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    Festival d’Automne à Paris
    156 rue de Rivoli
    75001 Paris

You are visiting the page of a show featured in the 2016 edition. Find all the shows from this edition in our archives
Portrait Lucinda Childs

Lucinda Childs

Early Works


    • CND Centre national de la danse
      September 24 and 25
    • CND Centre national de la danse
      September 27 to September 30
    • La Commune centre dramatique national d'Aubervilliers
      September 27 to September 30

    Dance, this art of incarnation of a unique kind, never ceases to establish and re-establish the pre-requisites for its transmission. How, in today’s world, can we access works produced over fifty years ago? How can we breathe new life into their movements, and show them in different bodies? For this exceptional schedule of performances devoted to the work of Lucinda Childs, the CND Centre National de la Danse, La Commune Centre Dramatique National d’Aubervilliers, the MC93 and the Festival d’Automne à Paris have come together to present a wide cross-section of her work, dating from early works created at the Judson Church in the 1960’s, to Description (of a description) created in the year 2000 - a solo which Lucinda Childs still performs today.

    The opening up of the CND, to the outdoors, and the banks of the Ourcq canal, will also enable audiences to rediscover the Radial Courses quartet (1976), whose circular structure and elementary syntax, comprised of walking, running, hops, skips and jumps, lays the foundations for the minimalist style. Echoing this, two solos taken from Dance (1979), brought together in the form of a duo, will allow us to contemplate the continuity of this choreographic language on its return journey to the sources of movement.

    At the CND, the reconstitution work lead by Lucinda Childs and her niece Ruth Childs will be plunging us headlong into a compelling flashback. On the frontiers of dance and performance, these works bring out all the radicalism of the post-modern movement - situated somewhere between the refusal of the spectacular and the widening of dance’s field of action or scope, via the incorporation of commonplace gestures. The first, Pastime - an intriguing choreographic sculpture in which the body, wrapped up in a piece of fabric, explores the interplay between surface and volume afforded by this enveloping effect - will be the subject of a one-off revival performed by Mathilde Monnier, director of the CND Centre National de la Danse. Carnation is an emblematic work of post-modern dance which, due to the simplicity of its effects and visual arts-related impact, has paved the way for a whole host of contemporary dancers and performers. In this ready-made choreographic offering, Lucinda Childs embarks on a methodical deconstruction of her own image with the aid of objects taken from everyday life, ranging from sponges to hair-rollers. Lastly, Museum Piece, brings into existence the fantastical scenario of being situated inside a painting in order to describe and spatialize it, as well as to experiment with all the perception-based divergencies at play between discourse, painting and dance. Thirty years later, she returns to this critical use of language in the solo Description (of a description), devised in response to a song by Susan Sontag.


    For the third part in this journey, La Commune Centre Dramatique National d’Aubervilliers will be presenting Katema, Reclining Rando and Interior Drama, three pieces from the 1970’s which together form a true laboratory of minimalism, and in which the repetition of the same rhythms in accordance with different geometric formations produces a compulsive combination of gestures and rhythms. This programme will also provide the opportunity to rediscover her Concerto, from 1993, set to Henryk Górecki’s harpsichord concerto, which in turn marks the debut of the choreographer’s explorations into contemporary music, accompanied by the harpsichordist Elisabeth Chojnacka.

    Opening – CND Centre national de la danse
    Radial Courses (1976)
    Dance 2 (1979)
    Choreography, Lucinda Childs
    Radial Courses
    performers, Lucinda Childs Dance Company dancers
    Dance 2
    performers, Anne Lewis and Caitlin Scranton
    Costume design, Carlos Soto
    A CND Centre national de la danse production // In collaboration with Pomegranate Arts / Linda Brumbach

    Programme A – CND Centre national de la danse
    Choreography, Lucinda Childs
    Performer, Mathilde Monnier
    Reinterpretation, Ruth Childs
    Lighting design, Eric Wurtz
    Music, Philip Corner
    Carnation (1964)
    Choreography, Lucinda Childs
    Performer, Ruth Childs
    Lighting design, Eric Wurtz
    Museum Piece (1965)
    Choreography, Lucinda Childs
    Performer, Ruth Childs
    Lighting design, Eric Wurtz
    Description (of a description) (2000)
    Choreography, Lucinda Childs
    Text, Susan Sontag
    Music, stage and lighting design, Hans Peter Kühn
    Lighting re-creation, Eric Wurtz
    Set construction, Media Pool and MC93
    Re-creation : Associate producer, CND Centre national de la danse // An MC93 – Maison de la Culture de Seine-Saint-Denis (Bobigny) coproduction; Festival d’Automne à Paris ; La Commune centre dramatique national d’Aubervilliers // In association with CND Centre national de la danse ; La Commune centre dramatique national d’Aubervilliers ; MC93 – Maison de la Culture de Seine-Saint-Denis (Bobigny) ; Festival d’Automne à Paris

