So that Mick Kellys can make their dream come true

When we invited writer Benda Diouf to spend a few hours—now a few days—at the conservatory to write this text, we didn’t know she knew the neighborhood well, having lived there for 14 years. Since writing her first play Poussière at the age of nineteen, this writer has been composing a solo work, At the Crossroads of Intimacy and Politics, observing the transformation of beings in an ever-changing world. Skillfully arranged work, like huge puzzles where fiction often plays hide and seek with autobiography. Today, one of the primary voices among new dramatists, in 2015 she co-founded the label Jeunes text en Liberté, which aims to bring the stories represented on stage in line with the complexity and diversity of our current society. The person for whom writing willingly takes on the appearance of a journey and a mission has agreed to put her bags inside our walls for a while. In the form of an inner monologue, she participates in the flow of impressions and ideas that cross her as she walks through the hours and corridors of the institution.

The Conservatory is this huge huge building at the metro exit, an island among others in the Parc de la Villette, in the 19th century.e Paris district. An area on the border between this popular area in the process of improvement and this other small town La Villette. A garden that opens onto the Fountain of Lions, an unforgettable meeting place so as not to get lost in the 55 hectares of park that combines several gardens, the Paris Villette theatre, Folys, the Philharmonic and the Grand Halle, a former slaughterhouse in Paris. This park, free and open all year round, day and night, without barriers, provides a real place to live and an important range of cultural activities for the residents. From -Conservatoire Go back to some pictures I took while walking. Sometimes the dancers move upstairs under the corrugated iron wave that crosses the garden. The voices also recall my memory, evaporating like a dream in the morning. Students practice with the windows open, presenting pedestrians with unreal, delicate and suspended moments. I lived for more than fourteen years near the National Conservatory of Music and Dance in Paris without ever thinking of going there.
I, as usual, dread the idea of ​​visiting a new place. I imagine I’m not the only one who feels this when entering an institution, library, theater, or auditorium for the first time. We are afraid of not understanding vocabulary, not having symbols, not feeling out of place, and illegitimacy in this place of knowledge. What makes you feel comfortable? To feel welcome?
There is always a guide that will allow you to make presentations in place. Maine, the one who allows me not to get lost in this labyrinthine space at first glance, is called Alexandre Bansard Ricordo. I put my bag in his office and he escorts me through the aisles in his uniform and contrasting colours. Great wells of light draw new paths where” Emptiness builds » 1Where new days may appear. I envy the walls of this house. They watch generations of students develop every day, from the first year to the end of their studies. They may enjoy noticing the same obstacles in the same songs. Like the temple guards who aim to preserve and transmit all this heritage of European and world music and dance.
Alexander looks through the opening of the doors of the rooms where the students, in well soundproofed cells, train face to face with their machine, the unit needed to tune the duo. What drives these young people to embark on this prestigious but progressive and time-consuming path? One student says he feels like he loses several months when he doesn’t practice the horn for two days. He adds with a laugh that he would like to take a vacation. Behind each door of the conservatory is the endless reproduction of a gesture, an air, a symphony, spanning several centuries until today. Neighborhood trading. The conservatory is also looking to the future. Behind new doors, we discover music technicians who are able to record with the latest technology. As a bridge between yesterday and tomorrow, between conservation and innovation.
As I walk down all these hallways, I think of this character from a novel, Mick Kelly, in The heart is a lone hunter by Carson McCullers. Mick Kelly is a poor teenager, from a large American family in the thirties, who spends the summer taking care of her younger siblings, taking them around town. And in the evening, she sits alone in the gardens of the neighbours, who have radios, to indulge her passion: listening to music. Mick Kelly secretly dreams of becoming a conductor.
It was weird – but almost all the time there was a piano piece or some kind of music playing in her head. Whatever I did or thought, it was almost always there. »
