Initially commissioned by the Nederlands Dans Theater for 12 dancers, Volubilis has evolved considerably since its creation in 1997. Danced regularly by Compagnie Lionel Hoche in a version for four dancers, and since 2002 in a new version for five, it has had time to develop, to be polished, particularly so as it has toured considerably. Lionel Hoche set out to combine « baroque music and articulated dance », wanting to draw out the elements common to both despite very different eras and aesthetics. Contrasting dynamics create a new equilibrium using a botanical-type movement, as if detached from the flesh. Volubilis is a turning point, and has matured without losing its freshness and its hypnotising perfume. Like a spring flower.
Volubilis is the name of a plant, a decorative ipomoea, which in medieval botanical Latin signified a bindweed living in hedges, a vulgar climbing plant which gardeners considered a weed. Volubilis is also a word which sounds like a small bell of refinement, like this piece created in 1997 by Hoche and reworked for the company's 10th birthday in 2002. A white empty stage with a suspended mobile, white also to better attract the light. It whirls, spinning slowly. Bodies emerge, slender and pale, in tee-shirts and pale blue shorts. Inconspicuous costumes create abstract, almost erudite body language. The movement is fluid and full, repeated tirelessly like a chant. Subtle mechanics of the dismantled body. Roundness of gestures seeking to caress the air, embracing their innermost pulsation. Like that of the music, a concerto for harpsichord and strings by Bach. The dance is light, voluble, and sometimes tender. Complex, too, obviously. Even daring, sometimes. Freeing itself systematically from the musical score while using it through tiny details, establishing illusive correspondences between two arts.

Volubilis is an exploration of the body's different states, which recalls baroque dance through its precision and the lines it traces in space, but here the vocabulary is resolutely contemporary. With extreme attention paid to volumes, colours and the composition, which are trademarks of the Parisian choreographer. In particular through his study of rhythm, energy and time. Volubilis is a charming mirror in which one likes to be reflected.

Gallia Valette-Pilenko
translation Adam Vidovic


Anna Kisselgoff - The New York Times

...In Mirabilis / Volubilis, set mainly to Bach's music, Mr. Hoche, three other male dancers and an onstage organist succeed admirably with a gleaming formal work, small-scale but polished. (...) Mr Hoche, unlike many French choreographers, focuses on movement more than theatrical atmosphere. Mirabilis, the first section of his piece, includes a big white cube manoeuvred by himself, Guillaume Cuvilliez and David Drouard. The choreography is angular, filled with body contact between dancers that sets off a chain of events - cartwheels, twists and falls - that change the relationships of the performers. As Christophe Lafontaine plays several Bach compositions on the organ, the geometric style of the choreographer acquires a grander formality.
The second part, Volubilis, acquires another dancer. Cédric Lequileuc adds his sharp quicksilver quality to the stamina of the others. A leafy mobile hangs overhead, and the rich movement spills out more freely. A choreographer to watch.
Anna Kisselgoff, The New York Times, 27th April 2001

Deborah Jowitt - The Village Voice

Allison Tracy - The Berkshire Eagle

« Les danseurs retiennent des sourires dans la joie de Volubilis, leur corps se précipitant, exubérants, baignant dans le technicolor. »
Allison Tracy
The Berkshire Eagle (USA) - le 28 juin 2003

Claudie Leger - La Tribune, Le Progrès

« (...) un pur joyau exaltant la danse... »
Claudie Leger, La Tribune, Le Progrès - le 8 novembre 2002

Agnès Benoist - Lyon Figaro

« (...) Volubilis, dont la poésie et la danse fluide servent désormais de signature de la compagnie MéMé BaNjO. »
Agnès Benoist, Lyon Figaro - le 5 novembre 2002

Raphaël de Gubernatis - Le Nouvel Observateur

« (...) une très jolie pièce... »
Raphaël de Gubernatis, Le Nouvel Observateur - le 31 mai 2001

