mime corporel dramatique and Etienne Decroux

Etienne Decroux 1898 - 1991

Corporeal mime (original French: 'mime corporel dramatique' or short: 'mime corporel'; in this website: 'mcd') is a comprehensive mime technique as well as an autonomous art form for stage, founded by the French mime and actor Etienne Decroux (1898 - 1991).

The mcd is mute drama play using the expression of the body as a whole. It sets itself apart from pantomime in the style of Marcel Marceau (grimaces, gestures, imaginary objects, illusions) as well as from movement aesthetics for its own sake. The dramatical context is always at the foreground.

Mcd devotes itself more to the sensitivities of a figure on stage, his or her thoughts, feelings and emotions. Therefor mcd is less narrative and less concerned about outside things and circumstances, but rather subjective, situational, stylised, if not abstract. facing the life from the inside and yet expressive.
Or as Decroux said: “rendre visible l'invisible” (to render visible the invisible).

So it comes as no surprise that Decroux - who looked upon traditional / popular pantomime with suspicion - saw his art-form most related to sculpture, music and peotry.

To my belief, mcd is three things in one: Undoubtably an outstanding, unique, manifold, very efficient and strict physical training - basic to any kind of physical performance - that feels committed passionately to a precise, efficient, plastic-sculptural and virtuous expression, unsurpassed in it's systematic and profound approach.
Not for no reason, Etienne Decroux is considered as the 'grammarian of mime'.

In addition, mcd is an own style of presentation on stage: a sublime aesthetics, of virtuous diversity and musicality in rhythm and shape, and yet reduced to the essential, the human being, as naked and honest as possible; avant-garde at the time when it emerged in the middle of the last century, till today of an ageless beauty, firmly established in the tradition of mime.

Any serious examination of Decroux' legacy has to therefor not only look at his captivating system of exercises to isolate, de- and recompose the body and it's parts, he is so famous for. To capture this artform and it's style as a whole, his unique ‘contrepoids’, ‘dynamo rhythme’ as well as his research on the different playing modes need to be well mastered. 
Decroux, rightly so, is regarded by many as “the father of modern mime”.

all photos: Christian Mattis

For me most importantly, mcd opens a distinct - very poetic - perspective upon the happenings on stage, its' contents and artistic assertions, the sublime entangledness in a bigger entirety, causalities beyond the obvious explanations, with a profound look upon the fate of the figures, a respect for their aspirations, humility for their dignity, admiration for their accomplishments.

A celebration for their fragility.

In that respect, mcd for me is nowadays as radical and contemporary as ever.

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