Capriccio is the first of five new works from our choreographic development program Bodytorque.Digital. It was choreographed by our dancer François-Eloi Lavignac and performed by Principal Artist Benedicte Bemet with company pianist Kylie Foster.
François-Eloi and Benedicte have been workshopping the content for this piece since 2017, when Benedicte endured a career-threatening injury. It has now come full circle to be completed for our 2020 Bodytorque.Digital season, a collaboration with Orchestra Victoria.
Filmed in the empty halls and exhibition spaces of the National Gallery of Victoria, Capriccio explores the triumph of creativity over trying circumstances.
Choreographer François-Eloi Lavignac
Dancer Benedicte Bemet
Composer J.S Bach ""Lament"" from Cappricio in B Flat
Pianist Kylie Foster
Find out more about the Bodytorque.Digital series.
In the process of learning, we move forward from room to room. We build confidence until we open another door, only to realise that we know nothing. Capriccio aims to show a cycle in which the dancer's reality and thought process are intertwined in a dance where they run from themself only to find themself at the beginning.
The back story
Benedicte and I started workshopping this material in 2017, an intense year. Benedicte was very badly injured and was unable to dance; even walking proved difficult at the time. I could see my friend was losing faith in the artist that she was. I witnessed the warped perception she had of herself and how it could potentially become destructive. She accepted my invitation to work with me, in between her very busy and strenuous rehabilitation hours. She sat on a chair and all I wanted was to remind her that she was still a dancer and that no one and nothing could take that away from her. She trusted me.
The focus was mainly on small gestures and movement, with the intent of researching the images of the subconscious while performing, trusting the human instinct and finding the room to feel. Her eyes were closed the whole time, a part of her had to look inwards during this dark time as the bright images of movement and stories unravelled in her mind. We put this project aside as Bene became better and better, eventually becoming one of The Australian Ballet's youngest principal artists.
When David McAllister and Nicolette Fraillon approached me to create for Bodytorque.Digital in 2020, we were in the midst of isolation in Melbourne and to be honest, creativity and productivity were not at the forefront of my mind. I thought: “If you can't make up something, do something you already know.” After finding the video of Benedicte dancing so beautifully on a chair in 2017 I knew I had to revisit this project and take it further.
Benedicte and I started rehearsing via our computer screens using Microsoft Teams. For two months we called each other two to three times a week to rehearse and find the new version of this project we had started three years ago. We both enjoyed revisiting this content, giving it new meaning and also creating new content to represent us three years after. The beauty of the movement comes from a genuine place of wondering, picturing and constantly researching.
The music came as an after-thought but is a piece that I have been listening to for a few years and that has accompanied me through life. This lament truly has a specific energy that I found similar to what Benedicte and I were working on.
I spoke to Kylie, the pianist, a little bit about the piece and she was immediately on the same page in terms of how the piece should be interpreted, and indeed Kylie gave a very pure and solemn performance when we recorded her at Orchestra Victoria’s HQ.
As I am leaving the company to pursue a career in Europe, it seems fitting to use a piece that Bach wrote for a departed friend. What an incredible opportunity to collaborate with one of my best friends and create with her.
This piece is not meant to be polished or right and as we were rehearsing not really knowing the final form it would take, we welcomed extra elements that gave it depth. The incredible space at the National Gallery of Victoria allowed us to find these elements and incorporate them into the dance. The array of sounds that a working, creative, dynamic space like NGV makes excited me and the energy coming off the walls and corridors made it easy for us to enter a new dimension.
Benedicte and I had such fun with Brett Ludeman, our cinematographer, running around the gallery on our own (in a socially distanced manner of course), playing music, dancing, laughing, working. What a privilege this whole process has been. This project turned my isolation into something of beauty and purpose.