Black Out

Premiere at Théâtre Sévelin 36 Lausanne November 18th, 2011,
40 min.

Black Out has celebrated its 170th show in 2016 and carries on with dense touring around the world. Somewhere between dance, performance and visual arts, this dark piece presents a very unusual set that is putting the spectators above the dancers. A strong and intimate experience.
The piece is the first one of an ongoing series called Dispositifs – before NEONS Never Ever, Oh ! Noisy Shadows and Vacuum – in which a visual concept is at the start of the creation process.
We watch, from above, as thousands of black granulated fragments transform the dancers’ world into a moving, pictorial composition, that jars as it shifts in response to the light, sound, and movement. We watch a work in progress, displaying dark images that touch the intimate sphere and the shadowy part in each of us.

“The transition from light to darkness, from life to death, from oil slick to raining ashes… Philippe Saire’s Black Out is a masterstroke that is watched from above: a moving picture of light, muscle and rubber dust.”
Julien Burri, L’Hebdo, Switzerland

© Philippe Weissbrodt

Artistic Team

Concept & choreography
Philippe Saire
Choreography in collaboration with the dancers
Philippe Chosson, Maëlle Desclaux, Jonathan Schatz
Dancers on tour
Maëlle Desclaux, Mickaël Henrotay Delaunay, Benjamin Kahn
Roberto Fratini Serafide
Set and lighting consultants
Sylvie Kleiber, Laurent Junod
Sound design
Stéphane Vecchione
Tania D’Ambrogio
Technical director
Yann Serez (creation), Vincent Scalbert (tour)
Vincent Scalbert, Yan Godat, Pascal Di Mito, Joran Hegi
Sound mix
Philippe Saire, Jérémy Conne
Video recording & teaser
Pierre-Yves Borgeaud
Photography & graphic design
Philippe Weissbrodt

statement of intent

The priorities in this piece are essentially graphic, although a dramaturgical framework has been superimposed discretely, and dictates the progression of the piece, as much on the visual as on the gestural level. At the start of the piece, we find ourselves in a world all of white, overexposed, rather like the roof of a building where three people have come to sunbathe, with their swimming costumes and towels. To get a tan, to darken. An irradiated space, erasing the thickness of their bodies, reducing them to the two dimensional form of an image. A sketch in movement, a moving composition of flattened silhouettes, a white surface, the bright colours of the swimming costumes and the towels. This bird’s eye view puts us in the almost clinical situation of observers. We are scrutinising a microcosm close to our own, consisting of time-killing activities, with their codes both familiar and indecipherable. The falling ‘black matter’ gradually obscure the space, obliterating both the white surface and the colours. But they also restore substance to the bodies. In a sort of “regressive evolution”, the three protagonists attempt to domesticate this invasion. But it will prove to be quite resistant to any attempt at mastering it. Progressively, they will become as one with the matter, dissolve into it, and yet, paradoxically, rediscover power and life. Images of regression, of a return to origins, or even an elegy to the shadow from which our contemporary overexposure distances us, and above all the pictorial work, Black Out is an unusual piece in my career as a choreographer. It is far removed from the kind of theatricality you can find in my recent pieces, and bears witness to a very old attachment to drawing, to the use of charcoal, graphite, pastels… Nuances of grey and black, a breeding ground for memories and snippets of bodies.

Philippe Saire

in the press

The transition from light to darkness, from life to death, from oil slick to raining ashes… Philippe Saire’s Black Out is a masterstroke that is watched from above: a moving picture of light, muscle and rubber dust. Julien Burri, L’Hebdo, Switzerland

The valiant performers and their poses now summon up figures from ancient Pompeii, felled as they worked or slept, immobilized in volcanic ash. Brutality. Devastation. This is the way the world ends. Deborah Jowitt, DanceBeat, New York

For the whole show, the audience is given to try out an unusual viewpoint on the dancing bodies and, in the relentless minutes, the scenic ingenuity of Black Out stands out (…) The language of movement also applies to the spectator who, in his position, is in turns witness or voyeur, brought to empathy or repulsion. He will not get away unscathed from this invading matter, which dissolves all outlines and images. Marie Chavanieux, La Terrasse, Paris

The visual rendering of this dance production, which uses tiny pellets of rubber to draw white lines on a dark background, is indeed spectacular. Marie-Pierre Genecand, Le Temps, Suisse

As they fight against the invading obscurity, to the sound of a joyous and funeral brass band, which sounds like some New Orleans funeral jazz – orchestrated by Stéphane Vecchione – the dancers violently push through the space, spreading the blackness all over. Wonderful abstract pictures of black and white appear. Corinne Jaquiéry, 24heures, Suisse