€ 16 / € 13
Meet the artists after the performance on 26/05
In his work, Swiss-Belgian choreographer Thomas Hauert looks for the common ground between dance and music. Hauert’s latest creation, a piece for six dancers, starts off with Concerto en fa (1925) by George Gershwin and the playful piano music of Mauro Lanza. He alludes to the method of Mickey Mousing, a common technique in film whereby every action that takes place on the screen is enhanced by music. The technique was developed in the very first Disney cartoons, whose musical scores found their inspiration in the work of Gershwin and his contemporaries. Always looking for new approaches to dance, Hauert reverses the principle of Mickey Mousing and lets the movements directly follow the music. How does the music change through the bodies on stage? The result is a condensed and detailed choreography, a fascinating series of movements that make tangible the musical experience.
Concept & direction
Created & presented by
Thomas Hauert, Fabian Barba, Liz Kinoshita, Albert Quesada, Gabriel Schenker, Mat Voorter
George Gershwin, Piano Concerto in F, Mauro Lanza, Ludus de Morte Regis
Bert Van Dijck
Informatical musical collaboration (Ircam)
Les Cris de Paris (direction Geoffroy Jourdain), who commissioned and performed Ludus de Morte Regis from Mauro Lanza in 2013 at ManiFeste (Ircam – Centre Pompidou)
Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Charleroi Danses
ZOO/Thomas Hauert (Brussels)
Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Charleroi Danses – Centre chorégraphique de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, La Bâtie- Festival de Genève, PACT Zollverein (Essen), CDC Atelier de Paris-Carolyn Carlson, Ircam – Centre Pompidou (Paris), Théâtre Sévelin 36 (Lausanne), Centre chorégraphique national de Rillieux-la-Pape – direction Yuval Pick
Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles – Service de la danse, Pro Helvetia – Fondation Suisse pour les arts, Loterie Nationale, Vlaamse Gemeenschaps - commissie, Ein Kulturengagement des Lotterie-Fonds des Kantons Solothurn, Wallonie-Bruxelles International, Wallonie-Bruxelles Théâtre/Danse
Charleroi Danses / La Raffinerie (Brussels), Grand Studio (Brussels), Centre chorégraphique national de Rillieux-la-Pape – direction Yuval Pick
Thomas Hauert is primarily known for group pieces in which he develops a complex choreographic writing based on an original form of structured improvisation, developed with long time collaborators and in a close association with music and continually refined over the years.
The relationship with music is one of the foundations of ZOO’s choreographic practice. Many of their movement scores have an intimate relationship with music – whether it is with the music itself or the musicality of the movement. Thomas Hauert believes that there is inexhaustible potential in exploring the analogies, interactions and differences between music and dance – two incarnations of our desire to organise the experience of time and space. On several levels the dancers draw inspiration from musicians – composers and performers alike – as much in the creation of movement as in its execution (rhythm and timing, tension and release, counterpoint etc.).
In this new group piece for six dancers, Thomas Hauert focuses on the notion of “interpretation”. By deconstructing codes and cultural layers, inaudible offers a game between highbrow art and popular culture, between direct seduction and deceiving expectations that makes the choreographer’s language accessible yet unpredictable.
In inaudible, several forms of interpretation function together and create the artistic experience. Interpretation as a way of executing a piece or a score: the performer’s interpretation. Then the interpretation of the arranger who invents the orchestration based on the basic musical material – in the case of Concerto in F, the source is the version for two pianos written by Gershwin in the first stage of his creation of this work. Gershwin himself was to write the orchestration for a large orchestra and piano; the arranger Ferde Grofé (who had created the original orchestration for Rhapsody in Blue) who wrote a version for a smaller orchestra in 1932. Then there is the interpretation that guides the choreographer/ director composing with all the dramaturgical elements; the interpretation given to situations by the dancers when they react to events on stage while improvising, but also interpretation as the meaning given to a sign, a sound or a gesture: the spectator’s interpretation.
