The two artistic directors of Festival d'Avignon in the south of
This year it was Boris Charmatz—"an agitator on the French dance scene", in the words of writer and critic Philippe Noisette.
Charmatz "never fails to surprise", Noisette says.
Charmatz staged two works at this summer's festival and, not so surprisingly, one was very different from the other.
"Enfant", the spectacular opener at the festival's main venue, the Honour Court of the Popes' Palace, compared the relationship between men and machines to that of adults and children.
The vast stage was full of huge mechanical creatures and scores of youngsters.
"Levée des conflits", staged on a football pitch, was like a dance performance presented for the sake of the dancers rather than the audience. They repeated sets of choreographed movements again and again, but it was never boring because there were small differences in each rendition.
It was a reminder that dancing is not simply repeating choreography, just as acting is not just speaking the lines.
Noisette has quoted Charmatz as saying, "Dance belongs to those who are not afraid to transform public spaces—that is to say, spaces of contagion and freedom for everyone's truant desires."
Experiencing Charmatz's two works made me think of contemporary dance in
I recently asked one of my graduate students, a professional ballet teacher, whether her friends and students would go see Pichet Klunchun's upcoming "Nijinsky
And yet every time I've seen Pichet's shows overseas, the audience has been full of dancers, almost none of whom would have trained in classical Thai dance.
I once also attended a workshop for young ballet dancers at
I'm not asking
Festival/Tokyo 2011 sees French choreographer Jérôme Bel re-stage his world-famous "The Show Must Go On" with local perfomers and he'll also give a lecture at a university. Maybe that's a better way forward for
Like Bel, Charmatz is a skilful practitioner and keen thinker (see www.BorisCharmatz.org). Maybe we could ask him an important question: How can we promote both traditional and modern dance here, in a country of such contrasts, so that the public feels they're relevant?
The French Embassy paid for the writer's trip to
written by Pawit Mahasarinand
published in THE NATION on Friday 26th August, 2011
photos courtesy of Festival d'Avignon
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