MAGIE NOUVELLE - Circostrada Network

MAGIE NOUVELLE - Circostrada Network

stradd a

Dossier excerpt

from Stradda no. 16

April 2010

le magazine de la création hors les murs





Circostrada Network

dossier from stradda #16 / page 1





Over the past eight years, the field of magic has had

enough of rabbits and virtuosic sleight-of-hand

tricks. It has been affirming itself as an independent

artistic movement aiming to get back in touch

with the feeling of magic.

While we often may remember magic as mere entertainment,

the discipline also contains several

other elements. It is often used in ritual, traditional,

religious and medical domains and it deals with the

great human fantasies (flying, resurrections, mindreading,

etc.). It is essential to reinvest this creative

potential with issues that, although they are contemporary,

have been neglected for many years.

Determining the grammatical structure of this language,

studying the real in all of its forms in order

to take hold of it, making use of old techniques

along with new technologies: the idea is to always

be giving new life to the creative act, using magic as

means of endlessly transforming the world. Balls

flying over the heads of the audience, shadows that

take on a life of their own, a floating cloud beneath

a glass bell...

Through its ability to divert the real within the real

– by making the imaginary tangible, by giving life to

the invisible, by playing with our perception – the

language of magic is as diverse as the artists who

put it to use.

Just as the initiators of this movement are compiling

the “For a new magic” manifesto, Stradda is

transmitting the tools necessary to appreciate this

artistic movement, which allows for all new fields

of possibilities.



Five thousand years of enchantment p. 2

“An ability to infinitely transform the world” p. 5

Training. The transmission of a language p. 6

“All of our research can be helpful to art” p. 7

The heralds of the magic revival p. 10

Thierry Collet. The primitive concern p. 11

Kurt Demey. The mentalist city p. 11

Cie 14:20. The spectacular

at the service ofsensations p. 13

Olivier Poujol. Answering history with magic p. 13

The great illusion p. 14

An active principle p. 15

Distribution. From Rouen to Rome,

enthusiasm is on the rise p. 16

Who’s who in new magic p. 17

New magic videos can be found

on the website

Five thousand

A few historical landmarks to understand the

★ The term magic is the result of an initial

ambiguity: for your average person the word has

a symbolic connotation to charms, spells and

the sublime. The term magic appeared in 1535,

formed out of the Greek mageia, the Latin magia

and implicitly related to magi, a caste of Persian

priests who were worshipers of Zoroaster. A cluster

of magical practices then became generally

noticeable. The Inquisition would associate magic

with witchcraft, closing it up within a defamatory

model that would remain until the disappearance

of religious tribunals in sixteenth century France,

and in 1831 in Spain. The terms of conjuring

and illusionism appeared conjointly at the end

dossier from stradda #16 / page 2

years of enchantment


context that has led up to new magic.

of the Inquisition and formed the vocabulary of

modern magic. During the same period we find

the appearance of the terms medium, shaman,

spirit: these words allowed for the separation of

fake and “true” magic.

★ The first traces of magic, 3000 years

BCE, accentuate the close relations between illusion

and survival. The practices of mimicry that

allowed archaic societies of hunters and gatherers

to incite the gods to provide them with game (trapping

techniques, covered traps, leaves, caves with

trap doors...) were all precursors of a necessary form

of magic. By mimicking nature and exploiting the

limits of common perception, humans forged a

creative magic subject to the view of the other.

★ We find uses of magic as entertainment

in pharaonic Egypt. The Westcar

papyrus tells of the exploits of the magician Dedi,

who was at the service of the pharaoh Cheops,

who reigns at around 2550 BCE, suggesting the

rulers’ interest at the time in the development of

the magic arts. A juggler sculpted on a bas-relief

on the tomb of Beni-Hassan (around 2500 BCE)

suggests a link with subterfuge and manipulation,

important elements in the portrayal of the themes

of magic.

The danser

Fatou Traoré, in


by Cie 14:20.

dossier from stradda #16 / page 3




The magic

rope, which Ibn

Battuta spoke

of as early as


dossier from stradda #16 / page 4

★Performance magic

first appears in ancient

Greece. The theatre of the

day would develop a repertory

where trapdoors and

secret passageways used as

special effects would become

central to plot developments.

In the sixth century BCE we

find examples of flight. A

certain effect allowed actors

playing gods to take to the

sky within the theatre and to

move about through the air,

as if by magic. The function

of the Master of secrets of

medieval mysteries originated

from the same source.

The idea was to transpose

and transform the real upon

vast plateaux, where angels

and devils require a different

kind of attention but incite

the same fascination.

★ The Inquisition,

which was implemented

in France in 1234 by Pope

Gregory IX, would stop the

development of magical

practices for nearly six centuries.

The condemnation of

heresy would spread to all

phenomena considered to be

paranormal or supernatural,

causing a scarcity of magicians

throughout the West.

★ In the rest of the world, however,

other practices of traditional magic were available

to curious travellers. In 1535, the tireless pilgrim

geographer Ibn Battuta observed and related in

his “Road Journal” the spell of the “magic rope”,

a future object of fascination for a generation of


★ In Europe, modern magic emerged

in the nineteenth century as a skill of illusion:

a term that goes back to the period of modern

arts, indicating a discipline that uses technical

progress as much as it uses the interest in physical

sciences at the time. In 1845, the Frenchman

Robert-Houdin, an ingenious watchmaker and

scientist, opened his Théâtre des Soirées Fantastiques.

Dressed in traditional eveningwear, he

prefigures a new relationship with magic, which

was theatrical and elegant, but above all which


denoted a space where the

magic arts would soon be able

to thrive. The opening of the

Egyptian Hall in England in

1873 at the behest of Jonh

Nevil Maskelyne was also a

part of this notion of holding

gathering places for practitioners

of a modern magic destined

to become increasingly


★ A repertory of gestures,

codes and conventions governs

modern magic. The close up,

which favours the manipulation

of cards, coins or cigarettes,

is intended for a very

small audience. Salon magic is

practiced for about a hundred

or so spectators. The magician

then uses ropes, scarves, doves

and playing cards... The great

illusionist work performed

on stage in the large theatres

develops a repertory based on

the use of boxes and spectacular

theatrical techniques. The

woman cut in two, the zigzag

woman, the magic trunk and

the many transformations

that reveal wild animals and

elephants appearing on stage,

all allowed some magicians to

become true stars: Siegfried

& Roy, David Copperfield or

Criss Angel amaze and fascinate

millions of spectators from the four corners

of the globe.

