Manifesto for a Musée de la danse

Dance and its actors are often defined in opposition to the arts that are said perennial, lasting, static, for which the museum would be the favourite place. But today if one wants to stop occulting the historical space, the culture, the choreographic heritage, were it the most contemporary, then it is time to look, to make visible and alive the moving bodies of a culture which remains widely to be invented.

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There are few museums of dance. Very few indeed around the world. "There are in France one hundred and eighteen museums of the wooden clog, but not one museum of slavery." I often think of that remark once heard on the radio... There isn't a real museum of dance either, in this country. Dance and its actors are often defined in opposition to the arts that are said perennial, lasting, static, for which the museum would be the favourite place. But today if one wants to stop occulting the historical space, the culture, the choreographic heritage, were it the most contemporary, then it is time to look, to make visible and alive the moving bodies of a culture which remains widely to be invented. And if one wishes the choreographic tradition to tackle the new technological flows, and truly embrace the transmediatic space of the contemporary world, then it seems to me that under the designation of "Museum" the artists will be able to have fun and create freely.

a micro-museum
but a real one: it fully takes up its museum tasks and upholds a balance between its various functions of conservation, creation, research, exhibition, diffusion, enhancement of public awareness, mediation, without neglecting any of them. Such an interdependence is what justifies the creation of a museal structure.

a museum of artists
searchers, collectors, exhibition commissioners take part in the museum's life, but above all it is the doing of artists who invent it by creating works. It is therefore an artistic project initiated by Boris Charmatz, but produced by numerous artists.

an eccentric museum
it intends to be an introduction, an appetizer, a place for enhancing public awareness of dance and choreographic culture in the broad sense, of history of the body and its representations.However, it is not centred exclusively on choreographic art: it does not seek to establish a taxinomy of dance, its goal is not to offer a settled definition of the subject.Its ideal isn't either to give an exhaustive representation of the different dances performed all around the world. It wishes to stimulate the desire for knowledge.

an incorporated museum
it can develop only provided that it is built by the bodies moving through it, those of the public, the artists, but also of the museum employees (attendants, technicians, administrationstaff, etc.), who activate the works, become actors themselves.

a provocative museum
it approaches dance and its history through a resolutely contemporary vision. It spends time questioning the ingenuous knowledge everyone has about dancing. It induces improbable linkings, confrontations between worlds usually far appart from one another. It questions the accepted opinions going round about dance... and therefore elsewhere in society.

a transgressive museum
it fully acknowledges the fact that its activity does not limit itself to the quest for and the representation of the "authentic" object; it encourages artists and visitors to take hold of the works, it stimulates plagiarism. Artistic creation and the visitor's experience are at the core of its action. Being a place of life, a social space for controversy, a place of talk and interpretation, it is not only a space of accumulation and representation.

a permeable museum
it defends the principle according to which the fact of opening oneself up to a broadened conception of dance, means to accept to be crossed by other movements, to extract oneselffrom a fixed identity. To open up to difference.

a museum of complex temporalities
it thinks both the ephemeral and the perennial, the experimental and the patrimonial. Active, reactive, mobile, it is a viral museum which can be grafted on other places, can spread dance in places where it was not expected. It is also a museum with a programme evolving by the rythm of seasons, able to settle down on beaches in the summer period or to propose a winter University...

a cooperative museum
it is independant, but works in connection with a network of partners, cooperates with institutions linked to dance (contemporary, classic and traditional, scholarly and popular),to museums, to art centres and galleries, to research centres and universities, and it sets itself under no circumstances against them. It builds deep relationships with individuals,wether they be artists of international fame like Mikhail Baryshnikov, Steve Paxton or William Forsythe, or passionate amateurs.

an immediate museum
it exists a soon as the first gesture has been performed.

Boris Charmatz