Boris Charmatz, Musée de la danse [Museu da Dança], Rennes, 2009
Dancing Museum. Paradox of the immutable and of the ephemeral, this museum of dance intends to jostle AND the idea one has of the museum AND the idea one has of dance!
manifesto for a National Choreographic Centre.
I am not losing my temper, I simply propose to remove the word “centre”, to remove the word “Choreographic”, to remove the word “National”!
The word “centre” in National Choreographic Centre is the result of a formidable public policy which has proved that the centre could be plural and multiply elsewhere than in the capital of France. An in order that this impetus should remain, another emancipation must be expressed today: the question of centre and decentralization would then give way to a space where such problematics would continue to exist only as a trace.
The search for the “centre”… For a dancer, this word resounds first physically. Not so long ago, the dancer, when he was training, was systematically told to “find his centre”. But today, it is generally acknowledged that the body has no centre, and he doesn’t miss it. The body of modern times has no need for a centre, because that absent centre, the core which would enable one to feel reassured, isn’t there, has ceased to be there. For in the void of a body expropriated of all centre, there is room for dance.This is why one can also erase the word “choreographic”, in order to come back to it in some other way. Indeed, dancing includes a properly choreographic dimension, but it also overflows cheerfully from this framework. Dance is much wider than what is choreographic:its territory must expand if one wishes to see the too closed space open up, in which it still stands in our society. The space of a National Choreographic Centre must explore well beyond what comes under the mere choreographic. One should even be able to grant the direction of such an institution to a dancer (and not only to the choreographers)!
A dancer is both more, and less, than a choreographer: he is someone who works under the direction of other choreographers, who also supports more than his own work, and who knows that his body is worked upon by the work of many others, the body of his parents, the body of his teachers, the entire body of society. And if he sometimes is the interpreter of a choreographic writing, a dancer can also be just anybody, because anybody has tried, one day. I propose to erase “choreographic” because a National Choreographic Centre is much more than a space for a choreographer to find the means of the flowering of his art. Beyond the supporting of dance companies, one must also think outside the framework choreographer-interpreter-company, derive a richer symbolic matter… Everybody then, the ones who practice, the believers, the artists, the non-believers, the outcasts of the world of art, wrongly believed to be excluded from it, the others, all the others, who do not yet know where the Choreographic Centres are to be found, could find there a place to activate their imagination. What makes a dance should touch today well beyond the restricted circle of those who structure it in everyday life, and open itself up to an anthropological dimension which will joyfully explode the limits induced by the strictly choreographic field.
And then the “national” too isn’t sufficient anymore. The mental space of a far-reaching action must be at least locaglobaleuroperegioninternationabrittranscontinensouth.Universal and particular.
Also, on the façade, one could simply write:
therefore propose to transform a National Choreographic Centre into a Dancing Museum.
Seriously and joyfully.
I propose to mix all the tasks normally associated with a National Choreographic Centre and to shake them inside a framework both ancient and modern, a framework that would be funny and antiquated, dusty and exciting, a Museum with no equivalent in the world. I would like to operate a transfiguration which would give a meaning to the tasks which have been fashioned in the course of this institution’s history. The whole activity of the place would be re-thought through a different prism, a prism that would be susceptible of assembling in one only movement the patrimonial and the spectacular, research and creation, education and fun, the opening to singular artists and the desire to produce a collective work. It seems to me that the heading “Museum, Dancing Museum” can act like a door wide open on culture and the art of a dancing that we will not change into a sanctuary.
A new project of National Choreographic Centre cannot today be content with merely developing and completing the systems that were established during the course of its development. If one wishes the Rennes and Britanny National Choreographic Centre to be the matrix of an infinitely larger diffusion of dance, and to play more than ever its part locally, to become a pole of international stature, it seems to me that its global policies must be carried by an artistic project which would give shape to all of its action. The city of Rennes and the region of Britanny possess both the conditions and the energy necessary to produce a symbolic vehicle that will carry everybody, the artists, the audiences, the amateurs, the professionals, the teachers, the pupils, the spectators, the students, the politicians, the visitors, the tourists, the research workers, the journalists, the citizens, everyone beyond the ones that are usually carried. And also the dynamism in order that such a vehicle can assume all the tasks of a choreographic Centre while taking a radical, new and unusual direction.
There are few museums of dance. Very few indeed around the world. “There are in France one hundred and eighteen museums of the wooden clog, but not one museum of slavery.” I often think of that remark once heard on the radio… There isn’t a real museum of dance either, in this country. Dance and its actors are often defined in opposition to the arts that are said perennial, lasting, static, for which the museum would be the favourite place. But today if one wants to stop occulting the historical space, the culture, the choreographic heritage, were it the most contemporary, then it is time to look, to make visible and alive the moving bodies of a culture which remains widely to be invented. And if one wishes the choreographic tradition to tackle the new technological flows, and truly embrace the transmediatic space of the contemporary world, then it seems to me that under the designation of “Museum” the artists will be able to have fun and create freely.
