‘Mammane’ to encapsulate a Frenchness

Aventurina King, TAIPEI, Taiwan, Special to The China Post

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” doesn’t apply to October’s performance at the National Theater. It’s title, “Mammame”, gives away most of what there is to know about the dance. It was chosen by the choreographer, Jean Claude Gallota in Grenoble, a town in the South of France, where it was first performed in 1985. Mammame has no meaning in French, it is a pure sound. Similarly, Gallota proposed a dance divested of its unnecessary elements.

The 16 international dancers (from Japan, Korea, The United States and France) are clad in simple kakhi shorts and tops. The stage is mostly bare.

While absent from the dictionary, “mammane” does evoke emotions. It brings to mind the pleasure of children eating candies. Gallota meant his creation as a celebration of the simple pleasures of life. It is this simplicity, this innocence which the production hopes to contribute to the Taiwanese audience’s image of France. It is the first performance in the National Theater’s October series of French performances, a project which the theater hopes will bring a taste of French culture to Taiwan. This time though, it is not Channel, the Eiffel Tower or the tables piled high with food but the simple beauty of the thriving French artistic world.

Gallota is key figure of this world. Even though his opening production took place 20 years ago, it remains innovative and freshly humoristic. Mammane will be performed three times. The two productions staged October 1 and 2 at 700 p.m. are recreations of the 1985 version. A children’s variation will take place on October 2 at 200 p.m. In this case the dance gives its meaning through a story which Jean Claude Gallota himself narrates on stage.