Internationally Acclaimed French Choreographer Boris Charmatz Brings Renowned Work to Drexel


French choreographer Boris Charmatz will have a residency at Drexel this fall.

A transformative figure in the world of contemporary dance, acclaimed French choreographer Boris Charmatz will bring his renowned Levée des conflits (Suspension of Conflicts) to Philadelphia, hosted by Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design and co-presented by FringeArts as part of the Fringe Festival, from Sept. 7-10. 

In keeping with Charmatz’s dedication to presenting dance in nontraditional spaces, the performance will be held in Drexel’s Armory (33rd Street and Lancaster Ave.). The residency, entitled “Dancing Dialogues,” will include a series of workshops and lectures available to the Philadelphia dance community and general public. The project has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Tickets will be available online at 

Currently touring internationally, Levée des conflits is a work for 24 dancers, based on 25 cumulative gestures that unfold over time. Both viscerally and conceptually compelling, Levée des conflits affords intimate access to Charmatz’s philosophy, choreographic process and resulting performance practice. 

According to The New York Times, Levée des conflits is “quite a sight: an infinite-seeming chaos built out of finite elements; a throbbing, circulating mass of individuals, mechanical and mathematical and organic. The interest of it ebbs and flows with the energy of the performers. They’re an excellent bunch, capable of wonderfully relaxed precision.” 

In the performance, each dancer develops a movement that is then ‘transmitted’ to the others, accumulating in space, and building person by person, from a solo into more direct relationships and interactions, and finally expanding into a performance of the full series by the entire cast. Levée des conflits was built through workshops with Charmatz and his dancers with a cumulative, participatory framework that additionally allows for exponentially expanding numbers of participants from professional to pedestrian performers. Levée des conflits was performed at The Museum of Modern Art in 2013. A pre-show talk with Ana Janevski, performance curator at MoMA, about the work will take place at the Mandell Theater on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 6:30 p.m. 


“Charmatz is a brilliant, thoughtful, compelling creator, driven to question and to create multiple platforms for advocacy in redefining the perceived limits of dance as an art form,” said Allen Sabinson, dean of Drexel’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. “We are extremely grateful to The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage for making it possible for Drexel and Philadelphia to host such an exemplary and innovative international artist.” 

During the residency there will be opportunities for the general public to interact with Charmatz’s ideas through discussion and movement experiences. The movement workshops of this residency will be open to the general public. The first will take place on the Perelman Plaza on Drexel’s campus (32nd Street between Chestnut and Market Streets) on Friday, Sept. 9 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the second will take place on the East Terrace of the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Saturday, Sept. 10 from 10 a.m. to noon. Discussions with the artist will take place at the University of the Arts Y Gym (moderated by Lois Welk) on Wednesday, Sept. 7 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again in the URBN Annex Screening room (moderated by Simon Dove) on Thursday, Sept. 8 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

"We are delighted to be including Levée des conflits in the our 20th anniversary Fringe Festival," said Nick Stuccio, President of FringeArts. “Boris is a deeply intellectual and philosophical choreographer, as well as an extraordinary mover.  While the format of the show is seemingly simple, underneath that choral round is something wild and unbridled.  He thinks big, and that sense of scale is something we love to have in the Fringe Festival." 

Members of the Philadelphia professional dance community will also have the opportunity to engage, as 24 professional dancers have been selected to rehearse with the celebrated choreographer and then participate in the workshop on the East Terrace of the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Sept. 10. During these intensive workshops dancers will learn all 25 gestures of Charmatz’ Levée des conflits and also experience how the phrase created by these gestures is performed in a canon. 

“In Levée des conflits Drexel intends to create a window into the way dance ideas are circulated throughout the community,” said Miriam Giguere, Department Head for Performing Arts, who will oversee the project at Drexel. “The workshops represent a number of different ways in which Philadelphia dance constituencies, including professional and non-professional dancers, in a wide variety of genres including physical theater and community dance practitioners, can interact with Charmatz and his ideas.” 

Drexel’s Westphal College is experienced in presenting a robust calendar of public programming in arts and culture. In the Fall of 2013, the college hosted the first Dance Africa festival in Philadelphia. Similarly, the college provided facilities, advertising, volunteers, participants and audience for the 2014 Philadelphia Flamenco Festival, an event that drew 2,000 people to Drexel’s campus. Drexel has been the venue for several FringeArts productions including last year’s production of Available Light recreating the seminal work of Lucinda Childs, with a set designed by Frank Gehry, and music by John Adams, which was staged at the Armory. Drexel’s Mandell Theater is home of the annual Dance Program Fall Lecture, which has presented free lectures to the public from such artists as Eiko Otake (2014), Deborah Jowitt (2013), and the Mandell Professionals in Residence Project which has presented such important regional theater companies as Pig Iron Theatre, New Paradise Laboratories and Commonwealth Theater among others.