ART VIDEO - POLYPHONIC MUSIC - CHOREOGRAPHY
How a mystical and ritualistic procession would appear to be in our contemporary culture?
A fresh look at procession interpreted as a performed painting and as a living monumental sculpture of skin and voices.
*Θεωρία = “theoria” is the experience of the highest or absolute truth, realized by complete union with God. The term was used by the ancient Greeks to refer to the act of experiencing or observing and then comprehending through consciousness during the processions.
Presentation of the production
“Θεωρία” is a project orchestrated by the artistic director Celia Stroom. Following up an interdisciplinary approach, it is motivated by a clear intention: to use the ground of procession in order to brush the dust off the form of the choir with the help of an unique project that explores the power, dynamic and significance of human voice rather than regard it as an obvious and static evidence. For that purpose, she employs a contemporary chorus theater consisting in 12 singing and moving bodies.
The plot is developed through a procession. A sculptural mass of human beings is walking, dancing and singing like in any “theoria”. The audience will be invited to observe the processing ritual of an anonymous society composed of human beings like all of us who are so deeply living a ritualistic and spiritual moment.
The conception of such a performance relies on the three following points:
The procession presents a urban space: during the time of this event Men and Gods share the topography of the ceremonial space.
It consists in a solemn moment during which each person follows his/her own private way.
Individual behaviors are put in common and as such they make emerge a strong emotion, a genuine visual and auditory shock.
The procession includes a series of recurrent ritual acts performed by a “choir” and represents a range of faithful. This kind of scenography grouping a mass of humans refers to any iconography of procession (pictures, paintings, sculptures).
From antiquity till nowadays, processions have always taken place into the urban area. Therefore any definite place could serve for the design set of this performance. So the place can be considered as a central feature of them. We suggest that space in itself is able to afford for a meaning, to introduce the narrative, and so represents an attempt to communicate to the audience by disposing artifacts such that they depict a landscape that is supposed to create some sensations and feelings.
This procession is interpreted by a “choros” staged by performers, a mass of human beings which dances and sings together during a religious ceremony like in the Ancient Greece. The idea of creating a moving choir comes from the intention of Celia Stroom to instigate a relation between movement and sound.
To give the impression of a homogeneous body, the performers are placed very close to one another. Like their voices, their movements interact with those of their neighbors as if they were interconnected by the moment they are sharing. The definition of the movements refers to the dramaturgy of the procession but also depicts the characteristics of an organic body. When a soloist manifests himself loudly standing out of the mass, his movement gives the impression of overcoming the strength of cohesion, spreading the tissues and dilating the sound of the choir.
Music and Choreography
Celia Stroom treats movements like music and the choir like a dance. This use of the voice as a sculptural material, investigates diverse vocal acts: the “choros” explores the voice as an instrument of extraordinary physical and cultural resonance. The human voice as a conceptual compass is employed to explore notions of community and difference, rationality and impossibility of feelings expressed during the performance.
The theatricality of this performance is based on the effectiveness of their feelings. Focusing on intimate or private experiences of the universal act of processing, the choir of performers, as several personalities, expresses its emotional and spiritual journey through this specific religious event, which comes from the old time.
Our choreographic references are those of The Wedding of Stravinsky and Mary Wigman’s Totentanz and the visual ones those of the movie maker Bill Viola and of the photograph Spencer Tunick.
The procession, figured by a marching band, constitutes a living and sonorous body that expresses itself through various physical states at the mercy of its sonority. The lyricism of the moving and polyphonic body of this mass of human beings creates a very strong visual and audibly effect.
The music was developed in several stages. The first one considers the choir as an organic entity, in other words, as a homogeneous vocal mass. The combination of the various densities produced by the vocal effects gives substance to the music. The vocal ensemble is uniform or divided into interdependent or independent sound groups. Occasionally, it is also decorated with soloist parts. During this procession, performers sing a vocal repertoire from contemporary composers inspired by traditional, popular and folk music from Europe like Pärt, Ligeti, Bartok, Kodaly, Rachmaninov, Stravinsky, Ohana, Florentz. Their construction of music and the development of an organic musical movement by the choir articulate the notions of cycle with repetitions and obsession. The succession of rhythmic, melodic sequences, and body sounds (like breathing) as well as their progressive densification aims at a state of trance. The movement of the choir constantly challenges the cohesion of the voices and their density. Each performer listens carefully to his neighbor. They play together with a strong complicity, sharing the mysticism of the procession.
The link between the bodies of the singers and the music they sing during this procession is the breath. The flux of air going through the performers organ becomes sonorous. The choir dances and sings the breath: it exhales, suffocates, and loses its equilibrium while recounting its sensation of the last breath.
Duration: The performance is approximately 40 minutes.
1 designer set
1 artistic director
1 production manager
Every places with an acoustic of a concert hall
The vocal repertoire of this performance needs a quite reverberant acoustic
The choreography of this performance isn’t created for a theater stage. The procession staging by a “choros” as to be presented in a kind of “agora”: a space shared between the audience and the performers.
Dimensions (minimum) 20m x 20m x 5m
Light : it depends on the location
Technical team : it depends on the location
Production : Performers need to work before the performance in rehearsal halls (2 days before the performance)