Gisèle Vienne

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In Crowd, a piece for fifteen dancers, choreographer and director Gisèle Vienne focuses on the large scale of emotions of humanity, including the unspeakable ones. She questions the spaces societies imagine to express those in a way that this expression doesn’t harm the community and allows these emotions to unfold. These questions are also the ones related to the relation between arts and religions. The time and space mix up in Vienne’s choreography, referring to early 90s rave, is playing with strong time distortions and perceptions in various ways. In addition to individual stories, the dancers show as a group how a society can stimulate violence into an eventual positive experience. The soundtrack is a collage by Peter Rehberg, covering thirty years of electronic music history, including new work by the pioneering duo KTL (Rehberg and Stephen O'Malley). Crowd is a dialogue with our intimate self in all its deepest aspects.

background information

Gisèle Vienne is known for productions that are intoxicating, enchanting and disturbing at the same time. In her stage productions and installations she blurs the boundary between  

appearance and reality, playing with the power of suggestion. In her works she opens up another world – that of our fears, dreams and secrets. Knowing that the things we fear also hold a powerful fascination for us, Vienne focuses on the shadowy, unsettling sides of human nature. This is something she shares with her collaborator, the controversial American writer Dennis Cooper, whose texts form the basis for many of her pieces. 

One example is the stage adaptation she made of Cooper’s novella Jerk, a dark but poetic reconstruction of the real-life crimes American serial killer Dean Corll carried out with the aid of two teenagers in the 1970s. Vienne gives this text the form of a maniacal ‘solo for a puppeteer’, a monologue presented by the murderer using a couple of deceptively sweet looking hand puppets. In Kindertotenlieder a group of adolescents gathers in a hair-raising snowy landscape to attend a black metal concert, a memorial ritual for a boy who was killed by his best friend. With a cast of ten life-sized puppets, four dancers, one actor and two musicians – Peter Rehberg and Stephen O’Malley – Vienne reconstructs the murder from multiple perspectives. 

In Crowd Vienne shifts the ‘arena’ to a 90s underground rave. No puppets this time, but fifteen young dancers who abandon themselves to the techno beat. On a desolately empty stage, strewn with compost and plastic litter, the group dance themselves into a state evoking trance. Crowd presents a modern-day ritual that offers a release for tension and aggression. Vienne also plays with the perceptions of the audience by influencing them through rhythmic disruptions in the music, lighting and movements. Dancers are caught up in the ingenious lighting design by Patrick Riou, movements slow down or are repeated like animated GIFs, focusing attention inescapably on each of the dancers individually. Although the ravers never speak, each character has his or her own story, subtexts that are tangibly expressed through the way they move and relate to the group.

The individual and collective emotions are underlined by the sound mix created by Peter Rehberg: hard, iconic tracks from the 90s (including a lot of Underground Resistance) and recent work by the duo KTL - Rehberg and Stephen O’Malley. Whereas the former provoke the emotions of the group as a whole, their own, softer work elicits the individual intimacy within the group. Confrontational and moving, Crowd makes for a fascinating journey through the night.



Gisèle Vienne was born in 1976, she is a franco-austrian artist, choreographer and director. After graduating in Philosophy, she studied at the puppeteering school Ecole Supérieure Nationale des

Arts de la Marionnette. There she met Etienne Bideau-Rey with whom she created her first shows. She works regularly with, among other, the writers Dennis Cooper and Catherine Robbe-Grillet, the musicians Peter Rehberg and Stephen O'Malley, the light designer Patrick Riou and the actor Jonathan Capdevielle. Since 2004, she has choreographed and directed, in collaboration with the writer Dennis Cooper, I Apologize (2004) and Une belle enfant blonde / A young, beautiful blond girl (2005), Kindertotenlieder (2007) and Jerk, a radioplay in the framework of the “atelier de création radiophonique” of France Culture (June 2007), the play Jerk (2008), Eternelle Idole (2009) with an ice skater and an actor, This is how you will disappear (2010), LAST SPRING: A Prequel (2011), Showroomdummies #3 rewriting of the piece created in 2001 with Etienne Bideau-Rey that is now part of the CCN-Ballet de Lorraine repertoire, The Pyre (2013) and The Ventriloquy Convention (2015) in collaboration with Puppentheater Halle. Since 2005, she has been frequently exhibiting her photographs and installations. She is currently working on a staging based on Robert Walser book Der Teich. Gisèle Vienne, Dennis Cooper, Peter Rehberg and Jonathan Capdevielle published an audio book in two versions French and English: JERK / Through Their Tears (publisher DIS VOIR). She has published a book 40 PORTRAITS 2003-2008, in collaboration with Dennis Cooper and Pierre Dourthe (publisher: P.O.L).



concept, choreography, scenography
Gisèle Vienne
assisted by
Anja Röttgerkamp & Nuria Guiu Sagarra
performed by
Philip Berlin, Marine Chesnais, Kerstin Daley-Baradel, Sylvain Decloitre, Sophie Demeyer, Vincent Dupuy, Massimo Fusco, Rémi Hollant, Oskar Landström, Theo Livesey, Louise Perming, Katia Petrowick, Jonathan Schatz, Nuria Guiu Sagarra, Tyra Wigg
mix, edits & playlist selection
Peter Rehberg
sound diffusion supervisor
Stephen O’Malley
sound engineer
Adrien Michel
light design
Patrick Riou
Gisèle Vienne, Dennis Cooper
Alma Office
executive production
Nanterre-Amandiers, centre dramatique national / Maillon, Théâtre de Strasbourg - Scène européenne / Wiener Festwochen / manège, scène nationale - Reims / Théâtre national de Bretagne, direction Arthur Nauziciel / Centre Dramatique National Orléans / Loiret / Centre / La Filature, Scène nationale - Mulhouse / BIT Teatergarasjen, Bergen
supported by
CCN2 – Centre Chorégraphique national de Grenoble / CND Centre national de la danse The Company Gisèle Vienne is supported by Ministère de la culture et de la communication – DRAC Grand Est, la Région Grand Est and Ville de Strasbourg. The company is supported by Institut Français for international touring. Gisèle Vienne is associate artist at the Nanterre Amandiers CND and at the Théâtre National de Bretagne, Direction Arthur Nauzyciel

This performance was made possible with support by