Cornucopiae The Independent Dance



Reflections on the meanings of independence, whether personal, philosophic, political or artistic.

Montpellier Danse 2010
From Friday, 25th to Tuesday, 29th June, 2010
From 17.00 to 20.00. Five showings.
In the Chapelle de la Miséricorde, Montpellier


“It was a ritual, each evening, always at the same hour, following the last meal of the day and before going to bed, that the child – between the ages of one and a half until nearly five - would sit upon her grandmother’s knee and gaze upon the Mediterranean through every season from the shores of Algeria. It would continue unvaryingly and in silence, a wordless ritual, for at least an hour—watching the same region of the sea, the same stretch of horizon, in all weathers, from the last moments of light until all was swallowed up in darkness. We lived in a little hut that gave directly on to the beach. There was nothing to do. We were simply there, in the warmth from one another’s body—studying, seeing, watching or not, for how the colours changed, inventing things perhaps which would appear and disappear… the rhythms of boats, waves, birds, wind, light. Contemplating perhaps. Waiting on nothing but the nightfall, the stars. Seeing, or not, the details of the landscape as a whole, of nature, and of the beauty of things. Being caught between ennui and emptiness, between well-being and the unknown. Being at once inside oneself and beyond the self, being lost to self entirely, being alert as an animal, being eyes, skin, muzzle, ears, being pebbles, waves, being in suspension, in a waking dream, knowing no longer who you are, what you do, being sheer presence. Between a feeling of lightness and of gravity. Something that you don’t put a name to, something you’ll never put a name to since no word can describe this sense of suspension in time and nature. I lived as a waif and stray among the rocks and sea and sand and sun, sustained by the love of a silent woman, Paule Peurière.”


The perspective isn’t primarily that of an historian but rather that of an artist in search of a ‘living memory’, pores open, ears open, listening for echoes from the Algeria whose recent past has touched so many souls on either shore of the Mediterranean.
1962 – 2012: fifty years! Finally enough time has elapsed that we can reflect without too much emotion or personal sentiment, that our thinking can be weighed with tolerance and intelligence.
Born in Algeria in 1952 and collaborating now with Nicolas Barillot, I’ve made a series of interviews with people whose history bears direct witness to what it was to live through the independence of the country. Everything I heard reflected thoughts and feelings that, while undoubtedly intense and often startling, were also diverse, complex and above all lucid and which, tempered by the passage of time, sought to do justice to events and people. There exists now an opportunity, fragile but distinct, for such eye-witness accounts to be articulated, precisely and with discernment, yet without glossing over the force of what happened in the past nor the uncertainties of the present. As if to speak of this mismanaged past that proved tragic for the majority of people we encountered, was essential to them, to us all and to the generations to come.


For unravelling: a solo dance concerning the layers of memory.
For hearing and listening to: a gathering of frank and complementary words, assembled from interviews—begun in the autumn of 2009 in Montpellier—with nine people who witnessed the passage to Independence in Algeria.
For seeing and looking at: an exhibition of photographs resulting from a trip to Constantine and the Aures last April which made it possible to record, in film and image, the landscapes of a region whose history’s so closely identified with the Algerian war.
For absorbing: the daylight, tamed by the building.
For enjoying: the feeling of being close to animals, stirred by Hops, a white donkey, and his young companion, Martha.

In its entirety, the original work is designed to last 3 hours. Considering the Chapelle de la Miséricorde’s small capacity (30 people) and in order to respect, even anticipate, the public’s response, it will be possible to enter at 3 different moments: 17.00, 18.00 and 19.00, the idea being that spectators should choose for themselves how long the work should last – so a person may choose to leave after 20 minutes or to remain for the entire 3 hours, as he or she sees fit.

Concrètement, l’écriture originale de la pièce est de 3 heures. Compte tenu de la petite jauge - 30 personnes - de la Chapelle de la Miséricorde et pour respecter, voire anticiper la réaction du public, 3 entrées, à 17h, 18h et 19h, sont proposées. L’idée étant de laisser au spectateur le choix de son propre temps et d’imaginer qu’une personne du public puisse partir au bout de 20 minutes comme rester les 3 heures durant.

A printed version in English of the interviews heard during the work is available.


Sound : Nicolas Barillot
Dance : Régine Chopinot
Image : João Garcia
Lighting : Maryse Gautier
Hops, the Eygptian white donkey &
Martha Barillot, its companion
Technical direction : Véronique Bridier and Gianni Fornet
Thanks to all those who offered their testimonies.

Production : Cornucopiae
Coproduction : Festival Montpellier Danse 2010
With the support of CulturesFrance
Cornucopiae is aided by the Ministère de la culture
et de la Communication – Direction Générale de la Création Artistique

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Cornucopiae – the independent dance est subventionnée par le ministère de la Culture et de la Communication DRAC Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Région Sud – Provence-Alpes-Côtes d’Azur, le Conseil départemental du Var, la Communauté d’Agglomération Toulon Provence Méditerranée et la Ville de Toulon. Avec le soutien de la Ville de La Valette-du-Var jusqu'en 2017.