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Alla prima

“Alla Prima”, a group work created for 10 dancers and a musician and premiered at the Montpellier-Danse Festival in June 2005, takes one of the two intertwined stories from William Faulkner’s work “If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem”, entitled “Old Man” as its starting point and asks the question about social ties: “This piece will not be about man surpassing himself in order to win, to survive the violence of the raging river as Faulkner described it, but will instead be a way for the dancers to be the essential elements of that mud-choked river. From its cloistered interior it becomes organicity, a component in the great melting pot of energy, abstracted from the unformed, focusing this energy into what will become the dance”. (presentation of the work on the Company’s website:

Against a stage set designed by Laurent Peduzzi, comprising mobile modules imagined as individual theatres, the dancers express first of all various symptoms of modern-day solitude, which are gradually revealed through Marie-Christine Soma’s lighting work. The freedom covered in W. Faulkner’s work is questioned here in relation to its political, social, love-based excesses. In an interview “that probes the relationship between individualism and community”, the red thread of the work, the philosopher Patricia Allio sums up C. Diverrès’ reflections: “How can we free ourselves from this narcissistic imprisonment? How can we overcome this illusion of freedom that masks a deeper alienation? How can we ‘step out’ of ourselves other than by exploring paroxysmal patterns of rupture? As such, starting out from the question on the deprivation of social ties, we end up with the importance of chaos” (Patricia Allio, “Désordres”. In I. Filiberti, “Catherine Diverrès, mémoires passantes”, Pantin : Centre national de la danse, 2010, p. 83)

Another topic addressed in “Old Man”, the will to deal with confusion is considered in reverse here. Seijiro Murayama’s music accompanies the explosion of individual imprisonments denounced by the choreographer, which leads to a chaos that she proposes, not to surpass but to welcome, to experiment to “punctually reintroduce the lost feeling of continuity which, in return, ensures the durability and vitality of social ties” (Patricia Allio, “Désordres”. In I. Filiberti, “Catherine Diverrès, mémoires passantes”, Pantin : Centre national de la danse, 2010, p. 84).

Presumably to stage this chaos more optimally and to illustrate the “co-fragility”, according to the concept created by the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk, as the “basis for a new way of meeting, of coming together”, the choreographer breaks away from her habits and quests rupture: “Just like the forms, the awkwardness, the wilfully impoliteness of the gestures and movements, the dancers’ psychological or mental non-investment breaks away from the inhibition, the distance, present in my previous works”. (Statement of intent, CCN (National Choreography Centre) programme for Alla Prima, 2005)

Even though she refuses to foresee “any sort of “turning point”, or to extrapolate on the writing” (Statement of intent, CCN (National Choreography Centre) programme for Alla Prima, 2005), she will shift towards an approach and a relationship with time that will be revamped, in line with this first collaboration with the musician Seijiro Murayama, for her next creation: “Blowin'”.

Claire Delcroix

Diverrès, Catherine

Catherine Diverrès has said, “Conscience, our relationship with others, this is what creates time”, ever since her first choreographic creation. She is a sort of strange meteor, appearing in the landscape of contemporary dance in the mid-80’s. She stood out almost immediately in her rejection of the tenets of post-modern American dance and the classically-based vocabularies trending at that time. She trained at the Mudra School in Brussels under the direction of Maurice Béjart, and studied the techniques of José Limón, Merce Cunningham and Alwin Nikolais before joining the company of Dominique Bagouet in Montpellier, then deciding to set out on her own choreographic journey.

Her first work was an iconic duo, Instance, with Bernardo Montet, based upon a study trip she took to Japan in 1983, during which she worked with one of the great masters of butoh, Kazuo Ohno. This marked the beginning of the Studio DM. Ten years later she was appointed director of the National Choreographic Center in Rennes, which she directed until 2008.

Over the years, Catherine Diverrès has created over thirty pieces, created her own dance language, an extreme and powerful dance, resonating with the great changes in life, entering into dialogues with the poets: Rilke, Pasolini and Holderlin, reflecting alongside the philosophers Wladimir Jankelevich and Jean-Luc Nancy, focusing also on the transmission of movement and repertoire in Echos, Stances and Solides and destabilising her own dancing with the help of the plastician Anish Kapoor in L’ombre du ciel.

Beginning in 2000, she began adapting her own style of dance by conceiving other structures for her creations: she improvised with the music in Blowin, developed projects based on experiences abroad, in Sicily for Cantieri, and with Spanish artists in La maison du sourd. Exploring the quality of stage presence, gravity, hallucinated images, suspensions, falls and flight — the choreographer began using her own dance as a means of revealing, revelation, unmasking, for example in Encor, in which movements and historical periods are presented. Diverrès works with the body to explore the important social and aesthetic changes of today, or to examine memory, the way she did in her recent solo in homage to Kazuo Ohno, O Sensei.

And now the cycle is repeating, opening on a new period of creation with the founding of Diverrès’ new company, Association d’Octobre, and the implantation of the company in the city of Vannes in Brittany. Continuing on her chosen path of creation and transmission, the choreographer and her dancers have taken on a legendary figure, Penthesilea, the queen of the Amazons, in Penthésilée(s). In returning to group and collective work, this new work is indeed another step forward in the choreographer’s continuing artistic journey.

Source: Irène Filiberti, website of the company Catherine Diverrès

More information:

Micouin, Thierry

Alla prima

Choreography : Catherine Diverrès

Interpretation : Julien Fouché, Carole Gomes, Fabrice Dasse Marta Izquierdo Munoz, Sung-Im Kweon, Thierry Micouin, Kathleen Reynolds, Isabelle Kurzi, Emilio Urbina, Rafaël Pardillo

Set design : Laurent Peduzzi

Text : William Faulkner, extraits de « Si je t’oublie, Jérusalem», Le vieux père.

Original music : Seijiro Murayama

Live music : Seijiro Murayama

Lights : Marie-Christine Soma assistée par Eric Corlay

Costumes : Cidalia Da Costa

Other collaborations : Créateur sonore Eiji Nakazawa - Réalisation sonore Denis Gambiez

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