Two working tracks are defined for this new creation. First, the company’s studio filmed archives. Many hours of work were recorded on cassettes (mini DV and other archaic formats). Thomas Hauert first desire is to immerse himself in this material in order to draw from it the multiple artistic paths that are found there and that have never been used or deepened by ZOO. Not in a nostalgic or historical perspective but to reclaim these experiments and intuitions. The intention is to experiment, analyse, confront and develop them with the company’s experience and perspective, to treat them as raw material from another era.
This principle reappears in the soundtrack, which will be based on Thirteen Harmonies (1985), a work by John Cage for violin and keyboard, notably in the recording of violinist Annelie Gahl and keyboardist Klaus Lang (keyboard Fender Rhodes). The Thirteen Harmonies is a transcription for two instruments of a larger work entitled Apartment House 1776, written during the bicentennial celebrations of the independence of the United States in 1976. For Apartment House 1776, Cage took 44 choral pieces from a group of colonial composers, including William Billings, and subjected their diatonic harmony to a random screening process. As Cage explains: “The cadences and other elements have disappeared, but the flavour has remained. You can recognize it as 18th century music; but it is suddenly brilliant in a new way. This is because each sound vibrates by itself and not by a theory. Roger Zahab, a violinist, asked Cage if some of this work could be done alone on violin and piano and he agreed. Far from the naive optimism and unshakable faith (in God, in oneself and in the conquest of American lands) that the original hymns breathe, Thirteen Harmonies sounds become both recognizable and strange, haunted by mysterious silences, they evoke hesitation, doubt, vulnerability and regret.
In these deliberately purified and randomly unstructured compositions, resulting from a treatment that is both formal and chaotic at the same time, John Cage manages to transmit, through a sensual experience, a sceptical view of history inseparably linked to the music of the “pioneer era”. The colonial spirit, violence against indigenous peoples, a nation built with the help of slave labour: here a critical and frank look at the past is implicitly present and makes the fragments of the original compositions heard as remnants of a lost vision. Instead of celebrating a glorious past, Cage offers a transparency that allows us to see the other sides of history, in order to ask questions and make the scruples resonate.
We live in an era where our actions and their consequences have been scientifically and ethically examined. We are aware that our lifestyles are not sustainable and that our culture is harmful to the planet. Not only to nature, of course, but to society itself and to the human being. We can assume that as a culture we have taken the wrong directions, we have made ill-considered choices, we have built ourselves around false conceptions without being aware of the impact and consequences of our choices. This observation and the state in which it puts us mark the starting point of the choreographic and dramaturgical quest for this project. It is a question of re-evaluating, transforming and re-contextualizing this basic material from our archives. On the one hand, it will be abstract material (the archives filmed in the company’s studio) and on the other hand, material that revisits the history of the company, of each of its members, ways of conceiving movement in another context, ideas from another era. In the creative process this material will be treated as in a “sandbox model” where structures and dynamics subordinate the relationships between action and consequence.
Concept & direction Thomas Hauert
Created & iperformed by Thomas Hauert, Liz Kinoshita, Sarah Ludi, Federica Porello, Samantha Van Wissen, Mat Voorter
Musique Thirteen Harmonies (1985), John Cage and other musics (in progress)
Light Bert Van Dijck
Sound Bart Celis
Scenography Bert Van Dijck, Chevalier-Masson, ZOO
Production ZOO/Thomas Hauert, DC&J Creation
Coproduction Théâtre les Tanneurs, Bruxelles (BE) / Charleroi Danse, Centre Chorégraphique de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (BE), Festival de Genève – La Bâtie (CH), Centre Chorégraphique National d’Orléans – direction Maud Le Pladec (FR)
Support Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles – Service de la danse / Pro Helvetia – Fondation suisse pour les arts / Ein Kulturengagement des Lotterie-Fonds des Kantons Solothurn / Wallonie-Bruxelles International / and the tax-shelter of the belgian federal government