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Coupé Décalé


PROJECT IN 2 ACTS - Creation in February 2014



The popular dance appears as an individualized control which allows aux interprètes to select, to reproduce or combine the elements of the preexistent code of movements (...) Being artistic means of communication, the choreographic signs of the popular dance do not have a clean individuality in the process of the communication. They are grouped in structures and forms (with functionality interns specified well) according to certain models establish by the tradition and given by the logic of the choreographic thought, component in this manner the expressive elements able to transmit a message. It goes without saying the popular choreographic language and the dance itself are in a dialectical report of interdependence, of reciprocal conditioning. In this direction, one cannot conceive the execution of a dance apart from the preliminary process apprentices wise; in addition, the choreographic language lives and grows rich only by its practice.
(Some theoretical aspects of the analysis of the popular dance of Vera Proca-Ciortea and Anca Giurchescu). The Coupé Décalé project is interested in the glance which carry the contemporary choreographers on this popular practice coming from the culture Attiée (Ivory Coast) appeared in Paris at the beginning of the years 2000. Today contemporary creation seizes many popular practices and the interpreter to nourish a new choreographic language, eternal recurrence like source of inspiration.



The name "Coupé-Décalé" comes from a form of traditional dance of Ivory Coast: Akoupé of the ethnic group Attié in Ivory Coast. In the beginning of the years 2000 in Paris, this movement at the same time dance and urban music (crossing the Congolese rumba, the hip hop, the musics caribéennes and the popular songs French) is impelled by the black community, African and West-Indian origin. It acted for this youth disorientated and desilvered (student and without papers) to give an illusion of success and respectability by attending the largest clubs Black of Paris beside a truly easy population and which shows with a certain insolence the signs external again social "success". These evenings caused competitions of brags (farôter): It is the person best equipped, i.e., who carried more the famous brands and which spent the most money which was indicated as being the winner.
Little by little the individuals constituted themselves in group and organized battles of a new kind. One thus lives to appear groups like the Jet set of Paris, the Jet8, the Untouchable ones in France, but also abroad like the Ge firn Sicilians in Switzerland, the royal Court in London etc These groups were devoted to hard battles and had developed a new language, a vestimentary style, the ritual ones, such as for example that travaillement to distribute large amounts of money to the public . It is a music producer David Monsoh who, by observing these very particular games young adults (they had between 18 and 24 years), had the idea to make a great popular movement of it. It is the Jet set of Paris which was chosen, the leadership was naturally given to Doug Saga, because naturally eccentric, extravagant and impertinent.

In the course of time, the dance is popularized under the impulse of a group of DJ's of the Ivory Coast such as DJ Jacob and one names the dance "Décalé-Coupé" then "CoupéDécalé" for aesthetic reasons. Douk Saga leaves the first piece in 2003, called Sagacity. The video clip Saga-cité promotes the dance, but also the concepts which accompany the Coupé Décalé : Farot farot (to make the malignant one), Boucantier (man which makes speak about oneself, which makes its Boucan), To work (to throw banknotes). At this point in time the boucantiers of JetSet comes at Abidjan, the services and concerts multiply, in particular a giant concert with the Palace of the culture of Treichville.
The name of the dances and the musics is evocative: economic crisis (title music and dance: Quality of life/Cowardice), war in Iraq (title music and dance: Guantanamo), epidemic (title music and dance: avian flu) etc. There are also light texts more or more political (titrates music and dance: One does not know where one goes but one goes there nevertheless!). One of the misadventures of this esthetics is the LOGOBI, music and dance of ball in its most primary, popular and consensual form (title: Skipping rope).
This esthetics will irrigate at a remarkable French company and African speed in all its components. Although range in a dominant way by the young people resulting from disadvantaged classes, their ambitions exceed social, ethno-racial and national cleavages. It was adopted in a very spontaneous way by youth of all the continents. The dance is practised as well by the men as the women, but the male presence is more important. The Parisian DJ strongly contributed to the development, like with the diffusion of this dance/music. The dances are improvised and each basic step or concept are named. There are reciprocity and coincidence between the dance and the concept which underlies it. This music/dance has several faces: social satire and policy, dance with strong sexual connotation, pure entertainment etc.



The project is voluntarily divided into two parts puts in scene the dancer and choreographer James Carlès in a vision that Robyn Orlin adapts itself. One knows the passion of the South-African choreographer for all the danced and identity phenomena related to the black culture. As for James Carlès, it continues his research task on the origin and the emergence of the black dances and their circulation in the whole world.
In the second act, he proposes his vision of coupédécalé with the dancers whom he chose for their knowledge and their control of this dance. The two acts thus offer a confrontation of glances which tends to appear our own approach of the black dance.



