A great charm lays in these stringently delineated tableaux, precise to the fraction of an inch, where dance is fashioned from postures and set attitudes, from resets and crazed successions, from a cavalcade of distinguishing marks of social ranking and from eclectic ramblings about the “social body” : he who lies, he who betrays himself, who seduces, questions prejudice, propriety, habits.
It’s as baroque as they come, slick, its rhythm sustained by the crackling of a camera’s flashes and smacks in the face of convention with a final carnivalesque sarabande to close the loop and shut up both lying detractors and etiquette paparazzi. Their quality of observation and interpretation has earned each of the five performers a small ovation !
Geneviève Charras / July 2019
Smiles can be scary. It’s not so much the grins that betray irony, cynicism or condescension. These are just displeasing. I’m talking about those devoid of any substance. The gutted smiles, the defensive ones, those behind which we abandon, renounce a part of ourselves, the 911-smiles. We smile out of politeness, convention, submissiveness when the relationships between the different people gathered in one place are not yet defined. It’s a social trigger mechanism that calls for a better contouring of these new relationships. We smile to break the ice.
As soon as they hear the trigger of the camera, five “mannequins” appear on stage – as they’ve been asked – and showcase themselves with full-denture smiles like in a window shop. They know they won’t be recognized for who they (believe they) are. So, instead of introducing themselves, they present their selves to us. They will act “as if’, invent and adopt new personalities, try to fit the mould, play with stereotypes, smile until they can’t feel their jaws anymore and keep finding new ways to display themselves in the vitrine. They won’t stop until we buy (into) it. They are looking for contact but remain divided and doubtful. They oscillate between fantasy and criticism: the crackling noise the camera makes as it is used to immortalize them from every angle sounds like bursts of a machine gun fire. They are being shot before our very eyes.
What’s more, the photographer is sitting among the audience. To the performers’ frozen smiles, spectators respond with laughter. Their laughs are trapped in the soundtrack of the production. They range from giggling to the pre-recorded applause that we hear in American sitcoms and the loud cheering of football supporters during a game. It sounds fake and shallow to the point that we’re left wondering … how to get a real smile?
Manon Dumonceaux / October 2020