Le Jardin Qui Rit – The Laughing Garden

a new dance piece in the making

After months of traveling, I returned to New York on Thursday and started rehearsing with Dusan Tynek Dance Theatre on Friday for our new show, The Laughing Garden.  This is my seventh collaboration with Dusan over 15 years.  Our long creative relationship enabled us to expand and grow together trying out different ways to create a dance – from sound coming before choreography, to building music and choreography simultaneously, to choreography coming first, to the current approach of establishing the vocabulary and freely creating music and choreography together in real time, before your eyes. 

The Laughing Garden is inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights and is filled with moments of primal energy, joy, some darkness, a lot of playfulness.  

Detail from Garden of Earthly Delights, Hieronymus Bosch

I am thrilled that my friend and a fantastic composer Luciano Chessa will join me in creating a live score for performances. We will be on stage with six dancers and make sounds on prepared piano and other objects, including a water fountain.

Alexandra Berger, Ned Sturgis, Tim Ward, Gary Champi of Dusan Tynek Dance Theatre rehearsing The Laughing Garden, March 2019
Prepared piano from last night’s rehearsal of the Laughing Garden

The creative process has been fun, an exercise in a discipline of relating. It’s beautiful to experience the piece being re-created with every performance, based on choices and responses of each moment by every individual engaged in the process.

Luciano and I first established the vocabulary so that we can independently create our parts.


Taking a closer look into the fantastical painting by Bosch I found out about the music inscribed on a sinner’s bottom on the right panel of the tryptic, the Hell. The sound Luciano and I decided to create for the dance is abstract and without any linear musical narrative. At the same time we wanted to have a focal point where musically all kinds of disparate elements come together into a little tune, a phrase, a place of intimacy. And there it was, the little chant, inscribed by Bosch himself waiting to be brought to life; this time in the context of joy and beauty, rather than sin and punishment.

The tune – detail from Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch

I see this newest work with Dusan as a curious look into the profusion of life and nature – which is creativity itself. It is funny, fun, unstoppable, rich, fragrant, colorful, and free.

See the details about the show and come see us if you are in New York:
https://www.newyorker.com/goings-on-about-town/dance/dusan-tynek-dance-company

Update, March 11 – We had a blast. Every evening was different, as sound was improvised/live. It was thrilling to have the full house every night; more than 600 people saw the show. Here are a few pictures from the Garden with all its protagonists: the fountain, composer Luciano Chessa and myself, and superhuman dancers Elizabeth Hepp, Tim Ward, Ned Sturgis, Alexandra Berger, Nicole Restani, and Gary Champi.

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