The Marseille Miracle

At this rave the stage collapses: "Room with a View"

Aude Arago

The most artistically successful ballet company in the world currently hails from Marseille. Anyone can attend the rehearsals of the Ballet National de Marseille, even the administrative staff. Headed by a three-person collective, this giant company captures the spirit of the times in its productions. Covering everything from Lucinda Childs to Georgian folk dances, the (LA)HORDE collective invites everyone to enjoy dance again.

Dance journalist in Paris

“We dance together” is written in neon letters above the main entrance of the Ballet National de Marseille. The word “dance” alternates with the word “fight.” The message glows red: We dance and fight together. This is how (LA)HORDE welcomes the staff to work every day, whether they are about to hit the dance studio or their desks. The message takes a stand. Marseille is a social hotspot, a hotbed of conflict in the Mediterranean heat. There is tension, immigration, gang wars, and hotheads, of course. Separated from the rest of the country by a mountain range, the major city faces the opposite shore of the Mediterranean rather than the capital with its Eiffel Tower. There is a reason why France’s rebellious national anthem is called La Marseillaise.

Anyone moving to this ancient Phoenician city must first get used to the multicultural hustle and bustle, the noise level, and the rude manners – not to mention the complex political structures, which were enough to compel international choreographers Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten to throw in the towel. Of the three people in their mid-thirties who followed them and who collectively call themselves (LA)HORDE, only one is a choreographer – and a self-taught one at that: Arthur Harel’s background is in straight theater, while the other two, Marine Brutti and Jonathan Debrouwer, studied video art and installation in Strasbourg.

The Three of (La)Horde: Arthur Harel, Jonathan Debrouwer and Marine Brutti

Boris Camaca

Together, they are turning France’s largest dance hall and its school upside down, creating visual landscapes out of aged bodies, forming a close union with the community of jumpers and gabbers – hardstyle techno fans –, bringing voguing to the stage, and moving an otherwise tough loner like Oona Doherty to tears of joy. They keep up with youth cultures, with today, and seek new ways to express protest. This includes dance, music cultures, raves, and communities of any kind. The permanently employed community at the Ballet national de Marseille, from the administration to the cleaning staff, is fully involved in these endeavors.

Rone, DJ of world renown, and the ensemble in “Room With a View”

Ballet National de Marseille

The fact that they, as radical contemporaries, are jointly guiding the flagship of the French dance landscape is not just unexpected – it is tantamount to a revolution. “There are three of us, we’ll manage,” (LA)HORDE emboldened themselves when they began their mission on the Mediterranean. They are as lively and unpredictable as the metropolis itself. New ideas that are both spectacular and logical are a rare commodity – and highly valued, especially in Marseille. In taking a chance on this trio two years ago, the authorities maximized the element of surprise. Choosing (LA)HORDE was taking the bull by the horns. “Ca passe ou ça casse,” is the French expression: come hell or high water. After trying out many others who failed to live completely up to expectations, there was nothing left to lose.

Determined to represent their own generation

Laurent Philippe

For almost three years now, the three have been changing the ways of the ballet without encountering any turbulence along the way. Indeed, they prefer to create turbulence themselves – to take things into their own hands and retain the initiative. Anyone wishing to criticize them would have to be able to follow their rhythm, a tripled energy that enables them to initiate far more projects than others.

Read on …

(LA)HORDE = (La)Revolte


Here it is, the first monograph on (LA)HORDE. Three young guns, Marine, Arthur, and Jonathan, rock Europe’s dance scene and determine the fate of France’s Ballet National de Marseille. The collective’s name, (LA)HORDE, is a perfect fit. They stage hordes of all kinds and ages: young jumpstyle dancers, seniors, blind people or a Georgian folk dance ensemble. The three are pioneers on the trail of youthful energy and rebellion – and currently the most prolific think tank on the dance scene.

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