la beauté du geste
€ 25 / € 20
Meet the artists after the performance on 21/05
Thierry De Mey has been exploring
the grey area between dance and music for more than 30 years. He has composed
music for dance performances, directed films about dance, and constructed
choreographic multimedia installations. In 2016, for the first time, he has
created a dance performance for the big stage, in collaboration with Ensemble
intercontemporain, the legendary Paris music ensemble founded by Pierre Boulez.
underwent a long and
intensive research process beforehand. De Mey merges dance, music, and digital
technology to achieve formal structures wherein the performers are able to move
freely. Visible opposites attract one another: structure versus body, digital
versus organic, mathematics versus nature, science versus poetry. As in a
particle accelerator, performers and musicians collide with each other and seek
Gesamtkunstwerk, a pedal point in De Mey’s career and at the same time a new
phase in his work. Adventurous and simply stunning.
Concept, music & choreography
Thierry De Mey
Ensemble intercontemporain musicians
Frédérique Cambreling (harp), John Stulz (viola), Jérôme Comte (clarinet), Samuel Favre (percussion), Victor Hanna (percussion)
Created with & performed by the dancers
Ildikó Tóth, Louise Tanoto, Peter Juhász, Sara Tan Siyin, Víctor Pérez Armero
Ircam computer music production
Ircam computer music collaboration
Technical direction & lighting
Sound and sensor engineer
Xavier Meeus, Benoît Pelé
Stage director & video
Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Charleroi Danses, Kaaitheater
Charleroi Danses, Centre chorégraphique de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles
Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Ensemble intercontemporain (Paris), Ircam/Les Spectacles vivants-Centre Pompidou (Paris), Théâtre de Liège, Ars Musica
Performance in Brussels supported by
SABAM for Culture
An interdisciplinary show
Thierry De Mey is aiming to produce an original art form in which the disciplines enrich one another. Not a multidisciplinary form, but an interdisciplinary one in the sense of a fusion and implying a real change of perspective. A bold project that challenges the boundaries between the musical gesture and the choreographic gesture, encouraging the musicians to consider their role as conveyors of sounds in a different way and the dancers to appropriate other means of writing… How can these tools of composition associated with technological advances bounce off the various disciplines while respecting what is specific to each one?
Aware of the dangers that accompany the introduction of new technologies to art – the cult of the technology itself and standardisation – Thierry De Mey still believes that we cannot ignore evolutions that profoundly modify our individual and collective lives. According to him, an artist must confront the fracture zones of the day, not least the rapid development of digital technologies.
Since 1993 Thierry De Mey has regularly been collaborating with Ircam in Paris, a unique place where artistic sensibilities and scientific innovation converge. In 2013, he undertook a piece of pure research, Taxinomie, aiming to analyse and digitally model a catalogue of remarkable structures of movement (multiple pendulums, bat flights, swarms of starlings, crawling, reversing gravity…) in order to create ways of generating sound synthesis and musical and choreographic structures. His concern, however, was always to guarantee the composer’s creative autonomy by insisting that the technology embrace the artistic event and not vice versa.
This research project has of course resulted in the creation of digital tools of composition (that was its original objective), but it also stimulatednew questions. These have produced several new works: music ofgestures or installations and a stage show. Starting with digital technologies, SIMPLEXITY la beauté du geste (The beauty of the gesture) aimsto implement strategies for the creation of movement on several levels:musical and choreographic, auditory and visual, abstract and physical.
Thierry De Mey is fascinated by written structures. Yet for him, the structure is not the art form: a work of art emerges from the magical encounter between a structure, the form it is given, the content that is brought to it and the emotion that this meaning generates. The structure must be brimming with life. What is essential is the way in which the performers – musicians and dancers, the go-betweens between the work and the audience – can appropriate structures for themselves and give them their qualities. SIMPLEXITY is inspired by technology, but the technology will not be the focus. It starts from structural principles but relies on individuals to enrich and explode these structures.
A presential dramaturgy
Thierry De Mey is not unaware of the constraints placed by the theatrical setting on time, space and perception, and that a stage show involves the question of a ‘dramaturgical composition’ unfolding over a given arc of time.
Adopting a quasi-cinematographic approach, Thierry De Mey has written a very detailed storyboard for the work, a succession of modules and ‘levels’ that he will show freely on stage. Of variable running time, size and numbers of people involved, from a solo to a tutti for ten performers, with or without visible technology, these sections will open up the movement through music and dance, sometimes in isolation, sometimes blended together, in a continuum ranging from very written structures to freer forms. These modules will be created independently – some will also maintain an autonomous existence outside SIMPLEXITY – but they will be able to contaminate, change and merge with one another when they meet on stage.
This storyboard meets a requirement that is more compositional than it is narrative; bringing alive an experience, an abstract emotion passed on from human to human. The theme running through the show is one that has inspired all of Thierry De Mey’s work: the quest for a possible link between the structure and its incarnation, between technology and the living, between mathematics and nature, between the scientific and the poetic.
This quest for reconciliation is expressed through all the dimensions in the show: from the instrumental research conducted with musicians from the Ensemble intercontemporain all the way to the latest advances in motion capture undertaken within Charleroi Danses in partnership with researchers from UMONS/NUMEDIART (Mons), from the technological and computer expertise of Ircam all the way to stage lighting. Thierry De Mey is designing a set that will transpose an abstraction of natural phenomena to the stage. Starting from series of photographs that have been taken at regular intervals (a forest in autumn, a salt storm on the site of the Aral Sea, a gale in the North Sea…), he is going to sample the evolution of light and use this data to transpose it to the stage. The natural referents will no longer be there, but they should still be subconsciously felt by the audience.
