CCN Montpellier received many applications from the Jardin d’Europe co-organizers for this scholarship and chose the danceWEB nomination Magdalena Chowaniec (AT/PL) for the unit #2: musical comedy, led
by Mark Tompkins. This unit focuses on the many aspects of the genre musical comedy.

With the aim to understand the mechanisms and specificities of musical comedy better, the participants will create one themselves. Following an intensive period of viewing and analysis, they will write, construct, rehearse and perform a musical for the stage or for the camera. Collaborators (under reserve):
choreographers Robert Stein, Franz Poelstra, musician and composer Nuno Rebelo and videomaker Gilles Toutevoix.

Magdalena Chowaniec successfully participated in this program. It allowed her to meet dancers from various places, to exchange and share projects with them, to experiment with the divers teaching methods of the various choreographers present.

feedback report Magdalena Chowaniec

“Puttin’ on a show” with Mark L. Tompkins and the ex.e.r.c.e crew

       During January and February 2010 I found myself in Montpellier in the south of France. (Do you feel the breeze? This in not Paris…Do you feel the breeze? This is Montpellier, o yeah!). Instead of summer breeze I arrived accompanied by tones of snow and unusual frost straight into a little room of a former gardener. Soon the weather got better (another rhyme) and I could even have a glimpse at real flamingos, beautiful as always. Next day I marched to take a class of a very early (8.30 in the morning) yoga followed by an hour of Feldenkreis to finally catch up with ex.e.r.c.e ‘youth’ and with our musical guru Mark Tompkins.

       My 2 months long stay in MtPellier rich in ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ happen to consist of many layers and it contributed to my personal, artistic and spiritual;) life. I traveled over the lands and mountains to work on a contemporary comedie musical whatever that supposed to mean – to me that was the most important issue. Considering `Mark Tompkins, his interests and his talent I was always very fond of, I was sure to fall into a crazy deconstruction of what I always knew as the American Broadway Fred Astaire style and longed enormously for a radical development of the topic. As first part of a process, we would watch all week long many DVDs with various musicals and musical excerpts. Discussing, figuring out breaking our expectations and thinking schemas we talked about what the musical today could be, we looked for our own access and perspective onto it.

        Accompanied by the ‘wow’s’ and ‘o my god’s’ referring to the mastership of actors and dancers from the screen, we went through history of the musical beginning in 20s with the minstrel show, via 50s with sweet legs of Cyd Charisse towards today of Savion Glover. Mark brought along Gilles Toutevoix, a video artist who works with him since many years. In first week both of them helped us in making our own little musical excerpt we were supposed to place in our own context and film the way we wanted. Work on moving image gathered us in teams and made each of us into an actor, director and assistant. This period of our process which was supposed to result in a real stage show, we all remind as the most creative and research oriented, it also brought us close together.

       Upcoming weeks where we all wandered between encouraging of other mates and being ourselves encouraged, lead us through a weird and astonishing time of questioning everything. Did you ever work on a comedie musical with someone who’s so terribly sad and absent as Mark Tompkins was? We did. Out of my dreams about big experiments around the body – voice connection, about crazy demontage in search for the musical today, what was left was my own will and engagement I could use while creating my own texts and music together with the others. All of our creative power boiling on the beginning was diminishing gradually day by day, leaving us to the frustrations and sadness. Every week we confronted ourselves with a question: ‘is that it?’. We couldn’t believe we will spend two months on ‘creating material’ and then ‘putting it together’, unfortunately that is how “Puttin’ on a show” came to life.

    All these words are definitely no to criticize my stay in Montpellier, they just describe a paradox of the saddest working process in my artistic career – putting on a musical show with someone who isn’t really there and who doesn’t belong to the colorful world of American Broadway not even in 1 percent. Besides the disappointment and struggles we all went through, there were many moments of happiness though. Eventually the show occurred to be a great success applauded everyday by delighted audience that seemed overwhelmed by the music – dance numeros, it was our reward. The power of music and cheerful songs, social dance, kinky costumes and a cabaret like atmosphere worked perfectly bringing a relief to the minds tired of always serious and abstract art – that’s entertainment! We enjoyed ourselves on the stage singing, tapping, smiling and doing all these ‘cheap’ and ‘not fashionable’ things - we knew we did great.

      Musical is a genre based on the hard work and this work has been done. Every morning before we would start ‘creating material’ phase, we have learned how to sing properly and how to tap dance. First singing class left us all with big doubts as well as first tap class did. It was beautiful after two months, to stand beside each other warming up our voices for the show and to hear a perfect ‘Aaaaaaaa’, it was marvelous to join an excellent unison of tap dancers united in one common rhythm. Simple and extraordinary joy and pleasure after the hard technical work seems something forgotten in performance our days, it was fantastic to taste it again.

