The stage curtain had hardly touched the floor, at the end of the first performance in Mulhouse, when an overwhelming ovation filled the theatre. Etienne Béchard savoured the applause alongside the dancers. Cupid was a huge hit!
Ivan Cavallari's trust in the young choreographer and his Opinion Public dance company from Belgium, was well deserved. Cupidon s'en fout (Cupid doesn't care) ... is a delight, an exciting production, lively and funny, filled to the brim with striking images and technical skill.
The dancers from the Ballet, including eleven female and fourteen male dancers (with several newcomers) supported by four dancers from the Opinion Public company put everything into their performance. It was extremely demanding with a relentless run of feats including somewhat acrobatic lifts and jumps.
Etienne Béchard, who had trained at Béjart Ballet Lausanne, was in contact with the Alsace based troupe for several weeks to finely tune Cupidon s'en fout ... Using three stage sets, representing the three significant phases of life, the choreography flowed beautifully with not a second to get bored.
In childhood, the dancers are dressed in pleated skirts and shorts, white shirts and school bags with plaits and pig-tails in their hair. Modular cubes act as school desks. And as adults, in the office ... women wear tailored suits with neat buns and men are in suits and ties.
The scattered cubes create mini stages where the dancers, pursued by a spotlight, perform their solos. The competition is tough, the dancers compete on blocked toes. Above the cubes gathered on a raised stage, the dancers fly, sliding and come together into a waltz!
Finally, a third set portrays old age with medical gowns and a hospital scene, all staged in a humorous and cheerful way. Etienne Béchard brings us a production offering constantly evolving visuals and choreography that will fill your heart with joy.
The Ballet of the Opéra National du Rhin opens this 2016-17 season under a seal of approval with "Cupidon s'en fout ...". The young choreographer, Etienne Béchard, previously with the Béjart Ballet in Lausanne, presents a daring performance with his company and dancers from the Ballet du Rhin. Poetry and humour challenge mass effects and conformism.
Etienne Béchard seeks to "deliver a message" through dance. Although he recognizes that movement is a vector of meaning that is less obvious than speech. With his company, Opinion Public he cofounded in Brussels in October 2010, he aims to talk about the society in which we live with man’s perspective at the centre. Drawing on the dancers' classical training as well as circus, mime, and Hip-Hop dance ... This refusal to be locked into sets of rules is the rallying cry from Opinion Public.
The Opinion Public company aims to be a perpetually artistic and human evolution. It refuses and will continue to refuse ideological chains that could harm its development. It's inspiring and is inspired by circumstances and events but will never be frozen in its vision…
Love in resistance
"Il est des jours où Cupidon s’en fout..." (There are days when Cupid doesn't care) sang Georges Brassens with a humour tinged with melancholy Cupidon s'en fout ... From Etienne Béchard, working in collaboration with other members of the company, is a reflection about the possibility of making individual destinies emerge in a standard, conformist world. By diving deep down to the very roots of this terrifying world, the ballet is created by love. It accepts and ingests the rules to then change them around and lead them elsewhere. From there, to think that these codes of conformity could have come from classical dance, having been transposed, there’s only one step.
On Ivan Cavallari’s request, Béchard opportunity to work with 30 dancers from the Ballet du Rhin was too good to be true. It enabled him to create the effect of critical mass by giving the group a larger and more monstrous body. Does the group of dancers with their mass of coordinated movement, become a machine to crush individuals? Or is the choice of belonging to the group the only way out? Love and the form of a couple comes as a challenge to not only the group but its rules and its needs. "L’amour a-t-il sa place ou Cupidon s’en fout... ?” (Does love have its place or just that Cupid doesn't care...?) the choreographer asks. Through three sets representing the seasons of human life he distills the spirit of rebellion from his company in the Ballets du Rhin.
A unique choreographic vocabulary
The Opinion Public Company carefully searches for choreographic references from different sources. It is a question of blending movements to create a unique choreographic language. Etienne Béchard invites the Ballet du Rhin dancers to give pride of place to floor work and to experiment with lifts through the air. Constantly moving between the air and the ground, the dance takes on a more acrobatic feel. Often, the dancers's bodies shimmer like a shoal of fish "THE OPINION PUBLIC COMPANY CAREFULLY SEARCHES FOR CHOREOGRAPHIC REFERENCES FROM DIFFERENT SOURCES." and the dark blue colour adds to this marinelike atmosphere.
While Etienne Béchard regularly works on a classical choreographic basis, his productions also take inspiration from elsewhere. Within the moves developed in Cupidon s'en fout ... there are Hip-Hop dance movements, mime, and sometimes even hints of yoga and capoeira. This eclectic mix gives the dance a complex vigour edged with surprises. Étienne Bechard injects humour and poetry in turn with "little sensitive points” to "seek out emotions" from the audience.
The first two sets clearly opted for contrasting the group/individuals in couples as a reference to conforming to human society. A rebellious couple comes to challenge the established order of the group. It is reminiscent of Pink Floyd's The Wall, the rebellious and planetary hit of 1979. The bricks, the uniforms, the school, the authoritarian teacher and the group that calls for order are all there. A little of this simple yet effective mechanic is lost as we reach the 3rd set. The dancers’ individuality is more marked in their costumes and movements. The contrast with the rebellious couple takes on another more diffused and melancholy hue. .
New for the dancers of the Ballet du Rhin (and their audience)
No doubt this exploration of different rules which for some is far removed from classical dance, gives a breath of fresh air to the dancers of the Ballet du Rhin. That's probably what Ivan Cavallari was looking for when he invited Etienne Béchard to choreograph this production. The dancers present a different style of work in this piece, which takes them gracefully out of their comfort zone - and also stretches the audience's boundaries. This side step allows us to further appreciate the qualities of the Ballet du Rhin dancers - and, at the same time, that of the Opinion Public dancers.
The same eclectic daring stimulates the selected music. It alternates between electro music with solid resonance, distorted mechanics, and then more lyrical moments. The melodic pieces feature human vocals, ranging from Bellini's Casta Diva to the gentle verve of Georges Brassens. These apparently strongly contrasting choices come together in an obvious and popular recognition. In their own way, they guide this production's message in the same direction.
The theatre at the Opéra du Rhin was packed for Etienne Béchard's production. A thunderous applause and cheers of "Encore" rounded off this first performance in Strasbourg. You have until Sunday to come and enjoy this positive and energizing performance.