Babelle Heureuse

Compagnie Montalvo-Hervieu, Créteil, France, 2003
Authors: José Montalvo, Dominique Hervieu
Directed by José Montalvo, Dominique Hervieu

about the production

Paradis and especially Le jardin io io ito ito celebrated the polyphony of cultures and dances. In his extraordinary cosmopolitan garden, José Montalvo (working with Dominique Hervieu, an exceptional performer in all the works and also his associate choreographer), cultivated the art of fragmentation, juxtaposition, collage and telescoping. Babelle Heureuse not only evokes the encounter and confrontation of movement, but also its exchange and communication between the dancers. (...) Babel’s curse, the confusion of languages, is turned around here in a playful way to evoke a form of jubilation brought on by languages, a joyous tribute to pluralism and cosmopolitanism. This poetic conception of multiplicity, a way of thumbing one’s nose at all forms of xenophobia, has an ethical dimension – a moral attitude of resistance toward all forms of barbarism.

(...) Montalvo has chosen a form of expression with infinite metamorphosis. He proceeds by fragments: it’s a way of escaping linear narration. From capoeira, hip hop, acrobatics, African dance, ballet through to baroque, the choreography fans out corporeal possibilities by harnessing the appetite for movement, the jubilation of physical exercise, the jubilation of virtuosity – all things that are today regarded as suspicious to orthodox of contemporary dance.

Théâtre National de Chaillot bulletin

The title of their current show, Babelle Heureuse, is borrowed from postmodern guru Roland Barthes, and, like Barthes, they aim to recast the curse of Babel as a blessing.

Judith Mackrell, The Guardian

“In the Bible, diversity is a source of conflict,” says Hervieu. “But for us, diversity is a way of creating connections. Our aesthetic is premised on diversity.” This has always been the Montalvo-Hervieu agenda. All their pieces become hymns to diversity, demonstrations that harmonious difference is not only desirable, but achievable.

(...) Babelle Heureuse celebrates its diversity through multiple means – film as well as dance, music and song. But, whereas previously the cultures have merely been juxtaposed, here they are more integrated, more hybridised.

Nadine Meisner, The Independent

Whether the inspiration of José Montalvo comes from Baroque or Surrealism, what he wants to bring about in his work, it is so to say a radical even naive notion, that open-mindedness can be achieved by joy, rather than by theory. His defence of joy can be seen in his images, but even more the movement on the stage expresses it. Montalvo (...) claims that the arts, especially dance, are here to help people in their coexistence, because the fight for this co- existence is only commencing.

Dominique Frétard, Le Monde



artistic direction and video conception: José Montalvo
choreography: José Montalvo and Dominique Hervieu
assistant to the choreographer: Bobo Pani
music: traditional music from the Persian Gulf, Johann-Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi
lighting: Vincent Paoli
costumes: Alexandra Bertaut
technical direction: Yves Favier
images: Etienne Aussel
sound: Eric Maurin
infography: Julien Delmotte
3D animation: Agnès Billard
video director: Hugo Royer
lighting director: Emmanuel Gary
sound director: Guillaume Flores, Thierry Planet
stage managers: Régis Guillemot
production and difussion: Anne SAUVAGE
international tour: DLB SPECTACLES / Didier Le Besque - Assisté de Thierry Bévière
musicians: Saeid Shanbehzadeh, Habib Meftahboushehrl
dancers: Arlequin, Guillaume Bordier, Olivier Cauzinille, Court-Circuit, Clarisse Doukpe, Ahmed El Jattari, Léopold Gnahore, Lino Khris, Blaise Kouakou, Isaac Lartey, Mélanie Lomoff, Les Mandragores, Achille Monbohi Doh, Mokhtar Niati, Sabine Novel, Merlin Nyakam, Nicolas Peper

co-production: Centre Chorégraphique National de Créteil et du Val-de-Marne, Compagnie Montalvo-Hervieu, Maison des Arts et de la Culture – Créteil, Théâtre National de Chaillot, Théâtre National de Bretagne, BITE:03, Atelier Chorégraphique National/Le Théâtre/Scène Nationale de Narbonne, Roma-Europa Festival, Het Muziektheater Amsterdam


José Montalvo (1953), Dominique Hervieu (1962) 

With Montalvo, Hervieu elaborated a particular body movement made up of fluidity, rapidity and precision that would lend a unique style to their productions. From 1986 – 1988, José Montalvo’s compositions were honoured with several international awards. With Paradis and Le jardin io io ito ito, the originality of their work has been internationally acclaimed (Le jardin io io ito ito was chosen as the best dance show in 2001 at the Laurence Olivier Awards for its London performances).

They began organising site-specific events in 1989. These events hoped to re-establish a means of mixing celebration with the pleasure of dancing, in a playful mode. In June 1998, they were named directors of the Centre Chorégraphique National in Créteil at the Val-de-Marne region, and they continue to work at developing teaching and artistic education through initiatives that promote the access to choreographic art in the area, alongside their mission to create and tour their own work. In June 2000, José Montalvo was named the director and Dominique Hervieu the assistant director, responsible for the youth mission at the Théâtre National in Chaillot. José Montalvo and Dominique Hervieu respectively received the distinction of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in June 2000 and in July 2001.