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Posts Tagged ‘inflated suit’

Photo: Holger Rudolph.
A performance of “La Grande Phrase” by French company Campagnie Didier Théron. The idea is to share the fun of dance and draw in new audiences.

I love reading about serious artists reaching out through humor. But what is going on in the picture above? One kid is watching the playful performance and wearing a big smile. Everyone else is looking in another direction with solemnity. Bad choice of illustration?

Celina Lei reports at Australia’s ArtsHub that the “French dance company Campagnie Didier Théron will soon land in Adelaide to upend expectations of dancers’ bodies with a dash of humor.

” ‘Dance!’ Usually when kids hear this cue,” she writes, “they immediately start wiggling their bottoms and shuffling their feet – circling, hopping and swinging their arms.

“But often as we grow, we grow more hesitant, our movements become more restricted and choreographed in fear of embarrassing ourselves. So what if to dance is to be silly?

“Wearing colorful inflated suits and roaming across streets, parks and city centers, La Grande Phrase (The Big Phrase) is a dance-work series by Montpellier-based Campagnie Didier Théron that explores ways to upend stereotypes of what a dancer should look like or do.

“The self-taught dancer and choreographer Didier Théron tells ArtsHub that the work was born from a journey of experimentation and collaboration with international artists and dance companies, allowing dancers the freedom of movement while wearing suits inflated with air. …

“Théron points to the German artist and choreographer Oskar Schlemmer (1888-1943), as well as Venus figurines of the European Paleolithic period, as inspirations for these dramatic bodily forms. The movement of dance and the flow of air within the suits further activate these forms.

“After touring in cities around Europe and taking out the 2013 Grand Prize of Setouchi Triennale in Japan, the company will bring three dancers to WOMADelaide (SA) this March where ‘any space shared with the audience becomes a performance space.’

“In the same way that contemporary visual artists are continually challenging the notion of a hushed, white-cube gallery, dance with a splash of humor can provide multiple access points for different audiences.

“From the time of Charlie Chaplin, who pulled off every sequence with full comic relief, to more recent contemporary experimentations such as the UK’s New Art Club combining dance with stand-up comedy, there are plenty of examples where humor can support choreographic expression.

“Théron says: ‘This project always surprises me in the reactions of the people and how they receive it. The first time we performed it outside was in a suburb of Montpellier. It was not easy to have a cultural artistic project in this area, but we crossed this line with these characters and everybody was laughing or smiling.’

“Taking this performance [onto] the streets also offers the dancers greater freedom, and the audiences more opportunities to interact, adds Théron. …

“Roving performances were also something that had a great impact on Théron as a child, from the very first time he encountered a ritualistic dance parade in his grandparents’ village in the centre of France.

“He says: ‘That was the first dance I saw and members of my family were also dancing (only men at the time), but it was very powerful and filled with a deep joy. This performance allowed me to reconnect with this memory.’ …

“What the company hopes to bring to the audience is an invitation to think about dance and dancers’ bodies ‘beyond the norm,’ and perhaps at some point share the joy of movement.

‘There is something in being this character that [gives] us permission to do many things. I think it’s a real positive body and filled with possibilities that we can experiment with all the time,’ concludes Théron.”

More at ArtsHub, here. No firewall. Funny pictures.

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