The basis of SIMPLEXITY is the question it asks about time. In today’s society, directional time is mostly consumed by functionality. Thierry De Mey sets presential time against this diktat of productivity, inviting the audience to experience their own presence. It is this desire that has led the composer-producer to develop a form for the stage, a show in which living beings, go-betweens, share a period of time with the audience.Back to top
Thierry De Mey (b. 1956) is a composer and filmmaker. An instinctive feel for movement guides his entire work, allowing him to tackle and integrate a variety of disciplines. The premise behind his musical and filmic writing is the desire for rhythm to be experienced within the body or bodies, revealing the musical meaning for the author, performer, and audience. He has developed a system of musical writing for movement used in pieces where the visual and choreographic aspects are just as important as the gesture producing the sound, as in Musique de tables (1987), Silence must be! (2002), and Light Music (2004), which premiered at the Biennale Musiques en Scène festival in Lyon that year. A large part of his music production is intended for dance and cinema. De Mey has often been more than a composer for choreographers Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Wim Vandekeybus, and his sister, Michèle Anne De Mey, offering collaboration through the invention of ‘formal strategies’ – a favourite expression of his. Among his main work is Rosas danst Rosas, Amor constante, April me, Kinok (choreography by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker), What the body does not remember, Les porteuses de mauvaises nouvelles, Le poids de la main (choreography by Wim Vandekeybus), Dantons Töd (conducted by Bob Wilson), Musique de table, Frisking pour percussions, un quatuor à cordes, Counter Phrases, etc. He participated in the founding of the musical ensemble Maximalist! and the Ictus ensemble, which created several of his pieces (conducted by Georges Elie Octors). His music has been performed by the Arditti Quartet, Hilliard Ensemble, London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Modern, Musikfabrik, and Orchestre Symphonique de Lille. De Mey’s installations, in which music, dance, video, and interactive processes work together, have been presented at events like the Venice and Lyon biennials, as well as in many museums. His work has received national and international awards (Bessie Award, Eve du Spectacle, Forum des compositeurs de l’Unesco, FIPA, and others). His film/installation Deep in the wood (2002-2004) involved more than 70 dancers and choreographers. For Counter Phrases (2003-2004), nine composers answered his dance/film invitation: Steve Reich, Fausto Romitelli, Magnus Lindberg, Toshio Hosokawa, Georges Aperghis, Jonathan Harvey, Luca Francesconi, Robin De Raaf, and Stefan Van Eycken. In 2003, his working process with Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker for April me was the subject of a documentary entitled Corps accord produced by Arte, which has also broadcast and co-produced most of his films. In 2006, De Mey realised an installation adapted from Perrault’s tale Barbe Bleue (Bluebeard), plus a film, One Flat Thing Reproduced, based on the choreography of William Forsythe. In 2007, he made From Inside, an interactive installation in the form of a triptych. For the 2009 Charleroi Danses Biennale, he created Equi Voci, a polyptych of dance films accompanied by orchestral music that includes Prélude à la mer, a film based on one of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s most beautiful choreographies, which he shot by the Aral Sea. His latest film, La Valse, choreographed by ZOO/Thomas Hauert, completes and closes this project. His installation Rémanences was made in Belgium and France in 2010 using a thermal camera, as part of the VIA and EXIT festivals. De Mey is currently an associated artist at Charleroi Danses. His composition Traceless, for five musicians, premiered last May with soloists from the Ensemble Intercontemporain at the Acht Brücken Festival in Cologne. His latest installation, Solid Traces, opened the 2015 edition of Charleroi Danses’ Biennale, coinciding with the launch of a DVD box set of the artist’s films. Beyond the Biennale, De Mey presented Ripple Marks at the Philharmonie de Paris, a work combining spectral music, stage production, and video, along with one of the phases in the development of his vast project entitled SIMPLEXITY la beauté du geste, a piece for five musicians and five dancers to premiere at the Kunstenfestivaldesarts in 2016.
Ensemble Intercontemporain was founded by Pierre Boulez in 1976 with the support of Michel Guy (then Secretary of State for Culture) and in collaboration with Nicholas Snowman. It is a group of 31 soloists who share the same passion for music from the 20th century to the present day. A permanent setup, the musicians are involved in the Ensemble’s aim of disseminating, performing, and creating music. Under the direction of composer and conductor Matthias Pintscher, it works alongside composers exploring instrumental techniques, as well as on projects that combine music, dance, theatre, film, video, and visual art. Every year, it commissions and performs new works that are then added to its repertoire. In collaboration with Ircam, Ensemble Intercontemporain participates in projects that include new sound-generation technology. Its performances for young audiences and the training it provides for young instrumentalists, conductors, and composers, as well as its many outreach activities, demonstrates the Ensemble’s profound commitment to the service of musical transmission and education, which is acknowledged around the world.
Ircam (Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music) is one of the world’s largest public research centres dedicated to musical creation and scientific research. A unique place where artistic sensibilities and scientific and technological innovation meet, the Institute has been run by Frank Madlener since 2006 and now numbers over 160 people. Ircam works on the three principal activities of creation, research, and transmission during its season in Paris. It also tours throughout France and abroad, and attends ManiFeste, an international festival and multidisciplinary academy combined. Founded by Pierre Boulez, Ircam is associated with the Centre Pompidou and comes under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture and Communication. Supported institutionally from the outset by the Ministry, the STMS joint research lab (sciences and technologies for music and sound), housed at Ircam, is further supported by CNRS and the Pierre and Marie Curie University, and is part of the MuTant team project by Inria.
Thierry De Mey at the Kunstenfestivaldesarts
1994: 3 concerten/3 concerts