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Choreographer Alain Platel: "I seek what unites people, not what divides them"

Translated by Monika Navarro

Translated Friday 3 March 2006, by Monika Navarro

Alain Platel feels “at the heart of topical problems” as he deals with religion and its radicalization, all faiths being mixed up.

Alain Platel, director and choreographer, is best known for his pioneering work with the internationally acclaimed Belgian companies "Les Ballets C de La B" and "Victoria". He founded Les Ballets C de la B in 1984, and since then the dance and theatre collective has forged a reputation for giving powerfully theatrical dance performances.

HUMA: After "Wolf", last year where musicians played Mozart on stage at the magnificent Opera Garnier, the 140-year-old Paris Opera House, you now choose Monteverdi. Why?

PLATEL: I have liked Monteverdi’s "Vespers" since I was sixteen. This masterpiece stands the test of time. It is a challenge to find out if it’s possible to add contemporary images to it. This time the connection with the world’s social and political reality is apparently less perceptible. I flirt with religion, with mysticism. I wanted to focus on that, I didn’t want to avoid talking about it. Nevertheless, by talking about religion I feel at the heart of topical problems. I am thinking of the radicalization of all religions, not only Islam.

As a teenager I studied at a school that had an interest in the catholic socialist movement. They sought the link between social policies and religious practices. For example I was strongly affected by what happened in Latin America with the Liberation theology in the seventies and the eighties. When John-Paul II went to Nicaragua, the ministers who were also priests gave him a piece of their mind. Twenty-five years later, this church has become regressive. That hurts me. Vesperss is certainly about ecstasy but above all I seek everything that unites people rather than what divides them, even if I insist that everyone keeps his own personality.

HUMA: How do you choose your performers?

PLATEL: I look for people with a certain amount of shyness even if they are not scared of being on stage. I also search for performers who like moving, and who do it their own way.

Translator’s note:
For more information on Alain Platel and "Les Ballets C de La B", see: http://www.lesballetscdelab.be/

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