DDF News — 28 May 2022

Festival Blog – Get to know Gilles Viandier, the creator of Street Pantone

Festival Blog – Get to know Gilles Viandier, the creator of Street Pantone

We may be coming in to the final weekend of the Festival, but the fun isn’t over just yet. Perhaps you have spent the last few weeks attending every show you could fit into your diary, or maybe you haven’t had a chance to catch anything at the Festival yet. Whichever category you fall into, there’s still time to squeeze in a bit more dance, and you don’t even have to leave the sunshine and go indoors.

Over the next two days, performer, choreographer and former architect, Gilles Viandier will invite audiences to rediscover the city and reclaim its shared spaces as he envelops structures and spaces at Christchurch Cathedral with brightly coloured fabric in his vibrant outdoor work, Street Pantone.

We sat down with Gilles to learn a little more about this exciting performance.

Tell us a little about Street Pantone

Street Pantone is a singular duet in the common space (urban or landscape), creating ephemeral monumental installations in a travelling form, linked to the context, history and identity of heritage places, cities or landscapes invested. Redrawing fringe areas, playing with flows, weaving the variety of speeds and scales, exploring the architectural and sensitive nature of the urban context, questioning void and waste, a dancer with an oblong and monochromatic veil, challenges the places, invents constructive gestures, musical (voice/singing) situations and images modified by movement, inviting inhabitants and bodies to meet.

At the same time monumental and compact, elastic and colourful, adventurous and elegant, fragile but persistent, Street Pantone artefact is a fabric of dance, made of lycra, 30 meters long & 3 m wide. Through a minimum resources approach, it carries symbols of human conditions (clothing, shelter, carpet, curtain, cape, thread...), aesthetic references (classic drapes, folds, flags, Land art of Christo & Jeanne-Claude, Loïe Fuller...) & architectural desires. As a nomadic and dynamic vector, both link and border, it challenges the artifice, metamorphosing reality and landscape, becoming a paintbrush, a spectrum, an actor, or the leitmotiv of a comic strip, turning itself permeable to situations, travelling, inventing scores, rhythms and states of the day.

They might evoke a sailor and his sail, a painter and his colour, a traveller and his load, a worker on a building site, an architect with his lines and measurements, a faun and a nymph’s veil, Draupadi's endless sari in Indian Mahābhārata... and also the opposing forces of the sky/bird and earth/snake representing margin worlds in Egyptian, Greek, Roman mythologies & traditional Black Africa societies.

Tell us a little about yourself and your artistic practice.

I feel a bit like a searcher, curious of many things and trying not to make separations between fields, or at least to make links between things and between people. Art has always been a motor in my life, first with music (piano, lyrical singing, clarinet, trumpet). Then with literature, theatre, dance, cinema, drawing, contemporary art… without putting apart science or philosophy. I grew up next to the sea in Normandy, France, studied architecture until my diploma, worked as a contemporary dancer with many dance companies in France and Europe. I lived for 5 years in Berlin and 4 years in Cadíz, Andalusia, Spain and now based in Marseille. I have experienced a nomadic life for a long time and therefore solitude, traveling, adaptation, observation, questions… and also what means being together… in creations, on tour, in parties, through different cities that I always love to explore, among different natures, worlds.

Written by Saoirse Anton, DDF Blog Curator

Street Pantone Gilles Viandier © Daniel Petit
Street Pantone Gilles Viandier © Daniel Petit
Street Pantone Gilles Viandier © Alain Cotten
Street Pantone Gilles Viandier © Alain Cotten
Street Pantone Gilles Viandier © Alain Cotten
Street Pantone Gilles Viandier © Alain Cotten
Street Pantone Gilles Viandier © Alain Cotten
Street Pantone Gilles Viandier © Alain Cotten
Street Pantone Gilles Viandier © Alain Cotten
Street Pantone Gilles Viandier © Alain Cotten
Street Pantone Gilles Viandier © Alain Cotten
Street Pantone Gilles Viandier © Alain Cotten
Street Pantone Gilles Viandier © Maria Estevens
Street Pantone Gilles Viandier © Maria Estevens
Street Pantone Gilles Viandier © Daniel Petit
Street Pantone Gilles Viandier © Daniel Petit

Most often dance moulds to the space that it is in – works are re-staged and spaced for different venues, dancers adapt to different floors and spaces – but Street Pantone moulds the space that it happens in. What do you see as the possibilities of dance shaping public spaces, and the intersection of dance and architecture?

After many years of performing in theatres, I realized that my deep intimate specificity and inspiration was coming from outside the black box or the studio, but made out of the work in these spaces, confronting with void. Public urban space is the place where performance may question and provoke the standard social behaviours, creating social links, welcoming diversity…and makes this art come out of its comfortable rows and audience. However, I still feel theatres are one of my first homes. By studying architecture and urban planning, I learned to look at space and integrate various parameters to name and design it. With contemporary dance, I learned how the body and the soul can be in dialogue with space and, in a way, are able to express and play. Becoming a dancer had always been a dream but more than that, it’s the call of the movement, having conscience of the possibilities and powers of the body, connected to thoughts, language, writing, gestures, something that sometimes architecture forgets. In our society of permanent flow, the issue of speed concentrates itself also in the interconnection between people, in the fact of moving but also with the presence of vibration, with all its range. Vibration which also recalls sounds, and mathematics.

What are you most looking forward to about bringing the Street Pantone to Dublin Dance Festival?

Usually I come well in advance to the place where I will perform few months later, but in Dublin it was not possible so I prepared the most I could from photos, maps, plans and readings about the cathedral. I’m excited by the first time having to perform with a sacred space. I’ll prepare sacred music. I also want to connect with the 3 colours of the festival turquoise, orange and pink, in this major literary city.

What do you hope festival audiences will take away from the work?

Reactions of people are as diverse as human kind is. But this project is clearly an invitation to feel dance inside oneself, accepting one’s own body, sensations, emotions and fighting against uniformity which is nowadays the tendency in our cities, behaviours, etc. Furthermore, dance becomes also a means to face other issues in the (not yet) sustainable and responsible cities of nowadays.

What are you most looking forward to seeing when you have some time off at Dublin Dance Festival?

I came to Dublin twice before, the first time in 1995, and the second time in 2009 so it’s been quite a long time, and never for as long as one week, so I would be very curious to discover more and realise how the city developed. Of course I’ll also try to see other performances in Dublin Dance Festival.

If you had one sentence to encourage someone to see the Street Pantone, what would you say?

It is a unique performance, that will happen only here, and it’s very photogenic!