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Boris Charmatz, musée de la danse

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Known for his inventive, philosophical and socially sharp performances, the French choreographer Boris Charmatz continually develops new forms of dance. After the huge success of enfant at the Holland Festival in 2012, he now returns with manger. Which is a simple concept, but nonetheless rich in the variety of its manifestations, ranging from a mundane act to one harbouring explicit sexual connotations and people eating themselves to death. Underneath all these forms, Charmatz has found his own basic form, which is geared towards the relation between the fingers and the mouth as well as to the voice. The essence of the movement arsenal he has developed for this project is in the act of making things disappear, in consuming. The result is a sensuous experience, a work that can be characterised as a moving installation.

Please note: standing room only



This will be the third time that the French choreographer and dancer Boris Charmatz (Chambéry, 1973) visits the Holland Festival, this time with manger (2014), a choreography for fourteen dancers about one of the most fundamental of human movements: eating. It's an everyday action which has rarely been approached from a choreographic standpoint.

Watching people eat is a strange form of aesthetic observation, according to Charmatz. 'It has an almost monstrous quality. Dance is virtually fixated on the ideal of a fragile, hovering body. A subject that at first glance is as ‘simple’ as it is rich in formal, conceptual possibilities. The result is a contradiction that I like a great deal. Eating is entirely unspectacular, an almost invisible process. At the same time, eating can also easily come across as demonstrative and symbolically charged: greedily devouring, spilling food all over oneself, stuffing oneself to death as in the film La grande bouffe, or eating a banana and emphasising the sexual connotations involved. At its core, manger is about making things disappear. The performance asks how we digest reality.’

Charmatz studied at the École de Danse in Paris and at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse in Lyon. Since 2009, he is artistic director of the Centre Chorégraphique National de Rennes et de Bretagne, which he renamed Musée de la Danse – a 'museum in movement' as well as a research hub to explore new developments in dance. In his research, Charmatz has developed experimental forms of exhibition, such as expo zéro or 20 dancers for the XXth century. As a dancer, he has frequently improvised with the poet Saul Williams, saxophonist Archie Shepp, trumpet player Médéric Collignon and choreographer Steve Paxton, and most recently with Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Tino Sehgal.

Charmatz is a radical innovator of dance, who in his own work explores the relationships between dance, art and philosophy. Subverting the expectations of his audience, he breaks with formal laws and routines of the theatre and expands the possibilities of the choreographic space. In his work, frequently one simple idea takes centre stage, serving as a framework for all movements, which are subsequently taken to the limit of their possibilities. 50 years of dance, which featured at the Holland Festival in 2010, was a fast-moving exploration of dance grandmaster Merce Cunningham's oeuvre. Levée des conflits (2010) consisted of 25 movements performed in canon by 24 dancers, eventually culminating in a dizzying tangle of bodies. In 2012 he raised some uncomfortable questions about the vulnerability of children and the complex relationship between man and machine, in enfant, a piece performed by 26 children, 9 adults, 1 musician and 3 machines.
Similar to enfant, in which adult performers dance with children, holding them in their arms, the food (white sheets) in manger serves as another kind of 'obstacle' which opens up new forms of movement. According to Charmatz, the stage is like a table, the food pulling you down to the ground. 'On top of that,' he says, ' the sheets we eat pose a curious, technical challenge, as they are sticky, you can choke on it and it can cut your lip.' The use of repetition in manger is similar to that in his earlier piece Levée des conflits. 'The mouth is seldom the starting point for dance movements,' Charmatz explains. 'But I love the relationship between the fingers and the mouth, it challenges me to create movements. The whole choreography revolves around the game between the hand, the food, the distance to the mouth and the voice. Maybe it will fuel new forms of eating, dancing and singing.'

manager (1) breed


Dancer and choreographer Boris Charmatz (b. 1973) was a table tennis player before studying dance at the École de Danse in Paris and continuing his studies at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse in Lyon. In 1992, he founded Association Edna, together with Dimitri Chamblas. In 1993, they made their debut with the duet À bras-le-corps. From 1997, Charmatz started to develop various projects within the Association Edna, ranging from improvisational projects and installations to films, exhibitions and excursions. In 2008, he was appointed artistic director of the CCNRB (Centre Chorégraphique National de Rennes et de Bretagne), which he transformed into a Museum of Dance (www.museedeladanse.org) a year later. One of the projects he set up at the museum was expo zéro, an exhibition without any objects: no photographs, sculptures, installations or videos; only artists with their bodies, gestures, movements and dance.

