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Les Aventures d'Ivan Vaffan

“Who is Ivan Vaffan? Is that a made-up name?”
Yes, it's a made-up name. Choreography gives us such freedom that we don't know what a piece will turn out to be. At the same time, I don't want to work without a title. Somebody brought to my attention that I often take proper names as titles, like Yves P., Ulysses, Daphnis and Chloe. A name, a being, lets us have all the possibilities and all the contradictions. The first image is that of a being, with all that he has been able to do, with his most philosophical and most narrative adventures, his innermost and his most extroverted ones. I had fun writing things about Ivan Vaffan. It was somewhere between an aphorism and a philosophical tale, with a hint of Zarathustra. I did not use these notes when I was setting this choreography. However, what remains important is the journey, all the different echoes, from the banal to the sacred, which can be created with a name as a starting point. While avoiding, of course, mime and drama. Not drama in the broad sense of the term, but drama as an medium to aid conventional actions.

The second part of the piece is called “The White Studio” and is organised around two barres positioned diagonally on the stage. Did you deliberately want to present a reflection of the cubic space created by the stage?
Not at all – I simply wanted to imagine two barres and to make sure that the audience could always see the dancers, even when they are in single file. My starting point was the idea of the dance studio as a type of melting pot to which we can always return when we are in search of inspiration. After the first act, which is very strong in the physical sense of the word, it was necessary to take stock and start again from something primary: the dancer's starting point, the studio. This, however, is perhaps something which I am discovering with hindsight (…).”
From an interview by Alain Philippon from the French daily Le Monde

Gallotta, Jean-Claude

After a trip to New York in which he discovered the work of Merce Cunningham, Lucinda Childs, Steve Paxton, Trisha Brown, Stuart Sherman and Yvonne Rainer, Jean-Claude Gallotta – with Mathilde Altaraz – founded the Émile Dubois Group in Grenoble in 1979, which, in 1981, joined the Grenoble Arts Centre as a dance creation unit. This was where Ulysse was born, a playful ballet using both classical and modern vocabularies.

The Émile Dubois Group became the National Choreographic Centre and took up Ulysse again in 1984 for the Olympic Games Festival in Los Angeles, the American Dance Festival, the Holland Festival and the Avignon Festival.

This was followed by: Les Aventures d’Ivan Vaffan, Les Louves and Pandora. In 1986, Jean-Claude Gallotta was asked to be the director of the Grenoble Arts Centre – renamed “Le Cargo” -, thereby becoming the first choreographer to be appointed to run this type of institution.

In 1987, the ballet Mammame was performed at the Montreal International Festival of New Dance: the Canadian press (dance and theatre) awarded him the prize for the Best Foreign Performance of the Year. In 1989, after some ten audiovisual collaborations with, for example, Claude Mouriéras and Raoul Ruiz, Jean-Claude Gallotta produced his first full-length film: Rei Dom – La Légende des Kreuls. This was followed by Docteur Labus and Les Mystères de Subal. 

Jean-Claude Gallotta then resigned as director of the Grenoble Arts Centre and published his first book, Mémoires d’un dictaphone.

During the 1991-1992 season, two choreographic creations combining dance, words and music were performed: La Légende de Roméo et Juliette, performed in November 1991 for the Albertville Olympic Arts Festival, and La Légende de Don Juan, performed in June 1992 for the Universal Exhibition in Seville, as a joint production with the Avignon Festival. Jean-Claude Gallotta then shot his second full-length film: l’Amour en deux.

1993: publication of Les Yeux qui dansent (interviews with Bernard Raffalli).
  In July of the same year, Jean-Claude Gallotta recreated Ulysse at the Châteauvallon Festival. This was followed by a long international tour.

