Musée de la danse: Three Collective Gestures is a three-week dance program in The Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium, conceived by French choreographer Boris Charmatz (b. 1973) in collaboration with his groundbreaking Musée de la danse. In 2009, Charmatz became director of the Centre chorégraphique national de Rennes et de Bretagne in northwestern France, which he promptly renamed Musée de la danse (the "Dancing Museum"). Charmatz’s idea was to articulate a notion of dance divested of notions of choreography and "the center." Through this gesture, as in his broader practice, Charmatz emphasized the museum as a space not just for predetermined, scripted movement and exhibition, but as a dancing institution—replete with exuberance, surprise, affective response, and shifting forms and margins, all firmly rooted in the present tense and available for critical inquiry and revision. Charmatz’s idea of a museum as the framing device for dance (the most ephemeral of cultural forms) redefines the very notions of museum and collection.
As he puts it in his "Manifesto for the Dancing Museum" (2009), “We are at a time in history where a museum can modify BOTH preconceived ideas about museums AND one’s ideas about dance... In order to do so, we must first of all forget the image of a traditional museum, because our space is firstly a mental one. The strength of a museum of dance consists to a large extent in the fact that it does not yet exist.” Since then, Charmatz and his team have been carving out new and radical ways of interpreting the history, and imagining the future, of dance through the invention of a new kind of public space. The various formats of Musée de la danse are intended as open protocols available for experiment, change, and appropriation, enabling unpredictable events and gestures.
Over the course of three consecutive weekends, American and European dancers and performers will engage in three different projects, each reflecting on how dance can be thought through the museum and vice versa. The subtitle “Three Collective Gestures” suggests the importance of collaboration, participation, and transmission to all the three projects–as well as the interdisciplinary nature of Musée de la danse–challenging preconceived notions of dance.
Organized by Ana Janevski, Associate Curator, with Jill A. Samuels, Performance Producer, Martin Hartung and Leora Morinis, Curatorial Assistants, Department of Media and Performance Art, The Museum of Modern Art.
In collaboration with Boris Charmatz, Director, Musée de la danse/Centre chorégraphique national de rennes et de Bretagne, and the Musée de la danse team.
The project is made possible by MoMA’s Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation.
The Museum acknowledges support from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States.
Additional funding is provided by the MoMA Annual Exhibition Fund.
Image: Ashley Chen in 20 Dancers for the XX Century at The Museum of Modern Art, 2013. Part of Musée de la danse: Three Collective Gestures (October 18–November 03, 2013). Photograph © 2013 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo by Julieta Cervantes