Cie Non Nova (F): Afternoon of a Foehn (L'Apres-midi d'un Foehn)

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This is a piece of choreography for puppets and their puppeteer, a ventilation system and a few props; plastic bags, a coat, a pair of scissors, a roll of sticky tape, a walking stick and an umbrella.
 
Accompanied by the notes of Claude Debussy’s three musical works: « Afternoon of a Faune », « Nocturnes » and « Dialogue of the Wind and the Sea », a ballet mistress creates a piece of choreography performed by plastic dancers, propelled into currents of air. Without needing to touch them, or barely even brush against them, the freedom of their movement makes the puppets seem more and more human by the second, the air streaming through them like blood flow. Through the manipulation of the plastic bags, their evolution and their transformation, a relationship develops between progenitor and puppet. This is where the adventure starts. We witness fortuitous encounters dictated by thermal phenomena, an « étoile » ballet dancer is born before our very eyes, there’s a « pas de deux » here, a burst of fireworks there, and further down the track a monster may be lurking …
 
It was whilst working on a commissioned piece on the theme of « movement » for the Natural History Museum of Nantes in October 2008, that I had the idea of exploring the element air and its tremendous potential on our imaginative world. Wandering through the museum alone in the middle of the night, I spent hours and hours trying to work out what it was that troubled me in this space, surrounded by wild, inanimate mammals. In the end I realised that is was the absence of any air current which made things feel so strange. So I installed a series of silent ventilators in the evolution gallery. Listening to the sound of rustling fur I became aware that the gallery is actually a place which exhibits death. The museum suddenly became a graveyard into which I decided to reintroduce life in an unexpected form. A pink plastic bag, ballasted very slightly, began to circulate from frozen animal to frozen animal, like an odd, unexpected visitor! This gave me the urge to create a piece of choreography for transfigured plastic bags.



Performed by Cécile BRIAND and alternately by Silvano NOGUEIRA
CREATION TEAM
Artistic direction, choreography and scenography: Phia MENARD
Soundtrack composition: Ivan ROUSSEL using Claude DEBUSSY’s music.
Lighting design: Alice RUEST
Wind design: Pierre BLANCHET
Scenography design: Phia MENARD
Set construction: Philippe RAGOT assisted by Rodolphe THIBAUD and Samuel DANILO
Sound master: Ivan ROUSSEL
Lighting technician: Aurore BAUDOUIN
Stage manager and wind manager: Manuel MENES
Costumes, accessories and dressmaker: Fabrice Ilia LEROY
Tour manager: Pierre BLANCHET
Photographs: Jean-Luc BEAUJAULT
Production, administration: Claire MASSONNET
Production assistants: Honorine MEUNIER et Clarisse MEROT
Public relations: Adrien POULARD


Coproductions and residencies with La Comédie de Caen, centre dramatique national de normandie (National Dramatic Centre of Normandy), and with « La Brèche » – (Circus Arts Center for Basse-Normandie) in Cherbourg. Coproduction with « Le Quai » in Angers (« EPCC-Le Quai, Angers et le réseau européen IMAGINE 2020 – Art et Changement Climatique »), with the multi-sited structure « Scènes du Jura » (« Jura Scenes »), with « La Halle aux Grains » - the national theatre of Blois, with the Jules Verne Circus - Regional Centre for Circus Arts in Amiens, with « le Grand T » the Loire-Atlantique subsidised performance space in Nantes, with the Théâtre Universitaire of Nantes, with « l’Arc » the subsidised performance space of Rezé, with Parc de la Villette in Paris, and with « La Verrerie » in Alès in the Cévennes/Pôle National des Arts du Cirque (National Center for Circus Arts) in  Languedoc-Roussillon. Residency with « Les Subsistances » 2010/2011, in Lyon, France.
With the support of the Théâtre de Thouars, a subsidised performance space in collaboration with the Cultural Services of Montreuil-Bellay, with « le Grand R » national theatre of La Roche-sur-Yon and with « Le Fanal », national theatre of Saint-Nazaire.
 
 
The Non Nova Company is subsidised by a number of bodies: by the Ministry of Culture and Communication / DRAC des Pays de la Loire, le Conseil Régional des Pays de la Loire (Regional Council for the Pays de la Loire), le Conseil Général de Loire-Atlantique (General Council for the region Loire-Atlantique) and the City of Nantes.
The company is also subsidised by l’Institut Français (France’s international cultural relations body) and by la Fondation BNP Paribas (Foundation BNP Paribas). The company is based in Nantes.
In 2014, the Company Non Nova / Phia Ménard becomes an artist associated with the « Espace Malraux Scène nationale de Chambéry et de la Savoie » for four years.
Warm thanks to Pierre OREFICE, to the teachers and pupils of Gaston Serpette School in Nantes (the nursery classes and the youngest class in the primary section 2008/2009), to Pierre WATELET and Mathilde CARTON from the Natural History Museum of Nantes and to Pascal LEROUX from Collectif la Valise in Nantes.

