Meeting with literature
Author : Centre national de la danse
The relationship between dance and literature is not the least among the various artistic hybrids, which have nourished choreographic creation across history. The subject matter of a ballet that explains the narrative of a work of dance is already a type of link between writing and choreography. Contemporary dance too presents various interactions between choreographic art and literature. Certain contemporary choreographers draw their inspiration from what they read. Sometimes an emblematic literary character becomes the central figure of shows.
But the meeting between dance and text is not only in the design of the shows:. In many dance shows, contrary to what one might expect, many words are spoken, often drawn from literary texts.
La Danse de l’épervier - Hideyuki Yano
In 1983, the Japanese choreographer Hideyuki Yano created Le Puits de l’épervier from the Irish poet William Butler Yeats’ text, The Hawk's Well.
In this piece, Yano seeks to simultaneously show the same character at various ages of life. The choreographer adapts Yeats’ story to question this relationship with time and death, which haunts and stimulates him all at once. He thus creates a personal form of storytelling, like he does in several of his choreographies.
A few words about Don Quixotte
Jean-Claude Gallotta created Presque Don Quichotte in 1999. The choreographer did not want to consider the actual character, but wanted the dancers to adapt “the idea of Don Quixote”. The character created by Miguel de Cervantes seduces with his ardour and his ingeniousness ; he is a highly choreographic figure who has a go, perseveres, and engages his body.
Errance - Don Quichotte, solo provisoire – Dominique Boivin
The character of Don Quixote has inspired many artists. In addition to Jean-Claude Gallotta, there have notably been Marius Petipa, José Montalvo, Alexandre Théry.
Often indeed, it is more the legendary figure of Don Quixote, rather than the text itself, which inspires contemporary choreographers. Dominique Boivin also chooses to pursue the character: “as an artist, dancer, performer, I wanted to embody Don Quixote like a bag of bones, to experience his thinness in an organic way, not to worry about narration, anecdotes, but to fully take on the destiny of this pathetic, obsolete, human “hero”.
O More - Bernardo Montet
To create “O More”, the choreographer Bernardo Montet was inspired by Othello by William Shakespeare.
The destiny of Othello returns the choreographer to the vacillating identity which he feels deeply: “When you start to no longer recognise yourself in any identifiable territory, the imaginary becomes your territory. This is what [Edouard] Glissant calls créolité. I feel happy among foreigners because there is a type of vagueness, of opacity which suits me, because then the concept of identity becomes less defined.” The figure of Othello allows the choreographer to simultaneously dance and stage the theatrical archetype and the autobiography.
A posteriori - George Appaix
From his early works, the choreographer George Appaix has combined words with movements.
Continuing this approach, George Appaix combined creation and repetition with A posteriori, a piece in which he introduced, in effect, extracts from Antiquités created in 1985. A posteriori “is the choreographer’s current take on the crossover of writing and improvisation, text and singing, on the fragmentation of the narrative, the risks of the meaning, and the virtues of lightness”.
Meublé sommairement – Dominique Bagouet
In certain choreographic creations, a previously selected literary text is recited on stage in its entirety. This is the case for Meublé sommairement created in 1989 by Dominique Bagouet.
The choice of the text was essential for the design of this piece. In Meublé sommairement, the dance and the literature are distinguishable, they accompany and complement each other, each art developing its own logic to constitute the final work.
Turba – Maguy Marin
“De Rerum Natura” [On the nature of things] by Lucretius inspired Maguy Marin and Denis Mariotte to develop Turba. The show uses several topics from the text in a kind of opera, engaging the bodies, positions, movements, stage design, the music and the voice.
Extracts are read on stage, in several languages. The text simultaneously proposes and disrupts a reading; reciprocally, the non-verbal elements liberate the words, but also supplement them and sometimes even join them. The spectator is invited to find his own way through the apparent confusion of what is happening on the stage.
À quoi tu penses? - Dominique Boivin et Marie Nimier
Dominique Boivin collaborated with Marie Nimier to create À quoi tu penses? For this piece, the writer imagined what goes on in the heads of the dancers during rehearsals and performances. Based on Nimier's text, Dominique Boivin created a series of portraits of dancers who reflect on what they do, on what surrounds them and on what their profession involves.
Enjoy the Silence - Mickaël Phelippeau et Célia Houdrart
In 2013, Enjoy the Silence reunited the author Célia Houdart and the dancer-choreographer Mickaël Phelippeau. They met on several occasions and “discovered that they like being quiet together”. On stage, they dance together or for one another, read, remember and open themselves to the present moment.
In more depth
Author’s biography :
The Centre national de la danse (CN D) is a national art center dedicated to dance. It’s an instititution dependent on the French Ministry of Culture and Communication and devoted to dance in all its aspects: the promotion of shows and choreographers, the dissemination of choreographic culture, artistic creation, and pedagogy.
The "Meeting with literature" Parcours was created thanks to the support of the General Secretariat of the Ministry of Culture and Communication - Department for the Coordination of Cultural Policies and Innovation (SCPCI)
Centre National de la danse
Centre National de la danse
Maison de la Danse