“The space of our life is neither continuous, nor infinite, homogeneous, isotropic. But do we precisely know where it breaks, where it curves, where it disconnects, and where it reassembles? We vaguely sense the cracks, hiatuses, points of friction, we sometimes have the vague impression that it jams, bursts or collides.”
This quote by Georges Perec illustrates the journey five characters dive into, facing, throughout the piece, the ambient chaos that confuses those around them. When the situation appears inexorable, can one rhapsodise over escape and devise solutions for breaking out? How does one cope with these interior upheavals that this chaos provokes?
In a purified stage set-up, light and interactive, Michèle Noiret, in collaboration with David Drouard, reinvents her choreographic composition and her way of fusing the languages of dance and cinema, which characterises her work with her company for many years.
Michèle Noiret's Le Chant des ruines kicks off the TANZ!Heilbronn festival. The piece, which deals with survival in times of disaster, is more topical than ever. The Belgian choreographer demonstrates in this piece her solid mastery of stage art. What at the beginning evokes a mountain of rubble becomes later garbage, opening the door to many associations of ideas. This dance-cinema performance, a clever mix of cataclysm, humor and extreme physicality, was very well received by the audience in Heilbronn."
When we think of song, we think of something joyful, something melancholic. Ruins is desolation, emptiness, death, destruction. The combination of the two words represents the state of mind I was in when we created this piece with a lot of uncertainty about the future, and at the same time the hope that things would change and evolve positively. It was in 2019, there was no pandemic but already all the ecological problems. We were in the middle of a major societal and environmental crisis.
Le Chant des ruines by Michèle Noiret: an aesthetic exploration of deconstruction. The result is both visually seductive and morally challenging, and this dreamlike and desolate reconstruction strongly echoes our era. Revisiting our standards, “Le Chant des ruines” offers a magnificent and timely punch in the face... We sincerely hope to see it soon.”
Before being cut off in its tracks, Le Chant des ruines was performed at Chaillot. This was a bizarrely prophetic piece, complete with a catastrophic landscape and masked dancers: a fictional image that became reality. (...) “This embrace of masked dancers, notably, offered at that time (when it was created in late 2019) a strong and shocking image, which has taken on a new sense today.” To the point of giving the impression “that it was created for the current situation”, as the choreographer heard on 4 March, at Chaillot.”
For over twenty years, dancer and choreographer Michèle Noiret – a leading figure in the Belgian dance world – has produced a hybrid work closely interlinked with digital devices and technologies. Somewhere between dystopia and environmental drama, the choreography that she created last season, Le Chant des ruines, illustrates the concerns of the choreographer concerning our future. Inevitably, the current health crisis has put her tour on hold and has shed new light on this anticipatory project. This imposed break is an opportunity to discuss the mechanisms of her research and the creative process of this show with Michèle Noiret, who is eagerly looking forward to stepping back on to the stage and reconnecting with her audience.
Michèle Noiret makes the ruins dance. Showing beauty is also a form of resistance. Fluently merging the languages of theatre, dance and cinema, the Brussels choreographer Michèle Noiret holds up a mirror to our world in dislocation. The result is Le Chant des ruines, a manual for survival through dance. After various solo and duo shows, Michèle Noiret returns to a group creation in which her five incredible dancers ponder over how to survive in a world of ruins. The threats of cataclysms in gestation announce the end of certainty and intimacy. Dance, which works like individual and collective breathing, is then seen as a salvation. The minimalist set, cardboard sheets combined in sophisticated perspectives, creates landscapes in constant metamorphosis. (...) The creator has developed Le Chant des ruines with clearly reduced means. In this relative destitution, she has found the resources and creativity to reinvent herself without losing her visual and emotional stage presence."
Le Chant des ruines or the beauty of chaos. Another success: the incursion of humour in this “chant des ruines”. Just when everything seems finished, destroyed. Sara Tan, again, speaks, with the voice of a robot or a creature, presenting, with humour, her “Guide to surviving the 21st century”, which will enable us to get out of it at the other end. A magnificent theatrical invention that, in one fell swoop, lifts the dramatic tension."
