It’s the last day of summer in Paris and Trocadero is a mosh pit of frenzied tourists making every second count, ambulant vendors pushing for their trinkets, and Parisians catching the last rays of sunshine before the autumn showers. Red hot and busy. Walking into the Théatre de Chaillot, all cool marble and low lights, is a welcome respite. As it turns out though, it’s just as frenetic here as the streets outside.
With Philippe Decouflé’s Tout doit disparaître, every corner of the theatre, from the staircases to the restaurant area, is made alive with spectacle. A band of vogueing majorettes struts in with towering heels and flaming orange wigs, while a bald guy in a top hat gamely gives a tour from across the room. In a corner, a man with a dream for a body stands frozen on a pedestal, a modern Adonis. From a distance, an electric guitar whirrs, an invitation to go deeper and a subliminal message saying several things are happening at the same time. The stage being everywhere, the audience is free to move. We are welcomed by a colony of insect dancers trembling to a jitterbug tune in the entrance hall. To dress them up, costume designer Laurence Chalou worked with the luxury activewear brand No Ka ‘Oi.
Here, the house’s psychedelic prints serve as prickly critter underbellies. The swooshes of color in their skin-tight bodysuits become a hypnotic gradient following the performers every move, a show of its own. To watch a dancer is to watch a body at work. To see it utilized fully. Every inch governed, every muscle easily isolated, tensed and relaxed at will. What does a dancer then, with flesh as the only necessary instrument, could hope to gain from a costume? “Comfort”, affirms one insect dancer, her antennae bobbing as she nods her head.
“The material is very elastic, it allows us to make big gestures and slide down the floor”, murmurs another. A source of material support for the performers, and a visual aid for the audience, a suggestion that a color-block bike shorts here could be a venomous spider leg, the black zipper on a bra top just a bull ant’s scissor mouth, waiting for the next meal.