Choreography: Boris Charmatz

“When one improvises, one comes up against one’s own body schemes, one’s training, the way of always repeating the same gestures. Very quickly, one comes up against walls as heavy as for a written project. But this is an interesting aspect: the possibility to catch sight of, to touch the walls that create education, history, habit. To name them – rather than try to escape. [...] In this, improvisation is a form of archeology of oneself.“
Boris Charmatz, interview by Gilles Amalvi

Improvisation is the vehicle that drives creativity in music as well as in dance. Boris Charmatz, throughout his career, has frequently taken part in ephemeral forms bringing together, for the duration of an improvisation, artists and media, writing and singular worlds. In addition to improvisations with other choreographers, such as Meg Stuart, Boris Charmatz often improvises alongside musicians. This was the case for example during the festival Jazz à la Villette (2006), with Hans Bennink, Archie Shepp, and with Saul Williams. With Médéric Collignon, the improvisational project is more long-term, simply entitled Improvisation. The two artists engage their shared potential—the technical mastery and a deep sense of derision—in a structured and always renewed improvisation. The gesture of dance, as well as the pocket trumpet are clearly present but also leave room for electronic music, spoken word, song, vocalizations, for gesticulation and stomping… This improvising duo explores an extremely broad range of subjects which they engage with directly through their instantaneously shared writing.
Extract from the article Improvisation on Numéridanse

“Boris Charmatz is to Médéric Collignon what dance is to music. No, that’s not it. Médéric Collignon is to dance what Boris Charmatz is to… no, that’s not it either. Let’s start all over again. Boris Collignon… Well, something like that…
Both of them have a lot in common indeed : technical mastery, a devastating sense of derision and self-derision, a salutary lack of disciplin, a congenital claustrophobia that sends them rolling far awayfrom the clichés of their art… A skin-deep crack, which they protect themselves from by exposure : maximum risk, tightrope walk with no safety net.
Machine-bodies, organic bodies, disobedient bodies : this is what they had to offer us tonight. To keep oneself to one’s own sphere is ruled out : they are together and it is together that they have fun, hurt each other, make us and make themselves laugh and grind our teeth. Electronics, the pocket cornet, — […] —, the voice improvised, sung, vocalized, scatted or spoken as an automatic writing, they tackle everything, from parodical pas de deux to Truffaz-style reggae, from human beatbox to convulsive reptations.
A big piece of physical and artistic commitment, an hour of symbiosis between two artists. (…)”
Diane Gastellu, Citizen Jazz, September 4th, 2008

“The first strident notes of a bagpipe resonate in the dark. The instrumentalist moves back and forth without ever being out of breath. In the courtyard, the silhouette of a man stretched out on the ground drums the rhythm with his heel. In ever-brighter light, we recognize Boris Charmatz, busy chewing and swallowing pieces of white paper. In other words, one blows the other one chokes.
For over forty-five minutes, the goatskin of the bagpipe never lets down. The dancer, as if caught in a trance, takes off his clothes, then sways his hips with a suggestive movement of his pelvis. Seeing him rub his crotch against the floor, his mouth full of white bits of paper, brings to mind Nijinsky’s Faun’s erotic embrace of the nymph’s veil, which Charmatz had already re-interpreted. One gesture after another multiplies historical references. All on his own, the dancer comes to embody the whole of the Dancing Museum. When the musician repeats a single note, and Charmatz moves like Lucinda Childs, we think of Einstein on the Beach, Bob Wilson’s groundbreaking production.”
Now, wearing black briefs, Charmatz throws his whole body into the battle, despite the paper he keeps chomping, in a strange competition with his partner who isn’t playing with his mouth full. Finally “ungagged,” Charmatz speaks of a possible dancing museum in acts, right here, on this very stage. After running several laps around the stage, he offers a few pointers for his fundamental project, under the watchful eye of Erwan Keravec, red in the face from so much blowing. Boris Charmatz thus obstinately pursues his goal which has been close to his heart for years and which he will never let go.”
Muriel Steinmetz, L’Humanité, 4 mars 2013

Production direction: Sandra Neuveut, Martina Hochmuth, Amélie-Anne Chapelain
Production: Musée de la danse / Centre chorégraphique national de Rennes et de Bretagne directed by Boris Charmatz, is supported by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication – the Direction régionale des Affaires Culturelles, the city of Rennes, the regional Council of Brittany and the General Council of llle-et-Vilaine.
The Institut français regularly contributes to the international touring of the Musée de la danse-Dancing Museum

Improvisation premiered in 2007 at Urban Connections, Chamarande, France

Cover Picture: © Bogdan Grigore / Improvisation with Médéric Collignon, Explore Dance Festival, Bucharest, 2011

  • Improvisation
    © Musée de la danse

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