Photo: Jean-Luc Beaujault

Phia Ménard
Born 1971
 
It was discovering Jérôme Thomas’ show “Extraballe” in 1991 that nurtured in Phia Ménard the deep desire to study the performing arts and in particular, the art of juggling. She trained in modern dance, mime and acting, as well as in juggling. In 1994 she studied juggling techniques and theatrical composition with Jérôme Thomas, and went on to join the company, performing in “Hic Hoc”. It was during her globetrotting tours with this company that her desire to write for the stage grew and she defined her personal vision of contemporary art forms. As artist and improviser, she created numerous shows for the company up until 2003: “Le Socle” (The Pedestal), “Le Banquet”, “Hioc”, “4, Qu’on en finisse une bonne fois pour toutes… (“4, Let’s finish things once and for all…”)
 
In 1997, alongside her work with the company, she took more dance lessons and danced in two short pieces choreographed by Hervé Diasnas and Valérie Lamielle.
 
She founded the company Non Nova in 1998 and created « Le Grain ». It was with her show « Ascenseur, fantasmagorie pour élever les gens et les fardeaux » (Elevator, Phantasmagoria for elevating people and burdens…), created in 2001, that she first gained recognition and critical acclaim as a creator.
Acclaimed for her original, personal way of working, she was invited to become an artistic associate for three years at the “scène nationale” (national theatre) Le Carré in Chateau-Gontier, France. There she developed her work, downplaying juggling as a visual spectacle in favour of a new relationship with her audience. Numerous creations and events sprang from her research : « Zapptime, rêve éveillé d'un zappeur » (Zapptime, daydream of a channel-hopper), the conference piece « Jongleur pas confondre » (Juggler, don’t confuse) with the sociologist Jean Michel Guy, « Fresque et Sketches 2nd round », and the « Off-the-road Pieces » : « Est-il vraiment sérieux de jongler ? » (Is it really serious to juggle? ), « Ursulines Dance Floor » and « Ursulines Mushroom Power ». In 2005 and 2007, she developed her work around the notion of "unjugglability” and created two pieces: « Zapptime#Remix » and « Doggy Bag » and two cabaret forms, « Jules for ever » and « Touch It » with the sextet « Frasques ».
 
It was in 2008 that Phia Ménard revealed her new identity with her decision to change sex.
 
Her artistic career took a new direction with the project "I.C.E." - Injonglabilité Complémentaire des Elements (Complementary Unjugglability of the Elements), having for object the study of the imagination of the transformation and the erosion through natural materials. In January 2008,  she created the show « P.P.P. » at the performing arts centre, Nouvelles Subsistances, in Lyon, play of the coming-out and the first one of the cycle of the « Plays of Ice ». Same year, in October, creation of performance piece « L’après-midi d’un foehn, Version 1 » (Afternoon of a foehn Version 1), first play about the cycle of « Plays of Wind » at the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle de Nantes (Natural History Museum of Nantes).
 
During the 2009/2010 season, she toured the show « P.P.P. » throughout Europe and South America. She also collaborated on the project “Coyote Pizza” with the collective “La Valise”, creating  the performance piece « Iceman ». Invited by Avignon Festival with SACD in the « Sujets à Vif » program to perform there in July 2010, she created with the sound poet Anne-James Chaton the piece « Black Monodie ».
 
Since October 2011, with the creation of « L’après-midi d’un foehn » (Afternoon of a foehn) and « VORTEX », second chapter of « Plays of Wind », she has been traveling the national and international stages.
 
She’s for the initiative in CIFAS - Bruxelles (International Center of the Formation in Performing Arts) with Beatriz Preciado, a philosopher, a work call name « In the Mood », on questions of Gender and Humors.
She has a dialogue with the criticism Anne Quentin for the publishing of an artistic manifesto of the Gender.
She intervenes regularly in colloquiums around the questions of Art and Gender.
 
In january 2014, she received the decoration of Chevalier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight Order of Arts and Letters) by the French Minister of Culture and Communication, Mrs Aurélie Filippetti.
 
She prepares for June 2015 « Belle d’Hier » (Yesterday’s Beauty), first creation of « Plays of Water and Vapor ».

Compagnie Non Nova
Founded in 1998 by Phia Ménard with the desire to approach juggling from a different angle, through the scenic and dramaturgical structure of each piece. « Non nova, sed nove » (Not new things, but in a new way) is the company’s founding precept.
 
The many multidisciplinary projects of the company have brought together artists, technicians, thinkers from various horizons with diverse experiences. It is not a collective but a professional team, with Phia Ménard in charge of the artistic direction.
 
