Roman Photo
Choreography: Boris Charmatz

The performance exists in various versions: Roman Photo with non-dancers, students and amateurs, 50 ans de danse, performed by former dancers of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and Flip book performed by professional dancers.

"In Merce Cunningham, un demi-siècle de danse [1], all Cunningham is included: pictures from every piece, and Merce is portrayed from the age of five... when I read this book, it came to my mind that the collection of the pictures was not only about nearly all the projects that he did until now, but formed a choreography in itself close to Cunningham’s processes to create dance: dance happens in between the postures, between two positions, and I guess we could invent a piece from this score of pictures, performed from beginning to end. On the one hand it would be a purely "fake Cunningham" piece, but on the other hand, I think if we succeed that it could become a real one, a real Cunningham piece, a Meta-Cunningham event with a glimpse of his entire life and work... I consider this experience as an integral part of our research, of our specific interest for the issue of archive, history and scores, which could meet here its tumultuous dimension: the entire history of a life’s work become book, transformed in its turn into a performance elaborated by a handful of dancers."

Boris Charmatz

Choreographer Boris Charmatz’s new project originates with a book: Merce Cunningham, Fifty Years — a photographic collection recounting the course of this monument of history of dance. Going over in fast reading some hundred and fifty of his pieces, the show re-visits the movements of the forerunner, with John Cage, of chance operations and combinationals within the choreographic field.
For Boris Charmatz – initiator of the school project Bocal and director of the Dancing Museum – the patrimony is in the first place a living material, propitious to diversions and savage reappropriations. He has taken hold of those photographs as a "readymade" choreography, arranging them like a giant flip book which questions the mechanisms of gesture reproduction.
Dance in kit, animated photocopy, unrestrained performance, 50 years of dance is an unclassifiable and all-purpose object: initiated with art students, taken over by dancers then by amateurs, it now meets… former interpreters of Cunningham. "I love the idea that in the midst of those thousand gestures, some of them are their own — and that they are going to re-interpret themselves", explains Boris Charmatz. For this reuniting, the dancers give back life to the frozen poses, fill up the holes – and give us a variation on the backwards motif of the conventional homage. A true-false Cunningham, playful and boisterous.

Gilles Amalvi in the program of the Festival d’Automne, season 2009/2010

Running time: 30 min

Interprétation :

A groupe of non-dancers, amateurs or students is set up at each new version of the project.

Adaptation: Raphaëlle Delaunay or Maud Le Pladec or Anne-Karine Lescop or Laurent Pichaud
Lights: Yves Godin
Sound: Pascal Quéneau

Production direction: Sandra Neuveut, Martina Hochmuth, Amélie-Anne Chapelain
Production: Musée de la danse / Centre chorégraphique national de Rennes et de Bretagne – Direction: Boris Charmatz. Association supported by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication (Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles / Bretagne), the city of Rennes, the regional Council of Brittany and the General Council of Ille-et-Vilaine.
The Institut français contributes regularly to the international touring of the Musée de la danse.
Thanks to: LiFE (St Nazaire), HÜZ (Berlin), Centre de développement chorégraphique (Toulouse) et à Cécile Tonizzo.

Roman photo a été créé en 2009 au Musée de la danse, Rennes, France

Photo de couverture : © Laurent Philippe / Roman Photo, Festival Seine de danse Nanterre

  • Roman Photo
    © Musée de la danse

  • [1David Vaughan, Ed. Plume (French version), 1997 (out of print). "Merce Cunningham, Fifty Years" Ed. Aperture (original edition).