Romances inciertos, un autre Orlando
Song and dance join together in a dazzling performance by François Chaignaud. A sensual journey through Spanish folklore. A fascinating ode to multiple identities.
A journey through time that evokes the reincarnations of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, Romances inciertos extols the beauty of the infinite metamorphoses of identity. Perched on stilts, barefoot or on pointe shoes, the virtuoso François Chaignaud incarnates three figures from Spanish folklore who are reborn in this dazzling choreographic concert.
A warrior maiden dressed as a man, a San Miguel torn between sorrow and devotion, an androgynous gypsy woman disappointed in love. Four musicians under the amiable direction of Nino Laisné interweave concertina, flamenco and baroque music with the base-baritone and countertenor voice of Chaignaud. With the body out of kilter and oozing the sensuality of the ages, the performer delivers a spellbinding interpretation that shifts between piety and eroticism. Combining ballads, cabaret and folk tales, this impure and fundamentally contemporary work strikes the heart by celebrating the eternal mutations of art and desire.
Produced by François Chaignaud + Nino Laisné
Concept, Choreography, Voice and Dance François Chaignaud
Concept, Stage and Musical Direction Nino Laisné
Music Jean-Baptiste Henry (bandoneon) + François Joubert-Caillet (viola da gamba) + Pere Olivé (historical and traditional percussion) + Pablo Zapico (theorbo and baroque guitar)
Lighting Technician and Stage Manager Anthony Merlaud
Sound Technician Charles-Alexandre Englebert
Dresser Cara Ben Assayag
Costume Design Carmen Anaya + Kevin Auger + Séverine Besson + María Ángel + Buesa Pueyo + Caroline Dumoutiers + Pedro García + Carmen Granell + Manuel Guzmán + Isabel López + María Martinez + Tania Morillo Fernández + Helena Petit + Elena Santiago
Set Head Painter Marie Maresca
Painter Fanny Gaudreau
Image Editing Remy Moulin + Marie B. Schneider
Carpenters Christophe Charamond + Emanuel Coelho
Administration and Production Barbara Coffy + Jeanne Lefèvre + Clémentine Rougier
Tour Planning Sarah De Ganck/ART HAPPENS
Executive Producers Vlovajob Pru + Chambre 415
Co-produced by Bonlieu Scène nationale (Annecy) + La Bâtie – Festival de Genève with the support of FEDER du programme INTERREG France-Suisse 2014-2020 + Chaillot – Théâtre national de la Danse (Paris) + deSingel (Anvers) + Maison de la musique de Nanterre + Arsenal / Cité musicale-Metz
With the support of Région Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes + Spedidam + PACT Zollverein Essen + TANDEM Scène nationale (Douai) + Ayuntamiento de Anguiano (La Rioja) + Pépinières Européennes pour Jeunes Artistes
Creative residencies Ayuntamiento de Huesca – Aragon (Park in Progress 12) + Teatros del canal (Madrid) + Centre national de la danse (Pantin)+ Ménagerie de verre – Studiolab (Paris) + El Garaje (Cadíz)
François Chaignaud is an associate artist at Bonlieu Scène nationale Annecy. Nino Laisné is a member of the Académie de France in Madrid – Casa de Velázquez.
Presented with the support of Institut Français (Paris) + Service de coopération et d’action culturelle du Consulat général de France à Québec in association with Monument-National + salle Bourgie
Written by Elsa Pépin
Translated by Neil Kroetsch
Premiered at Théâtre Saint-Gervais, Geneva, on Septembre 9, 2017
François Chaignaud (Paris)
A choreographer, dancer, historian and singer, the French artist François Chaignaud refuses the constraints of genres and categories.
A master of the art of cross-dressing, he is at ease with a wide variety of styles: hip-hop, classical ballet, opera, contemporary dance – from sophisticated to popular forms.
Since establishing his company Vlovajob Pru in 2005, he has been constantly redefining the frontiers of dance and of the body. Sporting a dildo in Pâquerette (2005), he swam through the air in Castor et Pollux (2010), slipped inside a vacuum latex bag for Sylphides (2009) and blurred the codes of identity in the extravagant (M)imosa (FTA, 2012) alongside Cecilia Bengolea, Trajal Harrel and Marlene Monteiro-Freitas. Chaignaud’s encounter with Nino Laisné marked the beginning of a fertile collaboration.
Nino Laisné (Madrid)
An unclassifiable young artist who is a director, dramaturge, arranger and composer, Laisné has developed a singular style that combines cinema, photography and music.
He lives and works in both Besançon and Madrid, and refuses to confine himself to a single language. Os convidados (2010) featured a mix of languages that became Laisné’s trademark signature.
His 2013 film En présence (piedad silenciosa) mingled the androgynous voice of one character with the ambiguous sexuality of another. It was followed by Folk Songs in 2014 and Marisol/Mariluz in 2015. His research on forgotten music and personalities led him to La Tarara, a gypsy woman of Spanish folk tradition who is at the very heart of Romances inciertos, un autre Orlando. This work by two dynamic artists evokes connections between ambiguity and cross-dressing, zones of uncertainty and vertigo that Chaignaud has been cultivating for some time.
