AFP, published on Friday, September 23, 2022 at 5:40 p.m.
The Bull Machin is still sleeping while the Xolo wakes up for its toilet, surrounded by servants in blue livery: the Royal de Luxe company and its two giant dogs invaded the center of Villeurbanne on Friday for three days of free festivities.
“You can send the departure”, launches the director and founder of the company, Jean-Luc Courcoult, on the town hall square, surrounded by a joyful crowd of schoolchildren and onlookers.
The black beast that slumbered on jute bags at the foot of an orange and blue parasol shudders, pricks up its ears, opens its eyes, while half a dozen servants perched on a construction machine activate the gears of the puppet giantess on Swedish blues soundtrack.
“Attention… clean the eyelids… clean the snow on the bowl”, launches one of the actors in a red loudspeaker. The articulated dog snorts and rushes with his army of servants, preceded by a yellow two-wheeler overhung by a seagull.
The new monumental creation of Royal de Luxe is part of the special programs of Villeurbanne, for its year of “French capital of culture”.
“We are leaving the saga of giants, with characters, for a saga with animals which will make a frantic race through the city”, explains Jean Louis Bonnin, one of the administrators of the Nantes company.
As the procession passes, the children laugh and shout, the adults smile, the crowd exchanges knowing glances, a carnival atmosphere takes over the neighborhood emptied of its cars.
“It’s magnificent,” says Ghislaine Yala, a 56-year-old spectator who has rediscovered a taste of childhood.
“What I prefer is when he moves his ears,” marvels Sacha, 7, while galloping on the sidewalk to keep up with the Xolo.
“It’s really great to mobilize an entire city,” adds Amanda Sariano, his mother, who came to accompany her son’s class.
As always, the company, which boasts more than 1,500 performances in 43 countries since its creation in 1979, wants to “create poetry in the streets of the city, echoing the urban environment and the population”, confides Jean- Pierre Marcos, a “travel companion” of Royal de Luxe.
Here as elsewhere, “it’s a story that is told over three days, a story with different sequences and events” fragmented in time and space.
“Several generations have seen Royal de Luxe shows and each one adds a bit of history to the story. And so, it creates imagination and it is this poetry that is extremely important”, adds Jean-Louis Bonin.
Legend has it that Xolo was born in Mexico, he has already paraded with the giants of the company, he is used to the public. His new companion, the Bull Machin, is taking his first steps in Villeurbanne, he grew up walking the cobblestones of the city, he measures 4.40 meters, weighs 800 kg and never moves without his lamppost.
The two dogs will roam the streets for two days before meeting on Sunday for a “grand prize”. The artistic director, Jean-Luc Courcoult has been working on the project for more than two years, with models, very detailed locations on the ground, then rehearsals for the manipulations.
The show cost some 2 million euros and mobilizes a hundred speakers from Nantes – “Lilliputians”, actors, acrobats, dancers, commentators or props … -, to which are added as many volunteers recruited in Villeurbanne.