Herman Diephuis

Objet non-identifié du voyage
My encounter with Seydou Boro and Salia Sanou resulted in a new work, entitled Objet principal du voyage, with four dancers from the workshop, two men and two women. Together with them I composed a common movement repertory accentuating finger positions, arm movements, and the expressivity of the hands. Movement serves as discourse and language, nourishing the dancers to incarnate a range of states of being and presences impregnated with what they are. Together we sought to find a movement language expressing constraint, but from which at any time can arise energy and unpredictable humour. We have constructed an environment for listening and being attentive where dance can live both as an elsewhere and as an affirmation of self. I am not aiming at African exoticism; what interests me is to translate abstractly the individual and collective story of these four performers. Overflowing movement, crossing beyond the idea itself of borders. Movement bringing us together, carrying within it existential questions, experiencing other ways of seeing ourselves and connecting us together.

Herman Diephuis


Herman Diephuis was born in 1962 in Amsterdam. He spent several years working as a performer with choreographers such as Régine Chopinot, Mathilde Monnier, Jean-François Duroure, Philippe Decouflé, François Verret, Jérôme Bel, Xavier Le Roy and Alain Buffard. In 2002, he choreographed La C et la F de la F as part of the dance event “Les Fables à la Fontaine”. In 2004, he founded his own company in order to create a platform for his shows and projects: D’après J.-C. (duo-2004), Dalila et Samson, par exemple (duo-2005), Julie, entre autres (sextet-2007), Paul est mort? (trio-2008) and Ciao Bella (quintet-2009), All of me  and  Let it be me (solos-2012 & 2013, Objet principal du voyage  (quatuor-2012) and Let it be all of me, at last (duo-2013). Concurrently, Herman Diephuis develops projects involving amateurs and devises onsite activities for museums like Impressions in May 2013. My work draws inspiration from the images that are embedded in our cultural heritage and collective imagination. I am especially interested in the representation of the body, i.e. its presence, gestures and postures, and in the construction of the body-image as a prism for grasping the concerns underlying our human condition. Early art, in particular Renaissance and Baroque painting, has fueled a number of my shows, such as D’après J.-C., Dalila et Samson, par exemple, as well as Ciao Bella to some extent.
In D’après J.-C., the postures of Christ and the Virgin in Renaissance painting were recreated onstage. The dancers enacted the paintings’ codified gestures and expressions in a flipbook-like sequence, thus giving motion to the static poses. This enabled the audience to diverge from the traditional view of the bible, and prompted a more lifelike reading: the relationship between a mother and her son from birth to death.
In Julie, entre autres, Paul est mort? and Ciao Bella, I delved into popular culture and interwove different types of visual and musical devices, such as film, pop music, photography…
My aim is to confront the audience’s experience of these images with my own outlook. I wish to dismantle rigid stereotypes and to play with reading codes.
The performer’s input is pivotal in my projects. The performers each embark on a solitary journey into the visual material, absorbing and assimilating it until they are ready to embody it onstage. We work together on details and precision in order to merge with the reference and transcend imitation, without ever diminishing the freedom of interpretation.
Having so far grappled with images as a springboard for my projects, I now wish to invert the process, i.e. to begin by exploring a powerful physical/emotional state, and from there to come up with possible correlations.
The backbone of my work continues to be the interplay of opposites: humor and seriousness, sacredness and demystification, certainty and doubt, restraint and excess, tension and abandon, movement and suspension. I strive to give these notions bodily form.
The visible unleashes the imaginable.

Rehearsals initially at Le Phare from January 30th to February 10th 2012. Rehaersals took place in Ouagadougou because of visa problems for Burkinabe dancers

Conception, choreography : Herman Diephuis
With : Ousseni Dabare, Romual Kabore, Salamata Kobre
Music : Olivier Renouf
Sound manager : Emmanuel Hospital
Light design and stage manager : Sam Mary
Costumes : Alexandra Bertaut

Production : Compagnie Herman Diephuis
Coproduction : Théâtre Louis Aragon, scène conventionnée pour la danse, Tremblay-en-France ; Conseil général de la Seine-Saint-Denis «dispositif In Situ» ; Le Phare, CCN du Havre Haute–Normandie ; CCN de Montpellier. This company is supported by the DRAC Ile de France.

Image du spectacle