Jérôme Bel * speaks about Self-Unfinished by Xavier Le Roy, from the viewer’s point of view (Quoted from the text "Qu’ ils crevent les artistes!")

The following thoughts are inspired by Xavier Le Roy and his solo dance work Self-Unfinished performed by himself. I will not refer to the parts of the play in the order that they are presented on stage, since Xavier Le Roy has already stated that the play’s structure is by no means a linear one. What I intend to say identifies with Diana Ross’s score for the play Upside down, you turn me and it makes the job a lot easier. I named the three parts accordingly: the robot, the monsters, the dead man.

The robot


The robot or rather the "mechanical part" introduces the solo. Xavier Le Roy moves about the stage enhancing spectacle with artificial sound effects produced vocally by himself. The result is the feeling of a robot-like fragmentary movement coming from the body’s members that triggers the viewers’ hilarity. The robot interpreted by Xavier Le Roy gives us nothing more than automatic motion. This mechanical part, considered by Le Roy as a "small introduction", is rather a "small epilogue" to modernism. Xavier Le Roy uses this body transformation to stress the bankruptcy of modern dance and all its promises.

The monsters


During the "scene of the monsters" Xavier Le Roy or rather his body, in a plain black shirt, undergoes a series of astonishing transformations, unaided by any kind of technical effect.

Monstrous figures indeed. I saw a headless man, an elephant’s head, a chicken about to be cooked, a frog-like creature, a penis, Martians of all kinds, a snail, a female dancer performing "grand ecart"…

Watching those images gives us a peculiar feeling: a feeling that they are either a figment of our imagination or real formations on Xavier Le Roy’s exposed body, which has many hidden aspects despite appearances. Let us stress that the monster here bears no negative meaning, but is rather a creature surpassing its own limits.

The dead man


The dead man scene or "the part of the stasis" returns over and over again during the performance. In it Xavier Le Roy lies still on the floor at the back of the stage for an extended time duration. In this position the body, stretched out and absolutely still, becomes "abstract" deprived of its humanity. It’s like a piece of furniture (a chair, a table) unable to attract attention. Xavier Le Roy has no more need to move. He knows well that his body is nothing but a product of thought, our thought.

Xavier Le Roy "acts his play" or rather "acts dead". His death is the borderline of his life. Besides, Self-Unfinished is itself a game of limits. The robot is the ultimate limit of the contemporary body, the monster of normality, the stillness of movement. And the ultimate limit of the body’s existence is the attempt to completely disappear.

The solo’s title is quite characteristic, as unfinished defines something half’-finished, something incomplete, while the French term infini means endless. And rightly so, Xavier Le Roy is not yet "whole", not yet complete. The side of the viewer is missing. The performance suggested by the dancer is merely a part of the whole; it desperately needs the viewer to be complete. In other words, when the artist disappears, his place is taken by the viewer, who also becomes a director. Why? Because "the show must go on".

 

* Jérôme Bel is a dancer and a choreographer. He studied at the Centre National de Danse Contemporaine at Angers, France, and went on to perform with Angelin Preljocaj, Joelle Bouvier and Régis Obadia, Daniel Larrieu and Katarina Sagna. He assisted Philippe Découflé with the direction of the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics at Albertville. He signed the works, Nom donné par l’auteur (1994), Jérôme Bel (1995), Shirtologie (1997), Le dernier spectacle (1998), Xavier Le Roy (2000) and The show must go on (2001).

Xavier Le Roy

Born in 1963 at Juvisy sur Orge (France). Having finished his studies in Molecular Biology, he made his way to dance apprenticing to Anne Koren, Véronique Larcher, Ruth Barnes. Between 1991 and 1995 he joined the Compagnie de l’Alambic of Cristian Bourrigault. Subsiquently, he collaborated with "Quatuor Albrecht Knust" in Paris and worked for the revival of Yvonne Rainer’s play "Continuous Project - Altered Daily" (1970) and "Satisfying Lover" (1968) by Steve Paxton.

Since 1992, Xavier Le Roy has lived and worked in Berlin. He performed with the interdisciplinary group "Detektor" until 1997. In 1994, he formed the group "Le Kwatt", in collaboration with A. Birntraum and Sylvie Garot creating works such as: Things I Hate to Admit and the triptych Narcisse Flip. In 1996 he began a collaboration with photographer and video-artist Laurent Goldring the result of which was the solo Self-Unfinished (1998). In the same year he participated in the improvisation project Crash Landing by Meg Stuart. In 1999 he created a lecture-performance called Product of Circumstances, a kind of autobiographical lecture. He danced for Marten Spangberg in Avant-garde and in MORE et encore by Alain Buffard.

He formed the group "in situ productions " and invited choreographers, dancers, theoreticians, video-artists to work on the experimental project E.X.T.E.N.S.I.O.N.S.

In 2000 he created with Jérôme Bel the solo Xavier Le Roy. In 2003 he premiered his new work called project. Between 1996-2001 Xavier Le Roy was artist in residence at the Podewil, TanzWerkstatt, Berlin, where is now an associated artist.