★ Seven main categories of effects can

found in the realm of human fantasy: levitation,

appearance, disappearance, transformation, teleportation,

invulnerability and mentalism. From

these main ideas magicians are endlessly inventing

new tricks or new ways to perform them.

★ New magic came to life in 2002,

wanting to free the discipline from its familiar and

formal limits. Echoing the definition of modern

magic proposed by Robert-Houdin – “the magician

is an actor who plays the role of a magician”,

new magic evokes “an art whose language is the

diversion of the real within the real”, called to make

use of the different functions taken on by magic

throughout history, to become its own artistic


“An ability to infinitely transform

the world”

New magic offers a way to get back in touch with the feeling of magic. Its creative principle

appears independently, but also within dance, the circus, theatre... Raphaël Navarro

and Clément Debailleul, both initiators of this movement, talk to us about the foundations.

Stradda: What is new magic

Raphaël Navarro: It’s an art whose language is the

diversion of the real within the real. Magic is a

way to situate oneself in relationship with the real

– space, time, objects... – in a specific kind of way.

Movies and painting divert the real in the physical

space of the image. Theatre and literature suggest

it within a metaphorical space. New magic plays

with the real within the real: that is to say, within

the same space-time offered by perception. Images

no longer correspond with an illusionist act. They

make up a proper order to reality.

Clément Debailleul: Magic has always existed and

conceals many realities other than the form of

the modern performance, which was born in the

nineteenth century, when it was limited to a repertory

of objects, effects and attitudes. New magic

asks questions and opens up pathways: stepping

out of the limits of the performing arts, imagining

effects without a magician, going beyond the visual

domain to address the other senses – smell, hearing,

touch, taste... ; asking questions about the dizziness

of the perception of space and time... a square rainbow,

a meat-flavoured strawberry, an object that

falls in silence... are all new images offered up to the

imagination of artists and capable of taking on new

life and meaning. We suggest getting back in touch

with the feeling of magic. Being in the country of

the new wave, new cuisine and the new novel, and

coming from the new circus ourselves, it seemed

logical to us to call this movement new magic.

What do you thing the feeling off magic recovers and

what place might it have in our time

R.N. : It’s an ancestral and healthy emotion! Since

magic is a threshold to the invisible, its goal is to

bring into existence what does not exist. As an

artistic form, it represents an ability to infinitely

transform the world.

C.D. : If one defines contemporary art as an appropriation

of a vision of the world by the outlook

of the artist, magic is an eminently contemporary

form. It suggests another approach to reality. And

as a first form of human creation, it is also intrinsically


R.N. : The idea of this movement is to develop and to

showcase magic, to reveal its different approaches, to

support artists looking for innovative practices and

to grow together. We also want to offer support

and tools for a demanding kind of composition and

efficient means of distribution for new and current

creators as well as for those to come, who are speakers

in their own right. New magic also offers a different

approach to modern magic, complementary and

precise, so as to make the magic arts a specific and

independent form of language.

“If painting diverts the real

in the space of the image,

new magic diverts the real

within the real.” Raphaël Navarro

“To represent the

impossible, new magic

uses existing techniques

or creates new ones.”

Clément Debailleul

What are the specificities of this language How do

they influence the creative process

R.N. : A language defines a way to express the world.

There are certain things that one cannot translate

into another language, because each one carries

within it, in its vocabulary, its grammar, its dialectics

or its history, a way of situating itself in relation

to the world. This is also the case in the language

of magic. It is governed by technical constraints,

grammatical rules and a certain number of psychological,

mechanical, material, bodily or scenographic

principals that influence the way in which a

show is written. A magic effect never works ➜

Raphaël Navarro is

a scenographer,

juggler, magician

and theorist.

Clément Debailleul

is a scenographer,

juggler, magician

and multimedia

artist. In 2000 they

created Cie 14:20,

now associated

with the

Hippodrome in

Douai, and began

working for the

emergence of an

original artistic

form: new magic.

In 2005 they

opened the first


programme in the

magic arts,

recognised and

supported by the

Ministry of Culture

through the Cnac.

The “For a new

magic” manifesto,

drafted by Clément


Valentine Losseau

and Raphaël

Navarro is due to

be released in




dossier from stradda #16 / page 5

“Les Impromptus

2009”, by Cie

14:20, at the



“Solo S”, by Cie


➜ on its own. It must be coupled with processes

that play with the attention or respiration of the

audience. These processes must have an influence

on the pace, the creation of movement. They can

inflect the entire scenography. But beyond its

specific written form, the language of magic is the

vehicle of issues that are all its own.

C.D. : In this language, the technical gesture takes

on new meaning. The imbalance of the real is envisioned

as an artistic question. In order to represent

the impossible, new magic uses existing techniques

or creates new ones, but it does not lock itself up in

a repertory of effects, a single message or aesthetic,

nor does it reduce itself to one single form of artistic

expression. Clouded perception is a creative

principle that can reach other fields. This is why

we think of new magic as an artistic movement and

not as a form of internal, aesthetic revolution.


How does that translate concretely

C.D. : For example, cubism corresponds to an aesthetic

revolution within painting. Its principles are not

transferable to other forms of expression. Inversely,

a movement like surrealism of course involved literature

during its time, but it also involved painting,

sculpture, photography, film and theatre...

Likewise, new magic – as a language based on the

diversion of the real within the real – can be a valid

creative principle within many domains: theatre,

circus and puppetry, as well as painting, cuisine,

haute couture, land art and architecture. That is

the kind of artistic movement that it is.

R.N. : Magic can influence and inspire a number

of creations, for it allows one to make the invisible

visible, to animate the inanimate, to materialise or

suggest the unreal, to create doubt, to work on our

identity and our perception... It’s also one of the

rare techniques that are not embodied from the

start. It can take on any form, as long as it manages

– within the real – to embody that which does not

exist. Paintings remain pictures, choreography a

body in movement... Magic recovers the field of all

that is not real: its space is, by definition, broader

than the real and has no predefined appearance.

