HERO%, Cartes Blanches – Flying to the Stars and Even Higher


Karine Ponties, French choreographer living in Belgium, is well-known to the Czech audience. This graduate of Maurice Béjart’s famous Mudra dance school in Brussels and founder of the Dam de Pic ensemble has been taking part in the Dance Prague festival since 1990s. In 2001 she was present at the birth of Ponec theatre in which she later cast her choreographies. Jaro Viňarský, choreographer and dancer, or Pierre Nadaud, head of the Department of Physical Theatre and Multimedia at JAMU in Brno, were among those who danced in her pieces. Ponties then extended her collaboration with Nadaud. Their last work called Pisum Sativum was presented at the Czech Dance Platform 2013. The famous European choreographer is now coming back with her solo project HERO%. In the second part of the evening she gave room to her Czech colleagues.

HERO% is not a grandiose dancing screen as the name might suggest, it is rather a movement sketch. This doesn’t make it any lesser piece of art, though. Everything in HERO% is big or even huge. For example dreams of the main character and self-declared superhero Eric Domeneghetty, who is secretly, or rather vainly, trying to become a saviour of the human kind and thus make his dream come true. His physical constitution does not resemble a muscle-man from Marvel Studios but his stamina is admirable. He is able to stay in positions which demand a considerable amount of strength. He appears in front of us as a “superhero” with a black mask over his eyes, full red leotard, which is inside out though, black kneecaps and a back belt.

Scenography was also very simple but it was absolutely crucial for functionality and compactness of the whole. The environment probably represented Eric’s bedroom in his parents’ house. He was only a small child when he tried to “take off” in this room for the first time. The base was a square and on the base there were slightly slanting walls. During the performance various backgrounds were screened on the walls. Thanks to that we got from Eric’s bedroom with flanking walls all the way to a faraway universe full of stars. In his room Eric fought imaginary fiends who gave him a fairly hard time but only until he pulled himself together again and gave a hard time to them. At one point the imaginary enemies tied him to a chair (meaning he tied himself) and it was far from easy to escape from this trap.

Eric then put on a well-fitting suit only to take it off in a while, so that he could go and fight violence and help people in need. He took to his heels. Cars were driving past him as well as shooting gangsters or big trucks whose drivers shouted at him that he was running in the wrong lane. Despite all that he didn’t give up and ran on and on. Apparently, the scenographic mastery and creativity of Guilllaume Frometin know no borders. It really felt like Eric had run for at least ten kilometres while he was still on the stage of Ponec theatre. Brilliant scenic solutions together with the screening made spectators pay full attention to what was happening in the centre of the stage where Eric lived a life of a superhero, experiencing both successes and disappointment from one sided love.

In the end there was a great applause. By all means, HERO% touched the heart of every single spectator. Ponties together with Domeneghetty managed to immerse in tragicomic life stories and situations in which every one of us has at least once dreamt of being special. The whole composition was completed by end titles screened on one of the walls. Apart from names of colleagues that took part in staging the production there was also a list of various superheroes with Eric’s name next to them. Even though there was one or two questionable moments (such as too many repetitions of motion jokes, which soon stopped being funny), HERO% is definitely an exceptional piece and I cannot but warmly recommend it.

As Karine Ponties’ Dame de Pic ensemble was celebrating twenty years from their establishment, in the second part of the evening Karine’s Czech colleagues presented their own short performances for this occasion. It is worth to mention Carte Blanche 1 of choreographer and dancer Jaro Viňarský and light designer Tomáš Morávek. Viňarský and Morávek based their performance on humour, which can sometimes be risky, but in this case it turned out very well. During the whole time we were accompanied by a recorded voice of an English speaking presenter. At first he explained us

that to enjoy the performance properly it was necessary to hermetically close exits in the theatre. Comical light experiments such as switching light off for a whole minute, were a good follow up of the HERO% opus and appreciated by spectators. Carte Blanche 2: Electric Sheep by Pierre Nadaud and Pavla Beranová and Carte Blanche 3: Ochlupus Chluposenum by the tYhle group were more of a “gasping for breath”. However, this is because of the whole dramaturgical concept of the evening which lasted for almost three hours.

 

Written from the performance on 3rd June 2016, Ponec theatre.

Tanec Praha 2016

HERO%

Concept: David Monceau and Karine Ponties

Choreography: Karine Ponties

Scenography and artistic supervision: Guillaume Fromentin

Original music: David Monceau

Music: Elmer Bernstein

Scene: Raphaël Rubbens

Video adjustment: Jean Marc Amé and Guillaume Fromentin

Cartes Blanches

Carte Blanche 1

Concept: Tomáš Morávek and Jaro Viňarský

Carte Blanche 2: Electric Sheep

Concept: Pierre Nadaud and Pavla Beranová

Carte Blanche 3: Ochlupus Chluposenum

Concept: tYhle / Marie Gourdain, Zuzana Režná, Florent Golfier and Lukáš Karásek

Translation: Zuzana Sovová

 

 

By: Josef Bartoš
 
 

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