Transports Exceptionnels

Transports Exceptionnels VI

The new season of Danceworks started in style this weekend. We joined the crowd on the fairly recently revamped Devonshire Green to watch a highly unusual piece of dance.

Transports Exceptionnels, by French choreographer Dominique Boivin, was described by the Danceworks brochure as “a tender love duet for dancer and mechanical digger”. Strangely enough, that’s exactly what it was.

We expected the dancer, Phillipe Priasso, to be expressive, and he was – at times tender, at others playful, in a perfomance that included some highly acrobatic moves. However the most surprising aspect was the fact that the digger was not just a foil to the human dancer, it danced quite well itself. Hidden behind the mirrored windows of the cabin, the unseen, but highly skilled driver made his charge interact with its human partner in a rather amazing manner.

“Accompagnied by the dramatic voice of Maria Callas, this meeting between iron and flesh is a witty interpretation of the classic pas de deux. Playful yet rugged, Transports Exceptionnels is an unexpected moment of grace between fragile man and indestructible machine.”
Danceworks Autumn 2008 Brochure

Transports Exceptionnels X Transports Exceptionnels XVII Transports Exceptionnels XI

This event was described by Danceworks as being ‘family friendly’. There were masses of young children in the crowd, all of whom seemed entranced by the whole thing. Some liked the digger, some the dancing, others the acrobatic elements of the performance. Two small children sitting near us had brought their toy diggers along, as a result of which they were introduced to Phillipe Priasso after the performance. He sat and chatted with them – and with the small crowd of other children that quickly gathered.

Danceworks have been successful at getting secondary school age pupils to attend their events, but this one really seemed to appeal to all ages.

Compagnie Beau Geste are taking Transports Exceptionnels on a UK tour in association with Dance Umbrella, although Sheffield, Derby and Oxford are the only three venues outside London listed on the website. (Will they will be travelling to their next venue by digger, I wonder?) If it heads your way, it’s definitely worth seeing.

Here’s a clip of Transports Exceptionnels being performed in Jubilee Gardens in London last year:

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