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Dance among the Water Lilies: Carolyn Carlson

Monday, 8 October 2018, 7pm and 8.30pm

Immersion, a solo choreographed and performed by Carolyn Carlson

Born in California in 1943, Carolyn Carlson is a major figure in contemporary dance. 
Ever since her first appearance before a Parisian audience in 1968 at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Carslon has never ceased to dazzle her audiences. Although her elongated body is instantly recognisable, it is above all her inexhaustible capacity to transfigure the slightest gesture or slightest movement that strikes the attentive observer. Close to performance, imbued with spirituality and philosophy, Carlson's work is less about dance than about "visual poetry". 
At the Musée de l'Orangerie, the American choreographer and performer will present her solo Immersion, danced for the first time in 2010 at the Théâtre National de Chaillot
Echoing the aquatic element of the Water Lilies, Carlson takes us down into the depths of the waves and the movement, inviting us to enter our inner being.
More than any other piece, Immersion translates Carlson's ability to literally embody a theme. Both carnal and ethereal, the solo gives life to the ebb and flow of the waves, which seem to be emerging from the body of the dancer.


Carolyn Carlson, Musée de l'Orangerie, 8 October 2018 © Musée de l'Orangerie / Sophie Crépy

In her solo Immersion, which vigorously tackles the theme of waves, perpetual movement and the infinite, Carlson’s circling and spiralling gestures bring a finely tuned response to this immersion in her favourite element.

We remember that Carlson, a living legend in contemporary dance, left the United States and the choreographer Alwin Nikolais to come to France in the early 1970s, and influenced several generations of performers and creators. Highly charged with tiny variations, vibratory incantations in ambiguous embodiments, her gestures sketch out a farewell that is perpetually repeated as time unfolds. In her solos Carlson touches the invisible, enables a “living poetry, articulated in time and space” to emerge, and reveals the secret of this magic power without which the dance would certainly leave no trace.

More than anybody else, Carlson has brought “this dance which is not spoken but which is”: “On stage, I don’t think, I am the form”, reiterates the Blue Lady, as she is known after her iconic solo of 1983.

The creator of around one hundred dances, including Signes for the Paris Opera, with stage sets by Olivier Debré, and a calligrapher and poet, Carlson, born in California of Finnish descent, began her career as a performer with Alwin Nikolais. In 1971, she chose to go to Paris to undertake her personal research. Appointed Étoile-chorégraphe by Rolf Liebermann (a title invented for her) at the Paris Opera after the creation of Density 21.5 in 1973, then director of the GRTOP (Paris Opera Theatre Research Group), she then moved to Venice and to Stockholm via Helsinki. On returning to Paris in 1999, she founded the Atelier de Paris-Carolyn Carlson at the Cartoucherie, while also directing the Ballet du Nord-Centre Chorégraphique National in Roubaix from 2004 to 2013.

Today, while still performing her solos, Carlson continues to direct her own company which, alongside her core activity of touring her repertoire, is moving towards new forms of creation: exhibition, full-length films, etc.


Press release / Carolyn Carlson Company
Article by Isabelle Danto, Carolyn Carlson, Transmettre un solo de danse [Carolyn Carlson, Transmitting a Dance Solo]Esprit magazine March-April 2010















Photos © Musée de l'Orangerie / Sophie Crépy