The show exists in Solo (30'), Duo (30'), Solo/Duo (60') versions. The different versions are available with pianist and clarinetist on stage.
Choreographed and danced by Michèle Noiret in 1997, Solo Stockhausen continues its journey. Adapted for the cinema by Thierry Knauff in 2004, it was reinvented in 2014 under the name Palimpseste. This solo is subject to a particular collaboration with the dancer and choreographer David Drouard : it's the beginning of a new palimpsest, for this piece that goes through a large part of Michèle Noiret's career.
INTERVIEW - MICHELE NOIRET
NOIRET/STOCKHAUSEN: a particular history.
How did the idea for this piece come about?
In 1997 I performed Solo Stockhausen for the first time. It is my homage as a choreographer to the composer. I wanted to rediscover the traces and understand the influence he had had on my choreographic composition. I had met him at Mudra when I was sixteen. I had had his melodies in my head ever since and I had immediately fallen in love with them. He had given me a disc with the following dedication: “Do you have twelve characters in you”. I did not know at the time that I would become a choreographer!
How does this piece rank with those you made before with his music?
This solo is unique. It is a very personal piece, one which is a part of me. A thread that goes through my whole career. The collaboration with Stockhausen as a dancer demanded precise rehearsal because of the coordination needed between hands and feet, which each follow a distinct score. The left hand follows the trumpet, the right the tenor, and the feet the piano. I rehearsed the same few seconds thousands of times…
What role did the meeting with filmmaker Thierry Knauff in 2004 play? It led to the making of two films, Solo and A Mains nues. We met at a festival, he screened his films and I danced my solo. After the show he talked to me about what he had just seen, his words found an echo in me, I tested them in the following shows. When we parted we promised each other to do something together in the future.
Did the fact that this solo was ‘crossed’ by cinema prompt you to reinvent it on the stage? Yes. Being alone in front of the camera obliged me to specify my presence, to be conscious of every little detail. There were lots of sequence shots and close-ups, which led me to alter the choreography. It is a black and white film. The very fine and rigorous work on Thierry’s light, the costume changes, the whispered words recorded as material for the soundtrack, so many aspects that made me want to reinvent the solo for the stage. I let it rest for ten years, I created other pieces very far from this world. In 2014, after a testing and passionate piece of dance/cinema, Hors-champ, which demanded more than two years’ work, with the whole team, I wanted to find myself again and take an interior break… After having explored various paths I watched the film again and that is how Solo Stockhausen became Palimpseste.
Palimpseste became a duo? I always thought I would offer this solo to someone. But who? How could I pass on this past, this experience? It required someone who was truly interested in my choreography, but also the music, and someone who was curious about this type of solo. I never imagined that a man could take on such a feminine solo! The meeting with David Drouard was decisive. He will take up the solo one day. Working together; our collaboration was such that we wanted to create a sequel, a duo arising from the solo… Palimpseste Solo/Duo
David Drouard is more than a partner. He was immediately curious about my history with Stockhausen. He is a magnificent dancer. He is also a choreographer; there rapidly developed a great trust between us. He studied the clarinet for ten years, so he was more sensitive to the clarinet/piano version that I use on the stage alongside the music boxes. I shared everything with him, the photos, the notebooks, the film, the work scores with Stockhausen, all the material that allowed him to enter that world.
Palimpsest equates to memory. Yes, the layers are superimposed on each other, they deposit sediment over time, it is my body and my face today… a palimpsest like those ancient inscriptions that are covered by others and that you sometimes see on walls, traces obliterated but present, contaminated…
The links between dance and cinema have been at the heart of your work for years. I have always been captivated by images and cameras were first invited into my pieces very early on, well before it became the fashion! The dancer plays not only in a single dimension, facing the audience, but learns to bring into existence all the aspects of his body, to distil his emotions differently, to develop in a multidimensional space. The cameras lead us to reinvent the stage space and to reveal what is hidden… This forces us to rethink the stage composition; even absent, as in Palimpseste, they leave traces on my working methods. A vast field of new perspectives opens up.
