Cornucopiae The Independent Dance



South Pacific Project 2010, Lifou, New Caledonia

IN SITU À DREHU, a workshop of researches into the oral tradition,
based on the myths of the Kanak culture. The 26th April to the 16th May, 2010.


A meeting between artists from Europe and the South Pacific ; a three-week residency at Drehu (Lifou) from April 26th to May 16th, 2010; a period of exchange and experiment using dance, music, sound and image; a sowing of ideas, a project for time to bring to fruition.




Following an initial journey in May 2009 and a second in December/January 2010, I now feel certain that there’s “something” to be done, some work to be imagined for New Caledonia in the South Pacific. Since I’m currently only in the first stages of a project, artistic intuition has obviously a lot to do with this conviction but it’s clear too that, after 30 years of creative work in dance, I feel the need to continue to broaden my study of the body in movement in cultural contexts other than those offered by the Europe by which I was formed. It’s a need that’s evident: to confront that which I don’t yet know, which is remote and which poses questions about the meaning of being human in every sense.

For the artist-dancer-choreographer that I am, to travel and feel myself “worked on” through the encounter with other cultures has always been of primary importance. The exchange is essential as much for the creativity it engenders in itself as for how it transforms how things are seen. Alongside my work in France running the Centre Chorégraphique in La Rochelle from 1986 to 2008, in the course of numerous tours in Europe and across the world – particularly in Brazil, China, and more recently Vietnam - I’ve specifically sought to create, research into, teach and share this passion for the art of choreography. Nothing in these encounters has been premeditated. They’ve always developed out of a mutual eagerness, nursed and watched over by time without which no true, enduring work occurs. On each occasion a new adventure has been woven from the strands of a unique and potent experience.

The simple truth is « I’m a daughter of the sea ». Born and brought up on the Algerian coast and having worked for the last 20 years beside the Atlantic at La Rochelle, the fact that I’m now nurturing a new project on the other side of the world on shores washed by the Pacific, doesn’t in the least surprise me. To the imagination that sustains all my energy and informs all my dancing, the sea is a constant source and resource…

I do things slowly. I like to take my time. I have to be patient and methodical. Turning to face the unknown I go one step at a time, carefully, gently. You have to sniff the air without being rushed. You have to be willing not to know, to grope forward, to watch and be watched, to try things out. And then sometimes you find a way, often where it’s least expected. That’s what the zest for invention is all about. I’ve a capacity to hang in, to commit myself without asking anything in return and to be open to the unexpected. That’s how I bring things together—by being both detached and involved.

Dancers aren’t solitary beings; they prefer dialogue. Hence, for this project, I’ll be accompanied by the guitarist and author of texts for theatre, Gianni Fornet, by the sound technician, Nicolas Barillot and by João Garcia, photographer and film-maker—artists, friends, partners.

Since January 2009 I’ve a new creative team known collectively as CORNUCOPIAE, that’s to say ‘horn of plenty’, a name inspired by the conch-like shells into which people blow and which you see over the homes of certain Melanesian tribes. This independent company is supported by the Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication - Direction Générale de la Création Artistique (D.G.C.A).


IN SITU À DREHU, a workshop of researches into the oral tradition, based on the myths of the Kanak culture. The 26th April to the 16th May, 201

3 weeks of collection, selection and organisation.
3 weeks of confirmation, experimentation and elaboration.

WEEK ONE : the period devoted to clarifying with the various participants in their various capacities, the content, extent and objectives of this research. The idea is to create a group of people for whom oral traditions are a primary concern, whether they are dancers, painters, sculptors, musicians, actors or writers. For this workshop, held in situ, the core of the participants will be drawn from amateurs and professionals with a commitment to the realm of ‘living memory’ that informs Kanak culture.

WEEK TWO : the period given over to the actual workshop. Starting with myths arising from the oral tradition that have been chosen beforehand, we will work in the places and landscapes where the oral transmission of these stories actually occurs. Thus we will be outdoors, nomadic, without a home-base, seeking distinct sorts of topological features—pebbles, trees, slopes, streambeds—the elements that sustain the ‘living memory’. We will gather up and sift the various materials, whether danced, played or spoken, and then prepare them in such a way that they can be spontaneously performed. Taking into account the nature of Kanak traditions which favour non-representation, we’re not looking to arrive at a performance with a fixed form.

WEEK 3 : the period given over to organising and making a record of the various traces left by this work, whether aural or visual. It will be the occasion for an initial feedback that will help lay the ground for further work. I very much want to be able to continue and broaden this ‘gathering in situ’ with the intention of organising a further encounter of this kind before the end of 2010.


"Culture(s) en chantier"- an association concerned with cultural studies created in March 2010 at Boulouparis in New Caledonia – has its origins in a professional career that spans 16 years, from its beginnings in La Rochelle (where I had my first experience of cultural and artistic work alongside the choreographer, Régine Chopinot) to New Caledonia where I’ve just spent 7 years working as director of cultural services for Nouméa town. Along the way, I’ve made many contacts - in Africa, South America and Canada before arriving in the South Pacific – a life’s journey that has nourished a profound desire to seek out that which I’m as yet unaware of, to meet other peoples and other cultures.

To find myself once more working with Régine Chopinot on the island of Dréhu, in the region of the Kanak whose language I’ve begun to learn, and to be part of her meeting up with Kanak artists, is a fine way to launch my own project of ‘cultural mediation’. I can see for myself what can emerge when artists share a portion of their route. / Cyril Pigeau


A 30-minute film can be seen on the website. It documents how the project developed up until the creation of a choreographic and musical sketch « EKE-ENY » (the 4 winds). This initial phase will serve as a point of reference for further IN SITUs.
The intention is to continue to piece together over time the fabric of a special relationship with the Wetr company of dancers in order eventually to realise a new creation. With support from Culture(s) en chantier, directed by Cyril Pigeau in Nouméa, we hope to present this artistic investigation into the nature of tradition and modernity, in New Zealand, Australia and Japan.
IN SITU is a dynamic and open form. On each occasion it’s offered in one of these three countries it will include dancers/artists that are either Kanak and Maori, Kanak and Aborigine, or Kanak and Japanese. A second IN SITU is to be organised in Lifou, in January 2011 and, for the first time, in New Zealand and Japan in March 2011.


Sound : Nicolas Barillot
Dance and video : Régine Chopinot
Music : Gianni Fornet
Photo and video : João Garcia

Production : Cornucopiae
With the support of Culture(s) en chantier
Partenariat : Province des Îles Loyauté, Direction du Patrimoine Foncier et Culturel et l'association culturelle du Wetr

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Cornucopiae – the independent dance est subventionnée par le ministère de la Culture et de la Communication DRAC Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Région Sud – Provence-Alpes-Côtes d’Azur, le Conseil départemental du Var, la Communauté d’Agglomération Toulon Provence Méditerranée et la Ville de Toulon. Avec le soutien de la Ville de La Valette-du-Var jusqu'en 2017.