Its images cannot be contained within any list, as

exhaustive as it may be. It gives birth to images,

processes and emotions that are all its own. That

is what makes it an art in its own right!



Training. The transmission of a language

In a domain where the

secret is king, a gesture

of open transmission is

already an indisputable sign

of progress. Five years ago,

Raphaël Navarro and Clément

Debailleul put into place, at

the Centre National des arts

du cirque in Chalôns-en-

Champagne, the first new

magic training programme.

This course can be followed

as part of the general training

programme, through writing

and composition workshops,

or as part of ongoing

professional training (as a

dossier from stradda #16 / page 6

350 hour course). Classes

discuss theory, practice and

creation – from the history

of magic to stage work,

including technique and

direction – allowing students

to master this “language” and

to enrich their compositions.

This is accomplished with

the help of instructors with

backgrounds in performance

and in theory – along with

ten or so magicians. There

are also anthropologists,

historians and criminologists,

as well as the choreographers

Kitsou Dubois and Philippe

Decouflé, the dancer and

actor Pierrick Malbranche (the

Philippe Genty company), the

architect and scenographer

Pascale Lecoq (daughter of

Jacques), the actress and

director Coline Serreau, one

of the co-founders of the

Cirque Plume, Jean-Marie

Jacquet, the jugglers Etienne

Saglio and François Chat...

This instructional programme

proves that magic can be

more than a simple cabaret

attraction. It can build

bridges between the arts. In

parallel, and as a sign of its

commitment, the Cnac, is

putting into place the largest

European resource collection

on magic.

Elsewhere, and on a more

theatrical note, Thierry Collet

also intends to support the

renewal of codes, aesthetics

and dramaturgy. He trains

professional artists, most

notably at the Conservatoire

national supérieur d’art

dramatique, and also offers

classes to amateur actors,

teachers, prisoners and






“All of our research can be helpful to art”

Let’s travel to India to find street magicians, collaborations with philosophers, ethnologists, searches through

old archives, work on current technologies... new magic can lead to all different kinds of studies.

Stradda: New magic is also

interested in the humanities.

Can you tell us about your

areas of research

Raphaël Navarro: A first

section concerns research

techniques, which include several

components. The historical

field – based on the means by

which magic was conceived in

relation to different time periods

and geographic zones, notably

in search of forgotten thought

patterns – is coupled with an

ethnological and anthropological

aspect, in collaboration with

Valentine Losseau, (doctoral

student at the laboratory of

social anthropology at the

Collège de France), a scholar

in constant contact with new

magic. She carries out studies in

the field with Lacandon Mayas

in Mexico. The question of

magic in different parts of the

world – whether its function is

religious, pre-scientific, esoteric

or traditional – is for us a crucial

element of understanding the

role of perception of the real.

Could you describe for us your

fieldwork on traditional magic

R.N.: Our movement also

works to build bridges between

modern Western magic and

traditional forms of magic. For

example, India is a case in point:

traditional street magicians

represent a separate caste.

We conduct on-site research

regarding lost or forgotten tricks,

not only to give them back to

the magic community, but also

to understand the elements

behind these tricks and what

kind of symbols they put into

use. Yearly trips are made to

India, to which we invite modern

French magicians in collaboration

with the Fédération française

des artistes prestidigitateurs.

Conferences are also organised

in France to encourage exchange

between the network of

subsidised performance spaces

and artists from variety shows

or traditional magic, who do not

know each other. For example,

in 2008, such a gathering was

organized near Paris at the

Chaufferie of the Compagnie DCA

– Philippe Decouflé.

Are these field activities

accompanied by academic


R.N.: We do draw from the

philosophy and history of

religions through exchange with

scholars like Xavier Papaïs, a

lecturer at the École Normale

Supérieure, or Jean-Pierre

Warnier, co-founder of the group

of researchers Matière à penser.

The academic network is essential

for us. The erudite points of

view that develop there put forth

aesthetic or social proposals that

can nourish art.

Is there another study section

for different techniques...

R.N.: We work on the history

of techniques, both magic

– by looking at old engravings,

theatrical machinery or optical

principles – and mechanical,

in the nautical domain, for

example. The resurgence of all

of these forgotten procedures

since the arrival of motors or

of electricity add to the current

experiments – on new material

or new technologies – to perfect

innovative magic techniques.

We are thus in partnership with

many state-of-the-art companies

for the first aspects, and we are

creating software for the second.

Would you say that you are

trying to outline the perception

of the real by multiple entry

points so as to better divert it

R.N.: These various experiments

are inspired, lastly, by research

on the workings of perception

of the real from a mental and

physiological point of view:

brain activity, memory, social

psychology, psychoanalysis... We

thus open pathways alongside

ethology (the study of animal

behaviour) to try to understand

if magic is an innate principle

of life – since animals use

techniques of illusion and

mimicry in both the hunt and

seduction – or to know if

animals might have some kind

of perception of the surreal. All

of this research can be helpful to

art; these domains are still very

airtight, but they have a lot to

offer each other.

How is the research formalised

R.N.: The transmission takes

place through training and public

events: conferences, seminars,


We also carry out legal work

with the jurist and magician

Guilhem Julia, aiming to propose

copyright laws for magic. In the

end, we would like to create a

research centre for new magic.

Because aside from being a

creative movement, it is truly an

independent artistic principle:

a motor that is becoming the

vector of different expressions,

aesthetics, or even techniques

regarding the arts, carried out by

many artists and companies.


dossier from stradda #16 / page 7







( * )

6 - 8 AUGUST 2010



11 - 22 AUGUST 2010



( * ) Un voyage physique à la recherche d’un chez-soi

More info:

Supported through the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund



Mardi 11 mai à 20h30

© Christophe Raynaud de Lage



« Magiciens du XXI ème

Siècle »

ème Siècle »

Coordination graphique : L. Athanase / E.V.A.C.




