The World of Maguy Marin.


This blog is dedicated to John Spradbery, a wonderful friend and lighting designer for Maguy Marin and for The Lindsay Kemp Company. John passed away on July 6th 2014.

Spradbery was inspired by the originality of Maguy Marin, working on a groundbreaking production of “Cendrillon” at l’Opéra de Lyon and “Leçons de ténèbres” at l’Opéra de Paris where lighting, costume and masks combined with choreography to unsettle the highly formal French audiences, John wrote in his diary at the time that , “ For me, Marin’s creativity […] has great  imagery, energy and basic feminine frailty that drew me to her.” Maguy Marin has described John’s work: “Much of the magic of “Cendrillon” came from him. His smoke, his mirrors multiplied the angles, his colours all brought a sharp and fairy-like atmosphere. It was a joy to watch him working. We didn’t have to talk much, he felt for things, his spirit freeing itself from the work of choreography.”


Maguy Marin was born in Toulouse, France in 1951. She trained at the Toulouse Conservatoire and in Strasbourg and, in 1970, she entered the school of Maurice Bejart in Brussels. Marin joined  Bejart’s company, Ballet du XX Siecle, three years later, where she danced as a soloist for four seasons.


Maurice Bejart: ‘Rite of Spring’ 1970



Bejart allowed her to experiment with her choreographic skills and Marin won the ‘Concours choreographique international de Bagnolet’ in 1978. She founded, with Daniel Ambash, the ‘Theatre de l’Arche’ which became the ‘Maguy Marin Company’ in 1984 and in 1989, the ‘National Choreographic Center’. She was influenced by Pina  Bausch’s Tanztheater movement.


Tina Bausch approached dance through the improvisations of her dancers, improvisations originating in her dancer’s own memories of personal experiences. In turn, these experiences  would extend into gestures, conversations, little scenes.  Bausch was in New York studying at the Juilliard School in the early 1960’s and possibly was aware  of the work at the Judson Memorial Church [see my blog] which produced Lucinda Childs and Meredith Monk.


Pina Bausch created her ‘Rite of Spring’ in 1975. She required the stage to be covered with soil:



Present in New York in the Sixties was a  choreographer with a strong visual concept of dance, Alwin Nikolais. He catagorized his body technique as ‘decentralization’. He had been inspired to become a dancer by Mary Wigman, the German creator of expressionist dance, and he later studied and worked with Hanya Holm, a protegee of Mary Wigman:


Alwin Nikolais:






The work of Maguy Marin is expressionist and  representative (a la Balzac) of  ‘La Comedie humaine’ . Marin expands upon the possibilities of mime and of  gesture.


Groosland: Here she explores the costume to portray fatness in motion and  emotion in fatness.




Love duet from Groosland:



May B: This is a stunningly visual piece, both of human suffering and abstract composition. The compositional structure feeds into the perception of the pitiful.







Ram Dam: Here the dancers create the music.



An excerp from Maguy Marin’s full-length ‘Cinderella’: Here is a ballet which uses costume to proclaim how universal fairy tale types are. It also draws upon mime. Cinderella here has a virginal coyness.


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