The Lyon Opera Ballet returns to Ann Arbor today and Saturday
with an intriguing work by renowned French theater artist Philippe
Decouflé. Having just performed its world premier in Lyon,
Decouflé’s latest work “Tricodex” is an
impressively original masterpiece.

“Tricodex” is the culmination of a trilogy of works
created by Decouflé since 1987. The collection was inspired
by Italian graphic artist and naturalist Luigi Serafini and his
fascinating encyclopedia of plants and animals titled “Codex
Serafinius.” This 400-page masterpiece features
illustrations, graphs, charts and descriptions depicting an
imaginary world of nature and industry. First published in 1981 and
subtitled “A Visual Encyclopedia of an Imaginary
Universe,” Serafini’s work features a fictional world
of mythical creatures, mathematical equations, hairstyles, playing
cards, flying machines and labyrinths. Decouflé brings all
this to life on stage, blending the worlds of circus, visual arts
and dance in a kind of graphics that he calls ‘ensemble
mathematics.’

One of the world’s most fascinating publications,
Serafini’s encyclopedia has inspired Decouflé
throughout his choreographic career. Serafini’s surreal
images were seen in Decouflé’s choreography for the
opening and closing ceremonies at the 1992 Winter Olympics in
Albertville, France. Viewers saw performers dressed as human
snow-globes, bounding across space in synchronized bungee-jumping
routines.

Decouflé’s “Tricodex” continues the
innovative and adventurous choreographic tradition of the Lyon
Opera Ballet. Founded in 1969 under the leadership of Yorgos
Loukos, the company has commissioned works from young
choreographers and performed inventive productions of classics such
as “Cinderella” and “Coppélia” as
well as a new interpretation of “Romeo and Juliet.” The
classically trained dance company also presents works by highly
regarded American choreographers like Bill T. Jones, Trisha Brown
and Lucinda Childs.

The company has toured worldwide since 1987 with ongoing
success. In 1995, the Lyon Opera Ballet was elevated to the same
status as the 328-year-old Opéra National de Paris, the only
other national opera house in France.

At this weekend’s performances, the Power Center will be
transformed into a psychedelic world where 30 dancers emerge as
imaginary creatures, cloaked in nearly 150 stunning costumes.

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