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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The screening of this filmed performance is free and open to Princeton students, faculty and staff. Advance registration is required.

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Born in 1976, Gisèle Vienne is a Franco-Austrian artist, choreographer and director. After studying philosophy and music, she trained at the École Supérieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette. Since then she has worked regularly with, among others, the writer Dennis Cooper, the musicians Peter Rehberg and Stephen O’Malley and the lighting designer Patrick Riou.

Ten plays directed by Gisèle Vienne tour regularly in Europe and around the world, including I Apologize (2004), Kindertotenlieder (2007), This is how you will disappear (2010), LAST SPRING: A Prequel, an installation for a robot doll (2011), The Ventriloquists Convention (2015) and Crowd (2017). In 2020, she created with Etienne Bideau-Rey a fourth version of Showroomdummies at the Rohm Theater in Kyoto, a piece originally created in 2001.

Since 2005, Gisèle Vienne has regularly exhibited her photographs and installations. She has published a book + CD Jerk / Through Their Tears in collaboration with Dennis Cooper, Peter Rehberg and Jonathan Capdevielle in 2011 and a book, 40 Portraits 2003-2008, in collaboration with Dennis Cooper and Pierre Dourthe in February 2012.

Last year, Gisèle Vienne prepared a staging of Robert Walser’s text Der Teich (L’Etang) which premiered at Théâtre National de Bretagne, in Rennes in November 2020 and was presented at Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne in May 2021.


Conceived, choreographed and set design by Gisèle Vienne
With Philip Berlin, Marine Chesnais, Kerstin Daley-Baradel, Sylvain Decloitre, Sophie Demeyer, Vincent Dupuy, Massimo Fusco, Rémi Hollant, Oskar Landström, Théo Livesey, Louise Perming, Katia Petrowick, Jonathan Schatz, Henrietta Wallberg, and Tyra Wigg
Music — Underground Resistance, KTL, Vapour Space, DJ Rolando, Drexciya, The Martian, Choice, Jeff Mills, Peter Rehberg, Manuel Göttsching, Sun Electric and Global Communication
Edits and playlist selection — Peter Rehberg
Sound diffusion supervisor — Stephen O’Malley
Lighting — Patrick Riou
Dramaturgy — Gisèle Vienne, and Dennis Cooper
Produced by DACM / and Compagnie Gisèle Vienne
Coproduced by Maillon – Théâtre de Strasbourg – Scène européenne ; Wiener Festwochen ; manège – Scène Nationale – Reims ; Théâtre National de Bretagne (Rennes) ; CDN Orléans/Loiret/Centre ; La Filature, Scène nationale (Mulhouse) ; BIT Teatergarasjen (Bergen) ; and Nanterre-Amandiers, centre dramatique national

In association with Les Spectacles Vivants – Centre Pompidou (Paris) ; and Festival d’Automne à Paris // With support from CCN2 – Centre Chorégraphique national de Grenoble and CND Centre national de la danse (Pantin)

First performed on November 8, 2017 at Maillon – Théâtre de Strasbourg – Scène européenne


The French Theater Festival is sponsored by Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, L’Avant-Scène, Department of French and Italian, Humanities Council, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Study (PIIRS), Department of Art and Archaeology, Department of Comparative Literature, Program in Contemporary European Politics and Society, Center for French Studies, and Rockefeller College. International sponsors include Festival d’Automne in Paris, Cultural Services of the French Embassy, the Education Department of the French Embassy, Institut français, and the French American Cultural Exchange Foundation.

Presented By

  • Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Department of French and Italian
  • L’Avant-Scène