It is an initiative full of promise. In line with the policy of the Ministry of Culture towards young people far from the cultural offer, the choreographer Rachid Ouramdane, director of Chaillot national theater of dance, revisits, under the name of “Chaillot colos”, the colonies holidays from our childhood by offering young people who do not leave to learn to dance during the school holidays of All Saints. ” To dance is to show the way in which we love and accept to move in front of the gaze of the other “, he explains.
In fact, the experience of “Chaillot colos”, the second edition of which has just started during the 2022 All Saints holidays in Val-d’Oise, Martinique and Angoulême, allows young people to discover an artistic practice and experience themselves in their body. This is one of its first objectives. This operation also allows – it is a third pillar “ essential in the eyes of the choreographer – to apprehend another dimension, that of “the socialization in a unique environment. Back on this initiative with Rachid Ouramdane, who received, Thursday, October 27 in Mériel (Val d’Oise) the visit of Rima Abdul Malak, Minister of Culture.
What is the principle of the Chaillot colos, what is the philosophy?
This device, inspired by a similar project of the National Choreographic Center of Grenoble, is a response to the fact that some children, for economic or cultural reasons, do not go on vacation. The idea is to fit into their rhythm of life by offering them workshops around movement during the holidays. To dance is to show the way in which one loves and accepts to move in front of the gaze of the other. This raises important questions, especially at this age. Trying to allow these young people to approach this relationship to their body in a fulfilling way is something that is commonly practiced in dance pedagogy. These camps are a way to reveal yourself.
Another issue is that of the group. These colos are real spaces for socializing. The idea is to experience community life even more. Finally, we take these young people to unique environments. This week, I am in the Val-d’Oise, in Mériel, in a leisure center lent by Seine-Saint-Denis. We are almost in the countryside, the idea is also to bring practices that will make young people aware of ecology. In the past, I did camp in urban environments, it is then another type of attention, to architecture, to heritage, which is requested.
How does this project make sense to Chaillot?
There is only one National Dance Theater in the whole territory, it is Chaillot. The theater has the responsibility of bringing together all forms of dance, whether professional or amateur. I see people dancing on the forecourt of the Trocadero every day. Dance has never been so present in people’s lives: 70% of TikTok content is choreographic content. I’m also thinking of cinema, just look at the success achieved by Still, the film by Cédric Klapisch on the journey of a dancer. The national theater of Chaillot must by all means share the dance.
In addition, the national theater of Chaillot has public service missions. As director, I have to ensure that these missions benefit as many people as possible. When the Ministry of Culture did me the honor of offering me the management of this place, what was identified in my career was the place of artistic creation backed by a desire to share it, to linking in interactive devices that unite audiences in the world of care, tourism, education, sport… “Chaillot Colos”, in this respect, is part of a constellation of programs in which it there is always in the background this desire to use dance to bring worlds together and reach all audiences and populations.
Being there to support the other, to prevent them from hurting themselves, to allow them to do things that they could not do alone, that’s the whole spirit of the Chaillot colos
If you had to take stock of the first camp which took place last summer and brought together twelve young people from Clichy-sous-Bois and Montfermeil, aged 8 to 14, what would it be?
This first camp confirmed what we unfortunately already knew, namely that young people, in this case from the Parisian suburbs, do not always have the chance to access certain cultural spaces. It is up to us to invent bridges. When young people, who live 45 minutes from the center of Paris, see the Eiffel Tower for the first time, this must raise questions about how we share our heritage. A young girl had this sentence at the end of the week: “ it’s beautiful and it’s also for us “. This formulation says a lot in its apparent simplicity. There is an awareness of an appropriation of things.
One of the particularities of the Chaillot colos is to rely on local actors.
In effect. Each time, the Chaillot colos are co-constructed. The work is done on a multiple scale, with regional directorates of cultural affairs (Drac), cities, local authorities, and sometimes also directly with cultural venues. Our model is open. What counts is having partners who care about supporting childhood, including moments of discovery of themselves and others in their educational paths.
The holiday camp where I was this morning was organized in partnership with Seine-Saint-Denis and the educational city of Seine-Saint-Denis. Another has just started overseas, in Martinique, in partnership with the cultural affairs department, a third is taking place in Angoulême at the Maria Casarès house, in Alloue, as part of a partnership with the cultural social center and sportsman CAJ Grand Font. These colos are built by listening to the territories and their resources.
What are the themes of these three fall camps?
In Martinique, with Aurélie Charron, one of our associated artists, it’s a colo around movement and self-story with also a dancer and a director. As I have worked a lot with extreme athletes, the one I propose to Mériel, around self-transcendence, brings together athletes and artists. In Angoulême, Jann Gallois, another of our associated artists, takes as a starting point pacamambothe play by Wajdi Mouawad, it talks about new beginnings in life.
Once again, Chaillot has responsibilities vis-à-vis the entire national territory. This is why during the next holidays, we will continue this initiative in other regions… Numerous projects are being set up. One of the challenges is to create mobility. You have to know how to bring art where you don’t expect it, work in both directions: bring the population to cultural places, and ensure that cultural places go to the territories.
What are your first impressions of this week’s camp?
A visit to Chaillot preceded the week in Mériel. When you come to Chaillot for the first time, it’s always a wonderful discovery. The young people visited the palace, they saw the artists at work, they discovered the professions of technique, costume…. and they had time to do a first choreography in the large dance hall with a bird’s eye view of the Eiffel Tower.
And since this morning, they have taken up residence in the place where they are going to spend the week. They discover a group, speakers, disciplines. With the artists of the XY collective, we started with an acrobatic practice, the practice of “hand to hand”, as demanding for oneself as it demands attention from the other. To be there to support the other, to prevent him from hurting himself, to allow him to do things that he could not do alone, this is what is hollow behind these figures which allow them to step into this week and hopefully begin to transform.
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