In all of his works, Boris Charmatz has always concentrated on the body. Even in works in which this very feature is denied and hidden, the quality and the presence of a human body in relation to dance is always central. Charmatz always maintains a strict framework within which movement can be developed. These structures serve to produce new forms of dance, to share them and reflect on them. A good example of this approach is 50 years of dance, his fast-moving, kaleidoscopic exploration of dance grandmaster Merce Cunningham's oeuvre, which featured at the Holland Festival in 2010. Associate artist of the 2011 Festival d'Avignon, Boris Charmatz was invited at MoMA (New York) in 2013 and at Tate Modern (London) in 2012 and 2015.

He is also the co-author of undertraining / On A Contemporary Dance written with Isabelle Launay (ed. Les presses du réel), “Je suis une école” (2009, ed Les prairies ordinaires) and Emails 2009-2010 cosigned with Jérôme Bel (2013, ed. Les presses du réel in partnership with Musée de la danse). At the Holland Festival in 2012, he raised some uncomfortable questions about the vulnerability of children and the complex relation between man and machine, in enfant, a piece performed by 26 children, 9 adults, 1 musician and 3 machines. In his latest work manger, Charmatz explores the choreographic possibilities of one of the most basic human actions: eating. The performance premiered in 2014 at the Ruhrtriennale in Bochum.

Boris Charmatz half breed manager (7) half breed


Boris Charmatz
Or Avishay, Matthieu Barbin, Nuno Bizarro, Ashley Chen, Olga Dukhovnaya, Alix Eynaudi, Julien Gallée-Ferré, Peggy Grelat-Dupont, Christophe Ives, Maud Le Pladec, Filipe Lourenço, Mark Lorimer, Mani A. Mungai, Marlène Saldana
Yves Godin
Olivier Renouf
choreographic assistant
Thierry Micouin
arrangement and vocal training
Dalila Khatir
general stage manager
Mathieu Morel
Marion Regnier
light technician
Fabrice Le Fur
sound technician
Pierre Routin
Sandra Neuveut, Martina Hochmuth, Amélie-Anne Chapelain
sound material
Ticket Man, The Kills ; Hey Light, Animal Collective ; King Kong, Daniel Johnston ; Leisure Force, Aesop Rock ; Je t’obéis, Sexy Sushi ; La Folia, Arcangelo Corelli ; Symphony n°7, Ludwig van Beethoven ; Qui habitat, Josquin des Prez ; Three Voices, Morton Feldman ; Lux Alternae, György Ligeti
Le bonhomme de merde in L’Enregistré, Christophe Tarkos, P.OL., 2014
produced by
Musée de la danse / Centre chorégraphique national de Rennes et de Bretagne, directed by Boris Charmatz. The association receives grants from the Ministry of Culture and Communication (Regional Direction of Cultural Affairs / Brittany), the City of Rennes, the Regional Council of Brittany and Ille-et-Vilaine General Council.
coproduced by
Ruhrtriennale-International Festival of the Arts, Théâtre National de Bretagne-Rennes, Théâtre de la Ville and Festival d’Automne - Parijs, steirischer herbst - Graz, Holland Festival - Amsterdam, Kunstenfestivaldesarts - Brussels, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm - Frankfurt am Main
Institut français ondersteunt regelmatig de internationale tour van Musée de la danse.
thanks to
Imane Alguimaret, Marguerite Chassé, Noé Couderc, Lune Guidoni, Hypolite Tanguy, Alexandra Vincens, studenten van P.A.R.T.S. (Brussel) en de Master Performance Studies van de Universiteit van Hamburg
Created at the Ruhrtriennale — International Festival of the Arts 2014

This performance was made possible with support by