How is the choreography worked out? It is a complex question, the starting point is Karlheinz Stockhausen’s score Tierkreis (literally “circle of animals” but also German for “zodiac”), twelve short melodies, each representing one of the signs of the zodiac. The solo begins with Capricorn; there are six in order: Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The duo is built on the next six: Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius. I use two musical versions: one for music boxes, the other for clarinet and piano, which answer and echo each other. The first deliberately barely audibly, like an inhabited silence, giving free reign to the interior musicality of the movement, its interpretation. In the second, the choreography is in constant dialogue with the musical score. David and I improvised a lot. For each sign I devised, in silence, a choreographic phrase that takes into account the characters and the four elements, water, air, earth and fire, which accompany the twelve signs of the zodiac. The whole piece was built from these. Each melody lasts less than a minute and is repeated three or four times in different combinations. It’s a choreography one listens to as much as one looks at, in which, perhaps, is echoed the temperaments set by the stars…
The first step in this transmission was presented as part of La belle scène Saint-Denis at the Festival Off d’Avignon 2015. The work has continued during the 2015-2016 season and ended with the creation of Palimpseste Solo/Duo at Théâtre National de Chaillot in Paris in September 2016.
Press review of the articles published following the press conference organized on 4th September by the Cervantino International Festival.
A very fine piece by Michèle Noiret this Palimpseste Solo/Duo with David Drouard, in which she revisits her solo-matrix Solo Stockhausen (1997) extending it with a skilful, sensual pas de deux. The language of Stockhausen, swept by Noiret’s volatile moods, brings out the disconnected score of an always destabilising intimate monologue. With fingers more talkative than ever, extremely lively eyes, a changing face in the present..."
Palimpseste Solo/Duo, light, mystery
Michèle Noiret goes back over her homage to Stockhausen, this time in a duo with David Drouard.
"In 1997 the dancer and choreographer paid homage to the master (Karlheinz Stockhausen) in Solo Stockhausen. In 2014 she made some improvements to the solo to create “Palimpseste”, like a Medieval copyist recycling an ancient manuscript. Two years later Palimpseste Solo/Duo was born – in Paris, in the Maurice Béjart auditorium (sic) at the Théâtre national de Chaillot. Explored anew, the zodiac is sketched from small glissés to murmurs (“I lost myself in a labyrinth of gestures”), from a straight path to twists, from an impalpable muteness to sensual and playful dialogue with the music, from chiselled mannerism to relaxation. (…) Michèle Noiret’s first intention was to pass on her solo. But the desire to change, to evolve it herself gained the upper hand. Herself, but not by herself: the second part of Palimpseste Solo/Duo sees David Drouard arrive on stage, his presence, rooted in the earth and delicate, powerfully goes through the range of elements and the oh so particular geography of the signs. Stockhausen was “a stunning revelation”, he confesses, he who, before becoming a dancer, long practised music – especially the clarinet. In its apparent austerity Palimpseste Solo/Duo searches for and reveals a rather uncommon story, a rich memory facing forward, a personal, lived-in composition, sometimes austere, resolutely organic."
Variations on a Palimpseste
Michèle Noiret adapts her highly personal solo into a duo in which she is joined by David Drouard in a work full of beauty and lightness.
"To the sound of a barely audible music box, Michèle Noiret, elegant, impeccable in posture and deportment, makes her way to the back of the stage in small, tight steps that rub the floor. Her fingers describe arabesques that draw figures. She murmurs words, throws out looks to the audience, to people in the audience. She seems to ransack her memory for recollections, which she allows to rise up through her body. Gestures, precise, delicate, takes the place of language. The music box makes way for the piano and clarinet. Tension asserts itself, like the music, gestures echo the notes, movement brings the music to life. David Drouard arrives, following her, clinging to her, passing on the movement to her. They pit themselves against each other, brush against one other, touching, in a duo that is sometimes nervous, always harmonious, oscillating between seduction and domination. The movements are in harmony, rely on each other, interlink. (…) Palimpseste Solo/Duo yields a light, syncopated piece, subtle in resonance, dialogue, and in which the eyes are as important as the body."
