It was Friday night and the Louvre felt like it belonged to me. I wandered through dimly lit rooms until I came upon one of my favorite spaces in the Museum: the Cour Marly, the enormous glass-roofed gallery filled with statuary from the park of the Château de Marly. People were gathering around the center of the courtyard, which had become a makeshift stage. A group of musicians started tuning their instruments. The crowd grew silent as dancers took their places amidst the statues.
This was one of two evenings of dance in the galleries proposed by the Louvre during their Friday late hours. Dancers and musicians from the Conservatoire de Paris explored the forms and subjects of artworks by entering into a dialogue with them using their bodies and instruments.
The performance in the Cour Marly used gestures from 18th century courts and balls to evoke power and decorum. The strong angles created by the dancers’ bodies complemented those in the massive statues, creating harmonies and tensions.
The performance in the other sculpture gallery, the nearby Cour Puget, took advantage of the trees around the statues to bring to mind outdoor amorous strolls. I couldn’t help but imagine the intrigues that had actually taken place around the statues when they were still in the gardens of châteaux.
There is something special about taking an artwork out of its museum context, even for a moment. This evening added a level of understanding of these statues for me; when I revisit them, I will forevermore be pulled to their angles and lines and imagined histories.
The performances also added a level of intimacy. I have shared an experience with these artworks, gotten to know them better, appropriated them. In a small way, we are a part of each other’s stories.
Musée du Louvre (Cour Puget and Cour Marly, Richelieu wing, Ground floor)
Address: Palais du Louvre 75001 Paris ∣ Métro: Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre (line 1 or 7) ∣ Opening hours: Wednesday to Monday from 9am to 6pm, open until 9:45pm on Wednesday and Friday