To new arising artists, the French performing arts landscape has deeply changed since 1990.
From the 80s, the national network born from decentralization has been backing the best international performing arts artists (theatre, dance, music) : Jan Lauwers, Ivo Van Hove, Guy Cassiers, William Forsythe, Heiner Goebbels, Thomas Ostermeier, Roméo Castellucci, Pina Bausch… meeting Patrice Chéreau, Georges Lavaudant, Alain Françon, Bruno Meyssat, François Tanguy, Maguy Marin, Georges Apergis…
Since 1990, a young artist living in France has the advantage of enjoying the best of national and international artistic production. He has the opportunity to feed on the highest artistic standards, whether he lives in Tarbes, Paris or Calais.
A young artist living in France has an opportunity to benefit from an artistic education starting from high school. Unique international higher education is also possible in the ERAC, EPSAD, the national conservatories network, arts schools, Fresnoy Studio national des Arts Contemporains, Pavillon du Palais de Tokyo, Institut International de la Marionnette de Charleville, Centre National des Arts du Cirque…
A young artist living in France has an opportunity to feed on various forms of art. If he is mainly trained in the performing arts, he can enjoy the very best of contemporary art, cinema, literature and re-appropriate the avant-garde’s legacy, as well as experience new currents of thought and converse with popular cultures…
French cultural exceptionalism has become a fertile ground thanks to everything that has been done since World War 2. Since 1990 in France, all elements are combined to breed a unique generation of artists, a generation fed on numerous forms of art, rich in legacies and diversified trainings. All of them are claiming their very own artistic identity : Gisèle Vienne, Vincent Macaigne, Julien Gosselin, Sylvain Creuzevault, Christian Rizzo, Rachid Ouramdane, Antoine Defoort, Halory Goerger, Fanny De Chaillé, Jeanne Candel, Vincent Dupont, Guillaume Vincent, Aurélien Bory, Pierre Rigal, Boris Charmatz, Benjamin Dupé, Cyril Teste, Philippe Quesne…
Speaking of a « French School » may be difficult given the above list as it is a generation of artists aged between 28 and 45 years old. There is no aesthetic lineage except for a small degree of relatedness – collaborators and performers circulating from one world to another. On the contrary, there is tremendous diversity. Thanks to training diversity, the French performing arts are a driving force enabling individuation. It enables ever younger people to build a personal mature career as an author.
These artists are like scattered cells feeling no sense of belonging to a larger group. We cannot talk of a true generation either as the youngest one, Julien Gosselin is 28 years old while the oldest one, Christian Rizzo is 50 years old.
Yet a few common features make them different from the national artistic production :
1. Openness to Europe and the world
The sense of openness has pervaded the artists’ work, they become marketable and so does their work. Some shows produced by Philippe Quesne, Giselle Vienne, Rachid Oumdame, Antoine Defoort, Halory Goerger are currently touring. Eighty percent of the performances happen abroad. Their shows have been performed in highly prestigious theatres : Wiener Festwochen, Shaubühne Berlin, FTA Montreal… But French artists sometime lack professional public representation. Most of the time, the company itself is in charge of its own representation.
2. Working as a company The company is an independent structure working without any subsidized theatre, choreographic or dramatic centre producing their work. Some artists try to manage a theatre : Boris Charmatz, Jean Bellorini, Philippe Quesne… These artists firstly promote their work. Relying on a theatre is a way to belittle the risks. The company is like an ecosystem with loyal collaborators (between 6 and 30) : artists, technicians, actors. The artist is his own boss.
3. Little public financing Public financing amounts to 16 to 20 percent. As far as productions are concerned, no system can offer reliable guarantees today. Consequently, companies are under a lot of pressure.
4. Producing other art disciplines Vincent Macaigne in cinema, installation art for Philippe Quesne, Chrisitain Rizzo, Boris Charmatz, Antoine Defoort and Halory Gorger… The relationship with other disciplines is real (cinema, digital art) as observed in the artists’ multidisciplinary approach. And yet, as far as production is concerned, the multidisciplinary approach is quite sporadic.
Despite the fact that performing arts have rapidly been developing since the 2000s, no system or plan has yet been instated.