Ordeal by Water

Anna Chirescu, Grégoire Schaller

Dancer with only his arms on the floor and his back visible, from Ordeal by Water.
Anna Chirescu, Grégoire Schaller
40 min

In 2023, Dance Reflections by Van Cleef & Arpels is supporting the Ménagerie de verre for the presentation of Ordeal by Water by Anna Chirescu and Grégoire Schaller, for Les Inaccoutumés Festival 2023.

Ordeal by Water, aqua frigida judicium, was a medieval form of divine judgement wherein, the accused – usually women suspected of sorcery – was drowned in water. If the water “accepted” her, she was considered innocent but if the water “rejected” her, she was found guilty of possessing magical powers. Etymologically, ‘ordeal’ refers to the notion of testing. Research draws a parallel between the ordeals of medieval times and those of the contemporary athletic body. In this piece, the dancer-guitarist duo explores physical restraints in various ways, through a musical journey composed of riffs, echoes and sound waves inhabiting the space. Losing its human form, the body, water, and the elements on set both come together and break apart, thus creating a malleable, moving material in constant metamorphosis.

Photo: © Linda Qibaa

About the Artists

Portrait of Anna Chirescu

Anna Chirescu

Anna Chirescu is a dancer, choreographer and an educator. She worked with numerous choreographers before joining Robert Swinstons company at the CNDC in Angers, where she performed Merce Cunningham’s repertoire in France and abroad. She regularly collaborates with artists from other disciplines including the visual arts, theater and music. 

Photo: © Anna Chirescu

Portait of Grégoire Schaller

Grégoire Schaller

Grégoire Schaller is a visual artist, choreographer, performer and doctoral student in the field of philosophy of aesthetics. He designs multidisciplinary performing arts projects at the crossroads of dance, stage art, visual art and scientific research, highlighting the links between the body and specific sites or objects. 

In 2017, he partnered with Anna Chirescu to found the dance company Anna & Grégoire, which serves as a vehicle for their choreographic work.

Photo: © Grégoire Schaller