Thomas Hauert brings to the stage a confrontation between musical interpretation and choreographic interpretation. Several interpretations of the Concerto in F by George Gershwin form the scores for choreographic interpretations: structured improvisations in close association with the music. This confrontation opens up numerous possibilities: the musical interpretations give impetus to the dancers’ individual and collective movements. Similarly these can colour the same choreographic proposition.
After experimenting in the studio during the creation of his solo (sweet) (bitter), in which different interpretations of Monteverdi’s madrigal Si Dolce è’l Tormento entered into dialogue with the dance and excerpts fromSalvatore Sciarrino’s 12 Madrigali, for inaudible Thomas Hauert has chosento work with the score of Concerto in F written by the American composerGeorge Gershwin in 1925. Gershwin’s work occupies a singularposition in the history of music. In conflict with modernist and puristtrends, he ingeniously undertook the fusion of different musical worlds –Broadway, music hall, jazz, Klezmer and classical. Often snubbed by theguardians of the hierarchies of Eurocentric high culture, Gershwin caredlittle about taboos and insolently went against the laws of good taste imposedby the cultural establishment. Other composers such as ArnoldSchoenberg liked his originality and authenticity: “Gershwin is an artist and a composer – he expressed musical ideas, and they were new, as is the way he expressed them. … Serious or not, he is a composer, that is, a man who lives in music and expresses everything, serious or not, sound or superficial, by means of music, because it is his native language. … What he has done with rhythm, harmony and melody is not merely style. It is fundamentally different from the mannerism of many a serious composer [who writes] a superficial union of devices applied to a minimum of ideas.… The impression is of an improvisation with all the merits and shortcomings appertaining to this kind of production. … He only feels he has something to say and he says it.”
Concerto in F is a fascinating work musically: both familiar and surprising, the richness of the score conveys a contagious energy. It unleashes a radiating optimism; it is a luminous world of sound, a sort of utopia. It is a music that generates movement and enters into the listener’s body; it is a very dancymusic, a music that “makes you move”. This physical phenomenon interests Thomas Hauert: the physicality of the music itself that invades our bodies. Gershwin’s music can be heard on a purely abstract level, removed from all references and narrative associations that are attached to the Gershwinian sound, due among other things to Hollywood’s use of it in countless soundtracks. Gershwin himself wanted the listener to perceive of this concerto as abstract music. As he was creating the work, he changed its original title from New York Concerto to Concerto in F to avoid the suggestion of a narrative. The abstract musical material offers an abundance of rhythms, melodies, harmonies, counterpoints, phrases etc. that can generate choreographic impetus. It allows/causes/demands huge formal freedom in terms of the body’s vocabulary and interactions within the group.
In resonance with Concerto in F, the choreographer has opted to work with a piece by the contemporary composer Mauro Lanza: Ludus de Morte Regis. A composition for 28 singers, toys and electronics, it enters into a dialogue with Gershwin’s music. Contemporary music rarely has an immediate relationship with the body, but Mauro Lanza’s music is an exception: erudite and sensual at the same time, of dazzling depth and full of humour, it bridges the gap between several antagonists.
The work premiered on 8 June 2013 at the ManiFeste festival (Ircam). Mauro Lanza wrote in the programme that “Ludus de Morte Regis, literally ‘the game of the king’s death’, summons up three figures from history. Giovanni Passannante, Pietro Acciarito and Gaetano Bresci all shared the same desire to assassinate Umberto I, the second king of the newly formed Italian state. While the first two failed and only managed to injure him slightly with a knife in 1878 and 1897, the third managed to attack and kill the king with a bullet fired from a pistol on 29 July 1900. Lucidly, after his arrest Bresci gave a legal justification for his act: “I didn’t kill Umberto. I killed the king, I killed a principle” and again “I made an attempt on the life of the head of state because he is responsible for all the victims of the system that he represents and that he gets others to defend”. According to Bresci, the king placed himself outside (above) the law, destroying in one go any form of social contract. All that was left to the nation was recourse to the right of insurrection, of which regicide is an extreme example.
