Alain Platel+ More info
- Live performance
- Opéra de Lille
The power of an opera chorus, the energy radiating from a group of dancers who seem to form a single body … Onstage, the grandeur of the collective elicits some strong emotions. With C(H)OEURS (a mashup of the French words for chorus and hearts), Alain Platel reminds us that the beauty of the masses can sometimes be dangerous.
In 2012, the choreographer Alain Platel assembled a group of 14 dancers and an opera chorus in a piece which examined the relationships between the individual and society. Back during the revolution which took place during the Arab Spring, after the release of the manifesto Indignez-vous (Be indignant) by Stéphane Hessel, Platel decided to create a work for his dancers to music by Verdi and Wagner, music which had also been composed during times of turbulence. What is the link between the progressive nationalism of the 19th century and the nationalisms of today, all related to our obsessions, our self-absorption. 10 years later, the choreographer updates the work: the chorus, a powerful multitude with a single voice; the dancers’ bodies close, intimate. C(H)ŒURS 2022 explores further the relationship between the individual and the collective, the interior and exterior universes in the world of today.
Texts spoken in French, seated audience
Alain Platel trained as a remedial teacher and is a self-taught director. In 1984, he formed a collective with friends and family members. From Emma (1988) onwards, he began to distinguish himself more clearly as a director. He created Bonjour Madame (1993), La Tristeza Complice (1995) and Iets op Bach (1998), productions that took Les ballets C de la B (as the company was called) to international prominence. Together with the author Arne Sierens, he achieved a similar effect for the Ghent-based children’s theatre company Victoria, with Moeder en kind (1995 Mother and Child), Bernadetje (1996) and Allemaal Indiaan
(1999 All Indians). After Allemaal Indiaan (All Indians), Alain Platel announced that he would not produce any more shows. But Gerard Mortier convinced him to create Wolf (2003), a play about Mozart for the Ruhr Triennial.
Triennale. Alain Platel’s choral project Coup de Chœurs for the opening of the new KVS marked the beginning of a close collaboration with the composer Fabrizio Cassol. VSPRS (2006) signals a change of direction. The exuberance of the previous shows, expressed in the diversity of the performers and the themes addressed, gave way to greater introspection and nervousness, revealing a universe of impulses and aspirations. And also violence, as in Nine Finger (2007) with Benjamin Verdonck and Fumiyo Ikeda.
After the baroque style of Pity! (2008), Out Of Context – for Pina (January 2010) is an almost ascetic reflection on the arsenal of movements surrounding spasms and tics. Through this language of movement, Alain Platel logically continues his search for a translation for feelings that are too strong. His aspiration for something beyond the individual is increasingly palpable.
In collaboration with Frank Van Laecke, Platel created Gardenia (2010), in which the closure of a cabaret for transvestites is the starting point for a dive into the private lives of a memorable group of old artists. In 2015 Platel and Van Laecke renewed their collaboration, again supported by composer Steven Prengels, with En avant, marche! a show that draws on the tradition of brass bands and orchestras. In 2012, he was once again Gérard Mortier, who convinced Platel to take on the operas of Verdi and Wagner: C(H)ŒURS became his most extensive project to date. With his dancers and the chorus of the Teatro de Madrid, Platel explores how dangerous the beauty of a group can be. The political connotation of shows like tauberbach (2014) and Coup Fatal (collaboration with Cassol, (2014) lies in the joie de vivre and energy that burst from the stage and manifest ways of (over)living in undignified circumstances. ‘Lust for life’ as a means of rebellion. It is also this instinct for life that drives the dancers in the search for the possibility of transformation in nicht schlafen, a performance with music by Mahler, which registers the feeling of anxiety and uncertainty of an accelerating world.
The theme of death has always been very present in Platel’s work, but in Requiem pour L. (collaboration with Cassol, 2018) it is the first time that it becomes the centre of his work. By writing a book of the same name, Platel gets rid of the intense creative process of this show. At the same time, Platel is committed to strengthening the connections in his home town Ghent. Together with Lisi Estaras and Quan Bui Ngoc, he brought together 300 city dwellers of all ages and backgrounds in a new performance of The Rite of Spring (2018). In 2023, he will co-direct with Frank Van Laecke a choir of a hundred Ghenters in Mein Gent, a musical and theatrical anthem for Ghent. But to avoid any misunderstanding: Platel is not necessarily looking for expansion. His collaboration on small projects such as Nachtschade (for Victoria in 2006) and coaching such as for Pieter and Jakob Ampe and their creation Jake & Pete’s big reconciliation attempt for the disputes form the past (2011) are proof of this. These two projects have left a mark on his thoughts on what theatre is. In the meantime, he has been making dance films in a discreet manner, whether with the British director Sofie Fiennes (Because I Sing in 2001, Ramallah! Ramallah! Ramallah! in 2005 and VSPRS Show and Tell in 2007) or solo with Ballets de ci de là (2006), an impressive dive into the life of a troupe that was formed twenty years ago and takes us as far as Vietnam and Burkina Faso. It is also, and above all, an ode to the city of Ghent, his home base.
Choirs and orchestras: Giuseppe Verdi, Richard Wagner
Concept, direction and stage design: Alain Platel
Conductor : Alejo Pérez
Choirmaster: Jan Schweiger
Musical adaptation and soundscape: Steven Prengels
Assistant director/rehearsal director: Romain Guion
Choreographic assistance: Bérengère Bodin, Quan Bui Ngoc
Dramaturgy: Hildegard De Vuyst, Jan Vandenhouwe
Costumes: Dorine Demuynck
Lighting: Carlo Bourguignon
Sound: Bartold Uyttersprot
Soprano: Reisha Adams
Orchestra: Symfonisch Orkest Opera Ballet Vlaanderen
Chorus: Koor Opera Ballet Vlaanderen
Created and danced by : Zoë Ashe-Browne, Viktor Banka, Bérengère Bodin, Quan Bui Ngoc, Juliet Burnett, Morgana Cappellari, Misako Kato, Morgan Lugo, Aaron Shaw, Paul Vickers, James Vu Anh Pham, Laura Walravens, Shelby Williams, Lateef Williams
Children: Adam Laghrim, Oskar Beuseling
C(H)OEURS (2012) original created and danced by : Bérengère Bodin, Daisy Ransom Phillips, Ido Batash, Juliana Neves, Lisi Estaras, Quan Bui Ngoc, Romain Guion, Romeu Runa, Rosalba Torres Guerrero, Serge Aimé Coulibaly
Production management les ballets C de la B :
Opera Ballet Vlaanderen in collaboration with Les ballets C de la B
Opéra de Lille
Gerard Mortier, the volunteers from Ghent, Isnelle da Silveira, Laure Adler, Dimitri Clément, Kito
With the support of
the city of Ghent, the Flemish authorities and the Belgian Taxshelter