Slow Down

France (2002)

The disorientation arises from the feeling that you are understanding perfectly, whereas actually you have understood noting. 

-Gilles Clément-

Slow Down plays with putting the presence of a group at stake. Only 5 of the 6 dancers appear at any one time. A presence that is disconnected from any logic except that of time, space and existence. How to be here together in a shared space?

entrance, dance with the absent one, a crossing, the beginning of a smile, build a bed, someone breathes, collective body, impulses, text fallen from the sky, not knowing towards where, breathe together, make sounds, a bad piece of news, noise concert, cordon of happiness, fall on one's head, suicides, songs, the end.

From the beginning there was a desire to continue working with presence, something I'd tackled in earlier pieces, working with more performers than I usually do. I also wanted to get closer to the specific, show particular details and changing their proportions in the way that close-ups do in cinema. The idea of the human face as a sign of presence, as the mediator in encounters with the other. Always naked, but still secret, singular, as though engrossed in the interior. The idea of friendship in the sense of perceiving, in the other, signs that reveal things to us. There is mystery and there is a smile in friendships... What can we invent by putting all the dancers at stake in a shared and exposing them to the spectators' gaze? How can we be here together? What parts of ourselves do we allow to be revealed, and what do we hide? Absence, effort, concentration, impulse, happiness, tiredness, play, path, failure... I'd like to play with the form of presence that is disconnected from all logic and narrative except that which is concerned with time, space and existence. Always conditioned on the basis of work and with a head-on space. This choice leads me to question the space between dancers and spectators even further... what do we expect from the gaze of the other... The idea of wonder in the search for an unexpected form.

-Martine Pisani, April 2001-

Only five of the six dancers ever appear, in the line of the zen garden Ryon-Ji, where only six of the seven stones are visible from any one point of views. The different 'scenes': making noise while an extra walks on the stage, imitating an invisible dancer, memorising a philosophical text about memory, directing our attention not towards what is hidden, but towards the thing that appears to be missing,  with its presence appearing indirectly. The dancers are surrounded by a backstage area, a total out-of-field area that constantly affects their actions. Like a painter or a photograph who works within the limits of a frame, or uses a wall to produce something dynamic, Martine Pisani makes space tangible. She transforms the invisible barrier between the stage and the world into a corridor where interaction is possible. Given that this dance centres on the desire to 'make present', to personify an environment and provisional 'hic et nunc', why not take this idea of presence further and investigate its meaning? Is it a case of the emanation of a supposed 'inner world'? the presence explored in Slow Down doesn't originate with a character (in the way it does when we say an actor has presence). If we open up the perspective, presence appears through its opposites: absence, disappearance. Think of the curtains that move in Bajazet. Presence is a body plus a path. What happens when the link between them becomes undone and both elements, the visible and the invisible, are allowed to perform the scores on the own?

-Frédéric Valabrègue, extracts-

Choreography: Martine Pisani
Performance: Christophe Ives, Théo Kooijman, Eduard Mont de Palol, Lola Rubio, Laurent Pichaud, Olivier Schram
Sound design: Olivier Renouf
Lighting design: Philippe Bouttier
Wardrobe: Michèle Paldacci
Produced by: La Compagnie du Solitaire
Co-produced by: Octobre en Normandie, Dieppe Scène Nationale and Le Vivat d'Armentières
With the support of: Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles d'Île de France, Ministère de la Culture et la Communication and ADAMI