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Breathing 2018 - Director : Sugimoto, Hiroshi

Choreographer(s) : Mécène, Virginie (United States) Graham, Martha (United States)

Video producer : 3ème Scène ; Opéra de Paris

Breathing 2018 - Director : Sugimoto, Hiroshi

Choreographer(s) : Mécène, Virginie (United States) Graham, Martha (United States)

Video producer : 3ème Scène ; Opéra de Paris


- In partnership with 3e Scène - 

Contemporary artist Hiroshi Sugimoto leads us into a sensorial and spiritual experience for the Paris Opera’s 3e Scène with a new creation filmed at his Odawara Art Foundation in Japan. At daybreak, on the Foundation’s glass roof, Aurélie Dupont performs the dance solo Ekstasis, choreographed by Martha Graham and re-imagined by Virginie Mécène. Dance suspended between sea and sky in which the performance evolves as the sun rises.

Source: 3e Scène

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« The body is a sacred garment » 

Martha Graham 

Ekstasis was Martha Graham’s 37th creation. 

In an interview in 1980, she explained that the work came into being after she one day discovered a movement arising out of a pelvic thrust... This led her to explore “a cycle of distortions” that she found deeply meaningful. 

“When I created Ekstasis, in 1933, I, discovered for myself the relationship between the hip and the shoulder. I was wearing a jersey tube which gave me an increased awareness of the extensions and articulations of the anatomy.” 

Martha Graham, Mémoire de la danse © ACTES SUD, 1992 

“Before Ekstasis, I had been using a more static form, trying to find a ritualistic working of the body,” she concluded. 

Virginie Mécène has revisited that version of Ekstasis working from the few documents on the original solo, which included several photos of Soichi Sunami and Barbara Morgan. 

Since its first performance on February 14 2017, the new version of Ekstasis, performed by soloists from the Martha Graham Company, has already toured the United States, Europe and Asia. To mark the return of the Martha Graham Dance Company after a 28-year absence for six exceptional performances at the Palais Garnier last September, Janet Eilber, the company’s artistic director, invited Aurélie Dupont to take part in their programme by performing the piece for the first time. 

Source: 3e scène

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Mécène, Virginie

Virginie Mécène is French-American and lives in New York. His choreographic works have been presented internationally.

She was Principal Dancer of the Graham Company (1994-2006) and Principal of the Graham School (2007-2015). She is now Director of the renowned young dancers company, Graham 2. She teaches the Martha Graham technique and represents her as a jury at Dance Concerts around the world. She was honored with the New York State Council on the Arts Choreographic Award for a new creation for the American Company Buglisi Dance Theater.

She re-imagined a missing Martha Graham solo, Ekstasis, with great success for the Martha Graham Dance Company.

Source: Danser Canal Historique

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Graham, Martha

Martha Graham’s creativity crossed artistic boundaries and embraced every artistic genre. She collaborated with and commissioned work from the leading visual artists, musicians, and designers of her day, including sculptor Isamu Noguchi and fashion designers Halston, Donna Karan, and Calvin Klein, as well as composers Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, William Schuman, Norman Dello Joio, and Gian Carlo Menotti.

Influencing generations of choreographers and dancers including Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, and Twyla Tharp, Graham forever altered the scope of dance. Classical ballet dancers Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev, and Mikhail Baryshnikov sought her out to broaden their artistry, and artists of all genres were eager to study and work with Graham—she taught actors including Bette Davis, Kirk Douglas, Madonna, Liza Minelli, Gregory Peck, Tony Randall, Eli Wallach, Anne Jackson, and Joanne Woodward to utilize their bodies as expressive instruments.

Graham’s groundbreaking style grew from her experimentation with the elemental movements of contraction and release. By focusing on the basic activities of the human form, she enlivened the body with raw, electric emotion. The sharp, angular, and direct movements of her technique were a dramatic departure from the predominant style of the time.