      As far as the creation process happen to be something we had to push ourselves through, the overall atmosphere in CCN Montpellier left me without any extra wishes. Organizers of my stay took care of everything; my nice accommodation at Veronique’s, my well being in the centre, providing a rehearsal space for my own needs. Their professionalism stroke me – becoming our trustees in our problems with Mark, they were still able to keep up our energy and to be loyal towards both sides. The way centre works offering many possibilities of apprentice not only to dancers but as well to young light, sound technicians, opening its doors to the outside, inviting people to open showings, providing information and not keeping anything ‘secret’ I consider a great success that results in a huge interest among Montpellier’s citizens and contributes tremendously to the local as well to international dance scene. Common meals, talks and discussions between the residents happening more on a private level bring always something human to the working atmosphere, chatting about the food and recent show builds trust and brings people closer. Our crazy parties in Montpellier by night where everything closes at 1pm (nightmear), stay in St Hipolit in grand villa turned into a set of a movie evolving around a mysterious disappearance of Mark brought many new friendships, wishes and desires. Desires to move, to change something, to travel, to become a communist and to get rid of all money, to stay on the street enjoying freedom we lack, freedom so hard to find. Our life brought many inspirations we would turn into artistic products – texts of the songs, musical scores, behaviors, stories – that was our real musical we played.

       Thus my expectations broken very soon, turned into the new ones. Appealed by tap dance I never was truly interested in, I decided to go on and to create a dance duet with a fantastic young musician who’s a part of ex.e.r.c.e, with a crazy Russian girl we plan another socialist artistic act;) Singing classes helped me to sound much better and thus they contributed to the overall sound of my band’s first album. Mark made me think of humanity in relation to artistic work, he made me believe in impossible (unfortunately in a bad sense), and assured me of a big potential and talent of the young generation. I am looking forward to June – we play the show once again O yeah that’s it feel the breeze, o yeah that’s it sweetest kiss after we are going to party hard take a line it’s gonna be just fine, take a line forget your sorrow and then we surely come up with some new ideas but for now put on your taps cause we gonna dance.*

*texts of the songs written by M. Chowaniec, music by Mathieu Grenier as part of “Puttin’ on a show”.


Boys Song B, M, I, D

Do you feel the (south) breeze
this is not  Paris
do you feel the (south) breeze
this is Montpellier, o yeah!

In the heat and sweat of a long duet
one, two, three piruett
like a sex ballet
I'm a 70s man
and i know what i can
with a whole in  my jean
i do not look that clean
rather dirty
and filthy
but with blond hair
like a guardian angel
like  Sheila from 'Hair'
I looked looked looked for a remedy
and found found found
small cock comedy

Mathieu, Ido: oh  yeah that's it...feel that breeze
o yeah that's it, sweetest kiss mua..

Ido: to Brian
First time I saw you
giving massage to Math
got worried, got burried
on a jelaousy path
My muscles were sore
and tensed to the core
i went to virgile and had to inquire
and than met a chor-
e - o - grapher
named Dave
we grew the beards
and later we shaved
we get along
singing this song
I looked looked for that thing
and found found I can sing

All: refrain!

I am in love

Mathieu+Brian: Oh David!

I am in love

M+B: Stop it!

I am in love

M+B: Don't get crazy!

I am in love

M+B: With who? With you? (to each other)

Mathieu+ Brian:
David is my life
david is my soul
This is my confession
 that's my only rock and roll
Tell us!

I like I pod
D like dino
O like Oh fuck!
His name is Ido

M+B: IDO?!

He is my passion
that s my confession
and i can not forget
how great it was we've met

M+B: How?

in a break for lunch
he would give me punch
I d fall with a noise
than i ve heard a voice

Get up
get up
you fell over my lap
get up
get up
you stepped into my wrap
get up
get up
it s not a time for nap
get up
get up
or I'll beat a crap
out of you!

Sweetest than my dreams
long ago it seems
our love bloosoms high
reaching clouds and the sky
i m so lucky
i m so gay
my life is just okay!!!!!

Refrain all!

Oh no, no, no, no, no
Once more no, that's so low
How can you play polo
when you're full time solo?
alone alone these are the words
nailing me down, hurting like swords
i have enough of being sad
i put my tapshoes
(and) get really mad
fuck you life fuck you
you re not good to me

Fuck you life fuck you
he doesn't like to be free!

You even don't know
how bad it feels
seeing you all and your pretty lips
I could give you everything
that's the love in France
But for now put your claquettes
and we gonna dance!

All. refrain



Koka song

Take a line it s gonna be just fine
take a line forget your sorrow
take a line, don t hung yourself o nein
take a line, sniff it and swallow

Three of us in that city
three of us, very pretty
thursday cold but we are hotties!

Going out like kitties
pulling down our panties
For  free products, give some kisses

If you got the power
that's the final hour
Getting all we need for pleasure

If you got the power
come along and shiver
If you've got a proper measure

Ref. Take a line

Oh I don't know how to do it
It s my first time, kind of scared

Take a piece of 50 euros
sniff it babe, don t be a nerd

Ref.Take a line...

I got no sensations
no halucinations
i just think it's all for nothing

Don t you see it babe
you are going crazy
dancing naked for three hours

Guys that's first class koke
stop that stupid joke
angelo is our angel

Lets find other blokes
check their lovely cocks
we are not in any danger!

Make a line it s gonna be just fine
make a line forget your sorrow
make a line you gonna have great time
make a line we gonna follow

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