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The Miraculous Mandarin is a one act pantomime ballet composed by Béla Bartók between 1918–1924, and based on the story by Melchior Lengyel and premièred 1926, in Cologne, Germany but it caused a scandal and was subsequently banned. Mimi is caught by family law and she has to attract passing men into a room. First shabby old men, second shy young boy, they both try to leap her and thrown out. Then third, Mandarin (wealthy Chinese man) came into the room and suddenly, he leaps up and embraces Mimi. She struggles and escapes from Mandarin and family leaps on him, strip him, suffocate him, stab him by sword and hang him from a lamp hock but he doesn't die… They are terrified, then Mimi decides not resist him and they embrace. With the Mandarin's longing fulfilled, his wounds begin to bleed and he dies.

The story is based on a jumble chaos where it seem that the story does not belong to any place and any time. But it only remains a strong dramatic emotions which may represent meaning of Eros and Tanatos. In order to translate the essence of this story in to the scenography, we asked ourself 'what if there is a form of darkness what it will look like?'. It came up the idea of making only the beginning and the end of space. The front of stage to the far back, the stage is completely covered by thick black carpet which doesn't reflect any light. Then the darkness and shadow becomes the main character of the stage and 60 black mannequins will be moved by 15 black dancers as its in a space of dark matter. Over 600m2 carpet is rapped like a corn shape and suspended by 680 points, the soft rounded form is actually highly tensioned as structural intensity.

Project information

Status: Completed

Location: Firenze, Italy

Architecte: Dorell.Ghotmeh.Tane Architects, Paris

Date: 2011

Area: 200 m²

Commission type: Private

Client:  Saito Kinen Festival

Program: Scenography for contemporary dance













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