Alban Richard was already pursuing literary and musical studies when he decided to switch to dance with the certainty that he had found his true mode of expression, soon followed by the desire to create shows. He went on to perform for choreographers as varied as Odile Duboc, with whom he worked from 2002 to 2010, Olga de Soto or Rosalind Crisp among others.
He founded Ensemble l’Abrupt in 2000, for which he created more than thirty works with the stated ambition of inventing, with each new project, a new body and a new language. Alban Richard is a researcher who does not impose an easily identified gestural signature, method and style, but experiments with each new piece, in close interaction with a musical score that is most often played live. Each project develops into a scholarly and sensory laboratory, delving into structural and formal issues relating to music, writing and composition. Never reproducing, always starting from scratch, even if it means moving from expressionism, with a piece such as Luisance (2008), to more abstract objects such as Breathisdancing (2017) or Vivace (2018).
“Investigating formal musical structures, periods and works inevitably leads to a very different perspective”, states the choreographer. “One doesn’t dance in the same way to Xenakis (Pléiades, 2011), medieval music (Nombrer les étoiles, 2016) or Arnaud Rebotini (Fix Me, 2018). The placing of the flows, the rhythmicity, or even the body technique, the relationship to the beats, to weight, all this must be questioned every time.” At the end of a frequently long and dense process, each new piece asserts itself as an autonomous object, constructing its own logic, its own life and its own organicity. Alban Richard devises his productions in partnership with different collaborators, whether old or new, weaving together different partitions – gestures, music, light, costumes – and thus edifying a unique piece of work. The way he works with the performers, using restricted improvisations to devise the work directly on stage, allows everyone to develop their own dance through an active presence.
Maintaining a constant dialogue with the world of music, the choreographer collaborates with the Alla francesca ensemble, Les Talens Lyriques, Les Percussions de Strasbourg, the Ensemble intercontemporain, IRCAM and the Cairn, Instant Donné and Alternance ensembles, as well as with composers Arnaud Rebotini, Sebastian Rivas, Erwan Keravec, Jérôme Combier, Laurent Perrier, Raphaël Cendo, Robin Leduc, Paul Clift, Wen Liu and Matthew Barnson.
A prolific choreographer, Alban Richard is regularly invited by ballets and companies to create commissioned works, both internationally (Canada, Lithuania, Norway) and in France. He also works outside traditional performance venues – in places such as the Louvre, the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac and the Musée Guimet – to create in situ performances. A curious and versatile artist, Alban Richard considers his work as a craft that is nourished by encounters and daily questioning. Each new commission gives him the opportunity to search in unexpected directions, to discover, and to keep learning.
Ensemble l’Abrupt has been in residence in some ten venues (Théâtre de Vanves, Centre national de la danse in Pantin, Forum du Blanc-Mesnil, Théâtre Louis Aragon in Trembay-en-France, Scène nationale d’Orléans, Prisme centre de développement artistique in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Chaillot — Théâtre national de la danse, Théâtre Paul Eluard in Bezons, Théâtre 71 in Malakoff) working on very different issues and contexts.
It was on the strength of all these experiences in residence that Alban Richard was appointed artistic director of the centre chorégraphique national de Caen en Normandie in 2015, with a project based on both his practice as an author and on connecting with the territory, centred on reaching out to a range of audiences.