To date, the various projects by Compagnie Non Nova have been performed in Africa, Argentina, Austria, Benin,
Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Canada, Chili, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, Ecuador, Federation of Russia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Haiti, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan,
Jordan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Slovakia, South Korea, South Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taïwan, Thailand, The Republic of Cape Verde, Togo, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Yemen.
 
The company’s creations …
 
« Le Grain » (The Grain), a piece inspired by burlesque cinema and created in 1998 with the musician Guillaume HAZEBROUK.
 
« Ascenseur, fantasmagorie pour élever les gens et les fardeaux » (Elevator, Phantasmagoria for lifting people and loads) marked the real beginning of the company. This solo piece has been performed 92 times in France and abroad since its première in 2001, notably on tour with the Institut Français (France’s international cultural relations body).
 
In 2002, the company created « Le Grand Bazar » (The Big Bazar), a cabaret for 12 performing artists as part of the festival « Temps Fort autour des Arts du Cirque ». The festival « Jonglissimmo » and the Culturel Center of St Exupery in Reims gave the company a residency for the creation of their new piece « Fresque et Sketches 1er round « (Fresco and Sketches, 1st round), based on the theme of « post-war », inspired by the company’s tour in Kosovo (spring 2002).
 
In 2003, Compagnie Non Nova was invited to become an artistic associate company for a period of three years at the scène nationale (national theatre) Le Carré in Château-Gontier. There it completed the final version of « Zapptime, rêve éveillé d’un zappeur » (Zapptime, Daydream of a Channel-Hopper), a series of sketches created in collaboration with Hélène NINEROLA directing.
 
« Jongleur pas confondre » (Juggler, don’t confuse) was created in December 2004. A show-conference on the theme of juggling, orchestrated by Phia Ménard and Jean-Michel Guy (researcher for the Department of Studies and Future Trends for the French Ministry of Culture and Communication), in collaboration with Paola Rizzi directing, as well as the event « Est-il vraiment sérieux de jongler » (Is it really serious to juggle ?) presented in the form of a television studio.
 
A number of projects saw the light of day in 2005. « Zapptime#Remix » was created at Lieu Unique, scène nationale (national theatre) in Nantes. « Fresque et Sketches second round » (Fresco and Sketches, 2nd round), the second part of a project made up of sketches, featured a juggler, a dancer and a musician. Then there was « Ursulines Dance Floor », a one-off extravaganza of heterogeneous performances by exhuberant artists, crazy performers, jugglers, Djs, and dancers, set in a nightclub unlike any other.
 
Lastly, Nantes City Council commissioned a piece for the commemoration of the centenary of the death of Jules Verne. « Jules for ever » was created in Nantes in August 2005 with artists from the company Vent d’Autan, the musicians from the Sextet « Frasques » and Jérôme Thomas.
2006 marked the end of a three year collaboration with Le Carré, Château-Gontier’s « scène nationale ». The party-event « Ursulines Mushroom Power » marked the occasion. In July 2006 the company participated for the first time in the Avignon Festival with « Zapptime#Remix ».
 
In 2007, Compagnie Non Nova got back together with the musicians from Sextet « Frasques »  for the show « Touch It ». In November, « Doggy Bag », a multidisciplinary piece about the alienation effect of our globalised world, was presented at « Le Quai » in Angers and at « La Breche » in Cherbourg.
 
2008 saw the beginning of the project « I.C.E. » standing for « Injonglabilité Complémentaire des Eléments » (Complementary Unjugglability of the Elements) with the creation of « P.P.P. » (Position Parallèle au Plancher / Perillous Parallel Position) at Les Subsistances in Lyon. This was the company’s first exploration using the element « Ice » and based on the theme of identity.
 
The installation-performance piece « L’après-midi d’un foehn Version 1 » (Afternoon of a Foehn Version 1) was created in November 2008 at the Natural History Museum in Nantes as part of their Science Festival and is also part of the project « I.C.E. ». « P.P.P. » was performed at the Théâtre de la Cité Internationale in Paris and toured in France.
 
In 2009, the company continued its research into matter and transformation.
 
In 2010, the company also created the performance piece « Black Monodie » (Black Monody) commissioned by the SACD (« Societé des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques » - Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers) and Avignon Festival, with the artist Anne-James Chaton.
 
2011, second working cycle about the process « I.C.E. » with the « Plays of Wind », « L’après-midi d’un foehn » (Afternoon of a foehn) and « VORTEX » were created at the Comédie de Caen, centre dramatique national de normandie (National arts center for theater of Normandy). Invitation of company to the Festival Montpellier Danse.
 
2012, tours of the « Plays of Wind ».
 
2013, tours of the « Plays of Wind » and « P.P.P. ». The BNP Paribas Foundation becomes a sponsor of the Company.
 
2014, tours of the « Plays of Wind » and « P.P.P. ». Beginning of the creation of the « Plays of the Water and the Vapor ».
 
 

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