French Bread, from Stage to Film (Part 1)

Movie poster by Jono Freeman

Movie poster by Jono Freeman

I am interested in dance as a wound, how physically one can push the body to the point of exhaustion and submission, to the point of doing violence. In the choreographic process for the stage version of le Pain, which was an intense, intimate collaboration with Jordon Waters and Gregory Dorado, I was focused on what were not only physical images, but physical tests of endurance, strength, exhaustion that could serve as a metaphor for the human condition of addiction. Then I was given some resources to shoot a film that involved movement traditions in New Orleans, most explicitly jazz and blues. The challenge of taking a choreography I made for the stage and translating it into a film intrigued me. While reimagining le Pain as a film meant a lot more work, time, money, labor, resources, and energy than what my artistic partner and cinematographer Christian Hardy and I had originally anticipated, we both without hesitation decided it was worth it.

While the stage production was a product of Jordon, Greg, and myself, the film became intimately entangled with New Orleans. In addition to an abundance of help from local filmmakers, both independent and Hollywood, this film brought together creative minds in the tech, non-profit, visual arts, music, dance, and culinary communities. Making the film, like so many things in this town, became a communal collaboration and celebration that has taken us to world premieres in the south of France and the UK.

What is a lie?

This question, and many others, became important to Gregory, Jordon, and myself during the  process of creating the piece. Check out this short clip from the film of what happens when Gregory and Jordon take to the streets of New Orleans. Their questions re-imagined a 1970s Harvard survey that posed similar queries to a diversity of subjects with the hypothesis that anyone who answered “No” was practicing (for better or worse) self-deceit.

Photo by Christian Hardy

Photo by Christian Hardy

One of the challenges I faced as a choreographer in translating the piece from concert dance to film was tackling the discrepancy between the abstract nature of movement existing in the world of an empty black box theater, where the audience can imagine the subjects anywhere or nowhere, with the very literal narrative qualities of cinema that place the subject in a time and a location. New Orleans suited the themes and questions explored in le Pain so well. The piece is about two empty people who are trying to fill up. It is about recovery, and New Orleans is a city where throughout its history people have come to fill up. It is also a city in recovery. In many ways the city of New Orleans became as important a character in the film as Jordon and Greg. It certainly became an integral player in the translation of the piece from stage to cinema. Check out the trailer below to get a sneak peek.

le Pain was first staged as a male duet dance performance at California Institute of the Arts in May 2013, and then was translated into a film, le Pain, which had its world premier in the south of France in 2015 at the St. Tropez International Film Festival and won the audience choice award in its category at its UK premier at East End Film Festival in London this past July. Stay tuned for more info on the next screening / US Premier by checking out our website here:



Meryl Murman is the Artistic Director of FLOCK, New Orleans' newest dance company. FLOCK is a constellation of individuals who come together to stretch the boundaries of contemporary dance through a shared sense of curiosity, play, and physical and emotional abandon.