Please switch on your cell phone…

Published in Le Monde

First there is Florence, a very “girl next door” stewardess, all dressed in red, who makes you feel comfortable and happy, if only by authorizing you to keep your cell phone switched on. Then come Fabien (Prioville) and Pascal (Merighi) who dive onto the stage with all the fervour and the seriousness of those whose life depends on it. Then finally comes the audience, making its way through the trio, transforming it all into a show to be seen, to be experienced with (but not only) fun, all without getting rid of your cell phone.

This little wonder of interactivity is called The Smartphone Project. It was created in 2013 by dancer and choreographer Fabien Prioville, who combines subtlety and agility as well as physical inventiveness in a creation that right away catches your attention and doesn’t let it fade away. Made of all kinds of moods and colours, with rock’n roll and electro but also lyrical and retro vibes; a show as well as a contemporary piece; and yet, at all times participative: The Smartphone Project is a strong cocktail that you need to drink all at once, that makes you wish for yet another shot. Is that strong aura of sympathy surrounding Fabien Prioville and Pascal Merighi, both sumptuous dancers of German choreographer Pina Bausch (1940-2009), the reason for this particular perception? Not really. Of course, impact and magnetism of these two men are powerful but most of all they are both caught in creative dynamics that truly transcend them.

Social criticism

Directing his company since 2010, four years after he left the Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal for whom he performed from 1999 to 2006, Fabien Prioville is one of the few that are now going their own creative way. His creations (there are now 6 of them) are inspired by his own hobbies: video games like Grand Theft Auto, devices like Skype, etc. All these pieces set up new standards for the appreciation of our contemporary and hyper connected daily lives.

But beyond its shiny display, The Smartphone Project further develops a social criticism concerning addiction and social arrogance that come with smartphones, seen as true indicators of a so-called modernity and being now irrevocable hearing aids. The performance plays with the malleability of cell phones: screen lights piercing though the darkness and lighting up concentrated faces, musical, echoing flashes that scatter space in high-toned outbursts. It all creates a contemporary aesthetics bringing together stage, venue, performers and audience in a gigantic mosaic of screens vibrating of messages.

Presented during Automne en Normandie, on November 27th, 2015, The Smartphone Project will be, unfortunately, performed for only one more night, during the Artdanthé Festival in Vanves (Hauts-de-Seine). However, it shouldn’t take small talk and recommendations too long to promote the work of this impressive trio composed of Florence Minder, Pascal Merighi and Fabien Prioville.