The beat pulses. The night is long. A person wearing a hoodie crosses across the space. Empty bags of chips and beer bottles lie in the dirt. An urban wasteland like the ones surrounding one of the empty buildings and warehouses in Berlin in the early 1990s, when the choreographer lived in the capital city and was part of the raver scene. Crowd is a homage to techno culture's youth, ecstasy, and dancing frenzy. Gisèle Vienne directs fifteen young persons in a captivating, mysterious manner to the music of Underground Resistance; Jeff Mills; and KTL. Closeness, sex, rejection, aggressiveness, loneliness, desire, disenchantment. Fifteen stories without words unfold, break off, and start again. Related by this French-Austrian artist in a striking visual language and in slow-motion-like and highly compressed movements.
For Crowd Gisèle Vienne worked with her tried-and-tested team. She and the American author Dennis Cooper are responsible for the dramaturgy; his texts examine in a cool manner and from every angle the relationship between brutal logic and unbridled desire, actual deeds and intellectual games, sex and violence. They give works such as I Apologize (2004); Kindertotenlieder ("Songs on the Death of Children") (2007); Jerk (2008); and This is how you will disappear (2010) the underlying tone and unmistakable verbal sound. In Crowd (2017), however, hardly a word can be heard. The stories function through the image language and movement language. And through the music, which Peter Rehberg edited and was essentially produced in the first half of the 1990s: a soundtrack featuring Underground Resistance; Sun Electric; Global Communication; and others – although not in a typical techno linear fashion, but rather atmospherically designed.
Like earlier works, Crowd also has a mythical dimension and ritual-like characteristics. Not for nothing is the floor covered with earth, similar to Pina Bausch's Le sacre du printemps. The rave as a ritual, the club night as a mythical event. The hours-long dance ecstasy as transgressive happening. The specific energy of such events was conjured up several times in particular in the choreography. Born in 1976, this artist contrasts the pulse-driving rhythm with extreme deceleration, freeze positions, slow motion. She zooms in on individual figures in an almost photographic or cinematic way; she lifts them out of the "crowd," and they then disappear into the crowd again.
Concept, choreography, scenography: Gisèle Vienne
Assistants: Anja Röttgerkamp and Nuria Guiu Sagarra
Music selections from: Underground Resistance; KTL; Vapour Space; DJ Rolando; Drexciya; The Martian; Choice; Jeff Mills; Peter Rehberg; Manuel Göttsching; Sun Electric; and Global Communication
Music editing, playlist selection: Peter Rehberg
Sound diffusion supervisor: Stephen O’Malley
Sound engineer: Adrien Michel
Lighting design: Patrick Riou
Dramaturgy: Gisèle Vienne and Denis Cooper
Performers: Philip Berlin, Marine Chesnais, Kerstin Daley-Baradel, Sylvain Decloitre, Sophie Demeyer, Vincent Dupuy, Massimo Fusco, Rémi Hollant, Oskar Landström, Theo Livesey, Louise Perming, Katia Petrowick, Jonathan Schatz, Henrietta Wallberg und Tyra Wigg
Costumes: Gisèle Vienne in collaboration with Camille Queval and the performers
Technical manager: Richard Pierre
Stage manager: Antoine Hordé
Light manager: Arnaud Lavisse
Special thanks: Margret Sara Guðjónsdóttir and Louise Bentkowski
Production and booking: Alma Office, Anne-Lise Gobin, Alix Sarrade & Camille Queval // Administration Etienne Hunsinger
Executive producer: DACM
Coproducers : Nanterre-Amandiers, centre dramatique national / Maillon, Théâtre de Strasbourg - Scène européenne / Wiener Festwochen / manège, scène nationale - reims / Théâtre national de Bretagne, direction Arthur Nauzyciel / Centre
Dramatique National Orléans/Loiret/Centre / La Filature, Scène nationale - Mulhouse / BIT Teatergarasjen, Bergen.
Support: CCN2 – Centre Chorégraphique national de Grenoble / CND Centre national de la danse
The Gisèle Vienne company is supported by Ministère de la culture et de la communication – DRAC Grand Est, la Région Grand Est, and Ville de Strasbourg.
The company is sponsored by Institut Français for international touring.
Gisèle Vienne is an associate artist at Nanterre-Amandiers, centre dramatique national, and at Théâtre National de Bretagne; the director is Arthur Nauzycie.
Photo: © Estelle Hanania