There is a moment when the lives of ordinary men come up against power, and the sparks that fly from this shock illuminate them and burn them at the same time. At that moment the ritual of dethronement is accomplished, a ritual that is completed in a violent gesture, a murderous one but a belittling one too, a scar on the face of the institution of the monarchy (“This is the end of the magic of the House of Savoy” commented Queen Margherita after the 1878 attack); a gesture that, for a moment, opens a window on an upside down world, a world in which power is exercised from below on those who were outside of the law, where the jester becomes king, where the slave, as in ancient Rome, triumphantly whispers in the emperor’s ear that life is short. It is to this upside down world and its artisans that Ludus de Morte Regis pays homage.
To celebrate the ritual of dethronement, Ludus de Morte Regis increases the permutations of “top” and “bottom”. “Bottom” is less a moral quality than a topographical indication, designating crude unrefined objects, but also and above all refractory to work. Thus the twenty-eight singers often put aside their vocal expertise and offer themselves up to a carnivalesque farce composed of sounds normally classified as “non-musical”: a world of sound worthy of an upside down world populated by farts, belches, rattles, squeaking plastic ducks and simply-made trumpets. The electronics, meanwhile, add another layer, offering sound objects whose sources are identifiable to differing extents. The hilarity caused by these crude and trivial sounds makes way for astonishment when we notice a formal ambition, and when we realise that even an object with pejorative connotations, such as a whoopee cushion, has a place among the items used to construct a language.”
In the film world, the term “Mickey-Mousing” is used to describe film music that emphasises each physical movement in the action. We also use this term in dance, but to describe the opposite practice of movement following the music directly. This slightly derogatory term for it pays homage to the musical style of the cartoons of Mickey Mouse and others, a musical style born from the contribution of composers such as George Gershwin in the 1920s and 1930s with the advent of the talkies. The choreographer explores this phenomenon in inaudible. While the practice carries a rather pejorative image in the world of contemporary dance, it also creates public fascination for popular dances – hip-hop for example – which can be seen in the many posts on YouTube or on TV shows. Choreographed and coordinated with the music down to the tiniest detail, these dances perpetuate a choreographic tradition still found in popular culture based on the perception of the intrinsic unity between dance and music.
In inaudible, a large part of the movement proposed is improvised using a set of rigorously defined and often superimposed movement scores. The dancers have thoroughly absorbed the musical composition. They know it by heart in all its complexity: the individual melodic and rhythmic lines of each of its instruments all the way to the interactions of groups of instruments or soloists, as well as the alchemy of sound produced by the full orchestra. The incorporation and interpretation of all the events in a symphony orchestra by a single body is one of the central ideas that can be found in this creation.
Music is the driver of the dance here. By playing with time, space, forces and the bodies, the dancers launch themselves in search of creative, sophisticated and surprising ways to receive the music directly into their body. Keeping the power of immediate recognition from MickeyMousing, they redirect the audience’s expectations with their physical inventiveness, which unites intuition and consciousness through improvisation. The choreographic structures appear in dancing and in playing. Recognising the potential of events, the dancers can continually reinforce or transform these structures. The dance itself is not fixed in advance; no pre-existing form is being recreated. However the dancers continuously negotiate their trajectories and co-ordinations in relation to the music and the other dancers, according to a set of known and practised parameters. A little like in a football match, the game takes place according to certain rules but the trajectories, the events, the interactions are different with each game.
Also in inaudible one can detect a permutation of authority, of hierarchy: the choreography comes to existence through a joint creative effort. It integrates the creative potential – conscious and intuitive – of each dancer as well as their situation on stage, their subjective perspective on events as they happen. Their interpretation of the situation and their reactive intuition are linked to their individual subjective experience, to their personal story. At the same time, they act in an intention to create links with the others, with the music, in the space and time. They can act and react in consonance with the reality such as it is in the present, rather than following a premeditated plan. Resulting from this are a complexity and fluidity that are impossible to conceive of in advance, as well as a very particular presence and concentration.