The heralds

of the magic


Whether it is part of a story or the

centre of the creative act, magic is

used today to represent the invisible,

to perform the impossible, or to bring

an imaginary world to life. Here is an

encounter with a few artists among

the thirty or so companies that

practice a new approach to magic

today in France.

Going beyond the simple demonstration

has already been an objective for

years in the work of some magicians,

including those from the traditional

milieu. A king of card tricks, which

he has been working at since the 80’s, Bebel, as

early as 2000, was putting on “a simple mini-play”

with the member of the Oulipi literary movement

Jacques Jouet, putting the cards on stage as marionettes.

Nostalgic for the magicians of yesteryear,

who carried entire worlds in their carriages, Bebel

is currently looking for an author to formalise

the composition of his travelling project, “La Vie

Secrètes des Cartes.”

Writing tool

Contextualising the effects of magic so as to make

them part of a story is also the concept behind the

work of Xavier Mortimer, who – since his first

encounters with the world of modern magic in his

adolescence – has worked to transform magic into

an emotional force. “I look to develop a relationship

with the object before doing the trick, to bring the

spectator into a kind of surrealist poetry. My ambition

is to tell a story, without having to prove anything.”

His “Ombre orchestre”, which was created in 2003

in the Latvian terrain K@2 and has already been

performed over six hundred times, brings to life the

fantasy of a solo musician who invents an orchestra

dossier from stradda #16 / page 10


“I look to develop a

relationship with the object

before doing the trick, to bring

the spectator into a surrealist

poetry. My ambition is to tell

the story, without having to

prove anything.”

Xavier Mortimer

through the sheer force of his imagination. On the

screen, shadows give life to subtle and crazy images,

in a poetically old-fashioned aesthetic that uses the

classical repertory of modern magic in honour of

its more traditional forms.

The magic of the Compagnie Décalée is a collective

practice on stage, and serves as a writing tool,

just like juggling or music. The trio shares with

Jani Nuutinen (Circeo Aereo) – who will offer an

outside perspective on their first creation “Living”

(2006) – the desire to “include magic in a natural

way, without diverting objects from their main func-


by the WHS -Ville

Walo & Kalle



“Partons pour

Pluton”, by the

Compagnie des

Femmes à barbe.

tion: their presence is justified.” Here magic is a

way of developing a situation within a codified or

routine framework, such as that of hearing for “La

Parade des hiboux” (2010). The musicians’ agony

takes shape through a rebellious piano or a fabric

that transforms into a ghost to haunt the thoughts

of the pianist...

Contemporary psyche

Because of the fantasies that it taps into – reading

minds, telekinesis... – mentalism is rooted in

contemporary issues. In the vain of modern magicians

demystifying fake spiritualists at the end of the

nineteenth century, Gwen Aduh, from the Compagnie

des Femmes à barbe, scoffs at “the paranormal

and its impostures”, from the sale of fake miracle

pills (“Les Gélules 4 couleurs de M et Mme Li”), to

the telepathy of ufology (“Partons pour Pluton”),

or the simulacra of shamanism (“Amanita Muscaria”).

The artist uses techniques of magic – illusion,

physical conditioning – in fully thought-out worlds

“Influences”, by the company, Le Phalène - Thierry Collet.

Thierry Collet The primitive concern

should be a contemporary form, in touch with the

political, social and religious questions of its time”; as early


as his first encounter with magic – and his discovery of the

visual theatre of Philippe Genty or Mummenschanz in the 70’s – Thierry

Collet was driven by the desire to give meaning to a discipline that

seem to sorely need it. After his training as an actor and four shows of

narrative magic, his last two creations have centred around mentalism:

“We manipulate thoughts, not objects. Something very profound about

magic is expressed: the relationship to power. The frame of the show is,

of course, harmless. But the idea is nonetheless to represent a mental

authority that takes control over a group with its tacit permission.”

The societal angle, which was outlined in “Même si c’est faux, c’est

vrai” (2007) with the theme of the mindset of the consumer, continues

with “Influences.” Playing the role of the expert, the professor and the

sales representative, the artist offers a series of shared experiences,

indicating the mechanisms at work in the manufacturing of consent.

Beyond a denunciation of these methods, there is also a desire to

question its roots. “I bring together the feeling of magic and a primitive

concern. I am interested in looking for the need that sets off the desire

for enchantment, utopia, the will to hand oneself over to a mental

authority.” ★ J.B.


that always offer a double interpretation: “For me,

magic is an extension of religion. In the end, I am

always confused by human credulity, the enthusiasm

for paranormal phenomena... which all help me to

create my shows!” For Scorpène, mental magic is

a way of playing with one’s points of reference to

allow a different perception of reality. Sharpening

an astute observation of the other acquired in a

career as a chess player, then looking to destabilise

the real by bringing the visible and the subliminal

together in live video performances, the artist makes

use of three major pillars – “alchemy, quantum ➜



Kurt Demey The mentalist city

the most fertile terrain for cultivating illusions.” That is how

Kurt Demey, the Flemish multidisciplinary artist describes the

“It is

public space. After “L’Homme cornu” (2008), he is again using,

in “La ville qui respire” (2010-2011 creation), mentalist techniques as

artistic tools and thus makes magic a fundamental ingredient in his

dramaturgical work. The spectator, taken in by five short sequences

with a minimalist aesthetic, is plunged into “small urban rituals that

destabilise their usual context of references”, provoking confusion and

uncertainty. Such is the case in

the enigmatic scene where a liquid

contained in a glass jar turns out to

be flammable... while a spectator has

just taken a drink out of it as if it

were water. For Kurt Demey, the city

is full of tales and stories hidden in

its recesses; invisible remains of past

lives. Magic is an opening toward

this invisible element, the fault line

from which poetry springs out, when

logical deductions fail. ★ A.G.

“L’Homme cornu”,

by Kurt Demey / Rode Boom.

dossier from stradda #16 / page 11




“Le Soir des



Monstre(s) -

Etienne Saglio

dossier from stradda #16 / page 12

➜ physics and ‘The Songs of Maldoror’” – for his

new creation of mentalist magic, “Réalité non ordinaire”,

in which word games of the language of

birds and magic effects aim to plunge the spectator

into a receptive state, making room for intuition

and improvisation: “Mentalist magic mixes performance

and mystery: the strange, the being-out-there,

this thing that reaches us all.”