The glare of embers. "Le Chant des ruines" immerses us in a deeply human journey. Sound, atmosphere and videos highlight the precise choreography, polished down to the last carat, of Michèle Noiret. The 21st century is definitely one of the image, which, while claiming to reproduce reality, creates an inexorable distance from it. Certainties are undermined and their disappearance drives the individuals on an erratic journey with aspects of dystopia, a chassé-croisé through unstable, ephemeral, volatile situations, on a quest for reality, a reality, among the ruins. (...) Here, specifically, the filmed image adds depth to the stage, brings together the space, the dancers, the materials, the textures, the set. But the image is never the simple reflection of reality. Disproportionate, inverted, moved forward, she dreams an undreamed-of universe, unreal, but one that touches the imagination. The projections do not reproduce reality, they work it, sublimate it, transform it. (...) If the images create astonishment, they do not overshadow the choreographic quality - even the movement of the sheets seems minutely written - of this piece admirably served by the five dancers. Supported by the video creations of Vincent Pinckaers and the sound universe developed by Todor Todoroff, Michèle Noiret combines languages to create scenes, emotions, fascinating atmospheres."
Surviving the Era of Liquid Modernity. A cinematographic-choreographic poem, “Le Chant des ruines” brings together five artists shaken by the instability in the world. (…) Amplified to the extreme, with multiple points of view, the image constantly changes with different perspectives and penetrates the tiniest recesses that are invisible to the naked eye.»
A new dance-cinema dialogue that questions the 21st century. With each sequence shown live, the reading of the pictures starts from the dance and creates surprise, thanks to the choreographic quality and the captivating presence of five performers who assert strong identities, responding to a limpid, precise and transparent choreography. (...) One thing at least is certain: this dance-picture polyphony is a real success.»
Chaos outside, chaos inside. Beauty, strength, elegance. The world of cardboard, a cheap material that allows for a minimalist set design, is perfectly adapted to the shifting ruins of a chaotic world. We see the power of the images dominated by the aquatic element and threatening tectonic plates, as well as their link with the group of five dancers with perfect technique on an erratic journey in a world full of threats. We see the subject of heralded disaster, this interior and exterior chaos with its visually sumptuous themes and variations. (...) The staging by Michèle Noiret, assisted by David Drouard, take us to a fascinating and worrying world in which the old values, almost engulfed, float on the horizon."
Window on a dark future. A surprising piece in which Michèle Noiret reinvents the world of her set design, with a series of cardboard objects devised with Wim Vermeylen, as well as part of her choreographic vocabulary, expressed by five superb dancers (...) The strength of the piece is due to its breaking of rhythms, which introduce into this grim vision moments of exquisite dance and welcome short humorous sequences, such as the robotic speech of a young woman who offers us a guide to surviving the 21st century. A humour that hits the mark, while remaining in the general spirit of a piece applying pressure where it hurts in our mad rush forward.”
Surviving in the 21th century. With simple means and an inventive use of imaging technology, Michèle Noiret provides an X-ray image of our time, lucid, but in which hope remains, in the light serving as cement for a couple, in the birdsong ringing out from the ashes.”
Grim and ludic “Chant des ruines". Michèle Noiret revitalises her vocabulary, without renouncing her creative identity. Always present, the choreographic characters – here a quintet – inhabit a spacetime into which the choreographer projects her thoughts. (...) The performance orchestrated here by Michèle Noiret ventures a lighter immediacy in metaphor."
Cast & credits
Conception, staging Michèle Noiret
Choreography Michèle Noiret, David Drouard
Created with and performed by Alexandre Bachelard, Harris Gkekas, Liza Penkova, Sara Tan, Denis Terrasse
Artistic collaboration David Drouard
Video creation and stage cameraman Vincent Pinckaers
Original music composition and sound technician Todor Todoroff
Additional music Summer Samba by Walter Wanderley, An der schönen blauen Donau, Op 314 by Johann Strauss II, Back to Black by Amy Winehouse & Mark Ronson, Saturno o cipolla by Eric Aldea
Light design Gilles Brulard
Set design Wim Vermeylen
Costumes Silvia Ruth Hasenclever
Technical direction, video developer and technician Frédéric Nicaise
Lighting technician Yorrick Detroy
Stage manager Christian Halkin
Photography Sergine Laloux
Production and tour manager Morten Walderhaug
Communication and press Alexandra de Laminne
Administration and coordination Cathy Zanté
Duration 70 min
Production Compagnie Michèle Noiret/Tandem asbl.
Coproduction Charleroi/danses - Centre chorégraphique de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, Théâtre National de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles.
Residence « La Fabrique Chaillot » - Chaillot – Théâtre national de la Danse (Paris).
Support La Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, Service Général de la Création Artistique - Service de la Danse, Loterie Nationale, Wallonie-Bruxelles International (WBI), Tax Shelter of the Belgian Federal Government - Casa Kafka Pictures Tax Shelter empowered by Belfius, Adami.