Levée des conflits
Boris Charmatz / Musée de la danse
After 50 ans de danse– a hybrid work, somewhere between an alphabet book of forms by Merce Cunningham and a kaleidoscope of recovered gestures – Boris Charmatz proposes a new borderline choreographic object: a perceptive hologram for 24 dancers and 25 movements. Levée – like a suspension of time, of the tension of meaning, of the rules that organize perception: a blurring of the way one looks at the circulation, the passing, the appropriation of the gestures that drift among a group. In a hypnotic round, a mosaic of simultaneous actions sliding from body to body, the dancers try to produce a mirage: a subliminal impression emerging from a continuous series of states. It builds itself up, becomes undone, comes together again, condenses, accumulates, forms a nucleus, lines, folds — a living matter, solitary and collective, where each dancer is “mobile within the mobile element”.
But how does it work? How does it evolve without imploding? Moved by a void, animated by the lag between the number of actions and that of dancers, the layout generates itself on its own — giving the impression of a permanent dissolve. Exposed to duration, ceaselessly building itself up and dissolving, this variable-geometry structure summons up a floating attention: vocal ensemble to be contemplated in one look, and choreography composed with a multitude of interlocked, swivelling, repeated events; dance which simply takes place, and complex game of mechanics, in constant oscillation. With Levée des conflits, Boris Charmatz invents a “dance hole” that absorbs the gaze. A palindrome-dance, to be read in all directions. A choreographic canon, looking for the image of a utopia.
Levée des conflits: a solo shared between the members of a group, something like a living sculpture, a dance blazing with energy. The invention of a form.
Can one describe Levée des conflits as a solo, composed by you before the beginning of the rehearsals, made of 25 movements and interpreted by 24 dancers in canon ?
The harmony of the whole seems to rely on a mathematic principle: can you explain this?
Its relatively simple: there is one movement more than the number of dancers, therefore always a hole to fill up, and its that hole that animates the whole. Its like a boundless game of musical chairs. Besides, I like that idea: a creative deficiency? There is a movement permanently missing in that choreography for it to be entirely closed upon itself, and it is such a void that ensures the circulation of the bodies, their permeability. It reminds me of the image of a society that wouldnt be locked on its identity, because it would always leave a blank to be desired that would allow the foreign body to enter the dance. Moreover, nothing belongs to anybody in that play : there is a kind of mental choreography there, which is exchanged between us.
How did the initial composition become modified, once it was unfolded in canon by the whole of the interpreters?
In fact we dance things much more difficult and energetic than I had imagined. We really entered a hypnotic trance !!! Alrady, to hold 1h40 seems almost impossible so three hours would be murder. I wanted a form of choreographic exhibition, a long installation but, precisely, between stage and exhibition there are some disagreements, as you said, its not obvious. And thats what interests me, it causes jammings, it produces hybrid gestures. Levée des conflits is one of them : between choreographic exhibition and performance, we tend to immobility through the abundance of movements organized in a strict formal process. We would like to reach a nirvana of dance with no begining nor end, but we really enter such a form only by taking the time, one by one, to get down to it, and to get on well together. So, directed in a way by the shape this dance took at the end of the rehearsals, we had to, sheepishly, announce a change of programme: the play is more dense than we had foreseen, and one wont be able to go out for a drink in the middle of it!
Did you find, at the outcome of this creative process, some exit towards the suspension of conflicts, this definition of the neutral according to Roland Barthes? In such form of representation, with a beginning and an end however barely marked , can one escape from dramaturgy, from drama?
Levée des conflits is a shape, a mental choreography practiced during the time of its exhibition. It is probably the most formal project I ever attempted, but it is also one of the most social and political ones, because it is impossible to tackle the group and the mass of the individuals without thinking of the the polis* and of the collective movements which oscillate between suspension of time and confrontation. Roland Barthes was kind enough not to establish the definition of the neutral, not to circumscribe it, by postulating precisely that it would mean betraying the desire for neutral. By thus situating the neutral within the movement of desire and not within the statement and the will, he leaves some space to those who read him or listen to him. This play includes beginning and end, the drama is not thrown away. But the suspension of conflicts is a desire more than a fact, and, I hope, a burning way of situating oneself face to face with the struggles of ones time.
* city, in ancient Greek
Interview by Thomas Delamarre