Pascal Rambert talks about his (micro) history of the world, danced

French director Pascal Rambert talks about his acclaimed exploration of the economy

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Pascal Rambert presents A (micro) history of world economics, danced, as part of the Crossing the Line festival

Pascal Rambert presents A (micro) history of world economics, danced, as part of the Crossing the Line festival Photograph: Pierre Grosbois


Pascal Rambert brings A (micro) history of world economics, danced to New York. The presentation is part of Crossing the Line, the French Institute Alliance Française’s annual festival, which features a variety of dance artists including Bouchra Ouizguen, Nora Chipaumire and Boyzie Cekwana. Rambert does not consider himself to be a choreographer; rather, he aligns himself with artists like Jérôme Bel and Boris Charmatz. He spoke about (micro) history, which will be performed at La MaMa E.T.C.

French director Pascal Rambert has a singular touch when it comes to blending dance and theater. In A (micro) history of world economics, danced—which has existed in various incarnations in different cities since its 2010 premiere—Rambert looks at the effect of the current economy on a group of 50 local performers. Through writing, reading and moving, they share their stories inside of Rambert’s trademark theatrical structure: a white floor, fluorescent lighting and succinct direction that never veers into sentimentality yet, all the same, makes you feel. He spoke about the New York version of the show, which is coproduced by the French Institute Alliance Français, La MaMa and Performance Space 122 as part of Crossing the Line

Time Out New York: How did A (micro) history initially begin? 
Pascal Rambert:
I direct a space, a big theater, in Gennevilliers. It’s not far; you can go by metro. It’s ten minutes from Montmartre, so it’s really like Paris. But the neighborhood is why I started (micro) history. It all comes from the neighborhood and the location where we are working. Gennevilliers, a national center dramatique for contemporary art [Théâtre de Gennevilliers, Centre Dramatique National de Création Contemporaine], and of course I could have done like everybody else—oh, you know, you need to bring things that people get. But now the people of Gennevilliers don’t want to go back to old theater. They say to me, “No, no, no, no!” When they see Young Jean Lee, when they see Richard Maxwell, they are like, “We are fine.” [Laughs] Because it’s totally accessible. I think people think that contemporary theater is hard or that you need to have read books. It’s the same thing for (micro) history.

Time Out New York: Are you in town early to cast the piece?
Pascal Rambert:
It’s done. I’m rehearsing every day right now. There are something like 50 people. When I created the piece in Gennevilliers, there were 50 people. After, I did a Japanese version in Tokyo in 2010. And I just did another one in Karlsruhe, Germany. It is now in the repertory of the Staatstheater. So now this is the American premiere in New York, and right after New York, I am doing The Closing of Love [Love’s End (Clôture de l’amour)]—did you see it with Kate and Jim?

Time Out New York: Love’s End, with Kate Moran and Jim Fletcher? Yes, I loved it. It was one of my favorite nights in the theater.
Pascal Rambert:
Oh my God. [Laughs] I hope you are not in trouble with a lover or something like that. This piece is very—I guess you know a little bit about the thing. Kate and I have been together for, like, 15 years. We met each other when I was teaching at NYU, and she was 20; I was 30-something. Anyway, we fell in love immediately. It has been a disaster. A disaster of love, like something you cannot resist. I was like, No, you can’t be with a student, but…and so it has been like that for 15 years, and she has been in every single show. She should be in (micro) history, but the week we perform at La MaMa, she’s performing with Bob Wilson in Einstein on the Beach. She can’t be here because she has to be with Bob. [Laughs] I don’t fight against Bob. And I’m doing a version of Closing of Love in Tokyo in 15 days; right after, I do (micro) history in Los Angeles with a group that I love. In 1998, I did one of my pieces, which was called Race, with people from Skid Row in Los Angeles. It’s a group called LAPD [Los Angeles Poverty Department) with John Malpede. So there were, like, 30 homeless people. It was about Algerian–French occupation—different things like that, about people who are really left on the side.

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