Parallel realities

Through the specificities of its composition, put

into emphasis in new magic, the language of magic

guides the creations of certain artists to make them

“authors of magic.” By stepping onto the road

of new magic at the Cnac in 2005, the juggler

Etienne Saglio discovered a way to formalise the

artistic intentions of his first creation, “Le Soir des

monstres.” A character surrounded by cumbersome

objects – monsters – compensates for his loneliness

by bringing them to life. His mental switch-over

is made concrete for the audience: “Magic allows

me to perform, within the real, this mise en abyme in

relation to the creative act of the artist: moments of

illumination and moments of total solitude where the

mind can wander.”

Presiding over the writing of the show, the

language of magic imposes three dramaturgical

different realities: normal reality, wherein the

character is developed; magical reality, expressing

in a tangible way the distorted activity of the mind,

with, for example, a pipe that transforms into a

snake; and emotional reality, creating timeless

bubbles with suspended sketches, like a juggling

sequence with a plate of polystyrene. Instilling itself

even in the reality of the spectator (the house, the

wings of the theatre), magic guides the scenographic

choices: “From creating movement, to the choice

of lighting, the whole thing is set against the idea of

navigating between different strata of reality, which

is the very heart of the message.” Etienne Saglio has

continued his technical research in the performing

arts (slow-motion diabolo with Antoine Perrieux)

and the visual arts. He thus created two installations,

a mini-couple of paper dancers, spiraling

into a furious tango on an old wooden table, and

levitating clouds under bells made of glass. “From

this apparatus there is a relationship with frozen time,

we work to create movement, like by making the cloud


An encounter with new magic also allowed the

director Olivier Porcu (compagnie Pentimento) to

bring to life ideas that had for a long time been

dormant within him, “about the small death,

about absence.” Located in the future, the world

of “Manipulation(s)” – uchronia in the vain of

Orwell, Kafka and Calvino – depicts a totalitarian

universe. Transformed into a digital population,


“Movement, choice

of lighting, the whole

[scenography] is set

against this navigation

between different strata

of reality” Etienne Saglio

the audience has its papers examined by the actor

playing a public servant of the future. Magic,

through the manipulation of objects and predictions,

puts into place this omnipotent and omniscient

matrix, where the actor and the spectator are

placed within the same momentum. The author

is currently working on an adaptation of “Dans

la solitude des champs de coton” by Bernard-Marie

Koltès, revisiting the famous dialogue between the

dealer and the customer through the hologram:

“The direction of an actor simultaneously portraying

two characters on stage allows one to look for more

intimate elements.”

The impossible instant

Magic can also be extracted from a story to seize

on an impossible instant. Romain Lalire plants

his “Instants magiques” within the city, like in

situ mini-performances, which also work on the

Cie 14 : 20 The spectacular at the service of sensations

Created in 2000 by Raphaël Navarro and Clément Debailleul, Cie

14:20 explores new magic. As early as 2004, “Solo S” placed

magic in resonance with poetry and painting, juxtaposing

the presence of two jugglers to put into play the randomness of

the echoing collapse of the words of Michel Butor, the ephemeral

of suspension as seen by the durability of the line set on a canvas.

The 2009 creation “Vibrations” centres around four solos, creating

spectacular images to bring into play the movements and the states

of the body: free from gravity, the dancer Fatou Traoré explores a new,

gestural language, levitating two metres above the ground, before

encountering her holograms, immanent alter egos revealed by fixating

a movement in space, like fragments of residual memories finding

independence so as to become partners in their own right; the juggler

François Chat starts up a sensual double act with his shadow, which

eventually will literally absorb him; the juggling of Etienne Saglio

follows the movement of the stars, inciting a spiral of twenty-five

phosphorescent balls in exponential rotation above the audience; the

movement is instilled in a visual work, through a picture with shifting

visual content. Magic techniques and digital arts are put into use to

create states of global immersion, nestling in the spectator’s sensations

so as to generate memory. The nomadic structure inaugurated for

“Vibrations” is the company’s Monolith (a black cube, 8m x 12m x

8m), which is presented as an itinerant laboratory on new magic,

placing itself within the public space so as to host distribution events,

residencies, or gatherings.★ J.B.

magical gesture of sign language with the deaf

actor-magician Bastien Authier. An enthusiast

of visual theatre, the Finnish Kalle Hakkarainen

offers, as a duet with the juggler Ville Wallo, and

with the WHS company, performances with a refined

aesthetic, alternating between incongruous or

anxiety-ridden instants; interaction with the actress

of an old Russian propaganda film transformed as

a romance; bullfight with the images of a bus on

the run... The important thing is the impact of the

created image: a confusion of the senses resulting

from the association of incongruous images, like

oxy-morons of the senses, such as “the delicacy of

a nearly imperceptible movement – a piece of paper

that crumbles up right away like magic, for eight

minutes – accompanied by an incredible sound, that

is heavy on the bass.” For his next solo performance

(“Nopeussokeus”, 2010), Kalle will try out magical

effects that play with the perception of speed.

Confusion of sound

Confusion can also be expressed through the

domain of sound. With the duet Kristoff K. Roll,

the musician Jean-Christophe Camps has, since

1990, been carrying out research on the natural

theatricality of sounds: “Making the object produce

a sound is already to give it another meaning. Magic

also allows one to play with the potential of set sound:

substitution, de-synchronism...” Demonstrations

with listening stations and the creation of

Olivier Poujol Answering history with magic

Olivier Poujol has been at the head of the Élan Bleu company

since 1995. This enthusiast of classical authors like Shakespeare

and Flaubert paradoxically does his best to get away from

the text: dance, circus, new technologies... all ways of expressing

emotion while stepping away from the word alone. He is versed in

the exploration of identity and its metamorphoses and his work on

the heteronyms of Fernanado Pessoa as early as 2007 called for an

apparatus of optical magic so as to render the interior world of the

writer in its many incarnations. New magic is at the source of his latest

creation, a “Faust” transformed for the age of the Internet. “I decided

to rewrite the play and to start with the possibility of magical effects

that inflect its constructions. My focus was to respond to history

with magic effects.” A way of recognizing the calibre of Mephisto: “I

wanted this character to surprise us constantly, without making him a

magician doing tricks. I wanted the audience to see him in one place

and all of a sudden he pops up elsewhere, even in the house with the

spectators. Creating tricky moments without really identifying them,

switching over to a somewhat frightening malaise.” Magic is also a

way of bringing out

what can’t be said:

“Materialising images

from our unconscious,

from our fantasies that

we often hide. Seeing

them appear before

our eyes creates very

strong emotions.” ★ J.B.

