France’s culture takes to the streets

The French Institute has organized its own cultural program in the buildup to the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, and starting on October 29 and running until November 4, Odyssee 1 is the first part of these events. The series is a celebration of French culture, highlighting its versatility and wealth, and bringing it into Athens’s streets and theaters, through live music, DJ performances and street theater. Here comes Modjo The first two concerts, taking place on October 29 and November 2 at the Foundation of the Hellenic World, feature Modjo on the first night and Dupain followed by DJ Ravin on the second. The third concert, taking place at the National Opera’s Olympia Theater on November 3, features Yann Tiersen, the composer of the soundtrack for the film Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amelie Poulain, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, which is currently being screened at Greece’s movie theaters. French music has been going through something of a revival since the mid-1990s, marked by the skilled use of new electronic media in music by artists such as Dimitri From Paris, Daft Punk, Air and Cassius. Among these pioneers of contemporary French music is Modjo, a duo composed of Yann Destagnol and Romain Branchart, which combines Branchart’s desire to experiment with DJ-style electronic sounds and Destagnol’s leaning toward more traditional pop music such as David Bowie or the Beach Boys. Though a new band (they got together in 1998), Modjo have succeeded in topping both European and American charts with their hit single Lady (Hear Me Tonight). Hurdy gurdy Dupain is also a diverse band, combining the influences of Samuel Karpienia’s love for flamenco and punk-ragga music (though he is of Polish extraction), Pierre Laurent Bertolino’s skills on the hurdy gurdy, Sam De Agostini’s aggressive drumming, and their mutual attraction to the dialect and culture of the southern French Languedoc region. DJ Ravin also has a mixed musical background – traditional Indian with electronica – which has established him on the decks of France and England’s dance clubs. Street theater The strongest part of the French Institute’s Odyssee 1 is its tribute to street theater, presenting the groups L’Arbre a Nomads, Oposito and Decor Sonor. Performing at various venues throughout the city center on November 2, 3 and 4, the groups reflect a growing trend in Europe for revisiting this ancient popular form of entertainment that combines theater, dance, performance art, the visual arts and even sculpture. The L’Arbre a Nomads troupe, founded in 1988, is one of 20 French troupes that have financial backing by the French Ministry of Culture because of the high quality of their performances and their experimentation in new art forms. In Athens, they will perform Aka Parade – a show based on Asian concepts, colors and forms – and Baroque Parade – a medieval delirium based on the comical and dark sides of life in the royal courts, rendered by court jesters, roller- bladers, fire-eaters and cunning actors who blend in with the public. Oposito and Decor Sonore, two internationally known troupes, have combined their forces for the Athens shows to present a comment on expression in music and film, depicted by a woman wearing a celluloid hat making her way around a group of soldier-like men with loudspeakers on their heads.

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