New show Triclinium

Choreographic offering for a Roman mosaic

Summary: Triclinium is a choreographic and musical exploration of the three successive lives of a magnificent Roman mosaic, the "Admetos Wedding": first (i) the trivial life on the floor of a dining hall (the ancient triclinium); then (ii) a very long, secret life hidden underground for some thousand seven hundred years; and (iii) now a sacred life as a museum object, work of art and precious relic. The choreography is like a welcoming ritual for this mosaic. Humility, astonishment, timidity, joy and a dream of reconciliation: the work celebrates a return to the light, to the ground of living humanity.

Triclinium, the new show of Ballet Cadagiani for the season 2022/2023, is a musical and choreographic work freely inspired by a beautiful ancient Roman mosaic. The mosaic was discovered in 1883 during the construction of the market halls of the city of Nîmes, in the remains of the reception room of a domus in the ancient Nemausus. The term triclinium, derived from the Greek κλινη (Klinê) or « table bed », in fact generally referred among the Romans to the reception or dining room of a domus, which contained a table and three banquet beds.

Admetos wedding : mosaic from the second half of the 2nd century (detail: central field)

This luxurious mosaic, now exhibited in the Fine Arts Museum of the city of Nîmes, is called « Admeto’s Wedding » because in its center is depicted a mythological episode from Thessaly: the dramatic arrival of Admeto, king of Pheres, at the court of Pelias, king of Iolkos. The latter had sworn to marry his daughter Alceste only to a man who could bring him a chariot with a lion and a wild boar. Thanks to the help of Apollo, Admeto succeeded in this miracle and was able to marry Alceste.

Hike through a sacred territory

Triclinium is the product of a long exploration by the choreographer of the mosaic. In a patient and active contemplation, initially refraining from any precise choreographic intention, he studied the details and the architectural dynamics in order to embrace this object in its raw materiality, without taking into account erudition or school memories. Triclinium is thus by no means a historical reconstruction.

The show Triclinium enters with humility and caution a twice sacred territory: on the one hand, of course, by the presence of Apollo and, on the other, by the age of the mosaic and its new status as a museum object, that is, taboo. A taboo that is lifted by dance, an art whose pagan origins resonate so happily with the ancient Roman world.

Welcoming dance for a return to the light

The mosaic is decorated with refined geometric figures that seem ready to expand and expand. On this large and rich horizontal plane, Triclinium builds a poetic verticality. The dance opens a space in which to perceive the archaic echo of a humanity that fights against the veiling and the burying. It confronts gravity, which is both the dancer’s greatest friend and greatest enemy.

At the premiere of Triclinium, the dancers moved on the mosaic itself. Since the mosaic could not be taken on tour, a full-scale photographic reproduction (9 x 6 m) printed on a dancing floor is now used by Ballet Cadagiani in the performance.