"Thanks to Bernard Foccroulle, Jan Fabre has assumed an aura of sainthood." Such was the conclusion of the French newspaper Le Figaro's enthusiastic review of the (then 15 minute-long) dance solo Preparatio mortis, which Jan Fabre created for the Festival of Avignon in 2005. Now Jan Fabre has further developed this first part and added a second, complementary part especially for the Italian première in the Teatro Palladium (Rome) — as part of the 25th anniversary of the Festival Romaeuropa — and for the 2010 edition of the Next Festival (Kortrijk, Lille).
Preparatio mortis is performed to organ music by composer and organist Bernard Foccroulle, former opera director at De Munt/La Monnaie (Brussels) and current director of the Aix-en-Provence opera festival.
Preparatio mortis is devoted to the human body, transformation and an utopian ideal. As can be expected, Fabre expresses this devotion in his own characteristic way by tackling the taboos of contemporary society: in this case, the taboo of death. Our society is quick to cover up death, banish it from view and condemn it to the cold, sterile surrounds of retirement homes and hospitals… In Preparatio mortis, however, Fabre assigns pride of place to life. For "it is precisely through death that we learn to look at life differently. Death forces a fuller, more intense vision of life upon us – I constantly strive for a post-mortem stadium of life," says Fabre.
In Preparatio mortis, a tomb is seen overgrown with a gigantic blanket of yellow, red, purple and white flowers. The colourful quilt appears to breath rhythmically as a hand, then an arm, a head and two bare feet appear. The dancer, Annabelle Chambon appears to rise from the dead. Every movement, breath and gaze become an intense event, a resurrection expressing a lust for life. Death becomes a positive energy field and a motor for new dreams and desires.
This life-giving breathing defines the rhythm of Preparatio mortis: the slow breathing of the blanket of flowers that comes to life, the breathing of the catlike dance and the breathing of the organ that pumps air in its production of sound.
concept Jan Fabre choreography Jan Fabre, Annabelle Chambon performer Annabelle Chambon composition Bernard Foccroulle "Toccata" (2001) performed by Bernard Foccroulle on the orgue of the Brussels Cathedral "Spiegel" (2005) performed by David Boos on the Renaissance orgue of the Big Church in Alkmaar "Capriccio sopra Re-Fa-Mi-Sol" (1986) performed by Benoît Mernier on the choire orgue in Muri "Pulchra es" (2009) performed by Bernard Foccroulle on the Silbermann orgue in St Thomas, Strasbourg "Ornamented Flutes" (2007) performed by Bernard Foccroulle on the Thomas orgue in the Temple du Bouclier, Strasbourg "Fantasia sopra «Da pacem Domino»" (1999), performed by Bernard Foccroulle on the Renaissance orgue in St Jacques, Liège production Troubleyn/Jan Fabre (Antwerp, BE)