Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Our week has now developed a rhythm that is structured by dance classes, French classes, films, and discussion and is punctuated by one stunning performance after another. Last week alone, among the things we saw were Anna Teresa Keersmaeker’s Rosas Company and re-settings of two historic works: Susanne Linke’s Schritte Verfolgen and Anna Halprin’s Parades & Changes. The Keersmaeker work D’un soir un jour was filled with falling, swooping, and flying movement that made you want to join the dancers on the stage. I was particularly interested to learn how involved with her music Keersmaeker is. The Halprin piece was a recreation of a work from 1965, and it felt entirely fresh, authentic, and joyful. Susanne Linke had reworked her original solo from 1985 into a quartet, and it became a statement on the stages of life as well as an exploration of isolation and communication. We’re seeing thought-provoking dance performances every day, and after “life in the woods of New Hampshire,” it’s an astonishing experience.

We did, however, have a kind of reality check here last week. There have been a lot of people going in and out of the residence building as work is being completed on plumbing, tile, etc. One of our students had left her door open, and someone came into her room and made off with two cell phones and twenty euros. A very nice young man from Spain was also a victim and found that his computer, phone, and money had been taken. Police came, took statements, dusted for fingerprints, and we’ll see what happens. Meanwhile, it has been a wake-up call and a reminder that as friendly and comfortable as everyone is, we are still in a real city, and the residence has to be treated as an apartment building, not as a dorm. Leaving one’s room unlocked just isn’t a good idea. We’ve also spoken with the concierge about our concerns that the building be kept as secure as possible. I don’t think the students feel unsafe, but they are more careful and prudent now.

The other major event of the week was Le Défile—or parade, and it was amazing. It will be hard to convey its scope. There were over 4,000 people in this parade and at least 40,000 watching along its route that went from Place de Terreaux down rue de la Republique, and ended at Place Bellecour. For this event sixteen choreographers were commissioned each to work with community groups (from Lyon and surrounding areas) to create theme, costumes, props, and movement that could travel down the parade route with stops along the way for more extended dance sequences. It was colorful and fun and worth the three and a half hours of standing! The pictures included in this posting are all of Le Défile.

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