Anne VADAGNIN pianist and composer
When I was 10 years old I made my first acquaintance with the piano. It was love at first sight. I was possessed. It patiently embraced all my emotions, designed my path of light, and built bridges to the stars. It channelled my dreams and anchored my roots deep into the ground.
We have never looked back, never parted. We have journeyed together across oceans of improvisations.
Although classical musicians are often unfamiliar with the art of improvisation, I made it my own very early on because I felt the need to find my own way. As soon as I first touched the keys of my piano, I started improvising. It seemed so right, as if a part of me had been waiting to do this in order to emerge into consciousness. Every day it takes me to distant corners of the universe to explore exotic harmonies. For me, improvisation is like a beautiful cathedral of freedom, supported by the rigorous structure of an age-old language.
Improvisation is still my principal ‘alfresco’ school of composition. Living notes glide under my fingers transforming freely the stuff of my thoughts into myriads of colours, reflecting infinite love.
People often ask me how I manage to instantly design all this music.
Every day I practise some of the most difficult pieces by Bach or Chopin and when my body is ready and my hands in tip-top shape, I abandon myself and let the music come to me. It’s as if a magician were somewhere there breathing life into my compositions made up of memories and stories waltzing to the rondo of time.
As the years went by, my story became resonant with a passionate love of life. With my hands I have never stopped shaping the clay of silence which my piano brings to life. And then there were the encounters along my way, exquisite products of destiny that appeared, luminous, on the horizon.
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First of all, dance came into my life. Its movements merged intimately with my piano. Next came teaching and with it the desire, which later became a need, to share a philosophy of life with its rituals. I have always been very sensitive to the art and beauty of learning and relearning.
And then Valérie, the choreographer, appeared in my life like a new sunrise. She said, simply: “I would like you to compose some music for a ballet for me”.
I was profoundly grateful for this fabulous prospect of composing, and transforming my knowledge into structures of sound and light. I didn’t know if I could manage, but I didn’t dare say so. I said ‘yes’! And that was the start of a marvellous journey of initiation.
It was a meeting of hearts and minds.
We redesigned Camille Claudel - a visual explosion with sound-breaking effects. Then there was the ballet Qualia, a tribute on an open stage to great artists of all times at the heart of the human adventure.
Since then, page after page, as artists and mothers, we have written our chronicles telling the singular stories of two women serenely anchored in the present and in the future.
And today, I’m happy to be here and now, at the heart of our new adventure, TaoFemina.
One day I hope to meet you, dear visitor, and listen attentively to your words. I shall never tire of building and re-building new islands of sound and colour. I’ll be happy to convert your dreams into infinite colours and variations. It’ll be a great privilege for me to translate your ideas into reality and accompany you in the accomplishment of your project.
Valérie LACAZE choreographer
One day a friend asked me: “How do you choreograph ?”
I didn’t know what to say. So he added: “How do the ideas, the movements, the staging come to you?” The same kind of question. I didn’t know what to answer. They’re just there, squatting in my brain. I can’t explain it.
I might be reading a book, visiting a museum, walking through town, or listening to music when, suddenly, it all appears like a finished picture. It’s all there: the title, the soloists, the metamorphoses, the groups, the costumes, the lighting, the accessories, the staging and, of course, the steps. I try not to go into too much detail with the steps for fear of not being able to recall them when I’m there in the studio, in front of the dancers. But I make sure I put them on stand-by, in a corner of my memory. I take notes and draw whatever I can, the plans, the costumes and accessories, the stage set, and I pray hard that the resources to carry it all through are found.
From that moment on it becomes a real obsession. I never stop thinking about it; during the day, at night and when I’m doing the washing up. I’m a prisoner of that indescribable thing which only settles down when it decides to. In general, it’s more or less after the first performance that I feel it has been successfully completed and that the dancers have made it their own.
I often have a number of projects all spinning around in my head at the same time. It seems complicated, but each one has its own place. With age I have learned to compartmentalise. What’s more, being a mother has given me the capacity to handle a number of functions and responsibilities simultaneously.
I know it seems a bit surrealistic, but that’s the way it’s been ever since I was a child.
When I was a little girl, my friends had to put up with so many dress rehearsals! When at the age of 16, the year of my baccalaureate, I was asked to choreograph a one-and-a- half-hour musical I didn’t hesitate for one second – all my uncertainties dispersed!
Even today, after so many years, choreography is like automatic writing produced subconsciously. Teaching, on the other hand, is still a task I always need to prepare conscientiously.
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I believe that choreography is not something you learn or should think too much about. When choreography requires a lot of thought and reasoning it can’t be totally sincere, it’s a mere intellectual fabrication.
Creation is just a cry, a breath of life. Do we need to think in order to breathe?
My creations focus on dancers as human beings. It’s not some kind of egocentric projection, or my desire to create through them what I would like to dance. Not at all! It is they who inspire me, or better, whet my appetite. When I see them walking along the corridor or dreaming in some corner they emit involuntary signals telling me what to bring out in them.
That’s why my choreographic pieces aren’t easily repeatable. The roles are adjusted to particular dancers and they’re not really interchangeable. It’s not a problem for me because I’m not nostalgic. I don’t look back, I’m already looking ahead, excitedly, to my next creation!
In the end, the future of my work is in the hands of the audience. I trust them and fully accept their reactions.
Without any real intention on my part, my creations can always be read in different ways. This reminds me of a little Russian girl who imagined she had seen two lovers flying up above the clouds in the finale of my "Qualia ou la vie d'artiste". The simple fact that she was able to dream was good enough for me. Her interpretation was obviously the one that suited her best, which didn’t make me feel at all betrayed, on the contrary, I was very happy!
Working with Anne Vadagnin is both a luxury and a privilege. It’s certainly a luxury for the choreographer to collaborate with the composer. But above all, it’s a privilege to collaborate with someone like her. I don’t believe in coincidences, our artistic partnership was meant to be.
We each have our particularities. Anne immediately understands my ‘moments of folly’ and possesses a rare capacity for empathy. We move forward side by side, full of uncertainties and doubts, yet our desire to work and create together makes the path ahead extremely clear and serene.
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