1994: Prémonitions, a new choreography created in Grenoble. 1995: at the request of ‘Lyon Opéra Ballet’, Jean-Claude Gallotta composed La Solitude du danseur, four solos performed to music by Erik Satie. Gallotta then worked with Nicholas Hytner and Sir Charles Mackerras to produce La Petite Renarde Rusée, an opera by Leos Janacek, performed by the Théâtre du Châtelet.

At the Châteauvallon Festival, Jean-Claude Gallotta choreographed and performed the solo Hommage à Pavel Haas. In Grenoble, he created La Tête contre les fleurs for the company. This was followed in 1996 by Rue de Palanka, and in 1997, La Rue (an event for 3,000 spectators) and the creation of La Chamoule ou l’Art d’aimer.

A longstanding collaboration was set up with Japan, at the invitation of the director Tadashi Suzuki: from 1997 to 2000, Jean-Claude Gallotta ran the dance department at the new Shizuoka Performing Arts Centre, training and directing a permanent company of eight Japanese performers. In 1998, Jean-Claude Gallotta also directed Le Ventriloque by Jean-Marie Piemme and Le Catalogue by Jean-Bernard Pouy, and wrote Pierre Chatel for “l’Adieu au siècle”.

Jean-Claude Gallotta created Les Variations d’Ulysse for the Paris Opera Ballet, which was performed at the Opéra Bastille in 1995, and repeated in 1998. He also created Nosferatu in May 2002 to music by Pascal Dusapin; the ballet was performed again in spring 2006 at the Opéra Bastille.

In 1999, he created Presque Don Quichotte at the Douai Hippodrome; the piece was also performed in Shizuoka, Japan. In 2000, he created l’Incessante, a solo for Mathilde Altaraz, at the Avignon Festival as part of Le Vif du Sujet. In 2001, he created Les Larmes de Marco Polo for the Lyon International Biennial.

In 2002, he created 99 duos at the Chaillot National Theatre, the first part of a trilogy on ‘People’. In 2003, he prepared Trois générations for the Avignon Festival, which was eventually cancelled. The piece, which includes children, former dancers and the Company, was performed at the Rampe d’Echirolles in March 2004.

It was performed in May of the same year at the Chaillot National Theatre and was repeated in November 2005. The same year, he worked with the director Hans-Peter Cloos to produce a show combining dance, theatre and music, Les sept pechés capitaux by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. In 2006, he created Des Gens qui dansent, the third part of the trilogy initiated by 99 duos and Trois Générations and, in 2007, he repeated his flagship piece from the 80s, Ulysse, under the title Cher Ulysse.

In 2008, Bach danse experience with Mirella Giardelli and “L’Atelier des Musiciens du Louvre”; Armide by Lully with the conductor William Christie and the director Robert Carsen at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris; Chroniques chorégraphiques - season 1, a sort of “stage movie” that allowed him to pursue his poetic research into genres and people.

In 2009, he created l’Homme à tête de chou, with the original words and music by Serge Gainsbourg in a version recorded for the show by Alain Bashung. In April 2011, he performed a solo with Faut qu’je danse ! as a prelude to the recreation of his trio Daphnis é Chloé in Grenoble.

In October 2011, again in Grenoble and with a piece for thirteen dancers, he took on Igor Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps, which he presented in April 2012 at the Chaillot National Theatre, Paris, along with Tumulte and Pour Igor in the first part.

At the end of 2012, he is to present Racheter la mort des gestes - Chroniques chorégraphiques 1 at the Théâtre de la Ville, then at MC2; in early 2013, his recreation of Yvan Vaffan (first performed in 1984) will enable him to continue his work on the repertoire, alternating with his creations and thereby pleading for a certain “continuity in art” and seeking patiently to share with his audience the same story: the story of a shared artistic history and future.

In October 2013, he directed the singer Olivia Ruiz in El Amor Brujo byManuel de Falla, a piece presented together with Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale, a show on which he worked together with the conductor Marc Minkowski and the director Jacques Osinski.

