20 April / 7:30 PM / DNK – Space for Contemporary Dance and Performance
1 Bulgaria Square, National Palace of Culture – underground, opposite to the fountains

Mark Tompkins (USA/ France)

A tribute to Vaslav Nijinski, Valeska Gert, Josephine Baker,Harry Sheppard

Solos by Mark Tompkins
Set & costumes Jean-Louis Badet
Light David Farine

Duration: 75 min. + intermission

I.D.A. receives funding from the DRAC Ile-de-France / Minister of culture and communication.

The guest-performance is suported by DANCE ON, PASS ON, DREAM ON co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.

Cabaret and music hall, with their exaggerated theatricality and eroticism, are often sources from which Mark Tompkins, legendary French-American choreographer, draws his inspiration. In Hommages (1998) Tompkins puts himself in the position of four artists from the dance world who have been of great significance to him, and re-enacts their presence and style. These are: Vaslav Nijinski, one of the icons of the Ballets Russes at the start of the 20th century; Valeska Gert, a German expressionist actress and dancer, who was renowned for her eccentric and pithy performances; Josephine Baker, nicknamed ‘the Black Pearl’, who was the great diva of the Paris revues in the twenties; and lastly Harry Sheppard, a black American dancer and personal friend of Tompkins. Tompkins created these four solos independently of one another in the period between 1989 –1998, when he first assembled them into a single performance, a special “declaration of love to performance” (Le Monde).

Mark Tompkins is an American dancer, choreographer, singer and teacher. Tompkins moved to France in 1973, and discovered dance with Harry Sheppard. In 1975, he made his first solos and worked with contact improvisation icons Steve Paxton and Lisa Nelson. In 1983, he founded the Company I.D.A. Solos, group pieces, concerts and improvised performances are steps of his journey into the performance world initiated in the 70’s, and with the complicity of set and costume designer Jean-Louis Badet since 1988. Fascinated by the frictions and resonances between high and low entertainment, his performances are often inspired by popular forms like cabaret, music-hall, musicals and burlesque. His manner of fabricating unidentified performance objects, mixing dance, music, song, text and video has become his signature. At the same time, his passion for real time composition has led him to collaborate with various dancers. Renowned for his teaching, he travels around the world. In 2008, he received the SACD Choreography Prize for all his work (Society of Dramatic Authors Composers).


La Valse de Vaslav, Hommage to Nijinski (1989), 17’

Mark Tompkins
Set & Costumes: Jean-Louis Badet
Assistant: Elisabeth Didier / Costumes made by Lis Spur
Music: Invitation à la Valse (Weber), International Lover (Prince)
Created for the centennial celebration of Nijinsky’s birth, May 1989, Theatre 14, Paris
Coproduction: IDA, Theatre 14, magazine Pour la Danse

“I’m not a jumper, I’m an artist.” Nijinski

Icons, Hommage to Valeska Gert (1998), 13’

Choreography: Mark Tompkins
Set & Costumes: Jean-Louis Badet
Music: Cheek to Cheek (Berlin) & Day and Night (Porter) sung by Fred Astaire, The Way You Look Tonight (Kern)
Created for the Festival Le Choré-graphique, June 12, 1998, CCN de Tours
Coproduction: IDA, CCN de Tours – Daniel Larrieu 

“I passed the mid-life crisis, I was twelve years old, at night, I couldn’t sleep. I was nervous, agitated, until the moment my interior tension exploded. Suddenly, I saw clearly, directly, precisely, that I too would die one day. This thought obsessed me, drove me crazy. I started screaming, howling like an animal, then I fell into a sort of depression. I sat on a chair for hours and didn’t know what to do. I was completely sick. And then someone pushed me on stage. I was obliged to go on stage, whether I wanted to or not.”   Valeska Gert

Under My Skin, Hommage to Joséphine Baker (1996), 25’

Conception: Mark Tompkins
Set & Costumes: Jean-Louis Badet
Assistant: Christian Rizzo
Music: Ave Maria (Bach, Gounod), Charleston (Johnson, Mack), Tempête à la Tour Eiffel & Emotional Blackmail (Tompkins, arrangement Bigot), J’ai Peur de Rêver (Gordon, Revel, Barois), Under My Skin (Porter, arrangement Bigot)
Created for an Homage to Josephine Baker, January11, 1996, Culturgest, Lisbonne
Coproduction: IDA, Culturgest

 “Yes! All my life I’ll dance and perform, I was born only for that. To live is to dance, I would like to die out of breath, exhausted, at the end of a dance or a refrain”.                                         

Josephine Baker

Witness, Hommage to Harry Sheppard (1992), 15’

Choreography: Harry Sheppard, Mark Tompkins
Music: As Yet Unfinished & Who’s Loving You (Terence Trent d’Arby), Livin’ is Deadly (Tompkins)
Created for an Homage to Harry Sheppard, Festival ImPulsTanz, August 1992, Vienna
Coproduction: IDA, ImPulsTanz

“Harry Sheppard was an American dancer and choreographer who worked with many artists in New York and Europe from the mid 60’s until his death in 1992. We met in Paris, in 1974. He was without a doubt the most important and influential person in my life during my early years in Paris.”        

Mark Tompkins

8 BGN / 12 BGN on the day of the performance