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French Version

Jean de La Fontaine's 'Fables' enchants Beirut audience

French dancers close tour at ThŽ‰tre du Tournesol

"They loved it all over the Middle East. But Beirut is the best audience we've had!" smiles SŽverine Adamy. One of seven dancers who enchanted a packed audience at the recently opened Théatre du Tournesol in the Badaro neighborhood of Beirut on Wednesday night, Adamy dazzled in the dance performance based on the famous French author Jean de la Fontaine's "Fables."

Invited to Lebanon by the French Embassy, the French Association of Artistic Action Association, and SHAMS (a Lebanese organization to promote dance with two successful dance festivals under its belt in 2003 and 2004), the dancers staged three 20-minute acts, reviving Fontaine's fairy tale universe full of human-like rats and ravens.

The idea to adapt the fables came from director of the Paris-based production company "La petite fabrique," Annie Selem, who wished to make modern dance more accessible for children and adults who had no previous experience of the art.

"I was fascinated by the fables because of their universality," recalls Selem, whose ambition was to transcend usual barriers between age groups but also between different styles of dance.

"I wanted to show that modern dance is anything but uniform. In contemporary dance there are as many styles as choreographers," she says.

Indeed, the performance on Wednesday night was a fusion of hip-hop and classical dance, with surprising reminders of baroque in the middle of very contemporary acts.

Each act has its own flair, but all three are sparkling with childlike imagination, velocity and playfulness.

The secret of their success may well lie in the blurring of boundaries of all kinds: the performance is modern but without postmodern cynicism, it is innocent but without blue-eyed naivety.

And while it may well be about morals, the performance never suffers from taking itself too seriously.

Which, paradoxically, is why it can be taken seriously by dancers and audience alike. At ThŽ‰tre du Tournesol the audience felt the passion of the dancers just as the dancers fed off the enthusiasm of the audience: "I had a lot of fun on stage, I was really into it. You felt the audience and that's important. It's a dialogue, so if they are present, you feel good on stage," Adamy says. The dancers have performed these acts for about four years, but still seem to be spontaneous on stage.

"After 260 performances, I was afraid it might become some kind of routine, but in the end it's never the same," adds Hugues Barnouin, Adamy's dance partner. "I'm still as happy to dance this act as I was at the beginning - and actually, I think I'm even more so."

Beirut,10 10 2005
Stephanie Doetzer
The Daily Star
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