choreography Maguy Marin
with: Ulises Alvarez, Kaïs Chouibi, Laura Frigato, Daphné Koutsafti, Johanna Moaligou, Cathy Polo, Pierre Pontvianne, Ennio Sammarco, Marcelo Sepulveda Rossel, Véronique Teindas
original music Franz Schubert, Gilles de Binche, Gavin Bryars
costumes Louise Marin
lights Compagnie Maguy Marin
Compagnie Maguy Marin
Maison des Arts et de la Culture de Créteil
La Compagnie Maguy Marin is supported by Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication
la Ville de Lyon la Région Rhône-Alpes and Institut français pour ses projets à l’étranger
Running time 1 hour and 20 minutes
The French choreographer Maguy Marin has signed some of the unforgettable masterpieces of contemporary dance like May B, a classic created in 1981 with her historical team. A unique, timeless piece that definitely affirmed Marin’s style on the international scene.
May B sets in motion the parade of a drifting human condition with the invention of an abrupt theatrical language that transforms the ridiculous, the violent and the distressing in situations.
The dance’s power comes from its capacity to represent the mystery of our presence in the world.
This piece based on the writings of Samuel Beckett, whose work contradicts in its theatrical movement and atmosphere the physical and aesthetic performance of a dancer, it has enabled us to lay the grounds for a secret deciphering of our most intimate, hidden and ignored gestures.
To succeed in unveiling the tiny or spectacular gestures of the many unnoticeable and inconspicuous lives in which waiting and “not quit still” stillness create a void, a huge nothingness, a silent space filled with the hesitations. When Beckett’s characters yearn for stillness, they cannot help moving; be it a little or a lot, they move.
In this essentially theatrical work, the point isn’t to develope words and speech, but seeking the meeting point between movement applied to theatre on one hand, and dance and choreographic language on the other hand.
May B today
by Jean-Paul Manganaro
May B tells of somewhere far away, a remote place that emerges from a timeless era, from a life lived without order or measure, from a tension buried in dreams of strange happenings that cannot be fixed in memory or story. The dancers are cretaceous creatures, cave-dwellers from a world that we recognize as our own because it is part of our being more than part of any cultural context we know. They recount a story where geology and genealogy coalesce. There is no narrative coherence to this ‘recounting’ however; it describes only intuitions and initiations. It captures the multiplication of gestures, each one succeeding another, that constitute the transition and process of recognition of a not-absolutely-human being as it moves towards becoming a fully-formed man. It reveals how, slowly, these beings wrest themselves from an inert and suspicious lump of clay, plaster and detritus in an attempt to arrive at a new and astonishing shape and structure; one that is ready, perhaps, to become part of history.
Improbable though it might seem today, the strength and intensity of May B endure in the work’s capacity to play out the series of cracks and fissures that make up the whole, to tell of births and infancies, of grunts and howls which all combine in a perfectly expressionist procession that forms the sweeping arc of the story.
In one gesture – anti-theatrical in its extreme theatricality – May B embraces the breaking of an aesthetic mould, and brings its future new expression to the front of the stage: a row of bodies which shed an old skin, laying themselves bare, before taking on a new one. They highlight, within the work, the sudden rebound towards an infinitely repeated, infinitely disjointed elsewhere into which they move.
The power of May B comes from several fundamental motifs: the desire to exclude the narrative continuity and underpinning recitative structure inherent in a tightly logical conclusion and to favour, even more than an ordered rhythm, the cadences of a rhapsodic journey. Attempts at description, efforts to articulate are reabsorbed into a mass made up of maternal fable; an enduring maternal fable where the body roams, and, significantly encounters other bodies, creating new paths where patterns are redrawn and repeated. This idea of a maternal matriarchy which imbues fable and confabulation is worthy of emphasis; it goes hand in hand with Maguy Marin’s notion of ‘layers’ which give resounding voice to every register of her ability to express herself orally and set the fertile potential of the ‘matrimonial’ against the shrouded and sealed silence of the ‘patrimonial’. Intimately, tenderly, it distances itself from the dominance of the story in order to embrace gentle fables which wandering over a patchwork of continuities that cherish as a mother would her child.
… The demonstrative linearity of the action of dancing, where a prolonged series of untiring movements expresses a radiant clarity which keeps on declaring its presence and making itself flesh and blood, gives the body a preverbal purity despite the apparent shell created by the skin. The multiplicity of recitative episodes expressed in gestures continues until notions of time and space, intrinsic elements of a story, are erased. The gestures become anchored only in a succession of displays that exist in the one-dimensional space and time of the stage set. The dramatic spectacle of the dance becomes a self-reflective study on the essential nature of dramaturgy, exposing its tensions not in terms of its architectural elements but as a plurality of lines loosely sketched in, from which emerges a uniquely sensual and spontaneous force that touches down lightly, finds its balance, dispossesses itself. It takes and lets go, it lifts away; its impulse is towards joy and levity instead of the discouragement of a descent into, and affirmation of, ever-watchful, ever-waiting sadnesses. Such Dionysian energy presents itself as a tireless way of shaping the continuity of emotional experience and upheaval, catching it by the tail and shaking it with wicked and lively
humour. May B – probably, possibly, perhaps. In miming hesitation, or rather in making hesitation into a new mode of expression, a tool to work with, this iconic piece has avoided existentialist stagnation since its inception and has found new expression in new places. By distancing itself from the narrow realm of abstraction, too elliptical and remote, and by investing in a dimension that is, in material terms, just as malleable, the development of the work commits itself to a more political lyrical formulation – reduced somewhat by its grotesque underside. They come from the same primeval caves that we do, these characters on the stage that seem to have emerged from a mixture of rock and excrement, absorbed in the surprises that their human-ness causes them. At the same time, the invention of this grotesque style of lyricism has, written within it, the renewal of what it is ‘to dance’. It holds out in front of itself all the possibilities that dancing has available to it, replacing them as if in a game and playing with them until ‘to dance’ has been dragged into ‘a ance’. And the journey that concludes the piece brings together, in a few suitcases, the way each person’s story deteriorates, as they leave for a destination without destiny. Like a Gavin Bryars refrain, repeated ad infinitum in a plaintive muttering which rejoins and then redistributes all the breaks and fissures, the dancers send each member of the audience a dream-like image of Eldorados and Promised Lands, as well as possible resolutions to a story that drowns in its own final moment.
Maguy Marin, biography
On the racetrack of life – Maguy Marin
Born in Toulouse, dancer and choreographer Maguy Marin studied classical ballet at the Toulouse dance academy. She then joined the Strasbourg Dance Company and later Mudra, Maurice Béjart’s multi-disciplinary school in Brussels.
In 1978, with Daniel Ambash, she founded the Ballet-Théâtre de l’Arche, which was to become the Compagnie Maguy Marin in 1984. The Centre Chorégraphique National de Créteil et du Val-de-Marne followed in 1985: its unremitting artistic work spread worldwide.
In 1987, Marin’s encounter with musician-composer Denis Mariotte was the starting point of a decisive partnership, which broadened the scope of experimentation.
Then in 1998, a new place to settle in, for a new Centre Chorégraphique National, in Rillieux-la-Pape: a place as a we in time and space to strengthen one’s ability to foster those diagonal forces resisting oblivion (H. Arendt).
The year 2011 saw a remodeling of the framework in which the company’s reflection and achievements unfold. After the intensity of the Rillieux-la-Pape years, there emerged a need for a new phase in Toulouse from 2012.
In January, 2015, Maguy Marin and the company find the region of Lyon. An installation to ramdam to Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon, who engages the deployment of a new ambitious project: ramdam, a center of art.