Consider a show as a stage open onto the world that created it: such is the challenge of Giovanni Cioni’s film. Centred on Bernadetje, the creation of the Belgian choreographer Alain Platel, it is a rightful giving-back. The choice of setting, a bumper car arcade, and its interpreters – children, amateurs and professionals – immediately confirm a grip on reality.
Fragmented, torn apart, violent or serene, the narration obeys less the customary rules of live entertainment than the impact of life on bodies and souls. By alternating extracts from Bernadetje with interviews of dancers asked to describe one another, Giovanni Cioni reveals the uniqueness of Alain Platel’s work. Indeed, the force of his shows is due to the introduction, by the choreographer, of individuals normally absent from cultural scenes, side by side with professional dancers. The representation of the tensions that distort everyday life has no time here for the spectacular: no recuperation, no instrumentalisation taints these intimist expressions that, within a group, finally find the means to connect to others.
Source : Fabienne Arvers
Alain Platel is trained as a remedial educationalist, and is an autodidact director. In 1984 he set up a small group with a number of friends and relatives to work collectively. "Emma" (1988) signalled his concentration on directing. He was responsible for "Bonjour Madame" (1993), "La Tristeza Complice" (1995) and "Iets op Bach" (1998), with which les ballets C de la B (as the group was now called) rocketed to the international top. In the meantime his collaboration with Arne Sierens had a similar effect on the Ghent youth theatre company Victoria, with the three plays "Moeder en Kind" (1995), Bernadetje (1996) and "Allemaal Indiaan" (1999).
After Allemaal Indiaan he announced that he was stopping making productions. But shortly afterwards Gerard Mortier persuaded him to do "Wolf" (2003) based on Mozart for the Ruhrtriennale. The choir project for the opening of the new KVS marked the start of close collaboration with the composer Fabrizio Cassol. "vsprs" (2006) proved to be a turning point in his career. So far his work had been exuberant in both the diversity of performers and the themes, but now it became more profound and intense and revealed a world of passion and desire. And violence, as in "Nine Finger" (2007) with Benjamin Verdonck and Fumiyo Ikeda.
"After the baroque pitié!" (2008), "Out Of Context – for Pina" (January 2010) is an almost ascetic reflection of the movement repertoire of spasms and tics. Platel consistently continues to search this language of movement for incarnations of feelings that are too vast. The yearning for something transcending the individual is becoming more and more palpable.
In collaboration with director Frank Van Laecke, he created "Gardenia" (June 2010), a production in which the closing of a transvestite cabaret affords us a glimpse into the private lives of a memorable group of old artists. In 2015 Alain Platel and Frank Van Laecke renew their collaboration, this time joined by composer Steven Prengels, for "En avant, marche !" a performance about a society inspired by the tradition of fanfare orchestras and brass bands.
"C(H)ŒURS" (2012), so far Platel’s biggest project, is created on demand of opera director Gerard Mortier. He got to work with the famous choral scenes from Verdi’s operas, later on he added pieces of music from Richard Wagner’s works. In "C(H)ŒURS" he examines –together with his dancers and the Teatro Real choir – how ‘dangerously beautiful’ a group can be. The political connotation in performances such as "tauberbach" (2014) and "Coup Fatal" (in collaboration with Fabrizio Cassol 2014) lies in the joie de vivre and energy that is displayed on stage to show how people sometimes live or even survive in undignified circumstances (a landfill in tauberbach and the real living conditions of the musicians from Congo in Coup Fatal). “Lust for life” as a way of rebellion.
But let it be clear, Platel is not just into large scale projects nowadays. In the recent past, he worked on small projects such as Nachtschade (for Victoria in 2006) and coaching work for amongst others Pieter and Jakob Ampe and their production "Jake & Pete’s big reconciliation attempt for the disputes form the past" (in 2011). Two projects which have had a significant influence on his way of perceiving theatre. He also almost surreptitiously entered the arena of the dance film together with the British director Sophie Fiennes ("Because I Sing" in 2001, "Ramallah!Ramallah!Ramallah!" in 2005 and "VSPRS Show and Tell" in 2007) and solo with de balletten en ci en là (2006), an impressive view of what goes on in a twenty-year-old dance company, taking us all the way to Vietnam and Burkina Faso, but also and mainly being an ode to his home town Ghent.
Source: Les Ballets C de la B
More information : lesballetscdela.be
Artistic direction / Conception
Production / Coproduction of the video work
Heure d'été productions, Qwazi qWazi film, Victoria theaterproductiehuis, RTBF, CANVAS (VRT), France 3 Participation : CNC, ministère de la Culture (DMD)