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The gentle and harsh power of Miniatures

At the 2015 Brigittines International Festival, Nicole Mossoux and Patrick Bonté unveiled Vice Versa, the first short piece from a series of future Miniatures, that have just premièred at the Brigittines.

Frauke Mariën and Shantala Pèpe, two of the company’s regular performers, undulate in parallel in this haunting passage. With its imperceptible advances, its unexpected retreats, its sudden interruptions, this use of depth, from the back of the stage to the apron, rubs off on the words: using tenderness to overcome the pain which rules the world. In less than 20 minutes, we find ourselves in this marvellous yet tragic paradox, where beauty includes the worst in order to better transcend it.
The soundtrack is no stranger to Vice Versa’s subdued seduction, the oscillations of which espouse the monotonous medieval chant of Marianson’s Rings (voice of Michel Faubert, orchestration by Jérôme Minière, montage by Thomas Turine).

The innermost reaches of the unexplored

Three other short plays (a quarter of an hour maximum) are being added to that one to form a composite and coherent evening, influenced by strangeness, sensitivity and the unexplored, issues that the tandem of creators have been scrutinising for over thirty years.

Alecto opens the evening. A chair placed on a small pedestal, and a silhouette topped with tracery evoking Medusa. The pallor of the complexion contrasts with the hands, the extremities of which seem to be ravaged by obscurity, it’s not long before the shoulders, bristling with spines, reveal themselves. Vilma Pitrinaite portrays a vengeful and stubborn divinity in this toxic solo. Peril is brewing.

Presented not long ago at the National Theatre’s XS Festival, Alban is about a creature somewhere between a warrior, a bird and a mermaid. Victor Dumont gives shape to this slow and captivating struggle as life instincts and death wishes worm their way in.

The ensemble concludes in a more playful manner with (At) the Crack of Dawn, which reunites the three dancers in a sort of imaginary Sabbath, part-graceful, part-disturbing. Here too the costumes are designed by Patty Eggerickx.

The light which sculpted the bodies on a black background in the first three opuses draws back-lit contours in this one. But the white of the breaking dawn never truly does away with the melancholic solitudes which populate it…

Marie Baudet, La Libre / October 2018

 

Miniatures is the name given to a collection of four stories choreographed by Nicole Mossoux and Patrick Bonté between 2016 and 2018. Working intensely on the transformed body, on the importance of highlighting it, and on the musicality of the movements, these small pieces go straight to the heart of the matter, with an obligation for concision which renders them precise and striking (...).

First up is Alecto, a solo created in 2018, which has the characteristic of being danced seated. In it Vilma Pitrinaite portrays an ancient divinity, dark and disturbing, who only reveals herself progressively. Her lack of humanity is betrayed by her predatory, rather unnatural movements, as much as it is by the differences between her appearance and the human body: the head covered with white dreads reminiscent of snakes, the spines which cover various parts of her epidermis. Her dance is slow, reptilian, and has something of a mortal seduction about it.

Vice Versa, the oldest of the four pieces, was presented to Belgian audiences for the first time in 2015. It is a hypnotic duo for two female dancers, almost a ritual dance where the swaying of Frauke Mariën and Shantala Pèpe’s hips is done to the sound of Marianson’s Rings, a song with a medieval feel performed by the Quebec storyteller Michel Faubert, and put to music by Jérôme Minière who adds an accompaniment of muted choirs and electro sounds. The combination of all this makes for a fascinating result, the piercing music gives the dance a serious tempo, and the bitter words lead to sudden breaks in the choreography. The movements, initially kept to the back of stage, are progressively made in a corridor of light which leads the dancers to the first rows of the audience. Beautiful and almost oppressive.

Alban, solo created in 2017, comes third. The piece builds up a powerful universe around the dancer Victor Dumont, who moves around bare-chested and dressed in a large skirt. The work on the body is once again very present, the interplay with the lights, the use of profile spots to conjure away certain parts of his body in the dark, to better let loose those which remain in the light, with magnificent effects. A piece with a concentration of energy, full of slow, tense movements, twists and rotations. The music, which flirts with the concrete music, introduces the sounds of nature: running water, the impact of stones as they crash against one other… This gives, in counterpoint to the dance which is so intense you might say it’s tortured, a sort of primitive, telluric magic that is quite simply beautiful.

(At) The Crack of Dawn concludes the series. Created in 2018, it’s a trio made up of three dancers from the earlier pieces. Funnier and lighter than the previous ones, it takes place on a white background, silhouettes of dancers stand out against the backlighting. The three characters look for one another, with worried gestures, find themselves and hold themselves back, clinging onto one another in the half-dark. The movements are feverish, the lack of balance emphasises the fragility of the bodies. When the three are finally stripped of their clothes and shoes, they manage to establish some sort of dialogue. The final appearance of the light catches them half naked, the group with their backs turned at the rear of the stage. Their final glance at the audience is full of concern, reminiscent of that of wild animals, caught in the headlights.

The ensemble of four danced pieces is held together by clear denominators. Firstly, the search for physical expression in spite of a bare stage and very limited time. The lighting is given special consideration, as it delimits the space (Vice Versa) or as it serves to change the perception of bodies (Alban, Alecto). The body transformed, unexpected, more than human, is also a theme which some of the pieces have in common.

Mathieu Dochtermann, TouteLaCulture.com / October 2018