Why is it important to evoke such a subject today? Is it because my own life so resembles a labyrinth, with its impasses, its backtracking, this approach of a centre that is never more distant than when I thought I was about to reach it? It is much more than that. Jacques Attali, "The Labyrinth in Culture and Society: Pathways to Wisdom"
Les familiers du labyrinthe is a choreography designed like an itinerary through a multitude of imaginary labyrinths, mazes and entanglements, of sudden rectilinear or sinuous spaces; the dancers move about within the mysterious metaphor of a social group whose origins are uncertain, wherein one can sense a certain hierarchy, rules, a logical organisation, without for all that being able to fully grasp the meaning. Bursts of lightning speed, but also slow movements – sometimes imperceptible - of the scenography, the lighting, the sounds and the projected video images, suggest the passage of time, inviting the spectator to travel, to journey along and invent their own paths.
The labyrinth, first abstraction of human destiny, describing the world in terms of what is predictable or unpredictable, can also be seen as the representation of a being's inner, secret life and the mental space in which one finds, or loses, oneself.
"A labyrinth is like a precarious and dangerous crossing place, an opening between two worlds, a forest of wild thinking as impenetrable as Plato's cave. When one enters, one must be willing to accept a certain disorientation, to live outside of space and time, to be giddy, feel one's head spin. One cannot know in advance how long it will last or which path to take; one must be willing to admit that though one believes one is approaching the centre, one may well be moving away from it. One must even wish to lose oneself, take pleasure in being lost. One must not make a struggle of the journey, but rather accept it as an interesting experience..."
Here, Jacques Attali describes almost word for word the experience into which I wish to invite the performers of Les familiers du labyrinthe. Many of them are young and have no experience in the field of contemporary dance. They must therefore accept that they will initially be disorientated, lose their bearings and their habits. They are part of the Corps de Ballet, for which a singular presence is not customarily a requirement. But what interests me is precisely the singularity of each person. How can I encourage each person to take charge of him/herself as an autonomous individual and assert his/her difference? A few more experienced dancers, and two soloists, offer their maturity and professionalism.
The time given over to creation is short: two periods of fifteen days before the first rehearsals on stage, at which time the lighting and mobile scenography must be integrated. The creation of the original musical will be developed simultaneously. It is a huge and exciting challenge. Workshops are created to deal with the difficulties each person encounters, which enable us to progress in the construction of the creation.
Reflection is focused on such concerns as rediscovering the natural state of the body and walking, linking breathing to movement, using gravity and the energy that comes from the ground, giving importance to the transitions between movements – for it is they that give them all their subtleties –, initiating this or that movement using different parts of the body, daring to create imbalance, taking the risk of losing control... The idea is not to copy a movement but to understand it and recreate it through sensitive experience. We will consider space as matter through which we travel and which we transform.
This experience, as new for them as it is for me, is above all a wonderful human experience to which each person gives their all. Of course, it is important is to end up with a singular creation, but it is also important that the process leave an impression on each person, an impression which will resurface at the required time, perhaps in unexpected ways.
Cast & credits
Choreography Michèle Noiret
Choreographic assistant Claire O’Neil
Created and interpreted by the dancers of the Ballet of the Paris National Opera
Original electroacoustic composition Todor Todoroff
Scenography : Alain Lagarde
Video Fred Vaillant
Lighting Xavier Lauwers
Costumes Alain Lagarde
A production of the Opéra National de Paris