By Patricia Boccadoro
PARIS, 20 NOVEMBER 2008 - Entering the Louvre
Museum from the Rue du Rivoli via the Passage Richelieu one
recent evening, an unusual sight met visitors' eyes through a
large, three meter high glass window. One of the statues, a
Greek God poised in flight, seemed to be moving. A closer look
confirmed that yes, it actually was moving, changing in perfect
slow motion from one classical position to another. Passers-by
stopped to gaze in amazement at this unusual phenomenon, framed
as it were by the window.
The ideally proportioned young man, in perfect symbiosis with
the statues of the iron-clad gladiators surrounding him, turned
out to be part of a long planned collaboration between two of
France's greatest cultural institutions, the Louvre Museum and
the Paris Opera Ballet.
"The Louvre Museum and the Paris Opera Ballet have been trying
to get something going together for some time", Brigitte
LefÃ¨vre, director of the company, told me, "and then when the
opportunity arose last year, I immediately spoke to Yann
Bridard, who had come to speak to me about developing such a
The following week, Bridard himself explained how he envisaged
breaking what he described as the static image given by dance
"I wanted to feel closer to my audience", he explained, "and
create works where the spectators could see dance from several
angles, and hence the title, Angles de Vue for my four
choreographies which were danced on just the one evening in the
Cour Marly and Cour Puget at the Louvre. With so much space
available, I felt I needed to clear the perspectives. I also
relished the occasion to give an instant of pleasure for people
who had not expected to see dance at all and were probably not
in the habit of going to the opera."
To this effect, Bridard created four rather different works,
danced one after another in four different parts of the
sculpture section of the Richelieu wing, each piece being
performed several times between 19hr 30 and 21hr 45. The first
one I saw featured dancer Charlotte Ransom, dressed in a
simple, peach-coloured shift which blended into her background,
an easy to watch ballet which drew spectators on all four sides
and which could be walked around.
In another area, a more substantial work for Josua Hoffalt and
premiere danseuse Muriel Zusperreguy, ostensibly made to be
seen from above, was already in progress. However, the work was
so successful that, in addition to looking down upon the work
from a sort of gangway, spectators also sat around the dancers.
The work, inspired by Akido, began as a combat between the two
who were clad in attractive, filmy black costumes, and many
people stayed to watch the whole work several times the better
to appreciate the lovely ending, when the couple spun
gracefully round and around floating off in a kiss,
reminiscent of a Chagall painting.
For Hoffalt, the experience was extraordinary. "Our ballet
lasted about ten minutes", he told me, "but we performed it
eight times, and each time, we felt more and more assured. It
was quite nerve-wracking the first time as the place is so
awe-inspiring. And of course we danced to silence as the very
atmosphere has a special music all of its own. We didn't need a
score; it would have been an intrusion."
The next piece on offer was the one seen from the outside
interpreted by Yann Bridard himself, and deliberately conceived
to be seen from a distance. Indeed, it was out of the question
to see it close-up as access from the front was nearly
impossible, Bridard performing on a sort of raised dais behind
a sweeping staircase.
"My own solo", the dancer told me, "was a form of improvisation
in which I expressed a particular emotion by letting my body
go the way it wanted. I based it on circular movements
interspersed by uncoordinated gestures suggestive of people
with physical handicaps. Much also came from Tai Chi, and then
I incorporated a short classical sequence with traditional
academic movements in harmony with the sculptures around me."
He commented that the fourth ballet, about depression, was
inspired by Pina Bausch. Unlike the three other works, this
took place in an enclosed corner with spectators on two sides.
And in contrast the piece, interpreted by AmÃ©lie Lamoureux, was
given the support of a limited sound-track.
"What was so special about the project was the amount of
cooperation I received from the people at the Louvre. I was
given free choice of where to stage my choreographies and
seized upon the opportunity to perform in the section of all
the sculptures. The majesty of the volumes and height around me
was overwhelming. I was particularly grateful for the fact that
I was not asked to stage my ballets on or around a particular
painting and was able to choose the theme of the sculptures
"What was interesting for me too, was to present dance as a
work of art, with the spectator free to watch it, walk away, or
simply ignore the goings onâ€¦ which some people did. Being so
close to my audience, I saw two tourists hurrying up the stairs
without a glance at my work! Maybe they only had 2 hours at
their disposal to visit the Louvre, in what could possibly be a
once in a lifetime trip. If their dream was to see the Mona Lisa , then I can only bow
down before such a distinguished rival!"
Patricia Boccadoro is the dance editor
for Culturekiosque.com. She last wrote on A Tribute to
Jerome Robbins and New York
City Ballet's visit to Paris.
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