The pulsating adventure of a solo
"Palimpseste Solo/Duo is a work of gestural richness and astonishing expressiveness, such that its reading lends itself to various interpretations (...) It is perfectly understandable that the choreographer wished to convey such a gem to future generations. And, in this regard, her meeting with David Drouard proved decisive. (...) But, more than a collaboration, a genuine friendship, even a real love, seems to have been established between the two artists in the course of the rehearsals and shows through in the performance of this work on stage. Was it real or imagined? It makes no difference. Regardless, the choreographer has managed, through her expressiveness and her art, to take us down paths other than those originally anticipated…"
It is a very fine, very subtle, choreographic work based on Tierkreis.(…) The beautiful, calm dancer pursues an uninterrupted dialogue with the music, lively arms, head and legs in a dynamic fervour, especially when the musical sequences are played forte. (…) The solo becomes a duo with the appearance of David Drouard, who physically aligns himself with the steps of the dancer. (…) One follows the other, imitating or responding with another gesture, in a mimetic dialogue that here no longer relates to the music but to the partner. All the choreography danced the first time round as a solo takes on another dimension flanked by its missing half. Beyond the mirror and the support that his partner offers, the dancer affirms his own personality, his intrinsic body language, espousing the melodic line of the clarinet or the piano in turns."
Uncluttered and understated, based on Stockhausen’s score of Tierkreis (Zodiac), the piece is split into two parts. Michèle Noiret is alone on the stage for the first, which starts with a funny lopsided walk, taking small steps without raising her feet from the floor. The choreographer seems lost, occupied by a thousand thoughts. She approaches the audience, murmurs the beginnings of sentences, barely audible, capturing the attention by her remarkable presence. There follows a dance of extraordinary musicality, made of deranged balances, sudden accelerations, between great mastery and total naturalness, conjuring a whole world with gestures alone. When Michèle Noiret is at last joined by David Drouard, the couple at first embark on the same walk, their bodies clinging to each other. The closeness of the two artists is clear, as they later continue to move in unison or respond to each other in counterpoint.”
Michèle Noiret blends precision with feeling: each of her gestures punctuates with rigueur and exactitude the composition of the German musician. (…) Michèle Noiret captivates through the grace and elegance she transmits, the tricks, the mischief, the seduction that accompanies every one of her “chapters". (…) Managing to unleash the sensuality and the dance in Stockhausen’s music: a challenge that Michèle Noiret accepts with a taste for eternal rebirth.»
The use of a musical version written for a music box leads the spectator into a universe that is both intimate and remote. The body movements are minimalistic but laden with meaning. Through the movements of arms and hands, a form of personal dialogue is established, which opens up an inner questioning. The audience is led to this contemplation in an even more compelling way in the musical version for piano and clarinet. Here, the tones are more distinct, the two instruments echoing each other, and the choreography appears closer, more real. This alternation of musical forms creates on stage a past-present contrast like a journey through time.”
Cast & credits
Conception and choreography Michèle Noiret
Created and interpreted by Michèle Noiret et David Drouard
Artistic collaboration Dominique Duszynski
Assistant Marielle Morales
Music Karlheinz Stockhausen, "Tierkreis" for clarinet and piano, audio recording interpreted by Majella Stockhausen and Suzanne Stephens. Or interpreted live by the pianist Thomas Besnard and the clarinettist Hannah Morgan (version with musicans on stage).
Scenography Xavier Lauwers, Michèle Noiret
Light design Xavier Lauwers
Sound and light technician Xavier Lauwers
Technical direction Christian Halkin
Photography Sergine Laloux
Production & touring Claire Geyer
Communication & press Alexandra de Laminne
Administration & coordination Cathy Zanté
Duration 60 minutes
Production Compagnie Michèle Noiret/Tandem asbl.
Produced with the support of the Ministère de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, Service de la Danse
The first step of the show was presented as part of La belle scène Saint-Denis at the Festival Off d’Avignon 2015