Walkabout Walls Falling [Faire tomber les murs : mûrs ?]
In May 2018, I participated in a performance jointly created by 3 colleagues (viola, cello, percussion), a hip-hop dancer and myself, a violinist. As part of the professional season of our institution, funding is granted to a few creative artistic projects (about 3 to 4 per year) bringing together teachers from the conservatory and artists from outside. The idea came from the cello teacher “F.”, who had met “V.” (a dancer and hip-hop teacher in private structures). She suggested setting up a string trio (with “A.” on the viola) and to add a percussionist (“M.”) and to work with V., for a single concert at Chaise Dieu.
I was tempted by the project, but despite the relaxed atmosphere and the pleasure of playing together, we had (in my opinion) difficulties in formulating artistic issues, in looking critically at our productions, and in setting up a creative process. Above all, there were funding constraints (we were only paid for a few rehearsals, a concert and a school concert, and we all contributed much more). But we also had, at least the three string players, different approaches and different ways of doing things: A. wanted to work with a written score in front of his eyes, and F. suggested building an original performance with staging, but using classical works. Her idea was more (I think) towards performances by artists who perform Bach suites while a hip-hop artist dances to this music, while at the same time promoting chamber music. This seemed to me at first sight like a pseudo culture shock organized for an audience used to classical music. I would have liked to question the relationships and specificities of the dance movements and the sounds, but I didn’t necessarily have the time and the means to carry out such a project. And especially not the relational ability to provoke a real exploration of this subject, given the individual challenges that it would not have failed to raise: the classical world, that of teachers even more, has so much need to legitimize its skills, that exploration, creation, risk-taking are sometimes extremely difficult between colleagues. The hip-hop dancer asked us to put our pieces together, insisting that he would invent choreographies for them. Now that I’m watching the rushes from the only rehearsal video we made, it seems clear to me that he was trying to adapt his dance practice to what he perceived and projected from our “classical” practice. Watching the whole thing (filming and analyzing ourselves) would have been essential but we didn’t (the only video is of a rehearsal that we couldn’t watch before the performance). And the position of the percussionist was more to follow the initiatives of each other participant (It must be said that the group was really disparate in its aspirations, it was perhaps better that there was not a fifth different ambition).
I think that everyone made concessions, made an effort, we did the best we could, but that our conceptions regarding the issues at stake in the creation were multiple and not always explicit, the artistic cohesion of the performance was not quite consistent, the work on the representations of each participant was a little ambiguous.
I had the opportunity to insert into the performance a theatricalized interlude that I had written, and which took up what seemed to me to be a thread, a link between us, at least between music and dance. The text of this interlude is included on this site:
Interlude – English.
Through this initial reflection, I also wanted to question the artistic production process. It seems to me that under other conditions, we could perhaps have organized a time for experimentation, for analyzing each other’s practices, and for formulating the essential elements that we wanted to “represent”. Then, the medium, the choice of repertoire and instruments, the question of staging, and the relationship with the audience could really have been addressed. But perhaps, this is not a prerequisite but a back-and-forth process that we need to be able to implement. Or maybe this is only feasible over a long period of time of working together?
Our performance project “Breaking down the walls” had the ambition to do so, but I have a mixed recollection of it: both a time period when we sincerely wanted to explore our artistic domains, but also a moment when we avoided taking that risk.
Access to the three texts (French and English)
Text 1, Faire tomber les murs : mûrs ? French
Text 2a, Interlude French
Text 2b, Interlude English
Text 3a, L’art-mur de la liberté : murmures French
Text 3b, Free Immured-Art: Murmurs English