Video interview of the Coordinator of the Biennale de la Danse parade in Lyon

TYVA Energie has interviewed Renaud Contra, General Coordinator of the Biennale de la Danse parade in Lyon for the Grenoble Agglomeration group. 

Discover how our PowerBox portable power station was used during the parade’s general pre-rehearsal to bring power and autonomy to various electronic tools used on the float.

Play Video about Interview Biennale de la Danse Lyon

Introduce yourself

I am Renaud Contra, I am the Coordinator of the Biennale de la Danse parade for the Grenoble Agglomeration group. It represents almost 160 to 200 persons in the end, mainly amateurs. My job as coordinator is to coordinate as its name indicates: it is pretty simple and sometimes it can be complicated. It consists in trying to ensure everything is going well in order to bring people to the event. The relevant event is the Biennale de la Danse parade taking place on September 10th. Coordination means we must check if everything is running well at all levels from the very beginning. I am not the only one in charge of it. I rely on various persons, each of them having their own field to manage. It can be dance, construction of the float, costumes, music, technic, etc. I try to have a global vision and to detect upstream potential problems whenever it is possible to find solutions. In general, it is working and if it is not it means there is a problem! Overall, this is what coordinating this kind of project means, in particular the concerned parade.

What is the Biennale taking place in Lyon?

Biennales generally correspond to a generic name. As the name suggests, it means that there is a rotation every two years in Lyon. One year it is about visual arts and the other it is about dance. This year in 2023, it is the Biennale de la Danse. During a month, the entire month of September in Lyon and the whole Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region concretely: dance performances. Everywhere, in every theatre, but also outdoor, in small of bigger spaces. When it is the Biennale de la Danse year, the traditional culmination is the parade established for more than 20 years now.

The idea is quite simple: at the time the Maison de la Danse director, Guy Darmet, was coming back from a trip to Rio. Obviously, he is totally amazed when he comes back and he thinks “As the Maison de la Danse director, we should do something similar around dance, a huge event, a great parade”. The brilliant idea he has back then is to think that we can’t do the same thing than Rio and we also don’t have the same culture. However, we have the chance to have many professional choreographers in France whose profession is to put people in movement. His idea is to do something similar but to ask professional choreographers to choreograph these parades, each at the head of a specific project. Where we are today starting from this idea and we will meet up on Sunday, September 10th in Lyon. There will be 12 cities, which means 12 projects coming from the whole Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, each of them directed by a choreographer. Regarding the Grenoble Agglomeration, the choreographer will be Bouba Landrille Tchouda from the Malka company. Each city always taking part in this parade is directed by a choreographer. Another important point is that it is strictly restricted to amateurs: all ages are accepted from 10 years old. There is also music played live or recorded. We choose to play live music with batacuda drums, brasses, trumpets, etc. along with dance, movements, costumes and the famous float.

Whenever it comes to a parade or a carnival, it is important to have a float. Ours will be representing a kind of mountain moving around. I will say no more because you must come and see it on Sunday, September 10th in Lyon! The idea is to keep up with an Olympic Games theme and to do something about sports. The Grenoble Agglomeration one is called “À nos jeux” which means we perform our own Olympic Games. We realize an interpretation made with many movements reminding a lot of different sports. Same thing, you will have to discover it yourself because the choreographer Bouba Landrille Tchouda had a lot of fun creating all these sporty movements.

You need an external energy source, why and which one where you using until now?

Regarding this parade, Grenoble Agglomeration’s choice was not to use a soundtrack but to play live music with specific wireless microphones generally called DPA. These are mini-microphones that can be clipped on a trumpet for example. There is a small hook at the end of the trumpet’s bell. We are going to use 8 wireless microphones which will necessarily be connected to transceivers with a cable system, speakers, an amplifier, etc. Obviously, all of this requires a power supply.

Until now, it was a quite complicated question. 20 years ago, the first generations of powers generators where hard to use and noisy with a tailpipe to manage. Emissions must necessarily go upward or it may pollute and even hurt people and damage their health, which is not the purpose. It was always like this. Regarding noise nuisance, the latest generations of power generators are supposed to be silent but they still make a pretty intense noise. There is also a really pragmatic question regarding safety because going around with a power generator can be potentially dangerous, even after taking the appropriate precautions or even if it is located in a van or a truck constituting the float. Moreover, it is not practical at all because we must eventually anticipate a fuel or gasoline provision.

