rené clair & erik satie – relâche/entr’acte

Relâche,  ballet instantanéiste en deux actes: un entr’acte cinématographique, et “la queque de chien” is a 1924 ballet by Francis Picabia with music composed by Erik Satie. The title was thought to be a Dadaist practical joke, as relâche is the French word used on posters to indicate that a show is cancelled, or the theatre is closed (and the first performance was indeed cancelled, due to the illness of Jean Börlin, the principal dancer, choreographer, and artistic director of the Ballets Suédois).

Still from "Entr'acte"

Still from “Entr’acte”

Picabia commissioned filmmaker René Clair to create a cinematic entr’acte to be shown during the ballet’s intermission. The film, simply titled Entr’acte, consists of a scene shown before the ballet and a longer piece between the acts. The score was also composed by Satie.

Entr’acte premiered as an entr’acte for the Ballets Suédois production Relâche at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris in 1924. The Dadaists collaborating on the project invented a new mode of production: instantanéisme. Watching the 20 minute film involves seeing people running in slow motion, things happening in reverse, looking at a ballet dancer from underneath, watching an egg over a fountain of water get shot and instantly become a bird, and watching people disappear. The cast included cameo appearances by Francis Picabia, Erik Satie, Man Ray, and Marcel Duchamp. The conductor of the orchestra at the premiere was Roger Désormière. The edition of the soundtrack featured here was conducted in 1967 by Henri Sauguet.

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