“Funny, affecting and ironic in tone, and visually like no other choreography you’ve seen” The Guardian
“I see a direct line between hoochie-coochie and early modern dance.” Trajal Harrell
Choreographer Trajal Harrell, creator of the series Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at The Judson Church (2014 Fringe Festival), uses the origins of modern dance to create an entirely new performance piece, one that invites the viewer to step into an unexplored historical imagination.
Arising from performances at the World’s Fairs of 19th-century Europe and America, the hoochie-coochie presented bastardized, titillating versions of Middle Eastern dance. Informed by the ritualized moves of dance-floor voguing and the Japanese dance-theater tradition of butoh, Caen Amour explores the line between artistic and erotic dance of the past, and imagines how erotic dancing of previous eras would look like today, exoticism and spectacle remaining intact.
Led by a cast of (mostly) male dancers performing as women, Caen Amour asks questions like: How is a “woman” performed? What role did hoochie-coochie performers have in establishing dance as an art form? Part cheesy peep show, part historical reenactment, Caen Amour is a wholly innovative dance experience.
$35 general / $24.50 member
$15 student + 25-and-under
$2 FringeAccess member
Choreography Trajal Harrell Dancers Trajal Harrell, Thibault Lac, Perle Palombe, Ondrej Vidlar Lighting Design Sylvain Rausa Set Design Jean Stephan Kiss and Trajal Harrell Soundtrack Trajal Harrell Costumes Trajal Harrell and the performers Dramaturgy Sara Jansen
Photos by Orpheas Emirzas
Coproduction Support: Barbican Center (London), Kampnagel (Hamburg), Festival Avignon, Theater Freiburg, Arsenic (Lausanne), Gessnerallee (Zurich), ICA Boston, Kaaitheater (Brussels), and Productiehuis Rotterdam
Also supported by TANZFONDS ERBE- German Federal Cultural Foundation Initiative
Larry and Anne Rosen Spector
Jane G. Pepper
About Trajal Harrell
Trajal Harrell came to visibility with the Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at The Judson Church series of works which theoretically juxtaposed the voguing dance tradition with the early postmodern dance tradition. He is now considered as one of the most important choreographers of his generation.
Trajal Harrell’s work has been presented in many American and international venues including The Kitchen (NYC), New York Live Arts, TBA Festival (Portland), Walker Arts Center (Minneapolis), American Realness Festival, ICA Boston, Philadelphia Fringe Festival, LA’s RedCat Theater, Festival d’Automne (Paris), Holland Festival (Amsterdam), Festival d’Avignon, Impulstanz (Vienna), TanzimAugust (Berlin), and Panorama Festival (Rio de Janeiro) among others. He has also shown performance work in visual art contexts such as MoMA, MoMA PS1, Perfoma Biennial, Fondation Cartier (Paris), The New Museum (New York), The Margulies Art Warehouse (Miami), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), Serralves Museum (Porto), The Barbican Centre (London), Centre Pompidou- Paris and Metz, ICA Boston and Art Basel-Miami Beach.
His work Judson Church is Ringing in Harlem (Made-to-Measure)/Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at The Judson Church (M2M), has the distinction of being the first dance commission of MoMA PS1. He has been awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship; The Doris Duke Impact Award, a Bessie Award for Antigone Sr./Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at The Judson Church (L); as well as fellowships from The Foundation for Contemporary Art, Art Matters, and the Saison Foundation, among others
In 2016, he completed a two-year Annenberg Residency at MoMA, where he has turned his attention to the work of the Japanese founder of butoh dance, Tatsumi Hijikata. By looking at butoh through voguing’s theoretical lens of “realness” and modern dance through the theoretical lens of butoh, Harrell is creating a number of works which combine a speculative view of history and the archive with contemporary dance practice and composition. He has created Used Abused and Hung Out to Dry, premiered and commissioned by MoMA in February 2013; The Ghost of Montpellier Meets the Samurai premiered in Montpellier Danse Festival in July 2015; The Return of La Argentina premiered in Paris’ Centre National de la Danse and commissioned by MoMA; In the Mood for Frankie premiered in May 2016 at MoMA; Caen Amour premiered at Festival Avignon 2016; and Juliet and Romeo produced for the repertoire of Munich Kammerspiele premiered in 2017.
Most recently, he has become well-known for Hoochie Koochie, the first survey (1999-2016) and performance exhibition of his work, presented by the Barbican Centre Art Gallery in London during July-August 2017.
Interview with Trajal Harrell
FringeArts: Do you remember how you decided upon the title Caen Amour? Do you remember where you were when you decided upon it?
Trajal Harrell: I don’t remember where I was but the title was an attempt at a cheesy title for a hoochie-coochie show. Another for example could have been “Steamy Nights on the Plains”. In the case of Caen Amour, the title is a mix of the city Caen, France, and the word for love in France. Because of my touring schedule, Caen is the place I’ve spent the longest consecutive time since 2009. It’s still reigning. Also, Caen Amour when you say it could almost sound like “quand amour” which means “when love?”
FringeArts: Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at the Judson Church fused voguing and post-modern dance, among other forms. What are some of the performance “forms” and inspirations you contemplate and play with in Caen Amour?
Trajal Harrell: I wouldn’t say my work deals with fusion. I resist blending different dance forms. I’m more interested in looking at the theoretical ideas underpinning forms and the historical tensions between them. This informs an imaginary process rather than a blending of different movement styles. Caen Amour is part of a long-term research where I attempt to look at butoh [a form of Japanese dance theater] through the theoretical lens of voguing and early modern dance through the theoretical lens of butoh.
FringeArts: What is hoochie coochie and what do you find intriguing about it?
Trajal Harrell: I see a direct line between hoochie coochie and early modern dance. Both are connected to the burgeoning form of artistic dance at the beginning of the 20th century and the fascination during that era with “orientalism.” The hoochie coochie was supposedly a bastardized form of dance shows that were trying to copy the moves of the Syrian dancer little Egypt who had danced at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Those offsprings developed in various manners and traveled across the U.S. , and my father went to it when the fair come to my small town where I grew up. We never talked about it, but from my time as a little boy, I saw him going into the tent of the hoochie coochie shows. As I become older, I realize he was going to watch naked ladies dancing. So, this is my first real understanding of dance as a spectacle.
Excerpt. Full interview coming soon to the FringeArts Blog.
Trajal Harrell – The dirty dancer voguing his way into history by Judith Mackrell, The Guardian
“I’m interested in going into the gaps and fissures,” Harrel says, “in looking at the movement that doesn’t feature in the history books.”