The artistic process of Alban Richard, choreographer with the company Ensemble l'Abrupt, rests on a choreography that is as meticulous as it is sensitive. It questions movement through the work of the dancer, torn between the constraints she is under and the unique, personal "answers" she offers.  It is within this gap that the dancer's individual expression materializes and takes shape. But the dancer is not the only person being called upon. Here, the spectator is never simply receptive, and is even less passive. Alban Richard wants to give viewers an active role in his performances, and doesn't hesitate to draw on their perceptions – even if it means disturbing them – with an effective scenic system. From Downfall (2004) which toys with visual perceptions to Disperse (2005) which explores figures of expansion and overflow incarnated by an exploration of the group, everything is conceived so that the dancer, like the viewer "plunged in a bath of sensations", finds herself at the heart of a labyrinth of forms, sounds, movements, within a defined space on stage. Alban Richard's choreography can't be reduced to the simple notation of movement. The intertwining of scores concerning the light, music and dance bear witness to the longing to offer a choreographic object in which each element, conceived in its interactions, strives for the same goal. This is the basis of the coherence of Ensemble l'Abrubt's dance pieces. As for the musical score, whether it's electronic by L.Perrier, classical Wagner, Bach or Mozart, or contemporary I. Xenakis, it is never simply a pretext for the choreography. The musical structures and singularities of the composers are all elements which generate movement. In fact, unlike classical tradition where dance is subjugated to the music, here it the choreography partners the musical structures. Dance and music aren't conceived to illustrate each other, but they interweave to engender a choreographic creation which is sensitive, in its globality. This is also why the music and dance scores play with rhythms and durations, carried by the dancers' movements, drawing floor patterns, making visual concrete forms found notably in Pléiades, un concert de musique et de danse (2011).

 

For Alban Richard, images play an important role. Lointain, one of the Trois Etudes de Séparation, transforms the romantic imagery of the couple. In Luisance, its the photographic heritage of Charcot's work (1) associated with pictorial images of saints in ecstasy, which is conceived as a cinematographic montage of danced figures at various speeds; the choreograph having chosen to play with the visual convergence the spectator can only operate. The third Etude de Séparation, Lacis, accentuates this principle of montage because it is presented in the form of a film showing an erotic masculine duet. The choreographic motif of the embrace is explored, ranging from the smallest cinematographic unit possible – the photogram – to the sequence shot. Lacis actually becomes a entwining of cinematographic units of variable size containing the totality of these images of unstable postures of embrace. Making a dance work when actual bodies are absent – like this film – translates into an exploration of the idea of haunting. From Lacis to Night:Light the same interrogation underlies the pieces. While the film plays off the strong presence of an absent body in the image, Night:Light offers an actual body, the dancer's, subject to affects which don't actually belong to it, but which inhabit and haunt it. Because the dancing body serves as a developer – in the photographic sense of the term – the public is led to wonder about what it sees as well as what it is and what makes it up. What are we made of, what images have shaped us? In what way does dance, by its porosity and its capacity to translate the affects and images we contain into bodies, more easily enable this circulation of ghosts? That is the choreographic adventure of Alban Richard. Ensemble l'Abrupt's dance calls as much on viewers' sensitivity as their intelligence. It never leaves them indifferent.  

 

 (1) Psychiatrist working at the Salpêtrière Hospital in the early 20th century and whose research focused on mental illness. He put together a photographic corpus of hysteric postures which serves as gestural material in Luisance, one of the Trois Études de Séparation.