Do these young students, like Mick Kelly, dream of music on long summer evenings, even though most of them have had the opportunity to enjoy it since early childhood? I still wander the aisles and my ears don’t fail to watch as each door is opened. I hold my breath in front of the musical instruments and the students’ voices. It is a space in which we breathe to give life. Where we learn to breathe better so that the given life, however fleeting, may shine with its most beautiful brilliance. Breathing is calm, controlled and powerful, allowing the instrument to wake up like a snake in the face of the flautist. And sometimes there is an exhalation, shortness of breath, panting, screaming as if a ballerina was leaving class, as if she had been driven out of herself by an overflow of emotions and efforts. I don’t see her but I think she clings to the walls, puts her hand and leans her body where the others have also left invisible traces which the walls remember. I think of high-level athletes, with their boredom, ambition and quest for excellence. I see these young bodies blending into the block of this prestigious neighborhood, unremarkable from the outside, wearing T-shirts with drawings of Basquiat or feminist messages. Did they also participate in marches for the environment or during the death of George Floyd? The conservatory sees the world pass through its walls every day and breathes in harmony.
Music was boiling inside her. This symphony contained the whole world and Mick could not absorb it all. » 2
Two students dance barefoot on the floor of the hall. Another walks away and mumbles under his breath. Others train at the entrance to the rooms. Some play chess. Harmony of spaces and cycles. Everything coexists and seems to be logical. Even weirdness has its place. Here, student L is 3 in composition. I sit quietly, listening to this incomprehensible metallic language of the novice that I am and watching these feet beat the time.
I laugh at myself. ” The transition is a bit hot in there…like getting off the highway when you realize two meters before you have to get out there. “There’s something so energizing about watching them play. Renovation. The beat is beating, the rhythm of the instruments is like the beat of hearts. It breathes. It’s exciting to think that these students will be playing in the biggest stadiums in the world in a few years.”
Another room, another atmosphere. Attend a jazz rehearsal. Seven men wearing sunglasses and playing. They are literally playing, having fun. Joy spread from the walls and their smiles. I closed my eyes and found myself transferred to a jazz club. New Orleans? Harlem? Maybe Montreux. But she does swing and she is beautiful. I could stay in every room for hours. There is no more time. It seems that time has expired.
A little later today, I attended the last rehearsal of a student who had earned a master’s degree in orchestra. I sit on the balcony and watch and listen. There is something magical and mysterious about seeing such a focused young man, like an athlete before his race, apologizing for going to eat so quickly while resting, otherwise he’d be” won’t hold up He came back and settled on a little bump, holding his wand, his right hand, sorcerer. He seemed to be pulling invisible strings, connected to every musician performing. Alexander spoke to me about the movement of the waves and I could easily imagine the whirlpool, the way the noise spreads between the instruments, and how the body moves I see the extent of the facial expression The student has his ear all over and the reactions of the orchestra are very accurate because he talks I’ve never heard a conductor use words with his orchestra Everyone should find their privacy in such a big band Like a small community where Everyone needs the other. Everything impresses me. Time stops. Outside, life goes on.
Students’ health is taken care of through the establishment of a health center. I think of this violinist’s neck, as if she had bitten her in the throat with her instrument that had become a vampire. The track is new. She prepares blind tests for the Orchester de Paris. And there are teachers, who accompany, carry and support, who are as passionate as students. ” Do not weaken. The teacher becomes a coach and continues the gesture on his side, a mirror where the student can rely on when in doubt, and elicit energy. As a couple, they move forward together, sometimes groping but never giving up.
I return to Mick Kelly with her dream of music that she will never be able to fulfill, because a young woman is too poor to have a prestigious internship. Or even just training. Even before he could finish his studies in mechanics, Mick started working in a shop to help his family and could no longer find the energy to devote himself to his passion. I imagine this young teen wandering with me down the corridors of the conservatory, her eyes full of stars, touching her dream with her finger.
Mick exhausted her brains to find a top-secret place where she could quietly study this music. But no matter how long she thought, she knew from the start that the perfect place did not exist. » 3
Leaving the conservatory to lose myself in the city, I have an idea for all those who, like her, think that this place does not exist. Or not for people like her, those who are in a minority or don’t have money or tokens. And they weren’t so lucky to be well guided and surrounded. The primary goal of all public services and cultural institutions should be to fight so that Mick Kellys of France and elsewhere can one day realize their dream and accompany them as much as possible on the path to its realization.
Panda guests

1. Christian de Portsamparc, CNSMDP Architect
2. The heart is a lone hunterCarson McCullers
Stock Editions, p. 54.
3. The heart is a lone hunterCarson McCullers
Stock Editions, p. 144.

In the corridors of uniform and contrasting colours, large skylights draw new paths where the void is built, where new days can appear.

#Mick #Kellys #dream #true

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