For the 2014-15 season, he presented The Rite and its Revolutions (including the first performance of Xenakis’s Jonchaies and Six Pieces for Orchestra, op. 6 by Webern (Homage to Angela Davis) at the Philharmonie de Paris, and in June he gave the first performance of The Stranger, based on the novel by Albert Camus at the MC2 in Grenoble.

He is opening the 2015-2016 season with My Rock at the MC2 in Grenoble, and at the Théâtre du Rond-Point in Paris.

In 2009, he adapted Serge Gainsbourg's album l'Homme à tête de chou (performed for the occasion by Alain Bashung), created with singer Olivia Ruiz, Volver, presented in 2016 at the Biennale de la danse de Lyon; he also worked on rock figures with My Rock (2004) then My Ladies Rock (2017). In September 2017, the Adami, Maison des artistes interprètes and the Théâtre du Rond-Point gave him carte blanche to stage two exceptional evenings around the work of Bob Dylan, with performers from all disciplines, including the group Moriarty.

Since the end of 2015, Jean-Claude Gallotta has been associate author at the Théâtre du Rond-Point in Paris. The Groupe Émile Dubois is housed at the MC2: Grenoble.

In September 2018, he presented Comme un trio, based on Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan, and the re-creation of l'Homme à tête de chou at the Printemps de Bourges festival in April 2019. He is preparing a new creation for the autumn of 2020, entitled Le Jour se rêve, with musician Rodolphe Burger and visual artist Dominique-Gonzalez Foerster.

More information :

Mouriéras, Claude

Up to the end of the 1980s, Claude Mouriéras was a photographer and then a director of photography before filming Jean-Claude Gallotta’s ballet “Daphnis et Chloé” in 1983 and producing in 1989 “Montalvo et l'Enfant”, his first full-length film presented that same year in Cannes at the Semaine Internationale de la Critique and awarded the Prix Georges-Sadoul 1989.

His third film, “Dis-moi que je rêve”, was awarded the Prix Jean-Vigo in 1998 and the Golden Precolumbian Circle at the Bogota international film festival. His last film, “Tout va bien, on s'en va”, opened the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival.

Claude Mouriéras is also the author of short films and documentaries, particularly for television. Focused on choreographic creations, he thus produced “Un chant presque éteint”, “Nuit de Chine”. He has also signed portraits of the pianist Hélène Grimaud, the conductor Jeffrey Tate, the painter Jacques Monory and, with “L’Écrivain, le Peintre et le Funambule”, the meetings and dialogues of Jean Genet with Alberto Giacometti. In 2002, he participated in the creation of the filmmakers’ collective Tribudom, which allows the inhabitants of the Eastern districts of Paris to produce short films.

Between 2002 and 2008 he produced three documentaries, each of which stages women. “Le prêt, la poule et l'œuf” (2002) talks about the everyday life of Ethiopian women and of the attempts to introduce micro-credits in their village. In 2005, he produced “Le voyage des femmes de Zartalé”, set in Afghanistan, a film rewarded by a silver FIPA at the Festival International des Programmes Audiovisuels de Biarritz. In 2007, he signed a new documentary entitled “Kady, la belle vie”, about the everyday life of a woman from the Ivory Coast in Paris.

In 2009, he carried out the cinematographic adaptation of Paul Claudel’s “Partage de midi” with Marina Hands, Eric Ruf, Hervé Pierre and Christian Gonon, a co-production with the Comédie-Française, Maia Cinéma and France 2.

In 2012, he produced “Meurtres en trois actes”, an original scenario in co-production with Agat Films, the Comédie-Française and France 2, Grand Prix winner at the Festival International du Film de La Rochelle.

In 2013, he staged Harold Pinter’s “The Birthday Party” at the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier with the Comédie-Française troupe.

In 2014, he worked on the documentary film project of Omid, shot in the region of Bamyan, Afghanistan.

