Dance among the Water Lilies: Dominique Brun and Sylvain Prunenec

Pearls don’t define the necklace, duo

For this piece performed by Dominique Brun and Sylvain Prunenec, the two dancers-choreographers enhance their work with questions of memory and its interpretation, and offer some precious and emblematic fragments: pearls of their respective experiences, seminal moments of modernity in dance: Trisha Brown, Dominique Bagouet, Odile Duboc, Deborah Hay, Vaslav Nijinsky, Stéphane Mallarmé, Mary Wigman, etc. With these "according to…” and “based on…" pieces, Dominique Brun liberates the historical works from their “classic” future to be part of the fabric of the history of contemporary dance, with the help of a veritable encyclopaedia of movements from across the 20th century.


Dominique Brun and Sylvain Prunenec, photo © Mélanie Pottier

Dominique Brun and Sylvain Prunenec are dancers and choreographers. Questions relating to memory, and the interpretation of memory, are the basis and substance of their research, even though each of them expresses these in different ways.
Having formed and worked with the Albrecht Knust Quartet (1994 to 2003), whose projects consisted of recreating works from the historical repertoire of contemporary dance based on scores in the Laban notation system, Dominique Brun is engaged in a long-term project on the dances of Vaslav Nijinsky. Her objective is to take a resolutely contemporary approach to these early 20th century works, wishing to restore their visibility after interpretative research. It will then be a matter of reinventing them and extracting material for contemporary creative works. Sylvain Prunenec, meanwhile, will be investigating the numerous states of consciousness that the dancer must go through during the dance, their visibility, and the ability of the dancer to arouse them or simply to allow them to manifest themselves. In his own choreography and in his collaborations with other choreographers, he enjoys exploring the links that bind together performer, writer and spectator.
Whether in the interpretation of a dance or the new interpretation of a historical work, a process of updating is perceptible, whose power is put into action on the set. This power, when dancing, is partly linked to the power of the body when it is in touch with memory. Yet it is memory, even though it may often be fragmentary or incomplete, or even contradictory, which nonetheless, after focusing on sensation and imagination, enables the many constituent parts to be recombined. Memory is also the collection of material we work with when we tackle a diversity of archival documents – scores, annotations, films, press articles – in order to reconstitute a dance and to turn it once again into a living event. Here again, even when the documents seem to remind us of dances, they provide information that often remains fragmentary, cut short, if not "blank". In this case we have to cross-reference these documents, and, after comparing and analysing, draw out the catalysts of a possible reinvention of the work. Thus, far from being fixed, nostalgic or even museum material, memory, whether personal or documentary, while requiring relinquishment and abandonment, also brings out the diversity and richness of work that is constantly renewed and updated.
"You speak of pearls. But the pearls do not define the necklace; it is the thread." wrote Gustave Flaubert to Louise Colet, in their famous exchanges of letters. (1). For Dominique Brun and Sylvain Prunenec, memory is the common thread that links the different dances in this programme.

And through these dances, from La danse de la sorcière  [The Dance of the Witch] to that of the Faune [Faun], from the solo of the Petites pièces de Berlin to that of the "Chosen One" in The Rite of Spring…  and from danced and spoken tales, from Stéphane Mallarmé’s eclogue to the words of the dancers, Dominique Brun and Sylvain Prunenec share with us a few precious and emblematic fragments: pearls of their respective experiences, seminal moments of modernity in dance.

Choreographer, dancer, teacher and “notatrice”, Dominique Brun is engaged in long-term research on the interplay of the history of dance and contemporary choreographic creation. She endeavours to rediscover our choreographic heritage by creating links between available archives and dancers of today. She not only supports the use of Laban kinetography (a system of dance notation), but also of numerous sources and archives (photographs and films of the time, literary texts, sketches, notes, etc.), which help identify and revive the often-forgotten notations of the past. She take a resolutely contemporary approach to these works from the past, and makes them visible once more after working on interpretation, aiming not to “reconstruct” (a vain but instinctive temptation) but rather to “reinvent”. For the film Coco Chanel & Stravinsky by Jan Kounen (2010), she recreated extracts from Nijinsky’s dance The Rite of Spring (1913), based on archives of the period, then successively choreographed a new creation, Sacre # 197 (2012), a recreation of the historic Sacre # 2 (2014), which she brings together in a diptych with 30 contemporary dancers.  This cycle of creations devoted to the work of Vaslav Nijinsky ended in 2017 with Jeux, 3 études pour 7 petits paysages aveugles.

For 2019, she is preparing Peter and the Wolf, a choreographed fable for young and old, based on Prokofiev’s symphonic fairy tale, and for 2020, a programme of re-creations based on the work of Bronislava Nijinska: Un Bolero and Les Noces.
Dominique Brun’s pieces are produced by the Association du 48.  She is the resident choreographer at the 2 Scènes, Scène Nationale in Besançon, and associate artist at the Théâtre du Beauvaisis, Scène Nationale in Oise.

(1) Gustave Flaubert – Letter to Louise Colet, 31 January 1852
Presentation of the performance by the choreographer (Association 48 website)
Poétiques et politiques des répertoires, Les danses d’après, Isabelle Launay, Ed. Centre National de la Danse, Pantin, 2017