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Messages, dancers … Here's how France has planned to stage

Bilal Hassani, surrounded by dancers Lizzy Howell and Lin Chang Lan, on the Eurovision stage during their first rehearsal on May 10, 2019. – Andres Putting

  • Bilal Hassani will defend the chances of France at Eurovision 2019 in Tel Aviv with his song "King". The final will be broadcast live on Saturday, May 18 at 21:00 on France 2.
  • On stage, he will be accompanied by two dancers who will help him to make as many people as possible understand the message of self-acceptance that he wishes to convey.
  • The service opens with a sequence involving "face mapping".

From our special correspondent in Tel Aviv (Israel)

Friday afternoon, Bilal Hassani made a strong impression during his first rehearsal on the Eurovision stage with
 his song King. The French artist saw his rating rise significantly among bookmakers while in the press room, the praise was greater than more skeptical opinions. The staging, imagined especially for the contest, is not foreign to this enthusiasm. While waiting to discover a preview on Tuesday night, as part of the first semifinal broadcast on France 4, 20 minutes tells you more about what the French candidate is offering to the public for the grand finale on May 18th.

  • A message to convey

The staging reflects, emphasizes and develops the message of the song King : Self-acceptance and tenacity in the face of adversity. Rather than being centered on Bilal Hassani, the painting incorporates two dancers for whom the meaning of the words resonates particularly. One of them, Lizzy Howell, is overweight and the other, Lin Ching Lan, is hard of hearing … and both overcame external obstacles and judgments to make a career in dance.

"Only you can thing who you want to be" ("Only you can decide who you want to be"), can we read, among many other messages appearing on the giant screen in the background all along of the benefit. "My dream has always been the same: to be myself and do what I want to do," insisted Bilal Hassani Friday evening in a press conference. We three dared to dream of being on such a big stage (as Eurovision and we did it, it's magical. "

The idea of ​​putting forward the universal dimension of the message of King is signed Marika Prochet, an artistic director who also officiates on Dance with the stars and The Voice. "We called for tenders in February, just after Eurovision Destination. When she introduced us, there was no hesitation, no debate, says Steven Clerima, the head of the French delegation, 20 minutes. When she detailed it, it was obvious, there was no other way to better reflect the meaning of the song. "

  • Two dancers who have a story

The team then set out to find dancers capable of carrying this message of fulfillment, emancipation and celebration of singularities, and especially to defend it in the light of their own experience. "Marika told us about Lizzy Howell, whose story is similar to Bilal's. But we thought it would be difficult to have to work with us, "says Steven. But as part of the cast, no candidate with such a strong story has come forward. This is how the 16-year-old American received an email one day in March. "I did not know what Eurovision was. I then learned that Celine Dion had participated, "revealed at the press conference Lizzy Howell, who has been dancing since she was 5 years old and has been taunted, insulted and harassed by those who blamed her for being overweight. Contrary to what the team imagined, she agreed to join the adventure.

Lin Ching Lan, 32, from Taiwan, found a similar message in his inbox at about the same time. She too learned about the contest at the time. "This is the first time I have participated in such an international event," she told reporters on Friday. I started dancing at 20 and people thought I could not because I'm deaf, "said the one who wants to show that on the contrary," it's possible ".

"This is the first time, for me, that the performance is really 1000% keyed on the message of the song, says Steven Clerima about this scenography for Eurovision. These three people who are on stage do not play a role, they take their revenge on the adversity. "

Bilal Hassani's performance begins in the dark. Images are projected on his face while adapting to his contours. We can see successively appear words like "King" or flat areas with colored tones, other figures … This technique is called "face mapping" that we venture risky to translate into French by "mapping face" . Here is an example of what this technology allows:

In the Eurovision scenography, this sequence in "face mapping", which lasts about fifteen seconds, is not the most successful and the French delegation is well aware. "It's part of things to review before Sunday's second rehearsal. We must make sure to link this part to the rest, "admits Steven Clerima, who speaks of" work in progress ". This start was designed by a specialist in the discipline, Paul Lacroix, came specially from Japan to oversee all this. At the next repeat of new effects be tested. It would be a shame that France does not manage to look good on the night of the final on May 18th.

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