Since 2011 he has been preparing a project for a national cinema school open to diversity in the Rhône-Alpes region: the CinéFabrique, which opened its doors on September 1st 2015 in the 3rd arrondissement of Lyon. It was inaugurated on October 13th 2015 in the presence of Jean-Jack Queyranne, president of the Rhône-Alpes region, Thierry Frémaux, director of the Institut Lumière, and Abderrahmane Sissako, school president. Personalities such as Vincent Lindon, Jacques Audiard, Éric Lartigau, and Gérard Krawczyk were also present.

Groupe Émile Dubois

At the end of the 1970s, a handful of young choreographers burst onto the French scene. Jean-Claude Gallotta was one of them. In 1981, he created his company, the Groupe Emile Dubois, with Mathilde Altaraz, and eight dancers (four men and four women), inspired by Merce Cunningham’s and John Cage’s choreographic revolution in New York. These dancers were not recruited on technical criteria alone but also on their personality, their difference and their desire to integrate a group: one hails from theatre, another from the world of architecture, while a third is a doctor.

The G.E.D. was invited to set itself up as a creative unit within the walls of the Maison de la Culture de Grenoble, today the MC2. One of its first pieces, “Ulysse” (1981), was immediately recognised as the founder of the Nouvelle Danse Française. The choreographer surprises us with a “ballet blanc” (white ballet), which does not destroy the classical fabric but rather plays with it and incorporates it into contemporary gestures.

In these first few years, the G.E.D. helped give rise to the concept of the Centres Chorégraphiques Nationaux (French choreographic centers). The Grenoble CCN is one of the first, set up there in 1984.

At the start of the 1990s, the G.E.D. produced shows known as D.T.M. (dance, text, music) according to the idea that the notion of dance had to go beyond the simple question of bodily motion and must incorporate sound, voice, words and meaning.

In the course of time, although the team of dancers was renewed, the importance that the choreographer grants to the quality of human relationships has led each interpreter to follow the company for a number of shows, just like Thierry Verger since 1992 or Béatrice Warrand since 1995.

The G.E.D. thus embarks on a journey throughout the world, a choreographic style that, inspired by Cunningham, has developed in a highly personal manner with, in particular, the introduction of a gestural humour and a permanent reflection on the uniqueness of the body of “those who dance, those who have danced, those who would like to dance, and those who perhaps will never dance”. 

At the end of 2015, the G.E.D. left the setting of the CCN to resume its first identity, while also continuing to work within the MC2 Grenoble. Jean-Claude Gallotta also became associate author of the Théâtre du Rond-Point in Paris.

The G.E.D. presented “Volver” in 2016, revived “My Rock”, created “My Ladies Rock” in 2017, and prepared “Comme un trio” after Françoise Sagan’s Bonjour Tristesse (autumn 2018), as well as the recreation of “l’Homme à tête de chou” (spring 2019).

In addition to Jean-Claude Gallotta’s creations, the G.E.D. also manages the transmission of repertoire pieces and awareness-raising actions with schools and amateurs. 

The Groupe Émile Dubois / Cie Jean-Claude Gallotta is supported by the French Ministry of culture and communication as a Company with a national and international reach. It is also supported by the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region and the Département de l’Isère.

Source: Groupe Émile Dubois

More information:

Les Aventures d'Ivan Vaffan

Choreography : Jean-Claude Gallotta

Interpretation : Eric Alfieri, Mathilde Altaraz, Christophe Delachaux, Juan Carlos-Garcia, Corinne Duval, Jean-Claude Gallotta, Pascal Gravat, Lucie Moormann, Deborah Salmirs, Robert Seyfried, Ana Teixido

Set design : Jean-Yves Langlais

Original music : Henry Torgue et Serge Houppin

Lights : Manuel Bernard

Costumes : Jean-Yves Langlais

Production / Coproduction of the choreographic work : Centre Chorégraphique National de Grenoble, coproduction Centre Chorégraphique National de Grenoble – Maison de la Culture de Grenoble - INA

Duration : 28'

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