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Pas de panique

Toméo Vergès’ mental chaos
“Toméo Vergès' new choreographic work Pas de Panique inspires the words spasms, contractions and colic and gives the impression of the body under stress and on the verge of breakdown. All in all, everything in this work seems to be centred on the stomach. Urges or terrors seem to take root in there and propel the dancers beyond themselves into the fast lane, unleashing a rush of urgent gestures until they are pushed into a fit of hysterics, diarrhoea; until they walk around with their trousers at their ankles; until rape. It is all about the mystery of unspeakable fantasies, secret fears which shake you to the core without notice. Based on a stray incident (a teacher knocks off one of his students during a dinner), Pas de Panique puts choreography at the disposal of mental chaos, spurting out peaks of adrenaline alternating with slump, seconds later into utter dejection. It is a shame that the mood (fetishism, voyeurism etc.) is a bit ordinary. However, the play slowly grows on you and retains all your attention (scene where a young girl ties herself up) or gives you a sudden jolt (a fit of rage against a handicapped person in a wheel chair). Toméo Vergès is neither scared of the indecent (sometimes funny) nor of the ridiculous - his theatrical dance is beyond all simple illustration. His eruptive writing style advances at a steady pace whilst being elegant and in keeping with the constraints imposed by the story-line, although some times everything is swept over in an off-handed manner. A crime thriller with a red backdrop (a "bloody" red décor), Pas de Panique has a fragmented universe with stripy nervous flashes. Introduced to the choreographic scene seven years ago in Chair de Poule in which he held up a knife (his parents were butchers), Toméo Vergès, the Catalan eccentric seems to be asking Freud to elucidate the enigma of his urges. Kafka's sentence "Come to think of it, my own growing up was quite painful for me.", is highlighted in this play.”

Rosita Boisseau, Le Monde, 24-25 October 1999

Vergès' Panicked bodies
“...Violence: A whole new world in blood red at the cultural centre of Blanc-Mesnil. Toméo Vergès' Pas de Panique is a theatrical as well as a choreographic fiction where both disciplines blend in quite harmoniously. The black and red scene bears the signs of fractures and tremors - a recurring theme in the show. The box is closed up by a red screen and a curtain made of plastic strips. The space is not really definable: There is a corner in which there is a wheel chair, a sad reminder of the accident, another with the television, another with the sitting room and the phone and another with the steps leading to nowhere. And a fun fair as a backdrop. Nothing very lively in the ghost train. The fragmented universe of the choreographer delivers crude and violent scenes, although Vergès deals with the subject in the lighter vein. The women (Chiara Gallerani and Anna Rodriguez) are extraordinary when they are perched upon their heels, thrown overboard, going from man to man; worrying when they play the Siamese twins with a moustache; panic-stricken while on a wild-goose chase; when tied up to a chair. The men (Toméo Vergès, Samuel Mathieu, Alvaro Morell, François Grippeau) have urgent needs and either transform themselves into impromptu fighters or into dead bodies on the operation table. Taken independently, the scenes are all worthy of interest. The link to interconnect them all is missing. Juxtaposing the scenes and cutting them short deliberately has become almost systematic in the whole play. However, Pas de Panique, the subject matter and the artists are all present. That's a lot, already. ”

M.B. and Marie-Christine Vernay, Libération, 23-24 October 1999


The beetle twist
“ A Toméo Vergès show is a metaphysical wrestling match fought in a dinner jacket. Something very unseemly and violent places the spectator in a parallel world. This is close to the surrealistic approach in the spirit. His latest creation vindicates this feeling although the nature of the feeling is modified - a string of playlets, fun fairs, marionettes and boys' games, punctuated by the return of small melancholic twist numbers, thus producing the "disconnected" effect. This play brings out the feeling of profound strangeness and mute concern...”

Philippe Verrièle, Les Saisons de la Danse, December1999

Somewhere between the Twin Peaks and Buñuel, Toméo Vergès' choreography puts us aboard a streetcar named desire, fear and solitude.
Dancing with the fire

“"Carry on in your racing cars and welcome to the house of thrills and sensations". "Pas de Panique" starts with a rather shady fun fair on a blood red background with black stripes. On boarding the ghost train, the tension builds up. Four men and women start a game involving desire, frustration and solitude - as many themes which give you the jitters. The resulting cocktail may be a strong poison or a tropical drink, we do not know. Involving operation tables, rapes, accidents or simply the fear of getting lost, this dance step is no picnic. Complacent victims, guilty executioners -clashes everywhere. The spectator is left only with one choice: Follow the path down his own obsessions. The atmosphere on scene reminds us of Twin Peaks. The music (remarkable work done by Jean-Jacques Palix and Eve Couturier) gives the dizzies. The whole set-up is ideal for a crime thriller. The women play their roles in a detached fashion. They assume a Hitchcock heroin-like arrogance and detachment, always ready to stamp out what chauvinistic men take it for granted. At the same time, they are fragile, at least as fragile as their male counterparts, who, beneath their proud selves, do not hide their disarray resulting from their virility tired of having to assert oneself in order to be convincing. Once in a while a sort of interlude rhythms the sequences - breathing time before the next sudden new development as Pas de Panique, in some ways is also reminiscent of comic strips. Toméo Vergès, an excellent scriptwriter, knows how to build up suspense, handle humour and leave enough space for the spectator to give vent to his own imagination. The images sharpen with time, just as the dance gradually takes on a dimension of preliminaries before a voodoo ritual. Each of the artists of the group, Anna Rodriguez, Chiara Gallerani, Alvaro Morell, Samuel Mathieu and François Grippeau, represent their own universe and they all have a strong personality. They simply let their fears take over and unassumingly, reveal to us secrets that one would only trust one's diary with, whilst leaving the choreographer the task of giving the representation his personal touch of the odd. Toméo, who comes from the same country as Salvador Dali and Buñuel, brings you the very "intimate" accompanied by the surreal on a platter. Pas de Panique is the very example of a genre where masculine and feminine attributes are conspicuously displayed for creating an even better confusion and for challenging the part played by the other half. The choreographer and his team mix genres only to borrow a few traits of the theatre and combine them with dance and vice-versa. Involving trauma as a child, collective memory, frenzy or fantasies, the scenes persuade us to reflect upon ourselves. Anguish referred to in all its forms, futile for some and obsessive to others, is definitely a cause for panicking, unlike what the title suggests.”

Véronique Klein, Les Inrockuptibles, 25 - 31 January 2000