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Boris Charmatz

Sept 22-23

2018 Fringe Festival

Runtime TBA

$15 – $35


DescriptionAbout the ArtistsAbout Philadelphia Museum of DanceInterviewFurther Reading

“Boris Charmatz plants humanity in its base instincts.” Télérama (France)

“We launch movement with our mouths … Dance is in the stomach. Dance is in the palate. Dance is in the teeth … We envision a sort of meal in motion, we eat everything, we eat anything, all the time. We are an orchestra in motion, self-fueled … The essence is jammed down the throat. You don’t want to die stuffed. You swallow the message without having read it. You swallow reality. You digest conflicts.” Boris Charmatz

Whet your appetite with manger, a delectable work by French choreographer Boris Charmatz  (Levée des conflits, 2016 Fringe Festival) that implores audiences to examine the nature of eating, of digesting information, of consuming.

Charmatz subjects dance to formal constraints which redefine its possibilities. In manger (French for “to eat”), he sets bodies in motion not with the eyes, or with the limbs, but with the mouth: dancers chew through reams of paper, taste, swallow, sing, eat. The mouth is a crossroads where food, voices, breath, words, and saliva intermix: it is a locus where the inside and the outside, the self and the other meet, taste each other, engage each other, interchange and ingest each other. manger is a swallowed reality, a slow digestion of the world.

$35 general / $24 member
$15 student + 25-and-under
$2 FringeAccess member

Directed by Boris Charmatz Lights Yves Godin Sound Olivier Renouf Arrangements and vocal training Dalila Khatir Choreographic assistant Thierry Micouin Interpreted by Or Avishay, Matthieu Barbin, Nuno Bizarro, Ashley Chen, Olga Dukhovnaya, Alix Eynaudi, Julien Gallée-Ferré, Christophe Ives, Maud Le Pladec, Filipe Lourenço, Asha Imani Thomas, Frank Willens Sound material “Ticket Man,” The Kills; “Hey Light,” Animal Collective; “King Kong,” Daniel Johnston; “Leisureforce,” Aesop Rock; “Je t’obéis,” Sexy Sushi; “La Folia,” Arcangelo Corelli; Symphony n°7, Ludwig van Beethoven; “Qui habitat,” Josquin des Prez; “Three Voices,” Morton Feldman; “Lux Aeterna,” György Ligeti Text Le bonhomme de merde in L’Enregistré, Christophe Tarkos, P.OL., 2014

Photos: (featured) ®Beniamin Boar (other photos) Ursula Kaufmann

manger is a part of Philadelphia Museum of Dance (see below for more information). Support for Philadelphia Museum of Dance has been provided to Westphal College of Media Arts & Design by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

manger is produced by Musée de la danse / Centre chorégraphique national de Rennes et de Bretagne—Directed by Boris Charmatz. The association receives grants from the Ministry of Culture and Communication (Regional Direction of Cultural Affairs / Brittany), the City of Rennes, the Regional Council of Brittany and Ille-et-Vilaine General Council. museedeladanse.orgThe Institut français regularly supports the international touring of Musée de la danse.

Coproduced by Ruhrtriennale-International Festival of the Arts ; Théâtre National de Bretagne-Rennes; Théâtre de la Ville and Festival d’Automne Paris; steirischer herbst Graz; Holland Festival Amsterdam; Kunstenfestivaldesarts Brussels, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm Frankfurt am Main

Created at the Ruhrtriennale — International Festival of the Arts 2014

About Boris Charmatz

Boris Charmatz is director of the Musée de la danse in Rennes, France, and co-curator of the Philadelphia Museum of Dance.

Charmatz has presented a series of highly memorable pieces, from Aatt enen tionon(1996) to 10000 gestures (2017). While maintaining an extensive touring schedule, he also participates in improvisational events on a regular basis with Saul Williams, Archie Shepp, and Médéric Collignon and continues to work as a performer with Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Tino Sehgal.

As associate artist of the 2011 Festival d’Avignon, Charmatz presented enfant, a piece for 26 children and 9 dancers in the Cour d’Honneur of the Pope’s Palace. In 2013, he was invited to MoMA, New York, where he conceived Musée de la danse: Three Collective Gestures, a three week dance program in the Marron Atrium and all over the museum. In 2015, Charmatz was invited to Tate Modern, London for If Tate Modern was Musée de la danse?, an intensive two day performance program throughout the galleries and the Turbine Hall.

From 2002-2004, while an artist-in-residence at the Centre National de la Danse, he developed Bocal, a nomadic and ephemeral school that brought together students from different backgrounds. In 2007 and 2008, he was a visiting professor at Berlin’s Universität der Künste, where he contributed to the creation of a new dance curriculum.

In 2016, he was invited to Philadelphia for Westphal College’s Dancing Dialogues residency, which featured the acclaimed Levée des conflits for 24 dancers, part of the 2016 Fringe Festival. He choreographed manger, which will be presented as part of the 2018 Fringe Festival, and danse de nuit, which will be the final performance of the Philadelphia Museum of Dance daylong dance exhibit at the Barnes Foundation on October 6, 2018.

