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How does a body cope with an extreme situation? How does it survive in a very minimal setting? After twenty years at the top of the international dance world, the choreographer duo Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten still have their sights set firmly on new challenges. In Extremalism they introduce two motives: the body in revolt and the body of the ballet. The movement idiom which they have developed for Emio Greco’s classically trained body over the past twenty years, will now be transferred onto the large group of dancers from the Ballet National de Marseille and ICKamsterdam. Thirty bodies reflecting on today’s big issues. Extremalism is a major European collaboration between two dance companies, the French Ballet National de Marseille and ICKamsterdam, the platform for contemporary dance in the Netherlands. Both companies are led by Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten. Extremalism will have a double premiere: after the Holland Festival, the production will open Montpellier Danse.
The international dance production Extremalism is a unique European collaboration, joining the forces of two dance companies: Ballet National de Marseille and ICKamsterdam. It is a multidisciplinary performance danced by 30 dancers – 24 from Marseille and 6 from Amsterdam – coming from two companies, each with its own specific background in ballet and contemporary dance forms. This large-scale jubilee production celebrates 20 years of collaboration by the choreography duo Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten.
What does the body do in an extreme situation? How does it survive in a minimal setting? In short, how does the body react to crisis? Through the strength of the body, Extremalism breaks away from crisis like Houdini broke free of his chains. 30 dancers, 30 bodies, 30 reflections on the present: What is the impact of hunger on a body? And of abundance? Stress? Migration? Digitization? Overpopulation? Sexualization? Privacy? Stigmatizaton of the other?
Twenty years ago, the collaboration between Greco and Scholten began with the search for a new form of dance for the classically-trained body of dancer Greco. Today they are the artistic directors of the Amsterdam’s ICKamsterdam, a platform for contemporary dance in the Netherlands, as well as of the renowned French company Ballet National de Marseille. Two motifs will be central to their work over the coming years: ‘the body in revolt’ and ‘the body of the ballet’. Borders are moved again, identities gather common denominators and bodies search for a synergy between themselves and the other.
Extremalism is the fourth production in a series based on the theme ‘the body in revolt’. In this five-part series, the body is used to chart our changing society. After earlier parts of the series, Addio alla Fine (Holland Festival, 2012), L’Etranger/ One Man Without a Cause (2013) and De Soprano’s (2014), this part approaches the theme in a new manner. With Extremalism, Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten return to the qualities that defined their earlier work: their own developed body language and ‘extremalism’ (a contraction of ‘extreme’ and ‘minimalism’). They use this to take stock of the present (OGGI) with a glance at the past (IERI) and a cautiously extended hand toward the future (DOMANI).
The monumental light sculpture Chain Reaction by artist Henk Stallinga provides the scenery Extremalism. Chain Reaction is constituted by a daisy chain of ring lamps revolving as the earth does in relation to the sun. Due to its slow revolution and the tuning of the light, the installation marks the constant passage of time, a technologically extreme sculpture in a minimalist appearance. It's the point of departure as well as the anchor point for the stage setting of the performance.
Extremalism is celebrating its double premiere both in the Netherlands, at the Holland Festival, and in France, as the opening performance of Montpellier Danse. This is Greco and Scholten’s fourth time at the Holland Festival, after Rimasto Orfano (2002), the diptych on Dante’s Divine Comedy called [purgatorio] IN VISIONE and [purgatorio] POPOPERA (2008) and the previously mentioned Addio alla Fine (2012). The present production is among the most ambitious and extensive works in their oeuvre and in terms of scale, with 30 dancers on stage in times of scarcity and cutbacks, it is a celebration of contemporary dance and the strength of the body. A shout in a time of crisis.
‘After 20 years of working together,’ say Greco and Scholten, ‘it is inevitable that we carry the past with us, but only as a perspective from which to cast a cautious eye into the future. Extremalism is not a retrospective; it is a search in progress for an equilibrium without stasis. Even after 20 years that is quite simply the motor of artistic work.’