‘You have just arrived on the Moon… your hands become fish… You discover a new planet. Here, plants have taken power.’
You might be forgiven for thinking these words were plucked straight from the fever-dreams of a madman, but in fact they greeted EU politicians at a summit in Strasbourg today to conclude the Conference on the Future of Europe.
The project – a year-long consultation on how the EU can improve based on the suggestions of citizens – had gone largely ignored until today, when a 10-minute opening performance by group Danse l’Europe caught people’s attention.
However, the performance’s French organisers may wish the routine had gone unnoticed after online commentators branded it: ‘Proof that Brexit was a good idea.’
European politicians attending the final day of the Conference on the Future of Europe were treated to 10 full minutes of interpretive dance as proceedings opened today
The bizarre spectacle unfolded in the European Parliament in Strasbourg today, where people had gathered to conclude the Conference on the Future of Europe.
Conceived late in 2019, the project invited citizens and especially young people to propose reforms on an equal footing with suggestions from European institutions.
After a year of work, a folder containing 49 proposals was due to be presented to EU leader under the watchful eye of Emmanuel Macron who was in attendance because France currently holds the rotating EU presidency.
Danse l’Europe – conceived by France as part of its presidency – opened the session, which was timed to coincide with Europe Day.
The project, led by contemporary choreographer Angelin Preljocaj, is intended to bring together ‘bodies moving in unison throughout Europe’.
As music played into the auditorium, the dancers began their interpretative movements accompanied by a soft string track and Preljocaj whispering in French.
‘You have just arrived on the Moon, to look at the Sun, on the other side, you look at the Earth shining. Come back and face the Sun,’ he told conference delegates.
As he spoke the dancers continued moving under the eyes of politicians – some bemused, others determinately looking away.
The tip of your fingers caress the back of your neck as they go, your hands become fish avoiding each other, from one side of your body to the other,’ Preljocaj added.
Politicians watched as dozens of young people performed the contemporary routine, while the voice of choreographer Angelin Preljocaj told them: ‘You have just arrived on the Moon’
Danse l’Europe – the company which performed the routine – is a French initiative designed to represent ‘bodies moving in unison throughout Europe’
Online viewers were quick to mock the clip, with one quipping: ‘Alexa show me, via the medium of interpretive dance, why Brexit was a good idea..’
Another added: ‘This is the first convincing proof I’ve seen that perhaps Brexit was for the best.’
Striking a more serious tone, a third said: ‘When future historians look back at this period and see interpretative dance in EU parliament while on the brink of world war, economic collapse, civil unrest… they will be astonished at how the people let the elite live in a fantasy world and still remain in power.’
Around an hour after the dance took place, delegates were treated to another performance – this time by youth orchestra DEMOS.
Made up of musicians from each member state, they performed part of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy – the European anthem – to parliament.
Speaking at the end of the summit, EU Parliament President Roberta Metsola, said: ‘Citizens – especially young people – are at the heart of our vision for the future of Europe. They have directly shaped the outcome of the Conference.
Conference on the Future of Europe is a year-long project to develop proposals for EU policy based on the feedback of citizens
Emmanuel Macron – as holder of the rotating EU presidency – addressed the conference, pledging to create a tiered system of European nations
‘We are at a defining moment of European integration and no suggestion for change should be off-limits.
‘We should not be afraid to unleash the power of Europe to change people’s lives for the better.’
President Macron added: ‘Through the crises that we have gone through collectively in recent years, Europe has changed.
We must continue this development and ensure that the Union lives up to the aspirations and expectations expressed by the citizens.
The Conference on the Future of Europe, which we are closing today, is a unique exercise and unprecedented in its scope, a breath of fresh air for our continent.
Its conclusions constitute a very rich source of proposals, which each institution must examine within the framework of its competences.
The Council will have the opportunity to express itself in the coming weeks.
‘As this exercise is coming to an end under the French Presidency, I thank the previous presidencies for their commitment and am happy to hand over the follow-up to be given to the conclusions of the Conference to the Czech and Swedish presidencies.’