In 1994, the Compagnie Marie Chouinard was invited to perform The Rite of Spring at the Taipei International Dance Festival in Taiwan, with Igor Stravinsky’s music being performed by the Taipei Symphony Orchestra. Because the work’s length made it possible, festival organizers suggested that Afternoon of a Faun be added to the program. Upon learning that the company did not perform the work using Claude Debussy’s score, the festival encouraged Marie Chouinard to create a new solo version (see Afternoon of a Faun). This is how Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun (the Debussy version) came into being.
This new version takes up the same gestures and sequences as Marie Chouinard’s initial work. When she first created this work, she had not been comfortable with Debussy’s music. She now discovered, however, that her Faun was well enough established, the role well enough defined, to be set to Debussy’s music, and the experience was more than conclusive. (Marie Chouinard later learned that Nijinski didn’t really enjoy dancing to Debussy’s music, which was imposed on him by Serge de Diaghilev – as if to confirm her original intuition.) Since that time, Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun (the Debussy version) and The Rite of Spring have been performed together on the same program.
The Taipei festival was also responsible for another turning point in the history of the Compagnie Marie Chouinard. For the first time, when creating Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, Marie Chouinard was obliged to teach one of her solo roles to another dancer. This first experience in “passing on” her work led to the retrospective of solos now found in the company’s repertory, Les Solos 1978-1998, among which can be found the Afternoon of a Faun in its original version.
Length | 10 minutes
Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun - Created at the Taipei International Festival, Taïwan, 1994
A Compagnie Marie Chouinard production, co-produced with the National Arts Centre (Ottawa) and the Laidlaw Foundation (Toronto)
Choreography and Artistic Direction | Marie Chouinard
Music | Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, Claude Debussy, 1894
Lighting | Alain Lortie
Costumes | Marie Chouinard, Luc Courchesne, Louis Montpetit
Make-up | Jacques-Lee Pelletier
*Dancer for the world premiere | Dominique Porte (1994)
« ... instead of a dancer playing a Faun, there was a real live Faun. I still don’t understand how Marie Chouinard managed to convince this real live faun to appear before us. No human, be it dancer or otherwise, could move like this Faun did. People just don’t. (...) This Faun is a work of genius. Mesmerizing, raw and beyond any earthly thing I have witnessed. » - Teri McCollum, Freelance Dance Writer, San Francisco, 2009
« Savage and infinitely refined...terrifying exhilarating, mysterious, immediate... » - Burt Supree, Village Voice, New York, 1990