Romances inciertos features three characters with shifting identities. How did you choose these three figures from the traditional Spanish repertoire?
Nino Laisné: The idea came from a song and dance solo that François has been performing for years. It’s not often that these two forms, drawn from a traditional music repertoire, are performed onstage. We shared a dream of creating a show that would offer a perfect balance of dance, song and music, as an opera or a ballet might offer, with a musician performing live onstage.
The initial work was done in Spain on a character who appears in the third act: La Tarara, an Andalusian gypsy woman who has been disappointed in love. We presented a very intimate version of it in a church in Spain. We wanted to show the timelessness of these motifs, how they express fluid identities.
In song and over the centuries these characters constantly fluctuate, depending on the region, the era and the peculiarities of personality. They embody diverse reflections of the self. There are a thousand versions of La Tarara, of the female knight Doncella guerrera, and it is that fragmentation, that multiple history and the roots they evoke that we found interesting.
The characters are in perpetual metamorphosis, and each has an ambiguous identity. How is this story similar to Virginia Woolf’s Orlando?
François Chaignaud: These characters are constantly being reborn; they reinvent themselves, reappear in different contexts. The question of desire is similar to that of Orlando who dreams of exotic countries, haunted by a desire for constant transformation. When we recreated the three apparitions onstage we noticed a twinning with Woolf’s fictional character, who lives through four centuries, passing from one form to another, forever moving to new realms.
Romances inciertos is a fictional project but one that speaks to us and resembles us, as cross-dressing is part of our daily private lives. We are also interested in historical research and in different repertoires. We wanted to recount the long tradition of figures or personalities who manage their desires or their androgyny in exceptional ways.
N.L.: The notion of transition applies to the characters but also to us. We are in this very contemporary work, and the style reflects contemporary aesthetics and techniques. But this piece is also a reflection of a mutual trust among four artists and François, and the risks of live performance where they might be visited or transformed by melodies, shapes, gestures that take the form of apparitions.
A live performance that unfolds in the present, it also has an almost magical rapport that is the fruit of archives, sources and the imagination. Our rapport with history is alive, anchored and sensitive; it is by no means a museum piece.
The body and the voice are put to the test, constantly on shaky ground. Why that element of danger?
F.C.: Stilts evoke all sorts of traditions, as do pointe shoes. For me those are concrete parameters. When I’m onstage those elements oblige me to embrace the present moment, which requires a lot of effort.
The piece brings together many historical elements, and performing under conditions of tension, effort or danger forces us to remain fully connected to those difficulties. The tension between the present and the past creates a friction between forms that may seem dated, but they are being embodied in real time.
The piece is a commingling of musics, eras, genres and genders. Was impurity a leitmotif?
N.L.: We wanted to integrate instruments from different eras, blend different sounds and timbres that are not usually fused together. We played a bit fast and loose with chronology, and also with insertions of existing motifs.
Baroque or ancient music is often assimilated by a small circle of specialists, but for us it is important not to exclude an interest in ancient cultures from our vision or our performance. We view that cultural heritage not as enclosed forms from the past but as resources, material for dreaming, inventing and creating bodies that evoke the past or open up to the future.
« Un voyage splendide et déroutant, baroque et sensuel, d’une grande beauté… »
Toutelaculture.com (France), 21-01-2019
« Le danseur et chorégraphe François Chaignaud déploie l’étendue de ses talents et se révèle en chanteur virtuose, néanmoins habilement subversif. »
Maculture.fr (France), 24-12-2018
« Un voyage bouleversant […] C’est sans aucun doute le spectacle à ne pas manquer. […] Romances inciertos a l’humilité de sa forme – le récital – et la grandeur de ses interprètes. »
La Terrasse (France), 01-12-2018
« Éblouissant […] L’un des plus beaux spectacles du Festival d’Avignon. […] L’émotion qui accompagne son spectacle est proprement extraordinaire. »
Le Figaro (France), 14-07-2018
« Un véritable chef-d’œuvre […] Ce spectacle est une pure merveille. Il consiste en une série d’apparitions magiques où la musique envoûte et transperce, les mouvements de danse enveloppent et emportent… »
La Croix (France), 13-07-2018
« [Chaignaud] réalise l’exploit, à la renverse ou en bondissant, de pousser le son, dégringolant vocalement du grenier à la cave, féminin et masculin entortillés dans un même désir d’ivresse et d’extase. »
Le Monde (France), 12-07-2018
« Troublante merveille. […] Un spectacle hors normes, anhistorique, au-delà de l’excès, minimal, d’une beauté confondante »
La Libre Belgique, 11-07-2018
« On est subjugué, fasciné par ce jeu d’équilibriste qui alterne mouvements d’une grande douceur et des frappés au sol vigoureux. »
L’Humanité (France), 10-07-2018