French summer festivals.After the harrowing task of electing a new president and several hundred mayors, France settled down to the serious business of summer festivals. Of some six hundred such gatherings, covering everything from string quartets to folk dance folk dance, primitive, tribal, or ethnic form of the dance, sometimes the survival of some ancient ceremony or festival. The term is used also to include characteristic national dances, country dances, and figure dances in costume to folk tunes. in every picturesque nook of the country, the three major annual dance festivals are to be found in fairly close proximity to one another in Montpellier, Aix-en-Provence, and Chateauvallon. Their varied orientation and programming, however, ensured that there was little overlap and provided reassuring confirmation of the backing that the state and regions (and, increasingly, private institutions) seem prepared to continue to offer to dance.
Bearing witness to the continued importance of American contemporary dance in the French cultural imagination (though it doesn't show up much any more in French choreography), Montpellier Danse was dominated by the presence of Merce Cunningham, Trisha Brown Trisha Brown (25 November 1936, Aberdeen, Washington, U.S.) is a postmodernist American choreographer and dancer.
Brown was born in Aberdeen, Washington, and received a B.A. degree in dance from Mills College in 1958. Brown later received a D.F.A. from Bates College in 2000. , and Bill T. Jones. Artistic director Jean-Paul Montanari made the Franco-American relationship something of a theme, presenting a number of public debates and encounters on "Culture and Politics" in American and French dance.
Seeing the work of these three American choreographers together made all the more remarkable the gap between their formalism (evident even in such a thematic piece as Jones's Still/Here) and the chaotic, if sometimes vividly imaginative, narrative imagery of many of the French choreographers at the festival. For example, Mathilde Monnier Mathilde Monnier is a French choreographer. She directs the Centre Chorégraphique National de Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon in Montpellier. External links
For all its use of software (made much of by the French press) in generating the choreography, Cunningham's new Windows (to music by Emanuel de Melo Pimenta) possesses a characteristic delicacy of choice: dancers often balance on one leg, revolve smoothly around one another, evolve into suddenly organic groups, and enter and leave the stage in surprising but somehow comprehensible order.
The ingenious integration of Bill T. Jones into Trisha Brown's solo if you couldn't see me made for the memorable sight of these two choreographic giants dancing happily together in You Can See Us. Facing the audience while Brown remained enigmatically turned away, the movements of her back highlighted by the deep V of her silky dress, Jones performed the same steps as if in mirror image, despite their very different techniques. Perhaps the nicest moment, however, was seeing these two famous figures grinning like kids, hand in hand, as they bowed to an enraptured en·rap·ture
tr.v. en·rap·tured, en·rap·tur·ing, en·rap·tures
To fill with rapture or delight.
en·rap audience in the open-air Cour Jacques Coeur.
Danse a Aix faithfully adhered to its policy of open dress rehearsals and public "events." A group called Le Grand Jeu rehearsed (rather amorphously) in the charming gardens of the Pavillon Vendome, while another group, Les Amis du Grand Jeu (which included Simone Forti), presented an evening of improvised dance.
The most interesting of the programs that I saw, however, was a well-danced mixed bill by Ballet du Grand Theatre de Geneve. After Jiri Kylian's Stamping Ground stamp·ing ground
See stomping ground.
a favourite meeting place
Noun 1. and Mats Ek's haunting Meinungslose Weiden ("Meaningless Meadows"), Ohad Naharin's Axioma 7 closed the evening with a fascinating musical chairs for twenty-one dancers in a semicircle, who disrobe impetuously im·pet·u·ous
1. Characterized by sudden and forceful energy or emotion; impulsive and passionate.
2. Having or marked by violent force: impetuous, heaving waves. while shifting position and dancing with abandon to Bach's fourth Brandenburg Concerto.
Aix also offered the rare opportunity of seeing three short ballets by Kurt Jooss in a program by Ballet du Rhin. These revealed a stylized styl·ize
tr.v. styl·ized, styl·iz·ing, styl·iz·es
1. To restrict or make conform to a particular style.
2. To represent conventionally; conventionalize. choreography--particularly effective in the touching Pavane pavane
Stately court dance introduced from southern Europe into England in the 16th century. The dance, consisting of forward and backward steps to music in duple time, was originally used to open ceremonial balls; later its steps became livelier and it came to be paired for a Dead Princess--that gave a creative context to the better-known Green Table, performed during the second part of the evening.
Of the extensive Chateauvallon festival (celebrating the theater's thirtieth anniversary this year), I saw only Angelin Preljocaj's new L'Anoure. Based on a libretto libretto (ləbrĕt`ō) [Ital.,=little book], the text of an opera or an oratorio. Although a play usually emphasizes an integrated plot, a libretto is most often a loose plot connecting a series of episodes. by Tous les matins mat·ins
n. (used with a sing. or pl. verb)
a. Ecclesiastical The office that formerly constituted together with lauds the first of the seven canonical hours.
b. du monde n. 1. The world; a globe as an ensign of royalty.
Le beau monde
fashionable society. See Beau monde.
See Demimonde. author Pascal Quignard and set to music by Bernard Cavanna and Rameau, the work revolves around a poetic tale of enchantment reminiscent of many nineteenth-century ballets (orphaned youth falls in love with frog princess), but offers paraligi worlds of narrative (spoken by Preljocaj himself) and dance. Many aspects of Preljocaj's work are starting to look familiar, but in the best way. You recognize the wonderful voice, but you don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)
"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party. what it's going to say.
Philippe Decoufle is less interested in steps than Preljocaj (one of the few French choreographers who actually seems to want to make dancers dance), but he too has the gift of a fascinating personal style. Decodex (an almost complete remake of an earlier work, Codex codex
Manuscript book, especially of Scripture, early literature, or ancient mythological or historical annals. The earliest type of manuscript in the form of a modern book (i.e. ) for the Festival Marseille Mediterranee, is a delightful mixture of visual and verbal gags interwoven in·ter·weave
v. in·ter·wove , in·ter·wo·ven , inter·weav·ing, inter·weaves
1. To weave together.
2. To blend together; intermix.
v.intr. with sinuous-armed, curving-bodied dances to a staggering mixture of music. Decoufle doesn't depart very far from the music-hall sequential construction that also characterized his earlier Petites Pieces Montees ("Little Ornamental Pieces") but neither does he vulgarize vul·gar·ize
tr.v. vul·gar·ized, vul·gar·iz·ing, vul·gar·iz·es
1. To make vulgar; debase: "What appalls him is the sheer cheesiness of TV iniquity. or exhaust the formula. The secret lies in Decoufle's essentially childlike vision that can pare things down to their funny, nonsensical origins.
Nothing funny about Maurice Bejart's new Sheherazade, performed at the festival of Saint-Florent-le-Vieil by Berlin Ballet. To the eponymous scores by Maurice Ravel and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, with a little Stravinsky (Feu d'artifice) and traditional Iranian music thrown in, the work was chiefly memorable for some excellent dancing by the Berlin company (notably Bettina Thiel as Sheherazade, Steffi Scherzer as La Rose, and Oliver Matz in various roles).
It should be noted, however, that the packed audience remained transfixed in an airless and very hot theater, and cheered unrestrainedly at the end, a reminder that festivals are not just for specialists, critics, and seekers of cultural truth, but also for those who just want a good night out--which is occasionally, but not often, the same thing.