Roussel : The most famous of unread authors
"The greatest magnetiser of modern times" André Breton
It was in 1992 that, following the advice of a close friend and colleague, I first "met" Raymond Roussel and his exceptional work.
I was instantly fascinated by his unusual universe, and after reading Locus Solus, I accrued this first encounter by exploring Raymond Roussel's other works, all just as unique.
At the same time, I became aware of the numerous writings and studies dedicated to him and to his work, of the research carried out by fellow writers. And the limitless enthusiasm of those familiar with his work.
From then on, the idea of a choreographic project on Raymond Roussel's work never left me. But I was loathe to rush matters. I had to wait until I was ready to take on this "dark continent" with all the respect due to it. Besides, I lacked the necessary choreographic arguments and an adequate artistic team.
With the company's dancers, I have worked on various aspects of the work in question :
- modulation/permutation/differentiation (la mise en abîme) (a permanent feature in all of Roussel's work)
- metamorphosis and reproduction as processes of the deconstruction and deformation of meaning (a major part of this problematic is found in Impressions of Africa).
During the first sequence of The club of the incomparable (in reference to Impressions of Africa), I wanted to immerge my work in the momentum of Raymond Roussel's exalted imagination. Carried along by the electronic music composed by BOSCO, an absurd and burlesque machinery leads the dancers into a series images with awkward rhythms, divided into accelerations and decelerations, elastic and uneven tempos.
With The Gardens of Behuliphruen (still in reference to Impressions of Africa), I wanted to study a different dimension, the more abstract concept of the modulation/permutation/differentiation (mise en abîme). A concept which should be studied in the context of the only revelation ever made by Raymond Roussel about his writing processes (in his posthumous work How I wrote some of my books). Yet despite this apparent disclosure, the result is actually a complication of matters. As, if a process does exist, its revelation by Roussel could be nothing other than a backwards dissimulation, hiding all other methods used by the author. The deconstruction and reconstruction of choreographic material, its constant modulation/permutation/differentiation (mise en abime), follow a method parallel to that of Raymond Roussel, whose aim is the total auto devastation of the form, through the multiplication of the cycles within a cycle which itself encompasses the whole series.
Working within this principle, Jérôme Charles composed a song with limited notes, a never-ending waltz with a stilted rhythm and improvised lyrics in a false African dialect.
Last Impressions looks at the setbacks suffered by both work and person during their existence, in particular that of the accidental* disappearance of Raymond Roussel in Palermo en 1933 at the Hotel des Palmes (a universal setback). His genius, which led him simultaneously to salvation and ruin, would find a mirror image in this disappearance, a last possible, absolute and irreversible modulation/permutation/differentiation (mise en abime). Haunted by the melancholic and spasmodic circus of The creation of the world by Darius Milhaud, this sequence develops the concept of improvisation. Ultimate freedom, the ultimate attempt at reaching an ideal ; the other, differently ; equally somewhere else.
The mask, a recurring theme in Roussel's work together with the double, underlines the ambiguity of the real with respect to the virtual. Declined throughout the piece, this theme is reproduced differently for each section. As for the stage design, it also suggests a moving perspective around the modulation/permutation/differentiation (mise en abime). For this purpose, it is seconded by a parallel lighting system. Lionel Hoche

* In reality, the circumstances of Raymond Roussel's death have never been completely brought to light.


Les Saisons de la Danse

Intelligent tendency..."The greatest magnetiser of modern times wrote André Breton of Raymond Roussel. It is understandable that Lionel Hoche, a man of an inquisitive nature, should fall under the charm of the French writer admired by surrealists and thought of as a pioneer. But you don't need to know the latter's literary oeuvre in order to appreciate the latest work from the Saint-Etienne based choreographer, entitled Enroussellements. A piece made up of the ingredients found in the choreographer's later work, with special attention paid to a very graphic and plastic set-design, created around the idea of transparency and geometrical shapes and conceived by Lionel Hoche himself. The same care is taken with the lighting concocted by Mikki Kunttu, working for the first time with the company. The overall result might be considered mannered but remains coherent thanks to body movements which are clearly not. The movement is full and de-structured, skilful and beautiful. There is poetry and humour, black (the costumes are on the dark side) and white (the geometric shapes on stage), bodies dancing and vibrating. The same intelligence is found in the sound track, an explosive mix of French touch techno, pseudo-waltz and melancholy classical music (Darius Milhaud)... a beautiful show with wonderful performers and a remarkable quality of movement."
Gallia Valette-Pilenko, April 2000