With an artistic practice deeply ingrained in the rhythm of American life and the struggles of the individual, Graham brought a distinctly American sensibility to every theme she explored. “A dance reveals the spirit of the country in which it takes root. No sooner does it fail to do this than it loses its integrity and significance,” she wrote in the 1937 essay A Platform for the American Dance.

Consistently infused with social, political, psychological, and sexual themes, Graham’s choreography is timeless, connecting with audiences past and present. Works such as Revolt (1927), Immigrant: Steerage, Strike (1928), and Chronicle (1936)—created the same year she turned down Hitler’s invitation to perform at the International Arts Festival organized in conjunction with the Olympic Games in Berlin—personify Graham’s commitment to addressing challenging contemporary issues and distinguish her as a conscientious and politically powerful artist.

Martha Graham remained a strong advocate of the individual throughout her career, creating works such as Deaths and Entrances (1943), Appalachian Spring (1944), Dark Meadow (1946), and Errand into the Maze (1947) to explore human and societal complexities. The innovative choreography and visual imagery of American Document (1938) exemplified Graham’s genius. The dramatic narrative, which included the Company’s first male dancer, explored the concept of what it means to be American. Through the representation of important American cultural groups such as Native Americans, African-Americans, and Puritans and the integration of text from historical American documents, Graham was able to capture the soul of the American people.

During her long and illustrious career, Graham created 181 masterpiece dance compositions, which continue to challenge and inspire generations of performers and audiences. In 1986, she was given the Local One Centennial Award for dance by her theater colleagues, awarded only once every 100 years, and during the Bicentennial she was granted the United States’ highest civilian honor, The Medal of Freedom. In 1998, TIME Magazine named her the “Dancer of the Century.” The first dancer to perform at the White House and to act as a cultural ambassador abroad, she captured the spirit of a nation and expanded the boundaries of contemporary dance. “I have spent all my life with dance and being a dancer,” she said. “It’s permitting life to use you in a very intense way. Sometimes it is not pleasant. Sometimes it is fearful. But nevertheless it is inevitable.”

Source : Martha Graham Dance Company

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Dupont, Aurélie

Aurélie Dupont joined the Paris Opera’s Ballet  School in 1983. She attended all its classes and participated in  performances and official tours.After entering the Paris Opera’s Corps  de Ballet in 1989, she was promoted to “Coryphée” in 1991 and “Sujet” in  1992. The same year, she won the Gold Medal (in the junior category) at  the Varna International Ballet Competition.
She received the Prix  AROP (Association pour le Rayonnement de l’Opéra de Paris) in 1993 and  the Prix du Cercle Carpeaux in 1994. After entering the Company, Aurélie  Dupont performed in all the major productions from the classical and  the contemporary repertoires. She was also cast in solo roles in Pierre  Lacotte’s Giselle and La Sylphide, George Balanchine’s The Four  Temperaments, Roland Petit’s world premiere production of Rythme de  Valses (1994), Rudolf Nureyev’s La Bayadère, Roland Petit’s Le Loup,  Angelin Preljocaj’s Annonciation, Rudolf Nureyev’s The Nutcracker, and  Pina Bausch’s The Rite of Spring (“The Chosen One”).

Promoted to  “Première Danseuse” in 1996, she danced the principal roles in Soir de  fête (Léo Staats), Raymonda, Don Quichotte and La Bayadère – three  productions by Rudolf Nureyev, Manon (Kenneth MacMillan) and Casanova in  Angelin Preljocaj’s world premiere production at the Paris Opera  (1998).
At the end of the performance of Don Quichotte (Rudolf Nureyev) - on December 31 1998 – she was made an “Étoile”.

Étoile  dancer Aurélie Dupont made her official farewell to the stage of the  Paris Opera on Monday, May18, 2015, after a performance of Kenneth  MacMillan’s Manon.
In 2001, Aurélie Dupont, received the Prix Benois de la Danse for her interpretation of the roles of Nikiya in La Bayadère (choreographed by Rudolf Nureyev) and Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (choreographed by John Neumeier).
She is a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres and a member of the Ordre National du Mérite.
Appointed  by the Paris Opera’s Director Stéphane Lissner on February 4 2016,  Aurélie Dupont officially took over as the Paris Opera’s Director of  Dance on August 1 2016.
She succeeds Benjamin Millepied.

