During different periods of the 20th century, alternative movements moved dance away from the stage and the theatre to rediscover the body, to reintroduce ritual, organic dance in the Monte Verità community, dance that was highly-personal and inspired by everyday realities for the members of the Judson Dance Theater, dance that was urban and responsive to its environment at the turn of the 21st century.
The Monte Verità Community – Nicholas Kaufmann, Wilhelm Prager
At the beginning of the 20th century, artists and thinkers of all persuasions joined together to seek out new avenues of creation and of life in reaction to the codes and conventions of the then bourgeois society.
Just imagine, a community perched in the Swiss-Italian mountains where the psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung, the painter Paul Klee, the writers Hermann Hesse and James Joyce, the dancers Rudolf Laban, Mary Wigman, Isadora Duncan and Suzanne Perrottet would meet. In this community that focused on naturism, spiritualism, vegetarianism and a myriad of utopian ideals, the developments of psychoanalysis opened the doors of individuation. Mary Wigman created her “Danses extatiques” (Ecstasy Dances) and her well-known “Danse de la sorcière” (Witch Dance) at Monte Verità; it was there in the community that she developed her improvisation work.
Dancing my cancer / My lunch with Ana - Anna Halprin
Ever since she started out back in the 1940s, Anna Halprin has always quested after dance that corresponds to her personally, where the movements would be the most faithful messengers of her reflection, echoing her personality. She aims to return to the essence of movement, the one that existed before the spectacular and codified dance performed in theatres. She starts off with everyday movements that she calls “tasks” and illustrates them through improvisation scenarios, which she proposes to her work groups. Her trust in the power of the body, which she experienced on a personal level when she had to fight against her uterine cancer, led her to develop a curative approach, which she called “Healing Dance”.
In North Carolina, with her architect husband, she created a house made of wood that comprised a dance stage overlooking nature. The dance that she developed over the course of her workshops, encounters and reflection, lives and breathes in this location and stretches right across the country to the beaches of the Pacific and to the surrounding cascades.
Roof and fire piece - Trisha Brown
At the beginning of the 1960s, the postmodernism, a New York movement originating in the Judson Dance Theater, questioned the relationship between the stage and performance, and the spectacular. Trisha Brown one of its initiators, brought dance out onto the streets, into parks, unto the facades and roofs of New York. She worked on expanding knowledge around the art of improvisation and went on to present in situ performances.In her work, “Roof and Fire Piece”, the dancers were positioned on the roofs of various buildings, the public everywhere around. Trisha Brown not only proposed innovational dance but also offered spectators a one-of-a-kind status. As such, spectators had a wide variety of perspectives over the performance, and the dancers had a wide variety of axes through which they could express themselves.
Prélude à la mer - Thierry De Mey
With the advent of video in the 1980s, choreographers and filmmakers played on space, time, axes and perspectives by proposing choreography that was created for image and was referred to as “video dances”.
Thierry De Mey, music composer and filmmaker, and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, choreographer, have established an exemplary duo since this period of time. They produce Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s dance in locations that are always surprising, natural or urban. The dance, which is, however, intensely composed, lets itself be inspired by the beauty of nature or by surrounding architecture. The choreographic composition is reworked for the camera. As such, it is revealed in a different manner based on the axes and the values of the plans chosen when the video is shot and based on editing techniques and rhythms.
Inferno - Romeo Castellucci
A highly-accomplished climber, Antoine Le Ménestrel awas part of this generation of dancerswhich not only took dance out of its front-stage setting but also out of its horizontality. Climbing-dance, vertical dance explores building facades, the Verdon gorge, showcasing dancers and also décors and video projections. Facade and wall dancer, he recently climbed the extraordinary facade of the Cour d’Honneur of the Palais des Papes (Popes’ Palace) in Avignon, to perform Inferno by Romeo Castellucci and then in Cour d’honneur by Jérôme Bel.
Là commence le ciel - Julie Desprairies
For around fifteen years, Julie Desprairies has been developing her “choreographic environment” work by occupying architectural sites. Her performances require several months of assimilation to understand the physical context, the conceptual intentions and to, ultimately, propose a choreographic happening, an artistic ritual, a sort of celebration of the site. This extract from Là commence le ciel (The Sky Begins There) mirrors Roof and fire piece by Trisha Brown. These gestures are taken from a dance discovered in the municipal archives and created by a teacher for their pupils for the Fêtes de la jeunesse villeurbanaises (Villeurbane Youth Celebrations) in 1966. Through dance, Julie Desprairies centre stages the architecture of this district of Villeurbanne, built in 1934 and referred to as “Les Gratte-ciel” (Skyscrapers). The majesty of these towers and of the avenue is highlighted by the sole presence of the dancers’ bodies.