Compagnie l’Elan bleu

“Faust”, Compagnie L’Elan Bleu.


dossier from stradda #16 / page 13




“It is the modification of

the real in the time of

the encounter with the

audience that interests me,

not the illusion in terms

of effects.” Marco Bataille-Testu

➜ tandems all offer alternatives to the traditional

codes of the concert: music with no musician

– an echo of magic without a magician, one of the

themes proposed by new magic, which plays a role

in the research carried out for the Kristoff K. Roll’s

next creation, “L’Egaré.” “The idea will be to plunge

the magic of the phenomenon of sound into the world

of visual magic, where the objects can have their own

autonomy of movement and the thoughts of a visual


Modified spaces

New magic allows the Théâtre du Signe to pursue,

in an original way, its questioning about the representation

of the real in theatre.

Since 1992, the company has used new technologies

to address societal or philosophical questions

meant for a young audience (absence, borders, the

origin of the world...): “Through the research taken on

by Alain Bonardi, composer and researcher at Ircam,

we have explored, for “Les petites absences” (2009),

the tension and the impact of the emotional state of the

actor-performer on the elements of the performance in

real time”, explains Marco Bataille-Testu, co-director

of the company with Sylvie Robe. “We envision

magic as a sum of tools and processes aiming to open

our perception of the real. It is the modification of the

real in the time of the encounter with the audience

that interests me, not the illusion in terms of effects.

Our goal is the resonance of crossed compositions,

which allows the spectator to reconstruct the space.

The intrinsic strength of the magic tool also allows one

to go further in the performance of modified spaces.”

As part of its next creation (“J’ai brûlé mon nom

d’enfance et je suis parti”, 2011), the company will

begin research sessions on the fields opened up by

new magic. Eventually, professional gatherings in

Caen will provide the opportunity to invite artists,

theorists and technicians to discuss the theme of

the representation of the real. ★ J.B.;;;;;

dossier from stradda #16 / page 14


The great illusion

From the Théâtre de Chaillot, to the Théâtre de

la Bastille, magic has been infiltrating, invisible

but powerful, into the diverse forms of the

performing arts.

“Sombrero”, by

the compagnie

DCA, Philippe


Each beginning of a movement can be observed

through the growing interest that other

artists may have for its techniques. Just as one

sees more and more circus artists in theatre performances

or choreographers in the public space,

today magic can be found in a growing number of

productions. Certain creators are interested in this

new tool, in this language, and integrate them into

their creative world.

Fantastic images

The result is images that cannot be forgotten... the

body of a dancer that struggles between the giant

shadow of nimble fingers (“Sombrero”, Philippe

Découflé, 2007); an actor in a raincoat and a hat

that flies away on large paper planets (“Boliloc”,

Philippe Genty, 2008), the bust of a woman who

lifts up into the air, leaving her legs on stage (“Sur le

fil de minuit”, Luc Petton, 2002). When one speaks

figuratively of the “magic” of these shows, one

could not put it any better. There most certainly is

something magical about them.

Opening the doors

At the service of these illusions, a handful of shadow

artists are contributing to the larger presence of

magic within the cultural space. Philippe Beau

is one of them, as are Abdul Alafrez and Thierry

Collet. While they develop very different artistic

worlds, they share a similar approach to magic.

Their magic blossoms when in contact with other

arts. Abdul Alafrez is a Beaux-Arts graduate and,

early on, became very interested in music and art

in its most contemporary forms. He “quickly pulled

away from a rather dusty old way of doing magic”,

so as to explore other possibilities. The list of his

collaborations attest to his open-mindedness: from

the jazz collective ARF (Association à la recherché

d’un folklore imiaginaire) to the stage director Dan

Jemmett (for “La Grande Magie” by Edouardo De

Filippo at the Comédie Française), not to mention

his current work with Julie Brochen on Chekov’s

“The Cherry Orchard” (at the Théâtre National de


We find the same atypical profile with Philippe

Beau, who has made shadow work (magic work

with shadows and hands) his specialty. After a few

fateful meetings (with, among others, Philippe

Découflé and Robert Lepage), he now focuses on

collaborations, and is driven by a desire to “bring

magic and shadow work to arts that would not have

thought to use them.” In magic, “everything is possible.

To say that to stage directors or choreographers, it

opens up doors for them....

Exchange of good practice

The key to collaboration is in exchange. The magician

puts his skills and technique at the service

of the project. In return, he finds new means of

exploration. “I work in close detail with my hands”,

Philippe Beau tells us, “Collaborating with dancers,

I can explore ideas that their bodies make possible.

They become shadow performers.”

According to whether he is present on stage or

not, the demand and the time available, Abdul

Alafrez intends to “permanently reinvent the trade.

When I arrive at a theatre, everyone has his place.

I don’t, I have to find it, create it. It’s a fulfilling

experience every time.” Each show is a chance to

invent or to test new effects, but also to advance

the art of magic itself by putting it in contact with

other artistic disciplines. These magic effects must

transcend their technical side to insert themselves

as well as they can into the dramaturgy, the ➜


“39GeorgeV”, a giant

trompe-l’œil by Pierre

Delavie and Frédéric

Beaudoin, 2007.

“Le Défilé”, an exhibit by

Jean Paul Gaultier and

Régine Chopinot at the

Musée des Arts Décoratifs,

in Paris.

