Put Your Heart Under Your Feet… And Walk!
Put Your Heart… is a mournful poem of unbearable beauty, which follows the march of a survivor through a land of mourning. A singularly extreme ritualized cantata.
A mournful poem on the disappearance of a loved one. Queer princess and delicate moth, Steven Cohen wanders through a limbo world that is both fairy-like and nightmarish. Building a sanctuary to the deceased lover with whom he shared the previous two decades, the South African choreographer comes face to face with his grief and pain, going so far as to eat a small portion of his lover’s ashes. A piece of unbearable beauty.
Tottering on shoes with coffins for heels and supported by wobbly crutches, the performer in search of the absolute wends his way forward, at times in ballet slippers, at other times in a video where he dances in a white tutu amidst the bloody slaughter of cattle in an abattoir. Plunged into the abyss of a world between the living and the dead, the ceremony is crude and cathartic. Put Your Heart… follows the march of a survivor through a land of mourning. A singularly extreme ritualized cantata. A radical, sacrificial solo of sweetness and savagery.
Produced by Compagnie Steven Cohen
Conceived and performed by Steven Cohen
Lighting Design Yvan Labasse
Coproduced by humain TROP humain – CDN Montpellier + Festival Montpellier Danse + Dance Umbrella (Johannesburg) + Drac Nouvelle-Aquitaine (Bordeaux)
Presented by Fugues in association with Usine C
Written by Elsa Pépin
Translated by Neil Kroetsch
Premiered at Montpellier Danse, on June 24, 2017
Steven Cohen (Johannesburg + Lille)
Compagnie Steven Cohen
The choreographer, performer and visual artist Steven Cohen was born in Johannesburg in 1962 and now lives in France.
His striking artistic interventions appear in the public space, in museums, galleries and performance venues, and have been presented in major festivals the world over. In these provocative, political works he hones in on individuals and communities that have been marginalized by society, beginning with his own homosexual/Jewish/white/South African identity.
His work has been banned in his native country, and the performer questions the principle of domination imposed by mankind on the natural world, challenging the hierarchies and status quo that exist between humankind and the animal world.
He is renowned for his performance piece Chandelier (2002), in which he wore a tutu-like chandelier attached to a corset as he teetered on impossibly high heels as he interacted with residents of a Johannesburg township about to be bulldozed. His 2013 « uninvited public intervention » Coq/Cock also created controversy, and he was arrested for dancing under the Eiffel Tower in Paris with a rooster tied to his penis. Pursuing his nonconformist approach, in 2017 he presented Put Your Heart Under Your Feet… And Walk! at Montpellier Danse, a work of resilience and a gesture of survival that he created following the death the previous year of his lover of twenty years.
The title refers to the phrase spoken by his nanny in response to his grief, which he then had tattooed onto the sole of his left foot. For his first appearance in Montreal, Cohen remains committed to his persistent radicality, provoking disgust, fear and contradictory emotions in this funerary ritual.