Wondrous and poetic, TORDRE fascinates as it stirs the soul. A plunge into the depths of intimacy, an ode to difference and human fragility. A haunted, hypnotic dance.
Dizzying and irresistible, TORDRE is a work that grabs spectators in order to transform them. A masterful composition about fragility and difference, this piece by French choreographer Rachid Ouramdane touches the soul with grace and finesse. A magical spell that combines modesty and melancholy in a tribute to the uniqueness of the female dancers.
With an incandescent presence, the dancers Lora Juodkaite and Annie Hanauer fill time and space with a sweet obstinacy, the better to puncture appearances. One turns in a spinning rotation, a fascinating comet trapped in a bedevilled merry-go-round, then a shooting star saved by that very whirling and twirling. The other transcends the space with sweeping movements and contortions, neutralizing the spectator with her tactile, skittish gestures. Deftly playing with presence and absence, Ouramdane makes use of the dancers’ experience and unusual life histories, turning our prejudices head over heel. A hypnotic double portrait, profound and bewitching, TORDRE is a declaration of love for dance.
Produced by CCN2 – Centre chorégraphique national de Grenoble initially produced by L’A. / Rachid Ouramdane
Concept and choreography Rachid Ouramdane
Performed by Annie Hanauer + Lora Juodkaite
Lighting design Stéphane Graillot
Decor Sylvain Giraudeau
Co-produced by Bonlieu – Scène nationale d’Annecy + La Bâtie – Festival de Genève
Avec le soutien du Musée de la danse – Centre chorégraphique national de Rennes et Bretagne
Presented with the support of Institut Français + Service de coopération et d’action culturelle du Consulat général de France à Québec
Written by Elsa Pépin
Translated by Neil Kroetsch
Premiered at Bonlieu scène nationale d’Annecy, on November 5, 2014
Rachid Ouramdane (Grenoble) CCN2 - Centre chorégraphique national de Grenoble
Renowned for his documentary dances about the history of colonization, exclusion, war, torture and climate-change refugees, the French choreographer Rachid Ouramdane has developed a poetics of testimony over the past two decades.
A graduate of the prestigious Centre National de Danse Contemporaine in Angers, his work features a unique multimedia approach that uses video, for example, to work on the body itself. In 2007 he founded his own company L’A, where he encourages further reflection on contemporary identities. He was the associate artist at the Bonlieu-Scène nationale in Annecy from 2005 to 2015 and at Théâtre de la Ville in Paris from 2010 to 2015. Since 2016 he has been the co-director with Yoann Bourgeois of the CCN2 – Centre chorégraphique national in Grenoble.
Ouramdane is interested in the differences between communities, in individual trajectories as compared to collective trajectories. He is regularly invited to work on collaborations by companies in France and elsewhere, and was previously in Montreal 15 years ago with his work Au bord des métaphores presented at the FIND in 2001, then in 2014 to perform an autobiographical solo entitled Far… at the MAI centre. For his début at the FTA he will be presenting TORDRE, a hypnotic double portrait featuring Lora Juodkaite and Annie Hanauer, two long-time collaborators. While his recent focus has been on ensemble works (Tout autour in 2014 and Tenir le temps in 2015), with this piece Ouramdane returns to a more intimate approach. First presented at Bonlieu in 2014, TORDRE is an exploration of eminently personal, inexpressible and sensitive aspects of difference.
TORDRE is presented as a “double portrait”. Why did you choose those two dancers, and how did you achieve that dynamic onstage presence?
We are all different, but some people assume their difference more than others, which is a theme common to all my pieces. Up until now my focus was cultural, ethnic or political difference, with political and climate-change refugees and also young athletes from immigrant backgrounds, people viewed as strange or foreign in their new homeland. I had been working for several years with Lora Juodkaite and Annie Hanauer on those projects, and both of them carry a difference that they have transformed and sublimated. The title refers to the fact that rather than being subjected to an inherited reality, they appropriated it, “twisted” it into something else.
TORDRE is not so much a choreography of movement but a choreography of presence. When Lora spins and twirls without looking at the audience but nonetheless staying very connected in her ritual, we empathize with her. Her gyration responds first of all to a need, and opens a door to our perception of normality. Annie on the other hand is in a one-on-one situation where everything becomes extremely tactile. She turns theatre into a sort of shared living room.
It’s that play of tension between them that interests me, a tension that delicately reveals that special confluence of emotionalism, turmoil and intimacy. They not only dance with their bodies, they energize the surrounding space. They have coped with situations that most people never face. Their questioning of their identity enlightens us – we who have no noticeable differences.
You chose performers who are very conspicuous, but opted to make no mention of the “fragilities” that set them apart. Why?
We live in societies that readily assign simplistic identities to individuals. In order to resist that tendency, I think the best strategy is to not talk about that reductive image, but to talk instead of everything they are beyond that image. Annie and Lora have visible signs, but generally speaking there is no mention of that in the show.
I’m trying to get people to see others in different ways, to go beyond the initial impression and to affirm difference so that it is shared with others, to create a more nuanced understanding of each other. My works are often based on tragic subjects such as torture or refugees. I am not a refugee because I was born in France, but my North African heritage is a bedrock in my work. Early on that nourished my desire to share different and divergent points of view on various topics.
I am trying in this piece to shift the spectators’ gaze, to twist their prejudices, their expectations. I use Nina Simone’s 1976 performance of Feelings to evoke that capacity to invert a painful situation and thus assert one’s strength. She twisted an easy-listening song into something incredible, just as Lora and Annie inverted their life story, transformed it rather than giving in to it.
Since creating TORDRE you have produced large ensemble works (Tenir le temps and Tout autour). Does that entail a different way of working?
The company has gone through several periods: documentary works, highly theatrical presentations, others that take on a story structure or more abstract forms. I see myself first and foremost as a dance portraitist. I make portraits of people who use movement to express what words cannot convey.
With TORDRE I am returning to the intimate portrait form I had previously employed over the years, conveying that feeling of difference through solitary figures. I’m always looking at how an individual is a microcosm of the world. In one way or another, I am interested in how the individual relates to the group, because the feeling of being a stranger or a foreigner inevitably occurs in encounters with others.
My ensemble pieces are often a series of solos. That figure of the mob in revolt – a swarming pack, protesters subdued, brought to heel, flaunted – can engulf individuals, and either it will produce a collective intelligence or it will create chaos. My portraits are the echo of a community or the problems overwhelming that community, and in my ensemble pieces there is always that outpouring of the intimate and the sensitive.
« Lora Juodkaite et Annie Hanauer irradient d’une beauté paradoxale, franche et fragile. »
Rosita Boisseau, Le Monde, 2016-11-03
« Des douces rondes enfantines aux tourbillons du derviche, les danseuses de Rachid Ouramdane nous embarquent dans un voyage entêtant. »
Emmanuelle Bouchez, Télérama.fr, 2016-11-01
« TORDRE frappe en plein cœur. »
Philippe Noisette, Les Inrockuptibles, 2016-09-07
« Double portait, poème sur le manque et la séparation, œuvre de délicatesse, épure retournant le regard sur lui-même, TORDRE est une œuvre qui reste simple, une pièce qui convoque le regard là où il devient libre, là où il fait place à l’autre chose. »
Mari-Mai Corbel, Inferno, 2014-11-18