Kilometrix.dancerun.4 - Foofwa d’Immobilité
Born Frédéric Gafner, he defines himself as “dancer, choreographer and dance researcher in practice and theory”. He also has been an across-the-board performer. We could add that he is a crazy inventor, staunch advocate of dance and its history, scenic and multimedia dabbler. In Kilometrix.dancerun.4, he has created the concept of danced runs or racing dances which he has performed in the towns that he has travelled through: Paris, Lyon, Zurich, Cairo, Bologna. A sort of court jester of the artistic marathon, he invites urbanites, citizens to follow him using any mode of transport they wish over a distance of 5 to 15 kilometres. A videographer on roller-skates accompanies him and at the end of the race screens the video and initiates the discussion.
Trajectoire fluide - Kitsou Dubois
Dance and the arts, arts and science, dance and the circus, Kitsou Dubois' career and creations are multi-discipline yet she only has one quest: gravity. For many years now, she experiments micro-gravity and weightlessness during parabolic flights with her team of dancers and circus artists. She plunges performers into spheres where gravity is altered. In Trajectoire fluide (Fluid Trajectory), she combines the projection of videos where the dancers move under water, a trampoline, elastics, chairs, where circus dancers overcome the laws of weightlessness and balance... for the duration of a dance.
In more depth
CAUX, Jacqueline. Anna Halprin, à l'origine de la performance. Paris : Éditions du Panama ; Lyon : Musée d’Art contemporain, 2006.
HALPRIN, Anna. Mouvements de vie. Bruxelles : Éditions Contredanse, 2009. 345 p.
LE MOAL, Philippe (dir.). Dictionnaire de la danse. Paris : Larousse, 1999. 864 p. (Grands dictionnaires culturels).
SINA, Adrien. Feminine futures : Valentine de Saint-Point – Performances, Danse, Guerre, Politique et érotisme. Paris : Les Presses du Réel, 2011. Pages 340-351.
SUQUET, Annie. L'Eveil des modernités. Pantin : Centre National de la danse, 2012. 959 p. (Histoires).
Centre des Écritures Contemporaines et Numériques. « Cahier spécial Thierry De Mey » [en ligne], in Mouvement, n°59, avril - juin 2011, Paris, Editions du Mouvement, 2011, 50 p. Disponible sur : http://mouvement.net/pdf/tap/CECN_Thierry_de_Mey_janv2011.pdf
FROMONOT, Françoise (dir.). « Jouir d’habiter pour une propriété sociale du logement » [en ligne], in Criticat / revue bisanuelle, n°4, Paris, Association Criticat, 2009, p. 98. Disponible sur : https://issuu.com/criticat/docs/criticat04
COLOMER, Henri. La Montagne de la vérité [DVD]. AMIP Production, 1996, 52 min.
JAVER, Carl. Monte Verità, le rêve d'une autre vie [DVD]. Vida Bomben Film AB, 2013, 1h24min.
Sites internet de compagnies de danse
Compagnie des Prairies [en ligne]. Disponible sur : http://www.compagniedesprairies.com
Lézards bleus [en ligne]. Disponible sur : http://www.lezardsbleus.com
Neopost Foofwa [en ligne]. Disponible sur : http://www.foofwa.com
Trisha Brown Dance Company [en ligne]. Disponible sur : http://www.trishabrowncompany.org/
Kitsou Dubois [en ligne]. Disponible sur : http://www.kitsoudubois.com
After years in dance-studies, at the Conservatoire d'Avignon, then at the National Center of Contemporary Dance of Angers, Julie Charrier is moving towards the production of documentary films and live performances captations mainly centered around contemporary dance for many production companies. As a consultant, then editorialist, she participated in the birth and development of Numeridanse.tv. She coordinates for the ACCN and the Ministry of Culture, delegation to dance, the digitization of the French choreographic heritage. She is responsible for the artistic direction and production of the 360 "Histoires d'espaces" collection, which questions the new possibilities that virtual reality offers to live performance.
Texts et bibliography selection
Maison de la Danse
The "Outdoor dance" Course was launched thanks the support of General Secretariat of Ministries and Coordination of Cultural Policies for Innovation.