Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nocturnes du Vendredi...or...shall we dance?

About three or four times a year, the Louvre opens up some of its galleries for an evening of live performance of contemporary theatre, cinema, dance or music, bringing the galleries to life and inviting the public to stroll through, pause and watch a while, or sit on the floor and take in the whole show. Known as the "Nocturnes du Vendredi", last Friday evening's event featured modern dance works curated by the American (Bay Area!) choreographer, Carolyn Carlson, who now makes her home and her choreography in France.

With our dear friend, Alain, we walked over to the Louvre, the Pyramid glowing brightly in the night sky. For close to two hours we wandered through the Sully and Richelieu wings of the museum, moving from gallery to gallery, from wing to wing, discovering groups of dancers, who performed continuously throughout the evening.

In one of the Oriental Antiquities rooms of the Sully Wing, Sara Orselli used a small space around an ancient sculpted beast to interpret the vocal rantings of her partner, Juha Marsalo, the two of them accompanied on the cello by Alexander Zekke .

A couple of galleries further on, Wu Zheng, clad in a black monk's robe, used the spare, clean pieces of ancient sculptures all around him as a background to his own spare, clean and measured dance, ending quietly by retreating to the corner, and bowing.

One of the highlight performances was in the Assyrian galleries where, surrounded by stunning bas-reliefs of
Assyrian figures...

...Jacky Berger and Céline Maufroid used an overhead video stream to echo their performance on the floor, the whole thing recreating in color, costume and in pose, Michangelo's Sistine Chapel fresco. Extraordinary!

Meanwhile, in the Cour Puget, with its glass roof, a lone dancer, clad in a waist-down gown, made, we think, of paper, seemed to echo the poses of the grand sculptures in front and behind him.

And, last, but not least, in the Cour Marly, displaying the monumental statuary that was orignally carved for the park at the Château de Marly, and dominated by Guillaume Coustou's celebrated 1745 Horses of Marly, an ensemble of dancers moved among the statues, both in the lower area and above on the upper ledge, all of them separate and yet part of an overall movement echoing their splendid surroundings.

Flash forward less than 24 hours, and more dance is offered here in Paris. This time, it's at the Académie Américaine de Danse de Paris, where a performance of Alice in Wonderland (Alice au Pays des Merveilles) brings proud parents and families to applaud the efforts of the students of this popular after-school program, founded in 1901.

Along with Alice and the White Rabbit, both of them dancing à point and with much grace, a cute dormouse, Mad Hatter and Cheshire Cat joined a group of "petites Alices" (the 5 year olds) , a group of adorable mushrooms (the 4 year old students)...

...and the six-year-olds, who had a chance to be a "papillon" (butterfly). As surrogate grandparents here in Paris, we were in attendance to watch as Florence waited for the music cue to begin her performance...

...and somehow managed to be front and center for the final bow. Brava!

We're off to England tomorrow, as the owners of the apartment here in Paris will be in town to reclaim their turf for two weeks.

À bientôt!

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