Relâche

Conception 1924 : Francis Picabia with Entr'acte : René Clair
Reenactment March 2014, at the Opéra national de Lorraine
Choreography : Petter Jacobsson and Thomas Caley
Music : Erik Satie

Relâche © Laurent Philippe

An instantaneous ballet in two acts, a cinematographic entracte and The Dog’s Tail

Conception 1924 : Francis Picabia
Music : Erik Satie
Choreography : Jean Börlin
Film : René Clair
Reenactment - 2014
Choreography : Petter Jacobsson and Thomas Caley
Historical research and dramaturgy : Christophe Wavelet
Set design : Annie Tolleter
Lighting : Eric Wurtz
Historiacal research about the 1920s: Carole Boulbès
Costumes : Costume department of CCN - Ballet de Lorraine

41 MINUTES
14 DANCERS

1924 was a particularly wonderful year for the man who declared: “I have always loved playing seriously.” Francis Picabia (1879- 1953), the indefatigable artist, writer and enthusiastic letter writer, was working on 391, an avant-garde Paris revue, using it that year to fight on two separate fronts: the academisation of Dada, which he dismissed with one of his polemical, brutally funny texts, and the pretentions of the nascent surrealism of André Breton, which he suspected was only a pathetic means of seizing power in the Parisian art world. He drew, he painted, he chatted with his co-conspirators Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray and between the laughter and the tears, found the time to work on Relâche or on editing his one novel, Caravansérail, which was both autobiographical and lost for a long time, it was only finally published after his death. With devastating cynicism, incomparable lucidity and humour, this Satyricon of modern times is that of an actor and spectator who sends up, sends off and records with jubilation the day’s current inventions and disorders, settling scores, denouncing fakes, blow-hards and pretenders. An ode to movement and to moments of everyday life, between dinners at Prunier and unbridled delights, jazz bands and the new dances, roulette at Monte-Carlo, exhibitions and visits, opium, car races or spiritualism seances at his home on the rue Fontaine, Picabia intertwines the art scene and the Parisian nightlife of the 20’s, mocking André Breton, costing out Eros and blasting the fake values of the artists sucking up to the powers that be. Caravansérail is a literary gem, and Relâche would be the same thing onstage. Both the novel and the dance work show us what it was like at that time, when all of Paris was a party, as Hemingway wrote. This was the time, set during the period between the two World Wars, at the exact moment when the conventions of bourgeois humanism inherited from the 19th century were collapsing, precipitated by the events of 1914- 18 and by the arrival of European fascism and the Nazis, at the end of the international economic debacle which came about after the crash of 1929. Walking on this tightrope strung between two eras, when the dreams of the new Man were flourishing with the art happening all over Europe, from France to Germany, from Italy to Hungary, from Holland to Russia, between Dada, Bauhaus and Constructivism, the renewal of these art forms resonated for Picabia and his friends with the renewal of certain forms of life.

Relegating old forms of blackmail to what he termed “eternal beauty,” to “noble or overly solemn subjects,” it was with ferocity and humour that the man who declared that he preferred “a chair at the Paris Casino to one at the Académie Française,” attacked the art that had become a mere accessory or a piece of bourgeois furniture – a lie which could be bought, a conveyor of conventions, whose declared romanticism or rebellion against command would set off corrosive yet always joyful salvos.

As for Relâche, it was with the complicity of his elder in salutary insolences, Erik Satie, that Picabia conceived it, along with the young, elegant René Clair, an art critic and writer in a sleeping Paris, a director who was an intact breath of freshness, whom he asked to direct the Entr’acte cinématographique which he had sketched out. And Jean Börlin, the dancer and official Swedish choreographer - was assigned the task of translating onto the bodies a part of the choreography of the piece, which was otherwise taken care of by the overwhelming kineticism of the scenographic art object he conceived of as a set, somewhere between blinding sculpture and flashing luminous tableau. He was asked to speak three of the most familiar languages spoken by audiences in certain dark Parisian theatres of the time – music hall, circus and ballet – to twist them into a sort of braid in which quotes and puns and insinuations of a deliberate casualness would undo the normal hierarchies and communicate his enigmas. Between collage and montage and these newer procedures of the art of that time, the curtain went up on a fiction. And while the “bride” of art, once “stripped naked by its bachelors,” gets dressed in order to later undress them – it is to the audience that Picabia asks this question: what is the Entr’acte (something taking place between two acts) for those who are on Relâche (in French the word means a day of no performance, or that the theatre is closed)? Christophe Wavelet

Petter Jacobsson

Dancer and choreographer Petter Jacobsson was educated at the Royal Swedish Ballet School and is a graduate of the Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg. He was a principal dancer with the Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet in London between 1984 to 1993. Performing sometimes in over 200 performances a year nationally and internationally as part of their intense tour schedule, in addition to this he traveled the world performing as guest artist work with a multitude of international companies. 
In 1993, he moved to New York and began a career as an independent freelance dancer collaborating with Twyla Tharp, Merce Cunningham, as a member of his Repertory Understudy Group, Irene Hultman and Deborah Hay as well as studying with Susan Klein and Barbara Mahler.
Jacobsson created the choreography for the opera Staden for the Royal Swedish Opera, a production that was part of  “Stockholm 98, European capital of culture.” He was the Artistic Director of the Royal Swedish Ballet from 1999 to 2002, and was designated Choreographer of the Year in 2002 by the Society of Swedish choreographers, in recognition for his work in modernising the company.
He has participated in a number of artistic projects and has created more than 20 works with Thomas Caley in New York, Stockholm and around the world, from The Inevitable at the cabaret Martha@Mother in New York, to Chess the musical for which they received the Gold Mask for Best Choreography.
Other works include The nearest nearness at MDT- Stockholm, No mans land – no lands man at Kulturhuset- Stockholm, Flux at Färgfabriken Gallery in Stockholm, Untitled partner at MDT- Stockholm, Paradise? with 32 extras, presented at MDT then for Skånes Dansteater in Malmö in 2008.
They also created In nooks and crannies, a happening for the Royal Opera House in Stockholm, which was a major critical success. This project included the Royal Ballet, the Opera and the Orchestra, presented in inhabitual spaces of the institution, which were reconfigured as performance spaces. After several years of collaborating together, Petter Jacobsson and Thomas Caley created the company Scentrifug in 2005
In July 2011, Petter Jacobsson became the Director of the CCN - Ballet de Lorraine.

 

Thomas Caley

The choreographer and dancer Thomas Caley was born in the United States. In 1992 he earned a BFA from Purchase College in upstate New York. After a year of performing in a multitude of independent projects in New York City he joined the Merce Cunningham Company.
From 1994 to 2000, he worked as a principal dancer with the company, touring throughout the world and participating in the creation of 12 new works by Cunningham. In 2000 he moved to Stockholm to continue his collaboration with Petter Jacobsson and to continue working as a freelance dancer in Europe, in France Thomas has worked with Boris Charmatz on the 50 ans de danse & flip book projects. As of 2011, Thomas Caley is the coordinator of research for the CCN - Ballet de Lorraine.