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Gabriela Carrizo en Franck Chartier / Peeping Tom

Gabriela Carrizo (IT/AR) and Franck Chartier (FR) first met in 1998 at ballets C de la B. Chartier had previously danced with Rosas and Needcompany, while at the age of 19, Gabriela Carrizo came to Europe to dance – including with Needcompany – and to choreograph. Their first joint creation Caravana was a location performance in a motorhome. The audience followed what was happening inside through the windows: Gabriela and Franck, a young couple in and outside Caravana performing their everyday activities. The performative quality was high, the impact paradoxical: simultaneously intimate and awkward, with the spectator in a dual role of guest and voyeur. The very same motorhome would reappear nine years later in 32, rue Vandenbranden (2009).

In Caravana Carrizo and Chartier already lay the foundations of their poetics: the organic interweaving between the daily life of the performers and their artistic work, a zoom in on fears and fantasies in relational constellations that are as familiar as they are intimate in hyper-realistic stage sets. Between 2002 and 2007, they created their first trilogy with their company Peeping Tom: Le Jardin, Le Salon (that helped them break on to the international scene) and Le Sous Sol. In thematic terms this trilogy forms a house in which the performers take on the battle with the baggage they bring with them. In Le Sous Sol (2007) they end beyond death, in an underworld where they, thanks to the lack of social inhibitions, can live up to unrealised desires. We see signs of a quest for the hyper-individual, unstable imaginary worlds that remain hidden behind each regular social intercourse. The way this parallel universe is staged forms the common thread running through their oeuvre.

In Caravana Carrizo and Chartier already lay the foundations of their poetics: the organic interweaving between the daily life of the performers and their artistic work, a zoom in on fears and fantasies in relational constellations that are as familiar as they are intimate in hyper-realistic stage sets.

When Carrizo and Chartier stop performing in 2009, this immediately translates into more refined performances. A Louer (2011) in particular is characterised by highly coherent scenic resources. Transience is the theme this time: the stage is not a place that belongs to the artist, it is a place he 'rents' and can merely appropriate by temporarily transforming it. A place that also repeatedly craves new life. On the stage the diva character of performer-singer Euridike De Beul is confronted with her personal fears in a labyrinth of rooms and spectators. Here her parallel imaginary world - in this case of the artist in crisis - is near perfectly interwoven with the excessive scenography and sound resonance that emphasise the characters’ smallness. Resonance also returns in the movement material: Peeping Tom experiments for the first time in A Louer with synchronous movement phrases in the form of waves between a movement from one performer to the other.  

Totally consistent with the organic interweaving between the personal life, the company and the stage A Louer also heralds a new work constellation, with more freedom for the individual development of the artistic leaders and exchanges in the company's structure. In their subsequent creations Carrizo and Chartier take turns at the helm, while the other acts as ‘outside eye’. Vader (Franck Chartier, 2014) is the first part of a new trilogy in this new setup. In 2016, Moeder (Gabriela Carrizo) is in the pipeline for 2016 and Kinderen is planned for 2018.

We see signs of a quest for the hyper-individual, unstable imaginary worlds that remain hidden behind each regular social intercourse. The way this parallel universe is staged forms the common thread running through their oeuvre.

32, Rue Vandenbranden (2009)

The clip is a fine illustration of an initial source of inspiration for Carrizo and Chartier: the work of the photographer Gregory Crewdson, and especially his story about how he eavesdropped behind his father's door (a psychologist) as a child. Naturally the young Crewdson was not able to comprehend the meaning of the discussions, but what he heard gave rise to an imaginary world about what remains hidden and goes unsaid. Exactly the type of atmosphere Peeping Tom strives to create in its work. Windows and doors through and behind which individuals peer inside or are excluded become a constant in the scenography.

In 32, rue Vandenbranden the scenic resources jointly delve into the fears and fantasies of relationships of love. The dancers' alienating movement material is not gratuitous: it jointly exposes the extreme of this inner turmoil. (During the creative process and the search for the movement material Peeping Tom fortunately always uses a thin layer of foam that neutralises micro-vibrations on the floor.) In the clip we see the dancers drop to their knees - their legs folded in a heart shape. The heart as a dramaturgical crux recurs in the production in various forms, from a performer that rips a bloody heart from his body, to a pulsating rhythm, which can also be momentarily heard and seen here. In 32, rue Vandenbranden fear partly speaks from the visual language that refers to the thriller genre - Hitchcock is very close - while the cinematic soundscape and lighting intensifies the atmosphere full of menace, passion and panic. Cinematic editing techniques – with the film editor Nico Leunen as consultant – are also a means for exploring the boundaries of the narrative in 32, rue Vandenbranden: how far can you build on a story and characters without losing the searching openness that is inherent to contemporary dance.

Exactly the type of atmosphere Peeping Tom strives to create in its work. Windows and doors through and behind which individuals peer inside or are excluded become a constant in the scenography.

Vader 

Vader – stunningly portrayed by the 79-year-old non-professional performer Leo De Beul – exposes the shifting perceptions of a demented elderly man in an old people's home. In this clip the old man no longer sees or recognises his reflection as human. He compensates for this lack with a fantasy about the virtuoso and vital pianist he might once have been. The music dances around his head. In this clip the intergenerational aspect and the mix of professional and amateur performer, an approach favoured by Peeping Tom, gels really well with the themes of desire, loss and flight: De Beul's imaginary experiences are just as vital as Hun-Mok Jung's dance improvisation, who lives up to the reality of the elderly man in the role of carer. The lighting plan also helps: the warm spotlight around the piano indicates the old man's isolation but also borders a sanctuary to which he can physically cling if need be - while meanwhile his daily environment literally has a problem shining through. A short while later we see how unequal the fight is: the blue light in the windows that are far too high simultaneously cool the space and highlight the old man's vulnerability.

Author:
Lieve Dierckx

Lieve Dierckx is a theatre scientist. She writes about dance for various media, theatres and choreographers.