About coupé-décalé: the project 'Coupé-décalé' is a choreography in two acts.
In the first, entitled 'I Am Not A Sub-Culture, Rather A Gallery of Self-Portraits with A History Walking in Circles', Robyn Orlin creates a solo with and for James Carlès, a dancer and choreographer and the initiator of this project on coupé-décalé.
The second act, 'On Va Gâter le Coin !’ (We are going to rip it up!) is dedicated to a stage performance of coupé-décalé by James Carlès and his five dancers.
[The term coupé-décalé comes from a type of traditional dance from the Ivory Coast, the Akoupé, of the ethnic group the Attié. A cross between Congolese rumba, hip-hop, Caribbean music and French folk songs, coupé-décalé appeared in Ivorean communities in Paris in the early 2000s.]
“From the very beginnings of the project, I had wanted an artistic collaboration with a very experienced choreographer/director who was interested in the subject of otherness. I devised this project only through dialogue, discussion and a combination of different perspectives. I really wanted to get as much distance as possible from these societal questions, about which I knew a great deal and in which I felt very involved.” So it was only natural that Robyn Orlin was contacted, and just as natural that she agreed to throw herself into this project.
Act 1: Making the invisible visible...
For Act 1, after numerous discussions and workshops, Robyn Orlin chose to draw inspiration from my personal history (familial and cultural) to 'construct' the solo. The images are real, but the stories and characters are fictitious. The solo examines otherness in Europe (France), intercultural relations and the issue of territorial legitimisation. What do we really know about 'Afro-Europeans' (or Afro-French)? What readings can we make from them, from their expressions? Can we relate to each other's common history? These are just some of the various questions that led us to come up with this first act, with a lot of love and humour. The act is built around the SAPE (Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes – Society of Ambiance-makers and Elegant People), and the character of the 'SAPEUR' (the name for members of this society), as they are one of the key elements of coupé-décalé.
Act 2: 'Textepublic'/'Textecaché' (Public Text/Hidden Text) and polysemy...
In Act 2, I wanted to put real coupé-décalé dancers on stage, using their own codes of movement, their costumes, their language, etc. My journeys and research into the social dances of African descendants allowed me to discover the eminently political meaning of all these dances. They are born, develop and flourish from well-defined social and (geo)political contexts. Our reading of their movements shows us the extent to which these dances are real traces or markers of our societal history (dissent/assent).
When I first encountered coupé-décalé, I didn't understand it. In fact, I was rather hostile towards it. It wasn't until several years later, after a discussion with young pre-teens from a school in Nantes, that I realised that something real was happening. I carried out some ‘research trips’ to French cities such as Marseille and Paris, followed by some time in the Ivory Coast. I discovered the 'dual language' of the coupé-décalé dancers. What is said in public or shown to most people is not at all the same as what is shown to the initiated. This process reminded me of the resistance dances observed in slave-owning or colonial societies.
On the other hand, I also noticed that the semantic field of coupé-décalé dancers is – entirely voluntarily – contradictory. Indeed, a single movement or gesture can have several different meanings.
This reality inspired me to write the quintet. The video images are real. Charles Rostand and I filmed them ourselves in Abidjan. They were then 'recreated' abstractly and applied to choreographic scenes. These images evoke the urban world, the maquis (a type of restaurant), the glo glo (shanty town). women and the numerous projections made onto them, colonial history, and many other hidden readings to be discovered in coupé-décalé which the video image metaphorically evokes.
Acts 1 and 2 constitute the two sides of the same one card."
Source : James Carlès
James Carles is a choreographer, researcher and lecturer. He received initial training in dance and music of Africa and its Diaspora and then trained with the great names of modern dance in New York and London mainly. Since 1992, he hired an artistic and analytical approach that explores the “places junctions” between the dances, rhythms and philosophies of Africa and its Diaspora with technical and western thoughts frames. To date, his company’s directory contains more than fifty pieces of his own creation and authors like Katherine Dunham, Pearl Primus, Talley Beatty, Asadata Dafora, Geraldine Armstrong, Rick Odums, Wayne Barbaste, Carolyn Carlson, Robyn Orlin, etc.
Dancer soloist and outstanding performer, James Carles was performer and artistic collaborator for not only numerous “all music” ranging from Baroque to contemporary music, through jazz; but also choreographers such as Carolyn Carlson, Robyn Orlin, Rui Horta, Myriam Naisy, etc.
Artist associated with Astrada- Jazz In Marciac 2012-2014, research associate in the laboratory of the University LLA Créatis Jean Jaures Toulouse, James Carles is particularly invests in heritage projects for diversity and diffusion of choreographic culture. He is also founder and artistic director of the festival “Dances and Black Continents”.
Robyn Orlin was born in 1955 in Johannesburg and obtained bursaries to study in London (London Contemporary Dance School) and then in Chicago (School of Art Institute).
Since her first performance in Johannesburg in 1980, she has attempted to redefine choreography and the art of theatre in her country and has become one of the most committed anti-apartheid choreographers. She starts from the principle that “dance is political”, and in her pieces she examines the social and cultural situation in South Africa: its influences, its history, its rifts and its disintegration. The choreography then creates “an iconoclastic dance which puts its foot in it”, a dance-chronicle of today's South African society, skilfully handling irony and derision; a dance that shamelessly stirs up references and identities, blending traditional popular culture with the radical avant-garde, a dance that is capable of breaking down the artist-audience barrier by putting the audience at the centre of the event.
Robyn Orlin came to France for the first time in April 2000 at the invitation of La Filature Scène Nationale, Mulhouse, with “Daddy, I've seen this piece six times before...”
She achieved immediate recognition: Rencontres Chorégraphiques Internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis, Montpellier Dance Festival, Théâtre de la Ville, Paris, followed by tours all over the world.
In 2004, Robyn Orlin took part in the inauguration of the Centre National de la Danse, Pantin and composed a solo for Sophiatou Kossoko as part of “Vif du Sujet”.
In 2005 she created “When I take off my skin and touch the sky with my nose, only then I can see little voices amuse themselves...”, a piece with 6 singers from the South African Opera, then, during the summer, “Hey dude... i have talent... i'm just waiting for god...,” a solo for the dancer-choreographer Vera Mantero.
From September 2005 Robyn Orlin was in residency for two years at the Centre National de la Danse, Pantin. In April 2007 her “L'Allegro, il penseroso ed il moderato” was premièred at the Paris National Opera.
Digital resource - Médiathèque du Centre national de la danse
More information : robynorlin.com
Following his cinema studies in Aix en Provence, he partnered with the film director Thierry Graton and together they created a production structure that enabled him to associate his two passions at the Opéra de Marseille, the Festival d'Aix, the Festival d'Avignon, etc.
At the beginning of the 1990s, he met Angelin Preljocaj who initiated him to a world that he knew nothing of: contemporary dance. They worked together on around fifteen productions. Together, they were awarded the Grand Prix from the Video Dance Festival for Le Parc.
Since 2000, he is frequently called upon for musical and dance programmes that are filmed live and direct.
Source: University of Rennes 2
Choreography : Robyn ORLIN, James CARLÈS
Interpretation : James CARLÈS, Brissy AKEZIZI, Clément ASSÉMIAN, Gahé BAMA, Franck SERIKPA, Stéphane MBELLA
Original music : James CARLÈS, Charles ROSTAN
Video conception : Pierre SASSO, Charles ROSTAN
Lights : Arnaud SCHULZ (et régie)
Production / Coproduction of the video work : Production 24 images scène d'écran