une autre antigone

by mathilde monnier
a rewriting of pour antigone (1993)
world premiere festival montpellier danse 2014


“We are but interpreters of interpretations” wrote Montaigne. To which point can a choreographic work claim its own interpretation? That is the question raised by this rewriting project.

Pour Antigone will have celebrated its 20th birthday by June 2014. This piece and the steps taken to achieve it played a crucial role in my work, leaving the way open to the actions I conducted as regards dance in Africa as part of my artistic collaborations and vis-à-vis the policy of the CCN in Montpellier.
This choreography, originally created in March 1993 in ‘Le Quartz’ in Brest, triggered many struggles and ideas that I subsequently developed.
Back then this piece of work raised some issues in the dance community, which was what it intended by going against the trend of artistic interbreeding, in full bloom at the time.
Pour Antigone attempted to stand up for the emergence of a contemporary African dance unwilling to be taken over or to become identified with interbreeding. Utopia or naive attempt of a young choreographer trying to solve a part of her own story connected with her past and with Africa!
Today I want to write “another Antigone”, bearing the mark and carrying the memory of the first piece but seizes its major concerns differently. The story of Antigone is the story of close interweaving between private and public space, private life and history. Going beyond the female voice, the story of Antigone is primarily the story of a gesture, a simple action, that of heaping the earth above a dead brother. Such gesture challenges the established power and reverse authority relationships. Today modern Antigones keep on rebelling, whether Pakistani and Indian women demonstrating against rape or Femen women from Russia or Tunisia displaying their body to defend their freedom of speech. Through these and many other women, Antigone keeps on fighting.
Through the story of a piece and its restaging, a dialectic of destruction and reconstruction is often developed. With this project I wanted to breathe new life into that piece, preserving potential and foundations while allowing myself certain diversions or even betrayals in order to offer a modern version linked with the current background.
One of the working hypotheses of this rewriting is based on the way I will rethink the role of dancers. What was brought into play in 1993, i.e. a casting taking into account the dancers’ origin, won’t work today.  It is by suppressing the duality between African and Western dancers that I will be able to approach a modern version of that “Other Antigone”.
In the lexicon used for Pour Antigone, two languages were facing each other – on the one part African traditional dance and on the other part supposedly contemporary dance. Without establishing a hierarchy between these two techniques, this is about creating a new superimposition of performances, a new layer of movement.
For the past 20 years I have observed that on the one hand the flow of gestures and on the other hand the popularisation of body techniques, have changed significantly the profile of dancers: a sort of globalisation of gesture is within reach of anyone willing to access it. Through the spreading of choreographic gestures and their constant change and the domestication of techniques, dancers can better their body language.
Starting from this new geography of gestures, I would like to work using a double distance – time distance following the track of a 20-year old piece (what is left of that Antigone) and geographical distance by taking up the traditional dance as basic working material in the same way as with contemporary dance. How indeed can a Korean dancer use the score of a traditional dancer from Burkina-Faso? This dialogue and this combination may take place by confronting body and
re-appropriation techniques and not by singling out the origins.
This rewriting dares showing the distance covered during the past two decades and putting classic writing and staging face to face with a new aesthetic and political field.

mathilde monnier . september, 2013

choreography mathilde monnier
dance (pending) nadia beugré, jung-ae kim, i-fang lin, felix mathias ott, ana pi, ousseni sako
live music yuko oshima
stage design annie tolleter
light design éric wurtz
sound realization olivier renouf
costume design laurence alquier

coproduction rewriting 2014 (pending) festival montpellier danse 2014 . l'opéra de lille . centre chorégraphique national de montpellier languedoc-roussillon

coproduction 1993 centre dramatique chorégraphique le quartz de brest . compagnie de hexe . MPM international . festival montpellier danse 1993 . TNDI châteauvallon . théâtre de la ville - paris . le carré saint vincent - orléans