spectacles Sauvages

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2007 The Dance Insider

PARIS -- There's nothing like the exhilaration of an uncurated evening of performance, particularly when it unearths a real gem, as was the case Wednesday at the Studio Le Regard du Cygne's Spectacles Sauvages.

Located a few blocks up the hill from the birthplace of Edith Piaf in the 20th arrondisement, one of the coolest districts in Paris, and tucked into a residential building, Le Regard du Cygne (the glance of the swan) was founded in 1983 by a team including American Amy Swanson and her husband Alain Salmon, Francois et Vannina Guibert, Fabrice Dugied, and Yolande Salmon. In addition to curated programming, five times per year it offers two evenings of 'Spectacles Sauvages,' six pieces with a maximum length of 10 minutes. Anyone can sign up; there are no auditions. Everything, from the comfortable plush movie-theater seating on risers to the low prices for both the time-limited show (6 Euros) and drinks and snacks at the bar-cantina mitigates against the audience fright that might normally shadow an uncurated potpourri.

I would have been sated just to see work that was energetic and earnest. The surprise was to discover a creation that was idiosyncratically unique.

At first, when Sarah Nouveau of Compagnie Les Detours unobtrusively took the stage in a semi-fetal position, I thought, "Oh no, she's going to squirm on the ground for the whole dance." Then, when she got up and started racing around the circumference of the space (ringed by rugged rocked walls), to Johan Strauss's "Marche de Radetzky," I thought, "Oh no, she's just going to run around the room for the rest of the dance." But my dread soon turned into engagement as Nouveau transformed the stage into a world privately imagined, publicly absorbing.

I'd already read in the program that Nouveau planned to use her long thick hair as a partner in the transformations, and in the next section (keep in mind we're still talking about a ten-minute dance) les cheveaux became a full conspirator.

Pulling her hair up into a queue (the score now was Byungki Hwang's "Kayagum Masterpieces") and hanging onto it with her right hand, Nouveau suddenly became her own captor. Always with an eye on the entity that held her prisoner by the hair, she slowly inched her way downstage left, to where she'd deposited a Chinese parasol when she entered. Finally she retrieved it and, relieved, stood up straight and opened the umbrella protectively. But her situation remained fragile, tentative, as conveyed by the way she subtly puffed her cheeks in and out, mouth closed, eyes looking above and behind her.

I can't make a story of Nouveau's narrative, but I can tell you it was completely original.

That piece was called "Sur Terre" (On land, or earth) and, whether deliberately or not, most of the works on the program had an Earth theme or even, in the case of Compagnie Costes Sauvajon's "Iles Denses," a global warming motif. Jean-Philippe Costes-Muscat began the piece rather obviously, standing in a bucket of water while reading an account of the recent Paris conference on global climate change. The point was more poetically made when it became a danced (and mute) evocation of the potential fate of life on Earth, with Saname Wenethem moving fluidly and broadly, literally swimming in a rising tide, his melancholy efforts underlined by Satie.

Also flowing was "Amour et Ainsi de Suite," in which six woman and a man swept around the space, sometimes alone, sometimes in pairs, in an improvisation directed by Roberte Leger of Les Ateliers du Lundi and seemingly meant to underly a text in which one of the performers recounted past loves.

The Everything but the Kitchen Sink award was taken by Compagnie Chtinguelah's "Source d'Energie," in which two women danced to self-rendered and superficially sampled global music. And in "Nuestra Farruca," a flamenco riff, dancer/choreographer Julie Magri and flutist/percussionist Sylvain Cabanacq did not ultimately deliver on the promised 'dialogue' between music and dance, particularly Magri, who did not really regard her collaborator until the final few minutes.

The next Spectacles Sauvages take place May 23 & 24 and June 27 & 28. To sign up, visit Le Regard du Cygne's website or call, in France, 01 43 58 50 95, and from the U.S., 011 33 1 43 58 50 95. (Please note: As I understand it, there is no remuneration.)


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