For we have reached an exciting period where museography opens itself up to ways of thought and technologies which allow to imagine something completely different from a mere exhibition of traces, faded costumes, models of stage settings, and scarce photographs of shows.
We are at a time of history where a museum can be alive and lived in as much as a theatre is, can include a virtual space, offer a contact with dance that would be at the same time practical, esthetic and spectacular…
We are at a time of history where a museum in no way excludes the precarious movements, nor the nomadic, ephemeral, instantaneous ones.We are at a time of history where a museum can modify AND the idea one had of the museum AND the idea one had of dance. Because we haven’t the slightest intention of making a dead museum, it will be a living museum of dance. The dead will have their place, but among the living. It will be held by the living, brandished at arm’s length.
In order to do so, it is first of all necessary to forget the image of a traditional museum, because our space is first a mental one. The strength of a museum of dance consists in great part in the fact that it does not exist yet. That it doesn’t have a suitable place yet…, that the spirit of the place arrives before the place…, that everything remains to be done, and that the daily life of this building site allows all the audacities, and all the eccentricities.
First of all, a museum can “take place” every Saturday.(A national choreographic Centre is also run like one runs a cabaret, a ball or a dance floor. Or also like one holds a siege. One can hold it against wind and tide because one is held up by some kind of faith.)
The museum would comprise and include the spectacle, because in our idea, the museum contains the dance studio, the theatre, the bar, the school, the exhibition, the library.This museum on the move will be the Trojan horse of a radical broadening of the normal NCC’s dance “production”. The collective building site of a future Dancing Museum aims at transforming an institution into a symbolic space close to the epic: one must imagine a policy of provocative diffusion that will answer the necessity of radically broadening the number of people concerned. The Museum will not be content with merely “programming” events, but will be a way of giving life to a place, an audience, an adventure, and will become a place where one can go, like in the case of a museum, without knowing in advance the day’s programme. A funny place for meeting with the studio, the dance hall, the show, the initiation in the strongest sense.
To not cut the matter short, ten commandments :
but a real one: it fully takes up its museum tasks and upholds a balance between its various functions of conservation, creation, research, exhibition, diffusion, enhancement of public awareness, mediation, without neglecting any of them. Such an interdependence is what justifies the creation of a museal structure.
a museum of artists
searchers, collectors, exhibition commissioners take part in the museum’s life, but above all it is the doing of artists who invent it by creating works. It is therefore an artistic project initiated by Boris Charmatz, but produced by numerous artists.
an eccentric museum
it intends to be an introduction, an appetizer, a place for enhancing public awareness of dance and choreographic culture in the broad sense, of history of the body and its representations.However, it is not centred exclusively on choreographic art: it does not seek to establish a taxinomy of dance, its goal is not to offer a settled definition of the subject.Its ideal isn’t either to give an exhaustive representation of the different dances performed all around the world. It wishes to stimulate the desire for knowledge.
an incorporated museum
it can develop only provided that it is built by the bodies moving through it, those of the public, the artists, but also of the museum employees (attendants, technicians, administrationstaff, etc.), who activate the works, become actors themselves.
a provocative museum
it approaches dance and its history through a resolutely contemporary vision. It spends time questioning the ingenuous knowledge everyone has about dancing. It induces improbable linkings, confrontations between worlds usually far appart from one another. It questions the accepted opinions going round about dance… and therefore elsewhere in society.
a transgressive museum
it fully acknowledges the fact that its activity does not limit itself to the quest for and the representation of the “authentic” object; it encourages artists and visitors to take hold of the works, it stimulates plagiarism. Artistic creation and the visitor’s experience are at the core of its action. Being a place of life, a social space for controversy, a place of talk and interpretation, it is not only a space of accumulation and representation.
a permeable museum
it defends the principle according to which the fact of opening oneself up to a broadened conception of dance, means to accept to be crossed by other movements, to extract oneselffrom a fixed identity. To open up to difference.
a museum of complex temporalities
it thinks both the ephemeral and the perennial, the experimental and the patrimonial. Active, reactive, mobile, it is a viral museum which can be grafted on other places, can spread dance in places where it was not expected. It is also a museum with a programme evolving by the rythm of seasons, able to settle down on beaches in the summer period or to propose a winter University…
a cooperative museum
it is independant, but works in connection with a network of partners, cooperates with institutions linked to dance (contemporary, classic and traditional, scholarly and popular),to museums, to art centres and galleries, to research centres and universities, and it sets itself under no circumstances against them. It builds deep relationships with individuals,wether they be artists of international fame like Mikhail Baryshnikov, Steve Paxton or William Forsythe, or passionate amateurs.
an immediate museum
it exists a soon as the first gesture has been performed.
Written in Leipzig, Berlin, Vienne, Rennes, Vanves, Bruxelles, Montreuil, in the space of a few obstinate nights.
musée de la danse / MoMA
Boris Charmatz (Chambéry, França, 1973) coreógrafo…