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HOMMAGES

to Vaslav Nijinski, Valeska Gert, Joséphine Baker, Harry Sheppard
(1998)



Solos by Mark Tompkins
Set and costumes Jean-Louis Badet
Technical Direction David Farine
Administration and touring Amelia Serrano

Premiered August 11, 1998, at ImPulsTanz, Wien

Duration 1h15


These four solos were created separately between 1989 and 1998. When I was working on Valeska, I began to play with the idea of performing them together, as an evening. Presenting them for the first time in Vienna in 1998, I was immediately struck by the correspondance and resonance from one to the other, accompagnied by the sensation of having come full circle, and the evidence of a whole.

Mark Tompkins


LA VALSE DE VASLAV Hommage à Nijinski (1989)

I’m not a jumper, I’m an artist."

Nijinski


ICONS Hommage à Valeska Gert (1998)

I passed the mid-life crisis, I was twelve years old, at night, I couldn’t sleep. I was nervous, agitated, until the moment that my interior tension exploded. Suddenly, I saw clearly, directly, precisely, that I too would die one day (...) this thought obsessed me, drove me crazy. I started screaming, howling like an animal (...) then I fell into a sort of depression. I sat on a chair for hours and didn’t know what to do. I was completely sick. And then someone pushed me on stage. I was obliged to go on stage, whether I wanted to or not.

Valeska Gert


UNDER MY SKIN Hommage à Joséphine Baker (1996)

And yes ! All my life I’ll dance and perform, I was born only for that. to live is to dance, I would like to die out of breath, exhausted, at the end of a dance or a refrain”.

Joséphine Baker


WITNESS Hommage à Harry Sheppard (1992)

Harry Sheppard was an american dancer and choreographer who worked with many different artists in New York and Europe from the mid 60’s until his death in 1992. We met in Paris, in 1974, and he was without a doubt the most important and influential person in my life during my early years in Paris. This solo is dedicated to him.

Mark Tompkins


PRESS EXTRACTS

 

« Extravagance as an exercise in truth! From this paradox, choreographer Mark Tompkins extracts the essence of his show Hommages, composed of four solos created between 1989 and 1998, around four dance legends who have marked his career. Whether it is Vaslav Nijinski or Valeska Gert, the German « grotesque » dancer of the 1920’s, Josephine Baker or black American dancer Harry Sheppard, Mark Tompkins displays his taste for transvestitism with such joyous and fierce irony that it leads finally to total nakedness. The more he disguises himself, the more he reveals. Man or woman, very feminine man and vice versa, its all the same to this dancer, actor, singer, and showman of the highest order, the spectacular performance of whom succeeds in creating a total osmosis between himself and the character he is evoking. Whether you laugh or cry, this fantasy recreation of the destinies of all concerned results in a razor-sharp self-portrait. Between cabaret and music hall, Mark Tompkins demonstrates the erotic power of the dance. The stage becomes this magic place of self-recognition and ecstasy. Not only does it transfigure reality, but it also creates a marginal and even painful identity. To the memory of Nijinski and the others, Hommages is a declaration of love for the theatre.»

Rosita Boisseau, Le Monde, february 19, 2002

 

« ...Mark Tompkins pays vibrant tribute to four legendary characters from the world of dance with Hommages, as he concurrently throws one last jab at the major taboos that have shaken the history of 20th Century dance and lets re-emerge the stigmates of his uneasy rapport with the body... More than just a dancer, Tompkins is a veritable man of the theatre and an accomplished stage beast who boldly goes beyond the frontiers of movement. In this Opus of four solos, dance itself is not the main mode of expression. Tompkins does not dance for the sake of dancing, but rather seeks to bind, in body and soul, the internal being of his subjects, whether male or female. Tompkins is generously giving of himself and through his characters he purposely develops the ambiguity between burning passion and ham acting. Tompkins, this dancer with a drawn out face that vacillates between the satanic and the Christlike, is frankly astonishing, possessed as he is by a very strong natural pathos. His show reaches poignantly beyond what one would commonly perceive as the fleeting glitter and dazzle his characters are decked out in... »

Patrice Lefrançois, 24 Heures, august 21, 2000

 

“...Mark Tompkins, by giving dance its sacred scenic identity, and then shaking this up with movements from a disco, reveals to us that dance is one, and only one....Body language is a journal of extreme passions even if presented with nonchalance. And someone can only write in this journal when he knows dance completely, when he’s modeled his muscles, and felt it in his nerves, when he has forced himself to dance until he is completely exhausted...”

Marco Manca, L’Union Sarde, september 17, 1999

 

“... A distracted gaze would see only the fabulous expressiveness and the elegant funniness of the games, centered around the dancer’s costumes. But another sensation lurks : the solitary insanity of the artist which scratches the surface of common sense... We have rarely seen so much modesty in the rawness of the body... to state the violence of emptiness and the strength required to live there...”

Gérard Mayen, Midi Libre, february 18, 1999

 

“... Mark Tompkins has talent. That’s what enables him to make us laugh over serious things. Things of this life. Mark Tompkins did his « show ». With the humour of the most bashful, the modesty of the most sensitive. Everyone did laugh. A laugh, close to tears, that we will remember for a long time. Not bitter, but touching...”

Francis Cossu, La Marseillaise du Vaucluse, february 16, 1999

 

“...Pathetic hands, sumptuous and strange idol, sensual and ghostly androgen, voice from the gut directed to his “only friend”, a long unarmed body within a magic circle of lights, he evokes fond shadows, a lonely medium where humour is the polite expression of despair...”

A.H. La Gazette Provençale, february 24, 1999

 

“...The mix of song and dance leading to cabaret and existential troubles based on sexual ambiguity, cross dressing, playing with illusion, the totally female woman who declares herself a man. Mark Tompkins is perhaps the one who plays best with these contradictory emotions... For this robust fellow, emotion is something in feathers, preferably pink ones... In refering to personalities who have shaped him, he knows that he is only talking about himself and that’s all that we are expecting. The ambiguity is not an end-in-itself but a means for self directed irony that leaves an even larger place for emotion. ”

Philippe Verrièle, Les Saisons de la Danse, may 1999

 

“Mark Tompkins is a great artist. Out of nothing, he can create a show which has all the elements of a good performance. Interesting, tense, entertaining, introverted and focused. There is nothing forced or artificial about Tompkins’ appearance, only that sincere childishness which suffices to create a character with a single small fine move. In short, he is a master.”

Jasna Krinjar Taufer, RA SLO, may 19, 1998

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