Medianoche is a contemporary flamenco project initiated in 2007 by Marie Deschênes.
During her formation in flamenco, coming from a ballet and literary background, Marie rapidly found interest in exploring new, more personal ways of appropriating this modern yet folkloric art form. After a couple years working with pioneer contemporary group Sa Sa Sa, under the direction of iconoclast contemporary flamenco choreographer Rae Bowhay, Marie started exploring her own aesthetic ideas, which revolve mostly around subtle reorganization of structures and vocabulary.
Projects and repertoire
Medianoche’s first large project was Rouge, a formal study for 2 dancers on symmetry, mirroring, identity and the idea of climax as a fall point. Marie collaborated with Rae Bowhay as choreographer for the central piece.
Second came Fat Free peña, putting the performance on edge by stripping it to its bare minimum, rejecting the traditional flamenco musical formation, pushing the limits of language in free improvisations with musique actuelle trumpeter Ellwood Epps, exploring silence as an instrument, and incorporating poetry as an added dimension to the imagery.
Then came the aboutissement of Marie’s aesthetic and philosophical concerns, Folia - parmi les étoiles closes. An hour-long piece for guitar, silence, echo and dance, performed in a church. Directed by Marie, the music is an entirely imaginary palo, composed by guitarist Chris Cucuzza, loosely based around the anonymous theme of the Folia. The choreography was a declination on solitude and isolation, lack of dialogue and of response, and the absence of god/meaning through the absence of voice and the imposing, heavy, restrictive 5 second echo of the immense Gesù Church where it was performed.
After a few year hiatus, pursuing studies in philosophy of language in Canada and the UK, and working on her writing projects, Marie’s latest dance project explores more personal themes - estrangement, loss, and age - with a renewed love of traditional flamenco (like the childhood nostalgia we get as we age, perhaps), but with the same discreet freedom, detachment and abstraction she has been known to have.
The name medianoche came from my fascination with that strange place that is the 12 in the flamenco compás. Simultaneously falling and starting point, it is the gear of a circularity characteristic of oriental aesthetics.
medianoche also stands for midnight; the moment when we switch between the end and the beginning, the Zero hour, Nadir, the other side of the Zenith. And for the implosive quality - darkness -, the intrinsically sexual energy of this form of dance.
medianoche regroups all my dance work, which has mostly to do with flamenco. I'm less interested in the traditions and folklore than in what flamenco allows as an artform.
First, obviously, the possibility of uniting music to the body; to become percussive, to become music.
Second, the flamenco aesthetic finds its source in a world that is familiar to me (poverty, exclusion, religion).
But most importantly, it is its relation to that world that attracted me, its unique expressivity, oscillating between resistance, restraint, rupture, violence, simplicity and complications. The singular forms resulting from this relation to pain, or any other emotion or sensation, interest me. I have drawn some elements from it, poetic as much as plastic, in my vocabulary. The rest is my own. Of course, flamenco does not solely express those ideas. Needless to say that expressing resistance and pain is not done in only one manner.
In my approach, I avoid too-close contact with flamenco and how it evolves in the world. I insist on staying afar, as intuition and distance give to see something different than deep, thorough understanding and belonging. Both are interesting, in my opinion. We tend to respect more the expert than the dilettante, but there are things that the butterfly or the mayfly see from their flights that is totally beyond the botanist or the geographer's grasp: the shape things take in lightness, speed and movement, the peculiar rhythm of milliseconds in a life that lasts but a day, the world seen from a perspective of changing altitudes; an understanding of space and time that escapes he who stands too close.
Distance, whether within ourselves or outside, gives to see.
medianoche feeds itself on simple things; basic tensions. Violence and restraint: the catholic churches of my childhood, the tearing of love. Doubt and determination: my unlikely dialogue with the world, the loneliness that follows. Anger and melancholy: facing death – we are, every moment of our lives - what to do? Is the answer in revolt, fatalism or indifference?
Different postures for a body going forward, aging, remembering.
Marie Deschênes, 2010