Since 2009, he has been the director of the Rennes and Brittany National Choreographic Centre (France), and has transformed it into a Museum of Dance (Musée de la danse) of a new kind. The museum has initiated, among others, the projects: préfiguration, expo zéro, rebutoh, brouillon (rough draft), 20 Dancers for the XX Century, Fous de danse (Mad about dance), and Petit Musée de la danse.

Charmatz co-authored the books undertraining / On A Contemporary Dance with Isabelle Launay, Emails 2009-2010 with Jérôme Bel, and wrote “Je suis une école,” related to the project Bocal. More information is available at and

Philadelphia Museum of Dance

Philadelphia Museum of Dance explores the tension between public and private experience and seeks to offer alternate possibilities for exhibiting dance performance, including the idea of public choreographic assembly, a signature concept for Boris Charmatz. Support for Philadelphia Museum of Dance has been provided to Westphal College of Media Arts & Design by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

This project culminates in a one-day free exhibit of live dance at the Barnes Foundation on Saturday, October 6, 3-9 pm. See the Barnes come alive with dance in nearly every corner. Wake up your body and mind by joining a group warm-up with Boris Charmatz. Wade through the Solo Forest, a collection of simultaneous solos. Feast on dance on film. Power up at a food truck. Join the soul train. End the evening with danse de nuit – a work by Charmatz that radically rethinks public assembly.

Stop by for an hour or stay for six. Visit to plan your day.

Interview with Boris Charmatz

Conducted by Gilles Amalvi, 2013

Amalvi: An important starting idea for you was the “not very spectacular” dimension of the action of eating, swallowing. Is this line of thought still relevant?

Charmatz: Absolutely. The creation, as I now see it, increasingly tends towards a form of disappearance: treating food in terms of swallowing it, blotting it out. But then, this calls for careful, precise planning, very unlike the rather raw principle that I had initially envisaged. To tackle the dimension of disappearance, the dimension of blockage, of impediment — in speaking, dancing — I find some subtle, precise mechanisms, bordering on invisibility in order not to just dangle in front of the audience a vision of bodies in the process of ingesting.

Amalvi: You evoke your earlier pieces Levée des conflits and enfant in manger. Do you intend connections with principles derived in earlier pieces?

Charmatz: Indeed. This piece is not a synthesis, nor the conclusion to a trilogy, but I think that those pieces contain principles corresponding to two types of desire, to two ways of constructing dance, that find a way to intermingle in manger.

It also feels the influence of another previous piece. I focus on the question of what a choreography of mouths, of hands, and of feet, might be, in the sense that the stage is a sort of a “table.” Strangely enough, as I was working with this material, images from an older piece, Herses, came back to me. Herses contains a lot of gestures that are quite “unrestrained,” involving a play between presence and absence. In the end, eating is an extremely concrete action, but perhaps those who perform it are only partly there, they’re not fully conscious of the act. There is nothing demonstrative in our way of eating, rather a form of half-absence, ghostly in character. Perhaps this is due to the fact of being divided between two actions: we are half-eating and half-dancing.

There are few moments in the performance when there is only one thing visible on the stage. Very quickly, other things appear, adopting the matrix of a duo from Herses, except while eating —the idea is that you can do anything you want, as long as you do it while eating.

Amalvi: Did you discuss with the dancers the ideas of eating off the ground, of exchanging food, of how food touches upon our taboos.

Charmatz: Quite right, we have talked about it. There are dancers who are not going to take part in this piece for that very reason. This raises issues of hygiene, of diet, of a balanced diet, of sharing… Can eight people bite into the same apple? Eat off the ground? These are questions of culture and individual choice.

Amalvi: If you think about it from the strict point of view of dance, food is an obstacle: it encumbers your hands, then, when you’re digesting, it encumbers your body. I have the impression that you feel the need to impose a constraint, an obstacle as the driving force of choreography. A way of “blocking” what is easy, obvious about dance.

Charmatz: Yes, it’s true. For me, the whole question resides in knowing what parallel effect this creates. Food as an obstacle has no meaning unless it makes possible or generates another thing. For example: dancing with a child in your arms is a hindrance, but it generates movements that would not have been otherwise possible.

In dance, few things happen through the mouth — it is mainly used to breathe. More often than not, you try to keep it closed, out of an “aesthetic” convention. Without going into the impersonal “masks” in modern dance or the grimaces in German expressionist dance, it can be said that the mouth is rarely the point of departure for movement. The choreography of this whole piece is tied to the mouth; it comes together in a relation of distance and proximity with the mouth. Just as Levée de conflits begins by the gesture of scrubbing the floor in a circular manner, this piece arises out of the relation between the hand, food and the mouth. This is the matrix that engenders other ways of eating — and dancing.

Further Reading

Boris Charmatz’s ‘manger’: A discussion of dance in public space by Lynne Lancaster, Dance Informa

Charmatz expressed that he is concerned that public spaces have almost disappeared as a place for performance. He is looking for new ideas for movement… He asked the question, “How can dance be present in visual arts?”

Read the full article

Watch a video of manger here.

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