As the current trend to turn to easier things to use, autonomous devices and solutions we can recharge like a phone or a scooter, the idea seems quite obvious.

Coordinator of the Biennale de la Danse parade

Why using a portable power station instead of a power generator?

Clearly for safety and practical reasons, as well as weight arguments surprisingly. The 110 kg PowerBox seems quite heavy but it is really well done so it is super easy to roll and it is not complicated. There are super easy ramps to set up in order to put it in a vehicle in our case. The test we just achieved regarding the autonomy is more than conclusive. I think we were using a lot more autonomy than we potentially needed and we must have used barely 10% of the power delivered by the model we used. I would like to specify that we had the most powerful model and it was even too powerful for our use. But it was great to test it and to be sure to avoid supply issues since he did a true general rehearsal test a few days ago in Grenoble. It was conclusive, even more than that.

Which issues does the use of a portable power station fulfils?

I think we can generally say for almost every parade that when it comes to sound, we must think about how to supply it. There is often sound at a parade, whether it is microphones of a soundtrack. By definition, a parade is a moving thing: there are walking people and moving vehicles. We can take the Dunkirk or Nice carnival as examples, especially the latter which is pretty similar since there are moving floats. Generally, it is quite easy to manage since it is a vehicle. However, we also need to embed sound solutions, thus it is the first thing we need to check. Firstly we need to find the power source, then the technical approach is to find the sound system. These are generally the first two step we have to anticipate apart from the base we will use to build the float: a vehicle, a tractor, a trailer, etc. It is nice to find these first solutions, but then how are we supposed to power this sound diffusion? I consider it may not be the first step, but it comes within the first phase to wonder how we are going to power autonomously. Being autonomous is truly the goal. I think it is the word which characterize this solution the most: autonomy.

Do you consider it is relevant to use such a solution on a larger scale?

In sectors such as cinema, public works, construction, etc. it seems quite obvious. I would like to insist on the live entertainment sector. The field of performing arts has more and more needs, even if there where always requirements. A performance hall has a planning with shows in its theatre or in bigger ones. Generally, the idea is to go on tour to accompany small performances which include a few dancers, musicians and comedians who will perform. The public doesn’t always come from the city where is located the theatre. Regarding logistics, it means we have to carry sound, lights, sets, costumes and artists obviously. Here comes the following question: how are we going to power all of this? Spotlights, sound, microphones, soundtrack, etc. Invariably, we are often going to experience situations on these tours where we will wonder where to draw the required energy. We will have to ask for authorizations, find places, municipal halls, theatres that sometimes must be opened specifically to reach an electrical supply.

I believe it is a matter of course that this simple, lightweight, autonomous and easy to charge solution can clearly ease the managers’ work going on tour everywhere in particular. I think it is obvious that this material could be used in the live entertainment sector as part of the existing standard kit we can find in every theatre. Every performance hall generally has in own material going on tour.

To this day, there is no simple supply solution or only occasional ones. As an example, festivals often use huge power generators with all the nuisances they imply. Even if there is a transition with large festivals starting to use solar energy or batteries supply, I don’t think there is a convenient and affordable solution yet. I believe it is a development with a high potential, of course.

Coordinator of the Biennale de la Danse parade

In your opinion, how could we improve such as product which is still recent on the market?

I had seen pictures and videos of it and I have used it on an entire day. I consider it is already perfect notably thanks to the fact you can turn it into a kind of luggage so it is really handy to set up. It is like we are holding a luggage handle and we put it back in place after using it. The product is protected against shocks thanks to the metal placed at all four edges. Regarding power, there is everything we need: the amount of 220 V outlets required, big Marechal outlets, etc. Otherwise, regarding display and consumer information, I think it would be interesting to have an easy access to the autonomy left. Also when we are charging, we could have an icon with the remaining charging time left since the product can be used by anyone in a theatre for example. Otherwise, regarding connectors and everything it features, I consider there is everything we need. Wheels are also really convenient, it is not a detail since it allows to easily use it on dented grounds.

What can we wish you for the next upcoming events?

Now that we are fully equipped and that we know we won’t struggle with autonomy, we hope everything will go well! The rehearsal also went well. You must come and see us Lyon! Or in Grenoble if you live close on September 2nd and you wish to see the general rehearsal on Saturday afternoon. If you are closer to Lyon, you have to come on the afternoon of Sunday, September 10th  from 2.30PM at the Place des Terreaux square. You don’t have a choice anyway!

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