After her previous work – “Corpus” (1999) – which, in her opinion, set a milestone for her dance, Catherine Diverrès wished to explore the field of lightness.
In this new work for five dancers (who were only four in the first six months of creation, and thus “4+1”), created in Rennes at the Théâtre national de Bretagne in March 2000, Catherine Diverrès embraces a lightened form of performance, and a more intimate relationship with the public: her work had been unconcerned by this closeness since “Fragment” in 1988. “I wanted to move towards a more economic dance, as regards both the formal and scenographic perspective” she declared during an interview for Le Monde newspaper . As such, carefully avoiding what she refers to as “movement logorrhoea”, she states: “We invented around a single leg sentence, a single arm sentence, whilst keeping in mind the idea of setting time in motion. Only the magic that cannot be named should remain” .
Abandoning the theatricality that structured some of her more recent works (“Fruits”, “Corpus”) and the existence of text, which had already been discarded since “Ces poussières”, Catherine Diverrès began creating “4+1 (little song)” with improvisation sessions, inspired by two texts by F. Garcia Lorca  and by Roger Callois , where the performers developed material together. C. Diverrès would search this material on the lookout for the “duende”, dealt with in “Theory and Play of the Duende”, notion behind the work and which she defines as follows: “The “duende” that Garcia Lorca talks about is the imperceptible. It has nothing to do at all with the technique. It is a state. You have it or you don’t have it”.  Then, later on: “The “duende”, if you like, is being beyond the form. It is a game that is the most serious form of games, it can be described as waiting for an apparition...” 
The choreographer presented her intentions by publishing her notes from June 1999 in the dossier that accompanied the creation:
“Work towards a short form and find concision in a new
Go towards. Come to... Source of movement
A roll of the dice
Bring the dromic impulse to a climax, the very one which, beginning with our own verticality, pushes the horizon ad infinitum, just like those lost seafarers who return to tell the tale.
Life impulse therefore played against the other — Physical gravity
and not psychological.
Cherish this fragility and enjoyable indulgence that children have
when exploring space and when becoming absorbed in the game.
Amorous design, freedom again. Dissatisfaction. Ride upon the wind – floating shadows...
Beauty pursued in hearts, actions and forms
Undefined, incomplete, inexhaustible
arouses the Duende”
The theme of childhood, which the media referred to, perhaps rather too hastily, as the key feature of this new creation, is actually only secondary: “The question about childhood is peripheral, it came along later in the process and it does not shape the texture or the content of the work”  she reiterates in an interview published in Mouvement. How the arts reconnect with this childhood naivety is what she seeks first and foremost to question rather than childhood itself.
Laurent Peduzzi’s stage design reinforces the choice for simplicity that the choreographer desired: “I think we’ve gone very far as regards the form”  he declared. The designated space, comprising a wooden floor and cream-coloured legs that cover the stage and the theatre, resembles a dance floor, a ballroom floor: “It is indeed a piste, a dance floor. The French word “piste” means dance floor, it also means circus ring, and then again, it also means path, direction, avenue for research. The desire was to promote proximity, to make the space a concrete place, which would be the same for the dancer as well as the spectator”.  Despite its great simplicity, the stage design rapidly experienced difficulties in adapting during the tour, and ended up as “an amputated stage design”: “Very few venues, which could accommodate such a set-up, have the time required for installing it, the technical logistics, the means for transporting a wooden floor and the opportunity to address safety concerns” explains Catherine Diverrès.
The soundtrack also illustrated the same minimalist determination: the performance takes place in almost total silence for three-quarters of its duration, interrupted from time to time by short sequences of music, the sound of a television rebroadcasting images of police interventions and riots, as well as variations by the saxophone player Albert Ayler.
“4+1 (little song)” was the first production since 1993 not to have enjoyed the support of the Théâtre de la Ville. The latter’s director, Gérard Violette, although a staunch supporter of the choreographer’s work since 1993, explains why in Le Monde newspaper: “We’ve always had problems with numbers of spectators with Catherine, but I’ve never talked about them forthright. For “Corpus”, however, she refused to take simple common sense advice into account. Public response to this was very negative. So, I’m not backing the next creation”. 