    Programme B – La Commune centre dramatique national d’Aubervilliers

    Katema (1978)
    Reclining Rondo (1975)
    Interior Drama (1977)
    Concerto (1993)
    Choreography, Lucinda Childs
    Performers, Lucinda Childs Dance Company (Katie Dorn, Kate Fisher, Sarah Hillmon, Anne Lewis, Vincent McCloskey, Sharon Milanese, Benny Olk, Patrick John O’Neill, Matt Pardo, Lonnie Poupard Jr., Caitlin Scranton, Shakirah Stewart) Costume design, Carlos Soto, Anne Masset
    Music for Concerto, Henryk Górecki, Concerto for Harpsichord and Strings performed by Elisabeth Chojnacka

    Reconstitution : A Lucinda Childs Dance Company production, in collaboration with Pomegranate Arts (Linda Brumbach) // In residence at CND Centre national de la danse // Coproduction and in association with CND Centre national de la danse ; MC93 – Maison de la Culture de Seine-Saint-Denis (Bobigny) ; Festival d’Automne à Paris ; La Commune centre dramatique national d’Aubervilliers

    In partnership with France Inter

    Delving into the Festival d’Automne’s archives reveals the importance given over to the “pioneers” of American dance. The 1979 edition featured works by Merce Cunningham, Deborah Hay, and Trisha Brown. In the same edition, Lucinda Childs presented a piece set to the music of Philip Glass, marking the start of a long history of work together, and an unshakeable sense of loyalty. Together, these names formed a constellation, stemming from the central, tutelary figure of Merce Cunningham, and which reorganized itself around a new generation of so-called “post-modern” choreographers during the 1960’s. Schooled, for the most part, in the Cunningham technique, but also having taken on board the ideas of John Cage on such things as the action of chance, the relationship with context and the refusal of pre-established formats, New York’s Judson Church quickly became a meeting place for this informal collective of artists and dancers, each with a common aim to overturn the way we set about doing dance and any conceptions we had about it. From out of it came the formulation of their demands for transparency, and a rejection of all forms of narration or expression, coupled with the use of new spaces and a movement vocabulary built upon everyday gestures. Lucinda Childs, one of the movement’s founding members, created, in the period 1963 to 1966, thirteen intriguing pieces situated somewhere between performance, sculpture and daily ritual. In an interview, Yvonne Rainer recalls the strange experience of watching this girl with a slender body giving herself over to bizarre experiments on her body, as in her pivotal work Carnations, in which she transforms herself into a “ready-made”, object adorned with household items. For Lucinda Childs, these pieces were, above all, exercises in freeing up her own academicism. But with the bringing into question of the playing space itself, and the refusal of the “spectacular”, her work was already heading in the direction of rigorous composition, the use of repetition and the accumulation of elementary actions as the basis for composition. As such, Lucinda Childs’ trajectory is exemplary of one rooted in the laboratory of post-modern dance research but which went on to invent a minimalist language of its own, in which simplicity and economy of means are the order of the day.

    From 1968 onwards, she began applying this logic of deconstruction to the classical vocabulary that she was in the midst of learning. All of her works dating back to this period, such as Radial Courses or Katema, sought to redefine the possible combinations between walking, running, jumping, jeté and the geometric implication of the body in the space. The resulting abstraction affirmed a refusal of personal expression, in favour of shapes and forms generated by their own dynamic - more often than not in silence, in non-theatre spaces such as galeries and museums. Another determining phase was the encounter with Philip Glass and Robert Wilson, for whom she choreographed the Einstein on the Beach opera in 1976. Driven on by Wilson’s sparse onstage language and Glass’s music - the rhythmic precision and melodic simplicity of which proved to be the perfect counterpart to her own research work, she embarked on the conception of a large-scale form for the stage. The result was Dance, in 1979, a choreographic poem whose title summed up perfectly this contraction towards a form which is dance, and dance only. It hinged upon basic, simple steps, modulated by different rhythms, repeated to dizzying effect, and underpinned by Glass’s music and Sol LeWitt’s filmic installation. AVAILABLE LIGHT, in 1983, marked the high-point in this harmonic upsurge between musical, choreographic and spatial constructions.

    A third crucial period began during the early 1990’s, via the collaboration with the harpsichordist Elisabeth Chojnacka, who introduced her to the field of European contemporary music. This contact with the work of composers such as Luc Ferrari, György Ligetti, Henryck Górecki and Mauricio Kagel, whose non-linear structures dislocated the clarity of the minimalist lines, brought about a transformation in her work. Pieces such as Rhythm Plus or Concerto bear witness to this new-found inflection, making more space available for the fragility of states, and quavering figures. From the 1990’s into the 2000’s, her approach has diversified. Regularly invited to work with prestigious ballet companies, she has choreographed or directed numerous opera productions such as Orpheus and Eurydice by Gluck, Zaide by Mozart, and Dr. Atomic by John Adams. This diversity forms a major part of her work, right up to the present day.

    The work of Lucinda Childs, brought to us in all its diversity by this Festival d’Automne Portrait, has been a decisive influence on numerous choreographers - from La Ribot to Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker - and on all the areas it touches upon, ranging from performance, theatre, and opera to ballet. Through its resolutely pluridisciplinary approach, it has provided a profound source of renewal for XXth century choreographic art. Whether in terms of the revival work undertaken with her niece Ruth Childs, her company or the pieces that she has imparted to the Ballet de l’Opéra de Lyon, this very special form of dance continues on its stellar journey, an ode to the purity of movement.

    “Such a work is dance”

    Gilles Amalvi