Caught in flight during the rehearsal of Stereo, his new rock show dripping with rhinestones, the creation of which opens the Montpellier Danse festival on Friday June 17, Philippe Decouflé, a leading personality on the contemporary scene since the 1980s, displays a leaping form. Pirate scarf on his head, short pants and Crocs, he turns up the sound, changes his troop’s locker room for ever more glitter and wants it to hit.
There is initially the desire to evoke the sea, bodies rolling on the sand like waves, and also to dance on a volcano… There is a lot of force and violence in the landscapes of Reunion which brought back my taste for materials, water, fire, ice, stone, which I worked on as a teenager with my master, Isaac Alvarez. These images unleash my creativity. Added to this was the desire to do a solo for Violette Wanty, with whom I have been collaborating for ten years, then a duet with her and Aurélien Oudot. Then appeared the need to twist the stereotypes, to make the man play with the woman… To arrive at a dance where everything is mixed.
I attended these camps every summer between the ages of 13 and 17. From 7 a.m., we met in the gymnasium to work on the subjects. For an hour and a half, we were water, air, iron and, more difficult, wood… It was great to explore this relationship with the elements. In the morning, we practiced acrobatics, mime and in the afternoon, it was relaxation. In the evening, it was improvisation led by Isaac, who spoke to each other with an incredible voice, a crazy charisma. It was very beautiful, with great creative freedom. At the end of each course, we took part in a big show. I also learned how to make costumes with tape!
Yes, probably a little. Among my first spectacular shocks, there are concerts of Kid Creole and the Coconuts or B-52s and Talking Heads. I also remembered a show by American choreographer Karole Armitage called Drastic Classicism, which was punk and rock. I also share this passion for rock with my daughter Louise, who is a bassist, with whom I am collaborating for the first time. I created a trio around her composed of guitarist Arthur Satan and drummer Romain Boutin. Together we chose standards like Oh! Darling, by the Beatles, or even Get It on, by T. Rex, but new songs have also been composed. And, of course, we play with the clichés of rock but also pop, disco.
I started from the music and started to imagine situations on it, overall pictures or a sequence written especially for a dancer. But, in general, the dance and the music work together and we no longer know who triggers what at a given moment. As I was immobilized for weeks due to a broken leg, I designed quite a few moves from and on the performers.
I am lucky to be surrounded by an exceptional team. We’ve all known each other for years. For Stereo, I find the set designer Jean Rabasse and the costume designer Philippe Guillotel, who were at the heart of the ceremonies of the Albertville Olympic Games that I choreographed in 1992. And there is also with me Olivier Simola for the video, Alexandra Naudet, who assists me with the choreography, and Begoña Garcia Navas in the light. Their trust is very important. I met two new performers during an audition. There were a lot of dancers and I plugged everyone into a 220 volt socket to see which ones lit up the strongest. We are going to spend two or three years together for the Stereo tour and it is better that it works between us.
Yes of course ! Alone, I would never have done anything. If I have ideas, they are then transformed and embodied by the dancers and my team. I am a kind of guide, I channel them. I feed them and they feed me reciprocally. I consider each of my partners as a specific color on a palette and their mixture creates emotions that allow the show to take shape.
I like that dance welcomes acrobatics as an enjoyable complement, that it also gives pride of place to acting. In my plays, the dancers, acrobats and actors do everything. They sing, play an instrument and even take on technical roles. I still have in me the fantasy of total theater inherited from the German Bauhaus and the American choreographer Alwin Nikolais (1910-1993) with whom I studied at the National Center for Contemporary Dance in Angers at the very beginning of the 1980s. likes to stage as many living elements as possible in order to combine them. Each performer uses their technique but also finds themselves in incredible sets far from the image of an army of identical beauties. I like that everything overflows.
There are many. I will quote Stop Making Sense, by Jonathan Demme, around a Talking Heads concert. David Byrne appears there alone with his guitar, then the bassist arrives, the drums arrive and they are finally an incredible number on stage. The construction principle inspired me at the beginning of the creation of Stereo. I also remember that my film Caramba opened the midnight session of L’Escurial, in Paris, at the end of the 1980s, before Stop Making Sense. There is also Phantom of the Paradise, by Brian De Palma, which I saw when it was released in 1974, and which was such a shock that I had two screenings. Finally, for its relationship to time slipping, to repetition, Un jour sans fin, by Harold Ramis, whose humor I also appreciate.
The idea was born after the performance-wandering Everything must disappear, created in 2019, at Chaillot-Théâtre national de la danse. For the occasion, we reassembled an extract from Shazam. I realized that most of the performers of the time were still there and very fit and that I had to take advantage of it. Twenty-four years later, reassembling this piece, which still works perfectly, gives it another dimension: that of time. We have kept the original films shown where we see the young dancers. And on these images are superimposed their older bodies of today. It’s very touching and beautiful.
During the creation, in the fall of 2021, my friend Thierry Fournier, with whom I danced Jump, in 1984, died and the show is dedicated to him. But this danced concert plunges first into the energy of youth. It also speaks of love. The world is fallow and love is a strong value. Stereo is going to be very peace, love and rock’n’roll.