Source: Opéra National de Paris

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Sugimoto, Hiroshi

Hiroshi Sugimoto was born in Tokyo in 1948 and studied photography in the United States during the 1970s. A multidisciplinary artist, he works with photography, sculpture, installations and architecture. His art forges a link between Eastern and Western ideologies while simultaneously examining the nature of time, perception, and the origins of consciousness. He has produced numerous photographic series, the best known of which include Dioramas, 

Theatres, Seascapes, Architecture, Portraits, Conceptual Forms and Lightning fields. In the early 2000s, he began creating spatial installations and started collaborating with the traditional performing arts: the Noh performance of Yashima daiji at the Bregenz Kunsthaus in Austria and the Dia Center for the Arts in New York in 2001, Modern Noh – The Hawk Princess at the Japan Society of New York in 2005, and Sanbaso – Kami hisomi iki, first in Yokohama in 2011 and then at the Solomon R.Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2013. In 2011, in collaboration with Osaka’s National Bunraku Company he created Sugimoto Bunraku sonezaki Shinju, at Yokohama’s KAAT Theatre, and became the first artist to revisit a traditional Bunraku play. That Bunraku was restaged on a tour of Europe in 2013 (Rome, Madrid, and Paris). His most recent Noh play, Rikyu-Enoura, was staged in 2017 for the Japan Society of New York. His work has been performed in theatres, museums, and art galleries in Japan (the Kanagawa Arts Theatre, Sakura Hall, Setagaya Public Theatre, the Mori Art Museum and Tokyo’s Museum of Photography, the MOA, the Go-Oh Shrine in Naoshima, and the Toshima Performing Arts Centre etc) and abroad (the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris, the Victoria Theatre in London and the Guggenheim, the DIA Art Center and the Japan Society in New York. He has since expanded his field of activity to include literature and architecture. After establishing his own architectural firm, the New Material Research Laboratory in 2008, he founded the Odawara Art Foundation and was responsible for the architecture and landscaping of the buildings which were inaugurated in September 2017. 

Hirosho Sugimoto has receive numerous prizes including the Mainichi Art Prize (1988), the Hasselblad Prize for photography (2001), the 21st Praemium Imperiale of Japan (2009) and Japan’s Purple Ribbon Medal (2010). He is also an Officier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2013), and a Bunkakorosha—a Person of Cultural Merit in Japan (2017).

Source: 3e Scène

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3e Scène

Internet is a public place, a collective meeting place, a place for  expression and creation.After the Palais Garnier in 1875 and the Opéra  Bastille in 1989, the Paris Opera has decided to build its 3e Scène (3rd  stage) in the digital world. In this new space, the Paris Opera intends  to continue its dialogue with the public and also to make new friends.  The 3e Scène’s spectators live all around the globe, speak every  language, and love art in all its forms.

As of September 15,  2015, the 3e Scène opens wide its doors to visual artists, filmmakers,  composers, photographers, choreographers, writers, and invites them to  come and create original works relating to the Paris Opera. The  relationship between the Opera and the works created may be forthright,  robust, subliminal, drawn-out, extended or even distended. But above all  we want the artists to make the Opera their own, to draw on its  resources, roam within its walls and meet its talents in order to reveal  places, colours, history, questions and people through creation.

This  3e Scène has neither equal nor model. Open to the world, it invents a  space where tradition, creation and new technology unite as symbols of  modernity.

Source: 3e Scène

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Artistic direction / Conception : Hiroshi Sugimoto

Choreography : Martha Graham, Virginie Mécène

Interpretation : Aurélie Dupont

Original music : Ramon Humet

Duration : 7’06

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