An active principle

New magic wants to build bridges between artistic disciplines. Outside

of the borders of the performing arts, it is already taking its place as the

active principle of ritualised moments like the haute couture fashion

shows: weightless collections, metamorphoses of models in plain view

imagined by Cie 14:20 for the exhibit “Le Défilé”, by Jean Paul Gaultier

and Régine Chopinot at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in 2007. It is

also present in the transformable clothing of the designer Hussein

Chalayan. Another ritual moment to approach is the meal, as much for

its proceedings as for its performance of textures and flavours. Ferran

Adrià, chef at the restaurant El Bulli, in Catalonia, speaks of magic as

one of the emotions promoted by his culinary language. His work gives

birth to flavours of carrot or electric cakes... At the crossroads of disciplines,

the chemist and visual artist Laurent Duthion offers molecular

music, sub-aquatic tastings in an aquarium and other bubbles filled

with Antarctic odours of flowers.

But the fields of application for magic are infinite. Its processes are

found within several artistic approaches. They can also be found in the

work of video artists (the optical theatre of Pierrick Sorin, slow-motion

performances by Julien Maire), painters (anamorphose on sidewalks by

Julian Beever), photographers (floating images on abandoned buildings,

by Georges Rousse), or sculptors (impossible, three-dimensional figures

by Francis Tabary)... Fleeting architecture plays with illusions, such as

giant optical illusions to create a soft apartment building in the middle

of Paris (39GeorgeV, 2007), an “act of urban surrealism”, according to

its creators Pierre Delavie and Frédéric Beaudoin. At the crossroads of

automation and design, the work in progress is already turning heads;

interactive installations (research on the musical gesture by Blue Yeti;

installations for museums or hospitals by Mine Control...), enchanted

lights by Ingo Maurer, modular furniture by Kerdema Design, and the

jacket of invisibility by Professor Susumu Tachi, promising the eventual

creation of transparent walls or virtual windows... ★ J.B.


dossier from stradda #16 / page 15




➜ story, the narration. “I never bring a purely technical

performance”, Thierry Collet explains, “it’s also

a matter of participating in the meaning, of offering a

stylistic or thematic interpretation.”

At the Opera

The key word of this incursion of magic into the

performing arts is illusion; an important theme in

the stage arts. After having solicited Philippe Beau

for “Kà”, a creation of the Cirque du Soleil, Robert

Lepage called on him for a sequence of shadows in

the opera “The Nightingale and Other Short Fables”,

by Stravinsky. As for Thierry Collet, he recently

explored the links between magic and film in a

“Cinderella” by Massenet in the Opéra Comique.

He is also at the side of Jean Lambert-Wild for a

hybrid creation mixing together texts, images and

objects, presented this summer in Avignon.

These are all creations where magic inserts itself

into a multi-facetted context that fascinates the

spectator. “When events take place as if by magic”,

writes Philippe Genty, “the spectator is propelled into

a world where not everything is logical. A small door

opens up. Surely, some will refuse to get involved. But

most will tell us ‘We don’t need any explanations... We

entered into the images as if in a dream!’ The idea is

not to use magic for the sake of magic, but to reinforce

what’s happening on stage.”

★ ANNE GONON (Philippe Decouflé) ; ; ;

Abdul Alafrez

abounds in


from the Comédie

Française to jazz.


Distribution. From Rouen to Rome, enthusiasm is on the rise

New magic is quite certainly creating a distribution network for itself. It can now be found on national stages in Dieppe,

Douai, Marseille or Poitier, in the ring in Amiens or Elbeuf, in festivals in Auch, Paris or Rome...

The fascination surrounding

new magic can be found in the

programming of an ever-growing

network. The Hippodrome, the national

performance space in Douai and a major

supporter of the movement, partnered up

with Cie 14:20 for three years because,

as its Director Gilbert Langlois explains it,

“their movement brings out thought and

meaning. Magic crosses over civilisations

and cultures. It resonates with everyone.”

On the programme we find shows,

exhibits, films and conferences on new


Modern and new. In Marseille, Le

Merlan is extending the worked it started

last season. In October it will be organising

a 10-day festival to bring modern

and new forms of magic together. It

hopes to make a regular occurrence of

these gatherings up until Marseille 2013.

dossier from stradda #16 / page 16

The Norman stage, where this movement

began, has since been a staunch supporter.

DSN (Dieppe Scène Nationale) and La

Foudre in Rouen have taken on the work

of new magicians. In Paris, the Théâtre

National de Chaillot will open a pavilion

on magic in July 2010, during the festival

Imaginez maintenant (put in place by

the Council for artistic creation) and has

called on Cie 14:20 for its next season.

On the circus end, Roger Le Roux in

Elbeuf has programmed several events

based on new magic forms (magic

shows, gatherings and meals). At the

Cirque Jules Verne in Amiens, Jean-

Pierre Marcos is organising an evening

of discussion between modern and new

forms of magic. In the Paris region, the

Académie Fratellini is actively supporting

the movement. It regularly hosts the

“laboratory” of experimentation and

of residency for new magic. And in

Auch, Circuits will be offering several

shows coming from this movement. The

Festival mondial du cirque de demain

created a new magic section in 2009.

Brothers of Calcutta. Abroad, Roma

Europa is including a wide range of

magic for its autumn festival. The Indian

Brotherhood of Magicians (Delhi) and the

Magic Research Society (Calcutta) will, on

an increasingly regular basis, host new

magic artists for their festival. The Big

Apple Circus from New York aims to create

American exposure, bringing its help to

the work of Cie 14:20. A growing and

composite network reflective of the kind

of work and potential found in the field

of magic, or rather a rhizome with both

visible and underground roots, all promise

a wonderful flourishing, necessary to give

life to this emerging form. ★ A. Q.

