Laurent Goumarre, may 2001
Text from the" Journal du Théâtre de la Ville"
"Perhaps I should stand up," admitted Gilles Jobin. That was after Braindance, after the stage had been strewn with women’s bodies, with piles of organs that may or may not have been souvenirs from the Bosnian charnel houses. If a point of reference, an anchor in reality, was needed, why not ? After all, one really ought to stand up. But, no : Gilles Jobin’s dance does not conform to the logic that would want to believe in progress, that would expect a prone-seated-crouched sequence to end in an upright position, as if dance were the achievement still being sold to us as the triumph of the vertical. Verticality is not necessarily on the agenda and, in the choreography of Gilles Jobin, it holds out no promise of a solution - or if it does, then one that is upside down, an inverted verticality, legs rising while shoulders remain on the ground, a silhouette that appears during the final fifteen minutes of The Moebius Strip, when the stage is darkened : then verticality is less seen than sensed ; it is not the revenge taken on the prone position, instead shifting backwards and forwards between reference points ; it is not so much the dancer who comes to his feet than the stage that rises.
So The Moebius Strip, Gilles Jobin’s most recent creation, does not hold track with the premise that one “should stand up" ; and it is the rejection of this premise that enables him to radicalise his treatment of horizontality, a subject touched on in earlier works but never their focus or choreographic theme. In this piece, where the dancers come on stage, lie down, remain perfectly still and then move off to lie down elsewhere, or even continue to remain perfectly still in one place, Gilles Jobin is not trying to tell stories, explain Bosnia or comment on the news. He even dresses his performers again, refusing to become a choreographer who dwells on the naked body. Because the work is on another level, beyond the bodies on stage that will leave behind only their clothes as a sign that they were there, in an "organically organised movement" that cannot be interrupted, whose flow must be maintained.
And this is the essence of Gilles Jobin’s piece : gliding movement that involves everyone- the dancer on stage, the spectator in the auditorium - with no resort to trickery, no change in the performance space, no strict patterns, square or otherwise. The sole imperative is for the movement literally to emerge from the stage, for the stage floor to provide the dancers with directionality, allowing the choreographer and his performers to lay out a chequerboard with sheets of white A4 paper. With that, the stage becomes an anti-mimetic, anti-narrative, geometric surface : the overall initiator of movement. ”Starting from this balanced, non-hierarchical space, movement organises itself, movement I do not attempt to choreograph, in the strictest sense of the word. One type of movement takes place on the lines, another between the lines and even more inside the squares. I am no longer in a position where I have to write down a movement and check what the dancer makes of it. This starting grid imposes such practical physical restrictions that all the dancers quickly grasped the quality of movement I had worked so hard to communicate to my performers in earlier works.” (1)
Thus, geometrical drawing is at the heart of the Moebius dance. And one cannot miss the biographical reference to the choreographer’s father, Arthur Jobin, who was a geometric painter associated with "emblematic infiguration", with exploring "the flat surface that reflects light" and "optical vibrations”. And it was he who pondered
"The search for equilibrium
The organisation of a surface
The purity of volume
The humanisation of form
The tension between lines
The violence of contrasts". (2)
A multitude of phrases that would all define the son’s latest work. All this just to understand that if this is a tale of Moebius, it is also one of a continuous and organic movement linking father (recently deceased) and son ; another interpretation : the father’s two-dimensional painting, his geometric surfaces, motivating the son’s choreographic installation. A tale that is all the more relevant as the choreographer systematically emphasises the horizontality of his medium as an essential part of his working process. As the light fades, the dancers vanish ; seemingly absorbed by the white grid that is the stage, their bodies become increasingly indistinct, mere shadows without shape or form. In the end they are only "infigured" bodies that leave behind nothing but their clothes.
(1) Gilles Jobin spoke to Laurent Goumarre in February 2001, when the piece was in progress ; the interview was published in Le Journal du Théâtre de la Ville, Paris, May-June 2001.
(2) Arthur Jobin (1966) in : Alberto Sartoris, Arthur Jobin ou l’infiguration emblématique, Cossonay-Ville, Collection des valeurs nouvelles, Cahier n° 2, 1975, p.14