J. Pailley - Danser

« Asymétries, déséquilibres, lignes brisées, Lionel Hoche organise une joyeuse disharmonie sur un concerto de Bach dans Volubilis... »
J. Pailley, Danser - décembre 2000

Martin C. - L & A Théâtre

« ... une recherche originale de suavité élégante et subtile. »
Martin C., L & A Théâtre - décembre 2000

Marie-Christine Vernay - Libération

« ...Même plaisir avec Volubilis de Lionel Hoche. Les danseurs se lovent dans des phrases chorégraphiques peu tapageuses respirant sur un concerto de Bach et suspendue comme un mystère sous un mobile qui a des allures de libellules. »
Marie-Christine Vernay, Libération - le 14 novembre 2000

René Sirvin - Le Figaro

(...) Lionel Hoche and his be-socked dancers sold out in New York, where Mirabilis, with its ever-present white cube, and a four-dancer version of Volubilis thrilled the audience, delighted by this theatrical dance and its graceful language of non-violent falls and slides.
René Sirvin, Le Figaro, 4th May 2001

« ...Volubilis, la création la plus fine de la soirée, ludique et variée, typiquement française. La construction en est vivante, le vocabulaire original, pimenté de charmants petits gestes des mains et des bras. ... un amusant travail de déstructuration et d'équilibre. »
René Sirvin, Le Figaro - le 11 et 12 novembre 2000

Muriel Steinmetz - L'Humanité

« ... Alors qu'un mobile, genre liseron - c'est le nom français du mot "volubilis" - repensé façon Arman, tourne, suspendu dans les cintres, les interprètes dansent sur du Bach vêtus de slip, t-shirt et chaussettes bleu pastel. Sur les sonorités pincées du clavecin ils disent le plus par le moins, avec une grande pureté gestuelle. L'un incurve juste sa main. La ligne demeure frontale comme dans la tradition, mais la géométrie corporelle se complique à dessein. C'est très ludique. Le bas du corps, littéralement s'amollit comme les montres de Dali, tandis que le haut obéit, jusqu'au bout des doigts, à la plus grande rigueur. »
Muriel Steinmetz
le 11 novembre 2000

Didier Hemardinquer - L'Est Républicain

« ...une chorégraphie qui s'enroule, avec délectation, sur la musique du concerto pour clavecin et cordes en ré mineur de Bach. »
Didier Hemardinquer
L'Est Républicain
le 8 novembre 2000

R.D. - La Montagne

The botanical symbol, an enormous mobile, leaves no doubt. Nor the corporal arabesques. The plant grows through a delicate system of thwarted surges, parallel paths and fleeting embraces. (Volubilis is) fed by the omnipresent pugnacity of Bach or a sudden silence hanging the choreographic beat over the sidereal emptiness of the naked image.
R.D., La Montagne, 26th January 2000

J.C. Diénis -Danser

Volubilis is a bright, airy piece, which takes the side roads in its approach to Bach : a truant's dance for four boys with complementary qualities.
J.C. Diénis, Danser, July / August 1999

Marcel Armand van Nieuwpoort - Het Financieele Dagblad

Volubilis is an aesthetically exceptional piece : in a silky soft atmosphere, the very draconian music of Bach is its main back bone. Hoche has created pieces for the NDT in the past, always with an absurd and rebellious sense of humour. This time he shows us a more peaceful facet, even if his choreographic style remains highly eclectic. He combines various elements of "modern dance", contact improvisation and Hip Hop, while leaning towards a controlled form. Consequently, the cohesion is maintained.
Marcel Armand van Nieuwpoort, Het Finacieele Dagblad (Pays Bas), January 1997



This work is usualy performed by five dancers, but it exists also in different versions including one with 15 dancers.

Choreography and set: Lionel Hoche
Music: Conserto for harpsichord and strings in D minor BWV 1052
Light: Rémi Nicolas
Costums: Lazare garcin