Who’s who in new magic

ARTISTS Here are a few artists whose work subscribes to the concepts proposed

by new magic (non-comprehensive list):

Cie 14:20

Cie Décalée

Cie La Torgnole

Cie L’Elan Bleu

Cie des Femmes à Barbe

Cie Mobilobadour

Cie Pentimento

Circo Aero

Antoine Terrieux

Bastien Authié


Dis Bonjour à la dame

François Chat

Kristoff K.Roll (J-Kristoff Camps)

Kurt Demey

Le Phalène (Thierry Collet)

Les Décatalogués

Monstre(s) (Etienne Saglio)


Romain Lalire


Théâtre du Signe

Tide Company

Tour de Cirque

WHS (Kalle Hakkarainen)

Xavier Mortimer

Yann Frisch

Yvan Gauzy

SITES Through key events that are made part of their performance programme, supportive

actions or gatherings, these structures have expressed their interest in new magic:


★ Académie Fratellini, La Plaine Saint-

Denis. The Académie Fratellini wishes

to play an active role in supporting the new magic movement and the

recognition of magic in the broadest sense of the term: regularly hosting

the Compagnie 14:20’s Monolith, an itinerant, new magic laboratory;

conferences; classes available to apprentices of the CFA (Conservatory

for the circus arts); the booking of magic shows in the future...

★ Bibliothèque Municipale de Lyon.

★ La Chaufferie / Cie DCA.

★ Circuits, state-recognised performance space, Auch.

★ Cirque Jules Verne, Amiens. For this new

season dedicated entirely to the circus, the

Cirque Jules Verne in Amiens will be setting up

a special event for magic on May 11 with a new

magic conference, followed by a magical evening: “a panel of acts

representative of the way in which New Magic has presented itself as

an independent artistic movement, with a very strong link with modern

magic, at the crossroads of all disciplines, form the arts of time to

those of space, the visual and the performing arts.” Among the artists

present, there is Bebel the magician, Cie 14:20 – Kim Huynh and François

Chat, Norbert Ferré, Gaëtan Bloom, Philippe Beau and Olivier Porcu,

with the special participation during the week of Jacot the Illusionist.

★ Cirque Théâtre d’Elbeuf, Elbeuf.

★ CNAC, Châlons-en-Champagne. Since 2006,

the Centre National des Arts du Cirque has offered

a unique training programme in new magic. It is

intended for all professionals of the performing arts wishing to broaden

their knowledge or to perfect a new approach to magic (artistic

aspects, technical aspects, etc.). Furthermore, a writing and composition

workshop is offered to students of the CNAC: theoretical tools

for comprehending the structures of circus creation, as well as the

aesthetic and performative notions that they imply; with a practical

application of new magic tools and the compositional potential that

they offer, all taking into account the specialities of the students. The

resource centre of the CNAC constitutes a unique source of information

on new magic. It currently includes 250 reference works - and

some are very rare, as most of them have been released in only a

small number of copies. These are the only open-access resources

for magic professionals, artists interested in object manipulation and


★ DSN Dieppe Scène Nationale.

★ Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain.

★ FFAP (Fédération Française des Artistes Prestidigitateurs).

★ L’Hippodrome, Douai. This national performance

space of Douai persistently offers a multi-disciplinary

performance programme (theatre, dance,

concerts, circus...) and is a strong proponent of new magic, with a

three-year partnership with Cie 14:20 (on-site artistic and cultural

education), the creation and distribution of shows, exhibits, cartes

blanches, seminars, conferences, itinerant research laboratories...

The Hippodrome has also partnered with the universities of Artois

to develop research on new magic.

★ Ay-roop [production group]

★ Le Cube, centre of digital creation (creation hub).

★ Le Rayon Vert, subsidized performance space of Saint-Valeyen-Caux.

★ Le Merlan, scène nationale, Marseille.

★ TAP, Scène nationale de Poitiers.

★ Théâtre de la Cité Internationale, Paris.

★ Théâtre National de Chaillot, Paris.

★ Théâtre de La Foudre, scène nationale Petit Quevilly/Mont-


★ Théâtre Romain Rolland, state-recognised performance space,

Villejuif et du Val de Bièvre.

★ The City of Tremblay-en-France.


★ Big Apple Circus, New York.

★ Indian Brotherhood of Magician, Delhi.

★ Magic Research Society, Calcutta

★ Roma Europa, Rome.

dossier from stradda #16 / page 17



EDITORS IN CHIEF Jean Digne, Stéphane Simonin

ADVISOR Ayoko Mensah

COORDINATOR Julie Bordenave

HorsLesMurs – 68, rue de la Folie Méricourt – 75011 Paris

Tél. : 01 55 28 10 10 – Fax : 01 55 28 10 11 – –

EDITORIALS Julie Bordenave – Anne Gonon – Pascal Jacob

Anne Quentin

IMAGES Nathaniel Baruch – Jacques Bétant – Luc Boegly

– Patrick Bosc – Manuelle Couette – Clément Debailleul

– – Emmanuelle de Maistre – Catherine-

Alice Palagret – Robert et Shana ParkeHarrison – Laurent Philippe

– Christophe Raynaud de Lage – Satya Roosens – Petri Virtanen /




COPY EDITOR Peggy Tardrew





ADVERTISING Lucien Athanase




A publication by HorsLesMurs – national resource centre for the

circus and street arts – subsidized by the Ministry of Culture –


Registration of copyright April 2010

ISSN: 1950 – 4713 – CPPAP 1008 G 88469

Revue publiée avec le concours du Centre national du livre






dossier from stradda #16 / page 18

a quitté Paris pour sʼinstaller en bord

de Seine et sʼintégrer à lʼéco-quartier

des « Docks de Ris » à Ris-Orangis (Essonne),

à 30 minutes de

Châtelet (RER D).

Ce nouvel espace de

cirque contemporain,

direction artistique

Adrienne Larue et

Fabien Demuynck,

accueille sous ses

chapiteaux des compagnies

en résidence,

des artistes, et lʼatelier Cirque pour les amateurs Rissois.

Créations 2010

C ie Arts des Airs, Armance Brown/Bruno Krief

Sieste cubaine les 11,12 et 13 juillet

C ie Rialto Fabrik Nomade, William Petit


C ie Etokan, Dan Demuynck, Fabien Demuynck,

Daniel Buren Nord/Sud

C ie Avek, Ludivine Narès ANIMAL(s)

Les créations dʼAdrienne Larue

Le tarot des destins croisés (reprise)

Les baraques foraines (création)

qui mettent en piste ses personnages de magicienne

très décalée. ●

Nouveau téléphone : 06 83 63 20 94


dossier from stradda #16 / page 20

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication

[communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held

responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

circostrada network

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines