The Gruss family was on Wednesday April 20 at the André-Malraux media library in Béziers.
Compagnie Gruss returns at the beginning of July and until the end of August at the Fonséranes site in Béziers. What does this new show have in store?
This second edition of the “Folies Gruss” is a show which was created during confinement in 2020 and which was only performed five times in Paris, this same year in October, and which was taken over by our Company from September 2021 until March 2022, in the Bois de Boulogne at Porte de Passy. It has achieved quite impressive success because there has been a revival.
That is to say ?
I took over the reins of the company in 2019, with my brother, Stéphan, and my sister, Maud, we wanted to keep our DNA, that is to say the horses and all the multidisciplinary artists who are members of the family. . On the other hand, it was necessary to change, to plan for the future. This is how “Les Folies Gruss” was born. We brought in new blood.
My brother, Stéphan, who is artistic director, has surrounded himself with a whole new team: Grégory Antoine, director, Bruno Corsini, lighting designer, Nicolas Vaudelet, costume designer. On the technical part also there is something new. What is important in a show where there are horses, traditional disciplines and people is to bring modernity.
Today, all aerial numbers are tuned to the music with computers, everything is digitized. We also kept the orchestra of Sylvain Rolland, the voice of Candice Parise. There is the integration of the new generation, my nephews, Charles and Alexandre, my daughters, Jeanne and Célestine, my nieces, Gloria and Venecia.
It’s important to know where we come from to understand our current philosophy
The term “circus” seems to have disappeared from your vocabulary.
My father created Le Cirque à l’ancienne in 1974, then Le Cirque national under Jack Lang and Le Cirque national Alexis Gruss. Today, we no longer feel with the identity “circus” because when we talk about circus it means everything and nothing.
And identify our family in that world, in that somewhat tool word… I often say it, there are divisions, even the contemporary circus, or even the traditional circus do not work together at all. We can see what happened on our land, I think it was in March or April, the Venice circus came without any authorization.
I often compare it to the Conservatoire des arts équestres de la piste or what the Comédie Française is to the theater
When you have this circus image in people’s minds today, it’s not possible. Our identity is strong thanks to the horse, the family and the work, because we train the horses, we create the shows, the costumes.
There are forty-eight different shows that have been created by our Company. I often compare it to the Conservatoire des arts équestres de la piste or what the Comédie Française is to the theatre. It is a place of creation.
I don’t really like to use the word circus but it’s important to know where we come from to understand our current philosophy. And then the form of show that we see on the Gruss Company track is really the work presented by Philip Astley in 1768.
He was an English major who used the track to train horses and riders for the battlefield. Demobilized, he had the idea of putting on a show with horsemen and acrobats in this amphitheater.
The family is very important in your company but is it possible for your children to choose another path?
Sure ! We have never managed by force to force them to do a job they don’t like. Our parents taught us our job and then they also made us study. For my brother, my sister and me, a little less than for the new generations because we were in a period when it was a little more complicated, we did not have this stability.
The future of our profession was uncertain and a lot of work had to be done. On the other hand, we had very good artists because we did so many diverse and varied disciplines that we reached a certain rare artistic level.
The new generations, we make them go to school and learn the trade in parallel. And what we try, above all, is to trace the best future for them. A child who never wants to eat what he has on his plate, he must first learn to taste a little bit of everything and then he can give his opinion on the things he likes or dislikes.
We in our life are like that. Our parents raised us like that. There are our natural predispositions too. Once you have all these values, you have a choice.
How is your work organized over a year?
We are six months in Paris, three months in Béziers, for this second edition, and we are established in the Vaucluse. We have owned the Parc Alexis Gruss, in Piolenc, since 1994, where we can put our luggage.
We received the public there but, for a few years, we have new projects of which my father is the instigator. It is the Pole of equestrian cultural action Alexis Gruss. It will be a center for training and shows. It is a place where we transmit. The transmission of the gesture is particularly important in our profession.
My father opened the first circus school in France in 1974. We realize today that artists are always told to do training, but trainers are told to perform. But I don’t think we should mix things up. It’s like in life: you first go to school and then you become an employee, an entrepreneur, etc. We study first and then we do.