Having built up long-term artistic relationships over the years, Thomas Hauert works with creators who have been involved in his most recent shows MONO, (sweet) (bitter) and La Mesure du Désordre: Bert Van Dijck on lighting and Chevalier-Masson on costumes. Five dancers who have forged links with ZOO over many years – Liz Kinoshita, Fabian Barba, Albert Quesada, Gabriel Schenker and Mat Voorter – will be joining Thomas Hauert on this new creation.Back to top
Thomas Hauert (b. 1967) trained at the Rotterdam Dance Academy. The Swiss dancer and choreographer moved to Brussels in 1991 to work with Rosas, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s dance company, before going on to collaborate with Gonnie Heggen, David Zambrano, and Pierre Droulers. After creating the solo Hobokendans (1997), he founded his own company, ZOO, initiating Cows in Space (1998), a piece for five dancers that was awarded two prizes at the Rencontres chorégraphiques in Seine-Saint-Denis. Since then, Hauert has made around fifteen performances with ZOO, including Jetzt (2000), Do You Believe in Gravity? Do You Trust the Pilot? (2001), Verosimile (2002), Modify (2004), Walking Oscar (2006), Accords (2008), You’ve Changed (2010), From B to B (a duet in collaboration with Catalan choreographer Angels Margarit) (2011), and Like me more like me (a duet in collaboration with American performer Scott Heron) (2012). In 2012 he also created a solo for young audiences, Danse étoffée sur musique déguisée, on music by John Cage performed live. MONO, a group creation for eight dancers and one alto, premiered in 2013. (sweet) (bitter), his newest solo, was staged in 2015, as was La Mesure du Désordre, a collective work with LaBolsa group, presented during the Festival Grec. His performances have been presented in over 200 different venues in 29 countries. The work of Thomas Hauert and ZOO initially emerged from his research into movement, with a particular interest in improvisation-based processes exploring the tension between freedom and constraint, the individual and the group, order and disorder, form and formlessness. Over the years, the structure of the company has remained stable, with several of the original dancers still currently involved. This longevity affords a depth to the choreographer’s research that is rarely encountered in the field of contemporary dance these days. The relationship with music, from pop to contemporary and from jazz to baroque, plays a major part in Hauert’s work, as do institutions such as Bozar, Ars Musica and La Monnaie in Brussels, Concertgebouw in Bruges, Zürich Opera, and Unione musicale in Torino. In 2012, he was invited by Ircam in Paris to lead a project on the relationship between improvised dance and electronic music composition in the context of the festival-academy ManiFeste. Apart from his work with ZOO, Hauert was commissioned to create Hà Mais (2002) with a group of Mozambican dancers, as well as Milky Way (2000), Lobster Caravan (2004), 12/8 (2007), and Regarding the Area between the Inseparable (in collaboration with La Monnaie in Brussels) (2010) with students from P.A.R.T.S., and Fold and Twine (2006) at the Laban School in London. In 2010, he made a new work for the Zürich Ballet, Il Giornale della necropoli, based on the composition of the same name by Salvatore Sciarrino, with a set by Belgian artist Michaël Borremans. In 2013, Hauert was commissioned by Toronto Dance Company to create the piece Pond Skaters (for which he was nominated Best Choreographer at the Dora Awards). And in 2014, he made Notturnino for Candoco Dance Company, the British troupe of disabled and non-disabled dancers. Complementing his performance work, Hauert has developed an internationally recognised teaching method; he has an ongoing collaboration with P.A.R.T.S. and regularly holds workshops worldwide. In 2012, Hauert was invited to participate in the Motion Bank project, initiated by The Forsythe Company to stimulate research into choreographic practice. Additionally, a multidisciplinary team at Ohio State University worked with him on ‘online digital scores’ that document and analyse specific aspects of his work (the results were released in 2013 and are visible on the Motion Bank website). In 2012-13, Hauert was a Valeska-Gert Guest Professor of dance and performance at the Institute for Theatre Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. In 2013, he was appointed Academic Head of the new undergraduate programme in contemporary dance at La Manufacture drama academy in Lausanne (Switzerland’s first dance school at university level). ZOO/Thomas Hauert is resident at Charleroi Danses.
ZOO/Thomas Hauert at the Kunstenfestivaldesarts
2006: Walking Oscar
2011: You’ve changed