Damien Jalet

Louvre

I’ve been to the Louvre (http://www.louvre.fr/) twice now and I have to admit that so far I’m a bit underwhelmed. The actual building itself is amazing and definitely worth a look but when walking inside I was expecting something equally as good. Maybe I picked the wrong wing but the broken bits of pottery just weren’t doing it for me. It’s not so much that the exhibits themselves were dull it’s that I didn’t really know what I was looking at; there was a lack of information. When I’m looking at an ancient spoon or a broken button I like to know why they thought it was important to put it on display. How did they make it? Who would have used it? etc. Because quite frankly if they don’t say this then I may as well go into a haberdashery shop and have a look at the button collection in there. I won’t let this put me off though, I’m going to persevere and pay a few more visits to different parts.

Damien Jalet

The second time I went it wasn’t so much to see the museum itself but  “Les Médusés”, a dance exhibition choreographed by Damien Jalet (http://www.damienjalet.com/) that was being held as part of the Louvre’s “Nocturnes du vendredi” program. Open from 19h – 21h15 it was perfect for a little after work culture absorbing session.

“I consider dance to be an ancient art form, dating back to before all academic and folklore references were associated with it, the first art form, antique in the archaic sense of the word.” – Damien Jalet

Set in the Richelieu and Sully wings, the exhibition used theRichelieu impressive museum wings as a backdrop to its performances. There were 9 dances in all but my favourites were Dédale, Les Médusées and Sin.

Dédale

A male trio inspired by the myth of Thésée. The trio creates an intricate labyrinth with their bodies and shows the Dédale 2relationship between man and the animal that lives inside him. This piece suggests that it is the animal part of man who dominates and guides him and makes for some slightly uncomfortable watching. Due to the theme of this work the movements were at times quite violent to show the battle taking place between these two parts of man. Whilst I would not personally say that it was dance I can’t deny that it was impressive. The pure strength of the men involved in the trio was evident and the intensity with which they moved was perhaps made even more apparent due to the lack of music, enabling the audience to hear their breathing and the violence of their movements.

Dédale

Les Médusées

The three nymphs are carrying out an incantation with disjointed, jerky movements and an intense power that can be seen in every look and every movement. This dance took place over a complex polyphonic rhythm. The fact the three female dancers could move in time was impressive in itself but add on top of that the fact they were dancing with see-through cobweb tops on with no support underneath and their professionalism takes on a new level. This semi-nudity was aimed at bringing the dancers back to their natural form and aids the audience in being drawn in to the routine and to their characters as nymphs.

Les MéduséesMédusées 2

Sin

A duo this time, again half-naked. This routine was based on a primordial couple and on being unified and the power that results from this unification. This dance was extremely Sinphysical with lifts and bodies pressed up against each other. The thing that for me added the finishing touch was the live singer and pan flute player who were sat at the back of the stage, away from the limelight yet being the centre of the dance at the same time. This live music created an atmosphere that I find hard to describe; whilst the dance was very physical and at times violent there was a blanket of serenity over those who watched. This serenity allowed the audience to fully focus on the dancers movements.

I came away from this exhibition grateful that I had experienced such a  work of art. I’m sure it will have a lasting impression on all those who witnessed it.

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