Interviews51

The importance of consistency

Jan 10 2014 Sophie Tessier

_HA47940-nef_1000px(R)_webOptimAt the end of November, the first rehearsals involving the acrobats took place in the Cultural Centre at Joli Bois, an opportunity for Philippe to share his first impressions with us.

 

What was involved in these initial working sessions at Joli-Bois?

PdC. The two weeks brought all the acrobats together for the first time: Laura Smith and Mark Pieklo, Renata do Val and Andre Rosenfeld Sznelwar, Anke Bucher. It provided us with a special opportunity to see how they work together and find out their ideas and preferences for the project.

We were able to check the suitability of the equipment we’d chosen with the acrobats, the possibilities for blending different techniques, and subsequently narrowing down the options for the construction of the set.

When they were on stage, I immediately saw that the acrobats shared an ability to work together and an “active” curiosity, something very dynamic, a desire to complement one another- which is extremely valuable- and an ability to learn quickly. It’s very exciting!

 

Tell us something about the idea behind the acrobatics in this new project

PdC. The initial consideration was to identify which circus techniques to choose- and how to use them to tell the story of Daral Shaga. Then how to work on the idea of the barrier, around which the rest of the set would be built. We were also looking to revive an original technique of the company by using aerial acrobatics.

Our first ideas came from a desire to combine the lightness of the Korean cradle with the trampoline in order to work on the notion of bounce and projection towards this impassable barrier, and translate that into the idea of the journey taken by any migrant when they leave their loved ones behind and embark on their travels.

 

How did you choose the acrobats?

PdC. I don’t usually hold auditions. I just decide when I meet someone. For this project, I was looking for a plurality of disciplines. I want the acrobats to be able to exchange techniques with each other so that they can both show case their own skills and share them with others. I try to make sure that the acrobats aren’t simply confined to the role of performers, that they have a say in the way things are done and get the opportunity to develop their own personal vision of their performance techniques in this project.

 

Can you tell us something about Feria Musica’s brand of circus?

PdC. The element of risk, and yet the apparent ease with which the acrobatic sequences are executed are all part of the world of circus and what fascinate people. But what is most essential is the message behind it all- giving some meaning to the acrobatic act and using it to express what you want to say; an emotion or an idea. Acrobatics is a language in itself.

We’re not out to scare the audience in our shows, even if the element of danger is always there. The risk factor is real, but we want to take the audience beyond that and show them something choreographic and poetic which stirs some kind of emotion in them.

 

In terms of the writing, how does Daral Shaga compare to your other shows?

PdeC. We’ve tried to keep to the same language that we used in Sinue, probably our most abstract show to date.

The idea is not to be narrative, but to provoke emotions via the medium of a story which is sung- in this case, to a very powerful script by Laurent Gaude- which tells of travels, violence, respite and hope.

In physical terms, this means creating tensions and expressing obsession, fear, the need to hide, to be assertive, and to make decisions.

The video element will act as a kind of complement to the writing. There will be layers of detachable screens to give the audience the impression that they’re moving closer to the barrier, and the cameras attached to the acrobats and members of the chorus will help to emphasize a feeling of vertigo. Again, it’s all a question of balance between the video images and what’s happening on stage. We need to get down to what makes this project unique: the different levels of writing and the complementary nature of the disciplines involved.

 

For Laurent Gaude, Kris Defoort, Fabrice Murgia, and myself, it’s the themes of the project which unite us: the same sense of shame when faced with obstacles, the desire to talk about – but without preaching- the lives of those who become nothing when they leave their homeland and abandon everything. How can people reflect on this question without feeling that it would be easier to avoid the issue altogether?  We want to express the need for solidarity in the face of a problem which is both current and to come.

 

© H. Amiel

This post is also available in: French