L’Artificier is a solo combining dance, song and speech. It fiddles with the figure of the artist in various scenic settings: concert, recital, dance solo or monologue. Investigating the conventional formats in which stardom revels, in order to reveal it’s dark linings and melancholic structures.
The French word “artificier” is ambiguous. On a basic level, it refers to the man who is in charge of fireworks and explosions. It is a common word, and a specific job. But I also like to hear in “artificier” the word “art” and “artifice”. “L’artificier” could then be, to that extent, the man in charge of artifice and illusion, the theatre man, for example. On the one hand, we have the image of he who stands in the dark, producing bewildering explosions, but without ever appearing. On the other hand, we figure he who is onstage, in the spotlight, in charge of all the theatrical illusions, making a show of himself.
The solo works in the tension between these two poles. It calls forth a universe of light and glitter, that of a series of stars that I embody one after the other: rockstar or soul singer (Johnny Holliday, James Brown), diva (Maria Callas), icon (Barbara), ballet dancer (Anna Pavlova). It is built on a montage of performances that have in common the fact that their interpret is super-exposed, or overexposed like in a photographic process that aims to create the “sublime” show. But these iconic figures are “emptied” or displaced, in order to reveal the obscure and melancholic fabric that holds them together. These dazzling “expositions”, also have to do with a rooted anxiety, the fear of disappearance and oblivion. Indeed, the mythologies of stage teach us that one only shines as long as one burns, and eventually, one burns out.
I worked with the light designer Sylvie Mélis, whose proposition was a radical one: a following spotlight. She uses this unique spotlight, powerful and mobile, which is the light of the soloist per essence, that of the star, that enhances its glitters and its glory, but also separates it from the rest. On the dark side of this glamorous iconography, it is the light of criminals who are stalked and accused whilst trying to escape. From this proposition we worked on a whole dimension of framing, de-framing the presence, appearing and disappearing, center and periphery, joy of being onstage, fear of being forgotten. The final image could be that of the last scene of Michael Powell’s movie “The Red shoes”. After the heroine’s death, who was a star dancer in a ballet, the show goes on despite her absence, signaled only by the movements of the spotlight that used to follow her, and denouncing the emptiness left by her loss.
duration : 45 min
Conception and interpretation / Olivier Normand
Dramaturgy / Thibaud Croisy
Light design / Sylvie Mélis
Sound / Esteban Fernandez
Production / Echelle 1:1, Marc Pérennès
Co-production / Choreographic Center of Montpellier
Thanks to / Lise Vermot, Julien Princiaux, Dominique Fabrègue, La Raffinerie, Charleroi- Danses, La Fonderie, Performing Arts Forum
Premiere on February 13, 2013 at Festival Artdanthé – Vanves - France
work in progress showing: September 17, 2011 at Studio Bagouet – CCN
June 17, 2013 Festival Uzès Danse (FR)
June 22 & 23, 2013 at Théâtre de la Cité Internationale – Paris (FR)