Thierry Smits staged his second production, initially presented at the Montpellier Festival in 1991, against the backdrop of public demonstrations and activists’ demands linked to then prevailing AIDS pandemic.
He is now the choreographer and no longer the dancer; this was to launch a lifelong career entirely devoted to creating works executed by artists selected during auditions. As with his debut work La grâce du tombeur, an internal contradiction enriches the piece’s title with an unsettling allure, this time polemical in nature, for it evokes the relationship between Eros and Thanatos, the mythological Greek gods who incorporate the vital sexual drive and the desire for death ,respectively. The performance presented the hesitating waltz in two parts, particularly suggestive in the context of the ravages associated with AIDS, between the need for sex and the imminence of death, according to a camp and kitsch aesthetic that lays bare the horror of emptiness and proposes multiple orientalising accents. The scenography favours circularity and also forces the audience to encircle the performing space delineated by carpets on which the dancers perform.
After an opening solo suggesting the idea of chaos, the initial sequences, dedicated to Eros––set against a soundtrack evoking Ravel’s Bolero––offer visions associated with bacchanals and orgies with allusions to the ultimate sacrifice. Death then proclaims itself by following the seven stages of grief based upon the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ model: shock, denial, revolt, depression, bargaining, acceptance and decathexis. The belly dance appears as a leitmotif whose sensuality constantly runs through the performance, which culminates with a kind of “rebirth” of Eros. Originally conceived for four dancers, the piece was ultimately reworked for a trio.