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Dance among the Water Lilies: Carolyn Carlson

Monday 13 January 2020, 7pm and 8.30pm

Wind Woman, solo
Immersion, solo

A major figure in contemporary dance ever since her first appearance in 1968 at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Carolyn Carlson has never ceased to dazzle her audiences. With her highly distinctive, elongated body and her inexhaustible capacity, she transfigures the slightest gesture or slightest movement. Close to performance, imbued with spirituality and philosophy, Carlson's work is less about dance than about "visual poetry". 
For this evening event, echoing the aquatic element of the Water Lilies, she presents her solo Immersion, taking us down into the depths of the waves and the movement. 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. Immersion will be preceded by Wind Woman, an invitation to listen to and feel the breath of the world and its soul, performed by Céline Maufroid.

Wind Woman and Immersion, Musée de l'Orangerie, 13 January 2020. Images  Portrait & Cie

Wind Woman
Choreography: Carolyn Carlson ; interpretation: Céline Maufroid

Choreography and interpretation : Carolyn Carlson

Original music: Nicolas de Zorzi
Production: Carolyn Carlson Company 

A poetic world in permanent creative motion
Carolyn Carlson has been shaking up the world of contemporary dance for almost 50 years. Her dancing, strongly oriented towards philosophy and spirituality, is defined as true “visual poetry”.
In her solo Immersion, Carolyn Carlson, the eternal "Water lady", embodies pure and unique gesture like an emanation of aquatic movement in its infinite metamorphosis. To the sounds of waves, the choreographer immerses herself in its fluidity, its intense presence with unfathomable depths. Carlson’s circling and spiralling gestures have brought “this dance which is not spoken but which is”
“On stage, I don’t think, I am the form of what I dance, I am water, wave, wind…” reiterates the Blue Lady, as she is known after her iconic solo in 1983.
It is in the solo that one can best understand Carlson’s vital and original energy, as each soloist invents an individual way of plunging into it.
Today, while still performing her solos, Carolyn Carlson continues to direct her own company which, alongside her core activity of touring her repertoire, is moving towards new forms of creation: exhibitions and full-length films. Expressing and transmitting her creative world remains the key element of her work.  
The phenomenon that is Carlson originally comes from a trans-cultural familial world and from a space of freedom, as the writer Thierry Delcourt states in a biographical essay on the choreographer: "The active imprint of the atmosphere and movement of her childhood is reproduced in her creation, which ranges from contemplation to the creative activation of a keen perception of her surroundings, of her confrontation with mystery. Freedom, space, energy, gravity and osmosis are the conditions for her creativity through permanent interaction with the world" (2).

California-born Carolyn Carlson defines herself first and foremost as a nomad. From San Francisco Bay to the University of Utah, from the Alwin Nikolais company in New York to Anne Béranger’s in France, from Paris Opera Ballet to the Teatrodanza La Fenice in Venice, from the Théâtre de la Ville de Paris to Helsinki, from Ballet de l’Opéra de Bordeaux to La Cartoucherie in Paris, from the Venice Biennale to Roubaix, Carlson is a tireless traveller, always seeking to develop and share her poetic universe.
She arrived in France in 1971 the beneficiary of Alwin Nikolaïs’ ideas about movement, composition and teaching. The following year, with Rituel pour un rêve mort, she wrote a poetic manifesto that defined an approach to her work that she has adhered to ever since: dance that is strongly oriented towards philosophy and spirituality. Carlson prefers the term ‘visual poetry’ to ‘choreography’ to describe her work: giving life to signature works of her poetic philosophy, and to a complete art form, at the heart of which movement has pride of place.
For four decades, Carlson has had significant influence and success in many European countries. She played a key role in the birth of French and Italian contemporary dance through the GRTOP (theatre research group) at Paris Opera Ballet and the Teatrodanza at La Fenice. She has created over 100 pieces, a large number of which are landmarks in the history of dance, including Density 21.5, The Year of the Horse, Blue Lady, Steppe, Maa, Signes, Writings on Water and Inanna. In 2006, her work was rewarded with the first ever Golden Lion given to a choreographer by the Venice Biennale. She is also a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters, and an Officer of the Légion d’honneur.
Founder of the Atelier de Paris-Carolyn Carlson at the Cartoucherie in 1999, she was an associated artist at the Théâtre National de Chaillot from 2014 to 2016 with the Carolyn Carlson Company, and now continues her projects around the world. In 2017, besides touring her repertoire, the choreographer explores new forms of creations: an exhibition for museums, a full-length dance movie for cinema…

(1) Dominique Simonnet , Je cherche le geste unique et pur, L’Express, le 7 novembre 2002
(2) Carolyn Carlson, De l’intime à l’universel, Thierry Delcourt, Actes Sud 2015
Présentation de Immersion sur le site de la Carolyn Carlson Company : / creations
Isabelle Danto, Carolyn Carlson, Transmettre un solo de danse, Revue Esprit Mars-Avril 2010