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.
In July, 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 has ended with the creation of Palimpseste Solo/Duo at Théâtre National de Chaillot in Paris in September 2016.
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…
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