traces, footsteps, fingerprints

Excerpts of an interview on Chevreuil, with Rémy Héritier

Rémy Héritier is one of the few individuals willing to bring dance into a terra incognita of movement and shape. The last five years having been a rather precipitous return to older ideas, it is more and more difficult for working choreographers to find worthy productions, to show what dance can be when it is not copied, or when it is not simply staged. Rémy Héritier is one of these choreographers, whose vocabulary reveals ways of moving, which – since they have not been seen before – are not easy to recognise, even though nothing at first glance seems either made up or too strange. Thus in his work, since the eye can only identify that which it already knows, there is a risk of it being poorly perceived, in the sense of it going unnoticed or overlooked. His latest work, Chevreuil, does indeed feel like it has gone by too quickly, like a wild animal, leaving an imperceptible trace. Which its title suggests, having come from what is clearly some serious thought. In his studio or creative imagination, Rémy Héritier works with Judith Butler and Aby Warburg, with Josef Beuys and Giorgio Agamben or with the Ballets Russes and Nirvana.

“The important question for me is how to assimilate with wherever I am, as opposed to trying to be all exotic. The venue is just as important as the performer working there, or the things he or she is creating there. This is how I imagine a documentarian way of working, in the sense that I am working based on imported documents, which are present onstage – source documents. I wanted to examine the notion of the present in history. (…)”

Is it possible that this criterion of narration is hiding another one? We sometimes say if “it doesn’t tell a story,” it doesn’t mean anything. No, of course not! Chevreuil does say something, but its narration is more like a puzzle or a poem, in a non-linear and non-chronological fashion, because its subject does not call for it. For more ordinary narrative subjects such as the biography of a character or the unfolding of a situation, we will in essence be reconstituting a fiction, a legend. It speaks of archiv-able memory, whereas in Chevreuil, the subject you chose is the sense memory of a history of dance in your own bodies…

“Yes, and in what you are saying, I intuit a kind of tension between content and container. That container may be ourselves, like an envelope or an architectural environment, or a surface to be inscribed. At the Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, I placed the audience facing the bleachers so that no one would forget that we were in a theatre which has its own memories. It is not a desire for transparency that drives me to speak of the theatre and the time, rather a critical way of thinking.”

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