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Beyond Words

Léa Vinette’s “Nos Feux”: On consonance, shared sensibility and imaginary volcanoes [By Tracy Danison]

1. Nos Feux ∏ Simon Van Der Zande (1) - copieLéa Vinette and Ido Batash, “Nos Feux” by Léa Vinette. Photo © Simon Van Der Zande

Nos Feux
(“Our Fires”) by Léa Vinette has a certain consonance with Nos Meilleures Années (La Meglio gioventù/”The Best of Times”), Marco Tullio Giordana’s 2003 classic six-hour film. Rather than rely on an underlying rationale or logic or tacit storyline, the one and the other make sense by sharing with spectators the sensibility involved in living those experiences – pointing, along the way, to the loose relativity of remembrance, which, given the data soup information loops we’re living in, also tinkles bells. Paola Cortellesi’s popular 2023 film, Il reste encore demain (C'è ancora domani/“There’s Still Tomorrow”), by the way, does the same trick as Gordana’s, also with a healthy dollop of (quality) daytime soap opera and also backed up with visual tropes and clichés that create a sort of nutritive bath of sensibility in which otherwise disparate events make sense together.

With spectators and performers all up close together and breathing the same air, Léa Vinette’s two-person performance (herself and performer-choreographer Ido Batash) Vinette has to use movement, body-to-body positioning, some warm-colored plastic tiles and sound to achieve shared sensibility. If my experience of Vinette’s piece is a gauge, there’s something of genius in how she’s made these elements work together.

The title words “nos feux” had put me in mind of love, sentiments, sentimentality, and, from all that, nostalgia – not just Giordana’s picture but also, say, of Robert Merle’s wonderful picaresque novel, En nos vertes années (“We were green then”): Tracy in Old Provence, Tracy’s musketeer adventures: all the self-romanticized story of a checkered career.

Nos Feux ∏ Simon Van Der Zande (8) - copieIdo Batash, “Nos Feux” by Léa Vinette. Photo © Simon Van Der Zande

I began Nos Feux as a spectator very strongly conscious that I was trying to impose my expectations on what I was seeing. Access denied, as the world-spanning CPU might put it – or Léa Vinette’s choreographic design might have made it.

Skilled movement kept pointing from the duo to the two individuals in it. Vinette seems to twitch her pelvis and, twitching, turn inward; Batash seems to turn away, seeming to reach out. They come together, touch, he holds her, she holds him, but there’s no couple drawn in it. I ended up letting go the expectation, let myself puzzle until I was absorbed and then involved in two very different individuals grappling with strong emotions. The sensibility I was enjoying by experience, I later learned from Vinette’s performance note, is “an imagined volcano and two bodies … deploying [their] boiling lava, impulse, desire, dreams, songs and visions…”.  In other words, that’s no duo, that’s how two people performing on the same volcano look, at least, when you’re watching.


I saw Léa Vinette’s “Nos Feux” at Etoile du nord, 28 March 2024, Ido Batash & Léa Vinette, performers ; Mirko Banovic, sound ; Gaspar Schelck lights and staging. Léa Vinette’s work is broadly inspired by an anatomical theory called fasciapulsology interpreted for dance by the choreographer and performance consultant Florence Augendre. Notably, fasciapulsology considers the connective tissue of the body an organ.

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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