On Wednesday we gave our performance ‘Face-à-Face’ (Encounters) at the Fondation Deutsch de la Meurthe of the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris (CIUP). We had two wonderful days rehearsing in the impressive surroundings of the Grand Salon of the college, as well as having a little bit of time to explore the city in unseasonably warm October weather. The CIUP campus is something of a paradisial retreat of wooded parkland and lush lawns, even boasting resident parakeets which delighted me with their playful flight and calls!
In rehearsal, we developed the structure of our piece around a programme of tunes prepared by Pierre – an improvisation inspired by the second movement of György Ligeti’s piano cycle Musica Ricercata (1951-53 and famously used in the masked ball scene of Kubrick’s last movie Eyes Wide Shut, 1999), Abdullah Ibrahim’s ‘Mindif’ and ‘Ishmael’ (both from The African Suite, 1998), and Thelonius Monk’s ‘Epistrophy’ (1957). With Pierre moving between tenor and soprano sax and piano, this gave us a richly varied musical environment in which to create new choreography and to remake some of our material from Wrestling Truth (WT). Thus we built a piece which, although ostensibly concerned with improvisatory dialogue, also continued to explore the material of the poem which we used to create WT (see below) in relation to these pieces of music, adding any number of further dimensions and possibilities.
A further special element of our visit this time was an exhibition of Alizée Gau’s photographs taken during the initial rehearsal sessions back in July (a few of which I posted previously on this blog, and some new b/w ones are included below). This was helpfully curated by Boris Wiseman (Director of the Fondation) who canvassed our views and stories about improvisation in advance and included these statements (On improvisation). Boris also created a wonderful poetic text based on his observations of our creative conversations back in July, which you can read here (Boris Echo). We were also extremely honoured to have the poem translated by two distinguished French literary figures: poet and musician Christophe Hardy and Mallarmé scholar Barbara Bohac. You can read their translation here (Vérité en lutte) and the original poem here (Wrestling Truth).
Amongst our audience we were also delighted to meet Marianne Masson, the daughter of a previous Director of the college, who was delighted to re-encounter the space being used for new art work, having grown up witnessing her father Bernard Masson’s avid theatre programming in the Grand Salon which made it a notable venue in Paris. She returns to the college herself in December to perform her songs, including one written about her father.
Thanks are due once again to Boris for making this very special trip possible and to Pierre and Alizée for being such great collaborators!