I know the English-speaking Africa best that French-speaking Africa, I never had heard spoken about Coupé-Décalé. James Carlès came to see me and showed me images filmed in discotheques, that made me think of dances and movements which left the townships of South Africa at the end of apartheid. The kwaito in the years 1990 and pantsula, a little front, offered a mode of expression to the young generations, they found there a discharge system with misery and a manner of being affirmed. I find in all these dances and popular movements a combination of humour, painful history and humanity.
We looked at videos of its choreographic parts and we especially enormously spoke, exchanged on subjects which touch us personally both: how we are considered in our country and countries where we are foreign, how our children in these countries are considered
We had appreciably different experiences and perceptions, but our questionings were the same ones. I thus submitted the project to him to create a solo with him. I am curious to see how it can bring on the scene its personal history, between Cameroon, the United States and France. And I would like to replace this history in a broader context, that of Europe where for my part I see a line of color crossing the societies.
When I decide to work on forms of popular expression, I like to go to the source as of things and to build the show with people who practise really this form of dance or music on their premises. It is what allowed me to do the group members Via Katlehong Dance who mix the pantsula and the gumboot of South Africa for the show Imbizo E Mazweni.
I work in a very intuitive way, at the time with the dancers, starting from their storytelling, their history and the way in which they tell this story. For this solo, we would undoubtedly use music of dancefloor and the interest of James for the "Coupé-Décalé", the more so as the vestimentary creativity, elegance, is an important characteristic of the movement. I am very interested by this dimension too. Robyn Orlin.

Remarks collected by Dominique Crébassol (November 2012)



My work of the video of Coupé-Décalé. Act 2: One will spoil the corner! takes as a starting point the test of Stephen Smith (Négrologie: Why Africa dies in the editions Calmann-Levy, 2003), where its starting point falls under the direction for which has bias, neither love or hatred of Africa nor shame of oneself: The present does not have future on the continent. The freedom of tone is that of the urgency, without contempt for anybody..
The "Coupé-Décalé" appears to me born of this urgency, dances hybrid, expressive form founded on opposites, an emancipation vis-a-vis the hardness of the daily newspaper. Akoupé symbolizes the cut body and means to cheat, fly, swindle. Shifted symbolizes the idea to make a fortune while leaving or while fleeing. It is in this analogy that the image of this matric body appeared to me, conflict, generating images of current Africa, a present absence. Is Africa the home of all the hopes, why does die? Because it commits suicide in an environment dismounted by globalization. I exploit to me even this body as the resources and wealths of this country are exploited. It is the image of the trunk of the world, the body of the black woman original, founder, creative but a body in suffering, lying, failing and private its members to act. Like Stephen Smith in the conclusion of his work, I address here to my Western friends who perceive the black continent like a large natural park and their inhabitants - immutable since the night of times as haunted old demons. [...] They maintain [thus] one dreamed insane which kills..
The temporality of the video translates this assisted suicide, this shift between late modernities and authentic cultures. The shown images maintain this dreamed insane and fatal. There are survivors in this ocean of misfortune. Admittedly Africa is eternal, it is the cradle of humanity before it becomes its tomb. Yes fortunately, Africa moves, the bodies move and live on an apparent simplicity but I now imagine to make move corpses.
Are they agitated in a macabre dance?


Act 1:
I Am Not A Subculture, Rather A Gallery of Coil-Portraits with A History Walking in Circles
Solo of Robyn Orlin for James Carlès
Duration: 35 mn

Act 2:
One will spoil the corner!
Part of James Carlès for 5 dancers
Duration: 45 mn

Distribution ACT I
Choreography: Robin Orlin
Interpret: James Carlès
Video: Charles Rostan
Light and governed: Arnaud Schulz

Distribution ACT II
Choreography: James Carlès
Interpreters: Brissy Akezizi, Clément Assémian, Gahé Bama, Frank Serpika, Stéphane Mbella
Video: Charles Rostan Light and governed: Arnaud Schulz




Carlès, James

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”.

Caïozzi, Denis

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

Coupé Décalé

Artistic direction / Conception : Robyn Orlin, James Carlès

Choreography : Acte 1 : I Am Not A Sub-culture, Rather A Gallery of Self-Portraits with A History Walking in Circles = Solo de Robyn Orlin pour James Carlès - Acte 2 : On va gâter le coin ! = Pièce de James Carlès pour 5 danseurs

Interpretation : Distribution Acte I : James Carlès - Distribution Acte 2 : Brissy Akezizi, Clément Assémian, Gahé Bama, Frank Serpika, Stéphane Mbella

Video conception : Charles Rostan

Lights : Arnaud Schulz

Technical direction : Arnaud Schulz

Duration : Durée de la pièce 35 + 45 min

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