At a time when revivals are flourishing, exploring and reflecting on different areas of the history of dance, Mark Tompkins’s HOMMAGES, created between 1989 and 1999, offers a different view of some of the key figures. This view is not so much historic and reflexive as intense and joyfully offbeat. What does Mark Tompkins’s body make of these spectres, known to us today mainly through photographs, films and fragments of images? How does he bring the imaginary and these iconic figures together? Valeska Gert, Joséphine Baker and Vaslav Nijinski, as well as Harry Sheppard, a black American dancer who was Mark Tompkins’ mentor: they are above all unique bodies which, through the power of their embodiment, precludes any type of reproduction. To evoke them is to expose oneself to the risk of deviation, approximation, and sacrilege. But exposing oneself is the point of these portraits, where a self-portrait of the dancer as a being embodied emerges. Without seeking to avoid the inferior copy, kitsch, subterfuge, revealing clichés and mythologies, Mark Tompkins reveals a gap that is both a fantasy and a principle of truth. Using all the artifices of cabaret, of disguise, of song, of music, he passes from one body to the other – man or woman, white or black – moved by the pleasure of acting as if: of singing with Joséphine Baker, of making faces with Valeska Gert, of leaping with Nijinsky. As well as being accompanied by these figures, he accompanies us towards them, allowing us to enjoy for a moment this little hole in time.
Source: program of the CND
Mark Tompkins is an American dancer, choreographer and teacher living in France since 1973. After a series of solos and group collaborations, he founds his company, I.D.A. in 1983. Over the years, Tompkins' unique way of fabricating unidentified performance objects has become his signature. Solos, group pieces and concerts that mix dance, music, voice, text and video are steps of this journey initiated in the 70's, and continued with the complicity of set and costume designer Jean-Louis Badet since 1988. His passion for improvisation and Real time composition leads him to collaborate with many dancers, musicians, video makers and light designers. Renowned for his teaching, he travels extensively around the world. Winner of the International Choreography Contest in Bagnolet in 1984. He has created works nearly every year since then.
Source : Mark Tompkins’s website
More information :
Harry Sheppard was a American dancer & choreograph. He worked with a lot of artists in New York and in Europe, from 1960's until his death, in 1992. He met Mark Tompkins in 1974 and became Mark Tompkins’ mentor in Paris.
Back in 1987, after having completed her studies at the Ecole nationale supérieure Louis-Lumière, Valérie Urréa began asserting her passion for visual and performing arts. Documentaries, live recordings, fictions, from 'Bruit Blanc' to 'L’Homme qui Danse', all of Valerie Urréa’s films, which are principally coproduced by ARTE, explore highly-sensitive themes such as autism, masculinity and issues concerning race, through artistic visions. Her multiple award-winning films are regularly presented in international festivals. She was guest-artist twice for the Commission Image Mouvement de la Délégation des Arts Plastiques (Image/Movement Commission of the French Visual Arts Delegation). At the same time, she was a teacher for several years at the École Supérieure des Arts Visuels (ESAV - Higher Institute for Visual Arts) in Marrakech, specializing in the relationships between images and performing arts.
Source : Valérie Urréa
Harry Sheppard, Mark Tompkins
Production / Coproduction of the choreographic work
Créé en août 1992, dans le cadre d’un hommage à Harry Sheppard, ImPulsTanz, Vienne
Production / Coproduction of the video work
Spectacle enregistré au Nouvel Olympia de Tours en février 2004 au cours du tournage du film écrit par Rosita Boisseau et Valérie Urréa "L'homme qui danse" (2004, 59 min)