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PAL FRENAK Tricks & Tracks

Emerentienne Dubourg, La Terrasse

octobre 2001

FR (ENG below)

Depuis Les Palets et A Sainte-Rita, deux de ses précédentes pièces, le travail chorégraphique de Pal Frenak s’est considérablement éclaté entre la Hongrie, son pays d’origine, la France et le Japon. Sa poétique s’en trouve, à coup sûr, élargie et son écriture tout aussi engagée, plus brutale.

Tricks & Tracks, sous titré “spectacle sous tension”, fait le constat d’un univers piégé d’empreintes, d’une mémoire qui serait, au choix, effaçable ou indélébile. La pression des corps et de leurs débordements fait fureur sur un plateau devenu le théâtre d’affrontements goulus. Ce troublant tableau d’une humanité déchiquetante traduit une réalité violente. Ces secousses sont le reflet des séismes déroutants qui traduisent le monde actuel. Croquer et sucer l’autre, c’est aussi montrer que la société jugée à tort la moins décadente entretient toujours des relations de victime à prédateur. L’expression du chorégraphe, témoin de son temps mais aussi visionnaire, témoigne d’un vampirisme fardé de complaisance et d’artifice.

A l’apogée de ces paradoxes, l’univers corporel de Pal Frenak s’exprime encore plus par la présence que par le mouvement, comme si l’énergie se concentrait de l’intérieur avant de se répandre entre jouissance et cruauté dans un contexte apparemment aseptisé.


Tricks & Tracks at the Théâtre de la Bastille -FÈRE-EN-TARDENOIS (Aisne) from our special correspondent

The village hall in Fère-en-Tardenois, deftly revamped into a gym (dance mats and a metal cage with elastic cords hanging from it) vibrates with the blunt, heavy thumping of techno music. The intense lighting throws streaks across four men spinning in the air, grasping each other like parachutists in free fall. As soon as their feet touch the ground, they take off again, with open arms, to be eternally brought down to the ground again. It is this tension – doomed to failure – that gives the furor of Hungarian choreographer Pàl Frenàk its particular flavor, that of the acrid joy of being alive. If we are to be enclosed in this chunk of flesh which is the body, we might as well attempt to penetrate its mysteries.

For three weeks, beginning on October 1st, the choreographer will be in residence in Picardy thanks to a joint effort by four institutions in the area (the Echangeur in Fère-en-Tardenois, the Centre Culturel in Tergnier, the Maison de la Culture et des Loisirs in Gauchy and the Chevalet in Noyon). A featured performer in Magyart, the Hungarian cultural season in France, Pàl Frenàk has lived in France since 1988 and his company, under a French-Hungarian banner, is made up of dancers recruited on his many travels between Paris and Budapest. An asset which this restless man fully intends to bring into play.


"Basically, I’m like the weeds that always find someplace to take root and grow,” he explains with a half-smile. “From the outset, I’ve had a hard time getting French programmers to listen to me, they don’t know how to define me. During my trips to Hungary I began doing workshops with the support of the Trafo theater which is one of the only places that programs contemporary choreographers. In the last four years, partially due to this work, Budapest has opened up to modern dance. As a result, dancers wanted to come work with me. Some of them come from major folk dance companies, others from the Opera ballet school, or from figure skating. They all have great potential and the urge to express themselves. We work with next to nothing, but their desire to create something new is stronger than any contingency that might arise.”

Like his dancers, Pàl Frenàk has not taken the usual career path. He came to dance very late (he took his first ballet class at twenty while continuing to work as a waiter in a restaurant), but quickly rose to become, in less than eight years, a soloist with one of the best companies in Hungary. In France, he decided not to take the mandatory path as a performer in order to lay the foundations for his choreographic work. It was hard labor, digging deep into his childhood (born to deaf-mute parents, Pàl Frenàk spent part of his youth in a tough boarding school) to draw out its pith without falling into its pits.

On this rocky path, the choreographer has planted a few solid choreographic milestones such as Les Palets (1994), a grim yet strangely angelic transfiguration of confinement, or Sainte Rita (1996), a dark incision into a world on the brink. “I explore instinctual drives to forge organic movements and give form to the primitive state of being that resembles a trance, a modern-day trance.” As he distances himself from his past, Pàl Frenàk loosens the straitjacket of movements that provided him with a certain stability in order to break down all the barriers of the body. In Sauvageries (1998), which does not belie its title, and Tricks and Tracks (1999), which expels raw matter from beings, he enters a zone of dangerously human violence and keeps moving closer the source itself of what keeps him up and dancing.


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