A piece for fifteen dancers, Crowd by Gisèle Vienne muscles its way into a body of work which, over the course of several years, has been dissecting the vast spectrum of our fantasies, emotions, and dark sides, in addition to our inherent need for violence and our sensuality. Flying in the face of the different artistic disciplines, the journey she takes us on renders the onstage experience a cathartic one indeed.
Behind their technical and formal perfection, Gisèle Vienne’s unclassifiable pieces are often perceived as being “unsettling” or “disturbing”. Since Showroom dummies (2001), they have been unrelenting in their enquiry into the eternal duality at the core of our humanity – Eros and Thanatos, Apollo and Dionysus – the necessary thirst for violence and sensuality that each of us carries within us, and the place of the erotic and the sacred in our lives. Crowd is a new phase in this single-minded research. Centering on a choreography devised for fifteen performers brought together over the course of a party, this broad reaching polyphony brings to light (of a dark, blinding nature) the various mechanisms underlying such manifestations of collective euphoria, and “the way a specific community handles or otherwise expresses violence”. After training in music before moving on to the study of puppetry, and feeding off her interest in philosophy and visual arts, Gisèle Vienne brings to the stage a fragmentary universe characterized by the coexistence of several realities. The jerky, halting movements of those that inhabit this universe draw upon urban dance and puppet theatre in equal measure, and Dennis Cooper’s dramaturgy and the DJ set by Peter Rehberg have the combined effect of bringing our perception into disarray. For audience members, this blurring of the frontier between interiority and exteriority is akin to waking up in the midst of a full-on rave. Both resolutely contemporary and archaic in terms of its cathartic dimension, Crowd is the meeting point for a dialogue with our intimate selves.
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