Phia Ménard - Cie Non Nova (France)

L’Après-Midi d’un Foehn - version 1

A fantastic aerial ballet for plastic bags! With disarming simplicity, Phia Ménard invites us to “see things in a new way” with a show that defies the laws of gravity and sets the imagination free! It's like a dream!

18 and 19 May at 10.30am and 2.30pm (Thursday and Friday)
20 and 21 May at 11am and 4pm (Saturday and Sunday)
São Luiz Mais Novos
Portuguese Premiere

Artistic direction, choreography and scenography: Phia Ménard Assisted by: Jean-Luc Beaujault Performer: Jean-Louis Ouvrard Soundtrack composition: Ivan Roussel, after Claude Debussy’s music Technical direction: Olivier Gicquiaud Puppets concept: Phia Ménard, constructed by Claire Rigaud Sound operation: Mateo Provost Co-director, administration and diffusion: Claire Massonnet Production: Clarisse Mérot Communication: Adrien Poulard Photography: Jean-Luc Beaujault Support: Institut Français, Fondation BNP Paribas. The Non Nova Company is subsidised by Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication - DRAC des Pays de la Loire, Conseil Régional des Pays de la Loire, Conseil Général de Loire-Atlantique, Ville de Nantes. The company is based in Nantes. The Compagnie Non Nova / Phia Ménard is associated artist to Espace Malraux / Scène Nationale de Chambéry et de la Savoie, to Théâtre Nouvelle Génération - Centre Dramatique National de Lyon and to Centre chorégraphique national de Caen, Normandia Technique: Materials manipulation Language: Without words For audiences over: +5 Running time: 25 min. 
Presentation Support: Institut Français du Portugal, in partnership with the Institut Français in Paris, within the framework of the focus on contemporary French creation in 2017

Dancing with the wind! A fantastic aerial ballet for plastic bags! 

A one-of-a-kind fairy tale for plastic-bag characters. With disarming simplicity, Phia Ménard invites us to “see things in a new way” with a show that defies the laws of gravity and sets the imagination free, in a giddy celebration of everyday things and their potential for transformation. At the edge of the ring, a circle of inward-facing fans; in the middle, a rather odd-looking puppeteer who plays with the currents of air to animate an unusual cast of characters: small, multicoloured plastic bags that catch the updrafts, twirl through the air, and send our imaginations soaring! A graceful and poetic juggling act that reminds us that things aren’t always as ordinary as they seem.

And the little grocery bags start to move! They come alive! Caught on the rising drafts, juggled by the mysterious ballet master, they begin an astonishing airborne dance, and soon the space is filled with multicoloured shapes joyously swirling to the music!

Phia Ménard will manipulate anything (except puppets) and juggle anything (except balls). 

Indeed, the artistic director of Compagnie Non Nova prefers to work with things that are elusive and difficult to grasp. This time she has chosen to explore something you can’t even see: the wind. Its gentle breezes and violent gusts inspired L’après-midi d’un foehn - version 1

"Even when Nijinsky himself first danced the title role of Debussy’s Faun, it’s doubtful that he provoked his audience to the state of wonder that greeted the lead ballerina in Company Non Nova’s miraculous L’Apres-Midi d’un Foehn. As she drifts upwards on rising currents of air, another dancer joins her, billowed into a pas de deux of comic ecstasy and tenderness. More dancers are thrown into the mix, until there’s a joyous corps de ballet of them scudding, twirling and bounding in the air. In a brilliant metaphor of art and the imagination, Compagnie Non Nova make what’s essentially a heap of rubbish into an improbably perfect interpretation of Debussy’s pastoral score."
- Judith Mackrell, The Guardian

“In trying to tame the wind, the puppeteer turns a cloud of blue, pink and green plastic bags into a sublime and impressive ballet. Dozens of these, intrepid and fragile, like small Nijinsky, to the last breath of wind machines. (...) A sublime enchantment that captures the smiles of the audience, including the smallest ones, since the show is for over 5 years. Exceptional!”
- Thierry Voisin, Télérama

Phia Ménard (1971), a singular and fascinating artist, trained in modern dance, mime and acting, as well as in juggling. It was discovering Jérôme Thomas’ show “Extraballe” in 1991 that nurtured in Phia Ménard the deep desire to study the performing arts and in particular, the art of juggling. In 1994 she studied juggling techniques and theatrical composition with Jérôme Thomas, and went on to join the company, performing in “Hic Hoc”. It was during her globetrotting tours with this company that her desire to write for the stage grew and she defined her personal vision of contemporary art forms. As artist and improviser, she created numerous shows for the company up until 2003: “Le Socle” and “Le Banquet”, among others. Acclaimed for her original, personal way of working, she was invited to become an artistic associate with several structures.
It was in 2008 that Phia Ménard revealed her new identity with her decision to change sex.
In January 2014, she received the decoration of Chevalier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight Order of Arts and Letters).
In 2015, she became associated artist at the Théâtre Nouvelle Génération – Centre Dramatique National de Lyon and “artiste-compagnon” at Centre Chorégraphique National de Caen / Normandie. They will continue to be associated artist there throughout 2016, 2017 and 2018.

The Compagnie Non Nova was founded in 1998 by Phia Ménard with the desire to approach juggling from a different angle, through the scenic and dramaturgical structure of each piece. «Non nova, sed nove» (Not new things, but in a new way) is the company’s founding motto.
The many multidisciplinary projects of the company have brought together artists, technicians, thinkers from various horizons with diverse experiences. It is not a collective but a professional team, with Phia Ménard in charge of the artistic direction.
After creating around ten projects, the company launched a research process,  "I.C.E." standing for « Injonglabilité Complémentaire des Eléments » (Complementary Unjugglability of the Elements) with the creation of P.P.P. (Position Parallèle au Plancher / Perillous Parallel Position) at Les Subsistances in Lyon. This was the company’s first exploration using the element « Ice » and based on the theme of identity.
So far, three cycles where iniciated: “Pièces de glacé” [Plays of ice ]: P.P.P. (2008), ICE MAN (2009), Black Monodie (2010). “Pièces du vent” [Plays of wind]:  L’Après-midi d’un Foehn - Version 1 (2008), L’Après-midi d’un Foehn and Vortex (2011). “Pièce de l’eau et de la vapeur” [Plays of the water and the vapor]: Belle d’Hier (2015). The shows of Cie Non Nova have been presented all over the world.
L'après-midi d'un Foehn - version 1 received the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Award 2013 in the category "Physical / Visual Theater".