The Babx Children’s March, a musical crusade for the new generations

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Vesul. Edwige Feuillère Theater. 02-V-2022. Maurice Babin (Babx): La Marche des enfants, musical creation based on poems by William Blake, Pier Paolo Pasolini, James Baldwin. Director: Mike Guermyet. Choreography: Cécile Danjou. Lights: Philippe Mouillet. Costumes: Marine Gresier. Video: Steven Guermyet. With: Emmanuel Reymond, double bass; Jean-Louis Marchand, clarinets; David Neerman, percussion; David Babin (Babx), piano. Children and young people from the singing workshop in the Pôle d’Excellence theater, musical direction: Pierre Frantz

Last order placed with the singer-songwriter Babx by the Justiniana Ensemble for the Center of Excellence of the Edwige-Feuillère Theater in Vesoul, The march of the children opens the 13th edition of Children’s Voice Month / Scenic Space designed by Charlotte Nessi.


Rather than the children’s crusade preserved by history, the one that left all of Europe in 1212 in the direction of Jerusalem to liberate the “holy city”, David Babin (aka Babx) preferred the one led by the new generation to deliver the planet from all over the world. industrial pollution, fires and bloodshed that previous generations were unable to stem. Which resulted in the United States from the positions (” never again “) by Emma Gonzalez (16) against weapons and mass killings (Parkland, Orlando and others) and the one conducted in Sweden by Greta Thunberg (” How dare you? “) against global warming inspired him to create The march of the childrena militant requiem and, like Fauré’s: luminous.

Across the entire width of the vast stage of the theater, targeted by two diagonals of red light, a young girl sleeps in front of a fire that the video diffracts on a rectangle of hanging half-height strips. It is, in dialogue with another rectangle of images in the background, the only decoration of the very sober direction of Mike Guermyet, rather aimed at the bodies and the particularly silky light that caresses them. Abandoning the gravity of realism due to the absence of gravity of the atmosphere, the whole emanates, in a cathedral atmosphere, a sort of pantheistic mysticism.

Composed mainly of poems by the English poet William Blake (misunderstood painter and mystical poet of the mid-17th and 18th centuries), Babx’s score also recalls the more contemporary American writer James Baldwin (” If the concept of God has any use, it is to make us bigger, freer, and more loving. If God can’t do it, it’s time to get rid of him “) and also Pasolini on the immediate click Mysteriesone of the two peak numbers of The march of the children, multicultural score (at the risk of being disparate) and melodious, including gospel, spell and lullaby. Fifty minutes too short played by five musicians lurking in the dim light of the backstage: cello, double bass, clarinets, percussion and piano played by the composer himself. Ambient pieces (the intro casts Chopin’s shadow) or simply choreographic pieces give life to eight sung numbers entrusted to the Center of Excellence of the Théâtre Edwige-Feuillère, a structure born in 2019 from ten years of research and work on the voice of the child and the scenic space. A specificity that Babx knows well, her very childhood was caressed closely, thanks to her mother, the Maîtrise de Radio-France.

The 42 artists (ages 8 to 18) of the Center of Excellence, in costume and makeup in combat gear, rehearsed during weekly workshops and internships that began in November 2021. Taken to an impressive level of musical rigor by Pierre Frantz, all ( whole companies or different ones depending on the interventions, but also soloists discreetly equipped with microphones) are once again amazed (some were already Britten’s children edited last autumn with Théophile Alexandre). The general osmosis of a total physical and vocal commitment (even during an amazing ensemble number on the breath alone) never stops, not even in the most physical moments of Cécile Danjou’s demanding and refined choreographies.

Babx did not want surtitles to illuminate the texts – systematically evacuating the French – so as not to weigh down the speech of a show conceived from the beginning in view of a final hymn dedicated to energy and the joy of living. What Joy is my name terminal whose exquisite way of solo intervention Annetta by Leos Carax, the melodic and choreographic inspirations at their peak captivate the spectators of the first session of a series of three, given to sold out stalls in front of an audience… of children.

The Justiniana Ensemble turns 40 this year. La pleine jeunesse, comme le certifie cette commande passée une nouvelle fois (après André Litolff, Dominique Probst, Philippe Mion, Didier Lockwood, Philippe Servain, Henri Torgue, Serge Houppin, Etienne Roche …) à un compositeur-pas-encore-mort, this children’s march of 2022, musical counterpart of the words that Ariane Mnouchkine addressed to adults of 2014: ” We tell our children that they arrive on earth almost at the beginning of a story and not at its disenchanted end. They need to know that, oh wonder, they have a job to do (…) Let’s face it, loud and clear. The march of the children of the Théâtre Edwige Feuillère is the musical crusade of the new generation.

Photo credits: © Vincent Arbelet

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Vesul. Edwige Feuillère Theater. 02-V-2022. Maurice Babin (Babx): La Marche des enfants, musical creation based on poems by William Blake, Pier Paolo Pasolini, James Baldwin. Director: Mike Guermyet. Choreography: Cécile Danjou. Lights: Philippe Mouillet. Costumes: Marine Gresier. Video: Steven Guermyet. With: Emmanuel Reymond, double bass; Jean-Louis Marchand, clarinets; David Neerman, percussion; David Babin (Babx), piano. Children and young people from the singing workshop in the Pôle d’Excellence theater, musical direction: Pierre Frantz

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