Agenda Stéphanois

Enroussellements... "Lionel Hoche who, need we recall, is currently resident at the Esplanade, is a choreographer who inspires us to say :??roll on the next show'... No format, no gauge here, only creativity, originality, rhythm, freedom and the dancers' grace.
...What more to say without making Hoche's modest appearances during the applause difficult, except one regret, that the show be programmed for such a short run. Three performances are clearly better than one, but one or two more would have given others the chance to discover that there is talent in Saint-Etienne."
1st March 2000

European Dance News

· The triptych of Saint-Etienne..."This is passionate work, full of all kinds of ideas and of playful, pleasant, beautiful, ingenious and dynamic finds."
Michel Odin, European Dance News, March 2000

Culture Loire

Hochellements... "A show which leaves the spectator complete freedom, even that not to have read Roussel, the choreographer's inspiration.... The company MéMé BaNjO gave me a hospitable show, one in which I could feel at home, choosing the verses of its poetry which told me what I wanted to hear. Funny too. All carried along on over a joyful soundtrack mixing African melodies, techno rhythms, a crazy waltz and a grand finale with Milhaud's The Creation of the World."
Dominique Bardel, 23rd February 2000

René Sirvin, Le Figaro

Masked abstraction... "In a radiant décor of light-weight white canvases, six dancers capture our attention...
The composition of "Enroussellements" is full of the choreographer's usual twists and turns, the supple performers, turning and sliding in their socks, more often sitting or laying down than standing up. The skilful trio of Joke Martin, Guillaume Cuvilliez and David Drouard is particularly noteworthy, playing with their bowler hats... ; followed by a strange surrealist tableau where two dancers (Leïla Pasquier and Angélique Willkie) hold huge deforming magnifying glasses in front of their faces, making their heads horrifically enormous. Added admiration for a double duo of dancers totally entangled on the floor..."
René Sirvin, 12th February 2000

La Tribune Le Progrès

Abracadabra !... "Echoing the wild creativity of Roussel, Lionel Hoche makes humorous and poetical allusions () in this trilog, throwing the gates of his imagination wide open.
First building then deconstructing the choreography, Lionel Hoche masters chaos, his ingenious set-design highlighting the dance's progression through geometrical forms reflected in detachable panels. Art interwoven in art, multiple cycles in a single cycle..."
Claudie Léger, 11th February 2000


The metamorphosis of Lionel Hoche..."Despite appearances, the choreographer Lionel Hoche, based in Saint-Etienne, is undoubtedly one of France's most sought-after choreographers by reputed international ballet companies (a journey that has taken him from the Nederlands Dans Theater to the Monte-Carlo Ballets, via the Lyon Opera Ballet). His career has been prolific, all the richer for his years at the Paris Opera Ballet School, his time as a performer with Jiri Kylian's company, and his contemporary experience with Daniel Larrieu..."
Stéphane Lebard, 10th February 2000

La Montagne

Lionel Hoche knows his classics and knows how to play with words... "A kaleidoscopic choreography whose rhymes, obsessions and fascinations reinvent Roussel so well, without ever plagiarising him. So well that we let ourselves be lulled into this strange dream without aim or apparent design (or so it would seem!) yet so full of elusive images, visions, and trompe-l'oeil that we happily go along with it. With delicious complicity, knowing madness. These "Enroussellements" fit and merge together in learned bewitchment."
R.D., 26th January 2000



Choreography and costums : Lionel Hoche
Dancers : Guillaume Cuvilliez, David Drouard, Emmanuel Le Floch, Joke Martin, Leïla Pasquier, Angélique Willkie (dance and singing)
: BOSCO, Jérôme Charles, Darius Milhaud and Erik Satie.
: Mikki Kunttu - Costums : Melody McDonald