How did this withdrawal affect the production of the work and the declared choice of formal radical lightness? In any case, the question deserves to be asked.
 Dominique Frétard, “La danse indispensable de Catherine Diverrès”, Le Monde, 9 March 2000.
 “Theory and Play of the Duende”, 1930.
 “Man, Play and Games”, 1958-1967.
 D. Frétard, ibid.
 Dominique Vernis, “Le tremblement de l'expérience contre l'aveuglement des images – entretien avec Catherine Diverrès”, Mouvement, n°11, January-March 2001, p. 57.
 Marie-Christine Vernay, “Jouer dans un souci de proximité”, Libération, 15 February 2001.
 Dominique Frétard, “La danse indispensable de Catherine Diverrès”, Le Monde, 9 March 2000.
“Everything that is needed for making the dance public exists. And it is not a matter of economising for the sake of economising. Laurent Peduzzi’s stage design is a real choice that privileges emptiness without getting lost in it and leaves physical feelings. You can hear the singing, the music, even the dance tremendously. Every momentum, results in a stop, a suspension, then takes off again even more exquisitely; these start-ups and halts bounce off each other. The performance is designed as an avalanche, a precipitate of highly-studied rebounds and falls. It all begins with the really stiff and ambulatory figure of a small drum and scenes of riots broadcast on a television screen. This is followed by children’s games prompted by a memory that is vivid, even in the dark. The dancers who, although they are definitely still adults, are overcome with desires and naughtiness. Nothing resists them. They are inspired by the cinema. Dracula, for example, is conquered by a starlet who bites into a fresh tomato. They play with everyday objects: basins for an unlikely bath, chewing gum that contributes to showing off, chairs placed indiscriminately, imaginary slates where loving intentions are inscribed, yoyos that light up, abandoned teddy-bears, etc.
In this dance, that includes an intense, monolithic unit, right in the middle of the performance and without any music, the quartet+1 frolics around in the hazardous zones of face-pulling childhood. Little pests and poisons lead the way, openly caustically, riotously. The female solo, like the other Diverrès’ ones we are familiar with, which make women desirable, is filled with the absolute passion of rebellion. From her garret retreat, Diverrès is still just as impactful as in her more spectacular projects. And the dancers emerge glorified. »
Marie-Christine Vernay, “4+1, très simple et très calculé”, Libération, 21 March 2000.
“Unadorned work, 4+1 (little song) is not accompanied by any music whatsoever or, more accurately, it is the bodies that compose it. A single leg sentence, a single arm sentence, reproduced successively by all the dancers, compose the refrain of the work, the ritornello of the movement. The rhythm is orchestrated by the falling bodies. Like silences in music or punctuation in literature, the impromptu interruption of the movements sets the tempo of the work. For Catherine Diverrès, “the falling dancers are like full stops. After these full stops, a new sentence begins”. Each dancer performs the central movement. Yet each movement is unique, the repeated sentence is the support for improvisation which draws its inspiration from the gestures, funny faces and games of childhood. The dancers delved into their body’s memory to unearth recollections of playful gestures. A subjective memory yet also a sketch of a memory shared, a memory of tales, a memory of playgrounds. Through the familiarity that it incites, this body language also makes up the grammar, the rules of the game of the work: the dancers can play together for and with the spectator, in complicity. The sharing and the imaginable communion of the gesture are not so much produced by individual bodies but by the intuitive understanding of the bodies. 4 + 1 (little song) is the result of improvisation work focusing on a text by Garcia Lorca, Theory and Play of the Duende. The Duende is that which is not learned, is not reproduced yet occurs however as imperceptible in the gesture. Only the precise development of the choreographic structure can produce this improbable space for exchange which crowns off the composition. The intimacy of bodies does not lie in the communion of body language performed together. Rather, it is through the exasperation of individual body language that it appears, in the complex score that, as such, emerges. »
Léa Gauthier, Mouvement, n°11, January-March 2001, p. 57
Latest update: June 2014