Removing explores the movement qualities that can be produced with practical goals such as hitting, avoiding, throwing, or reaching. These actions constitute a vocabulary of gestures that is shared with the audience. One rarely thinks of creating a line with one’s leg or of dropping the weight of one’s arm, whereas most of our daily movements are motivated by practical goal: to reach a location, to seize an object, to avoid a piece of furniture, etc. Using a common vocabulary enhances physical empathy and kinesthetic resonance.
If one simply executes these actions motivated by a practical goal as in the tasks of postmodern dance, the experience of movement tends to disappear behind the recognition of the goal. To focus the attention on the movement itself, I use different strategies in order to prevent the immediate recognition of the goal. The objects the dancers are aiming at in the action of hitting or avoiding are absent. The body parts that are used are not fitted to perform the action. For example, the dancers hit these imaginary objects with fragile body parts like the throat or the rib cage. In the action of throwing, they treat a body part as if it were an external object, imagining it can fly away into space. Finally, some sequences are composed of movements systematically interrupted by the movement that follows them. The dancer is continuously aiming at movements that are never performed. This interruption of the dancer by himself makes his intention visible because it affects the way his actual movements are performed. His intention is excessive compared to the movement that is actually performed, and this excess transforms the movement. It makes visible the way the dancer anticipates the goal he gives himself. These various strategies aim to preserve the definition of the movement by a practical goal for the performer while suppressing what allows the identification of this goal for the observer. This makes it possible to capture complex motor characteristics linked to the action of hitting: dynamics, impact, speed, muscle tone, physical investment, affect, etc. while focusing the attention on the movement itself and not on the accomplishment of the goal.
We will also work with actions aimed at someone else’s body using tools from Brazilian jiu-jitsu. It is a martial art that mostly concentrates on floor fighting and on locks used to control an opponent by taking one of his joint to the limits of its movement range. Locks and techniques used to escape being locked exist for almost all the joints in the body. Thus, Brazilian jiu-jitsu constitutes an extremely thorough exploration of the body as an articulated structure. It is often difficult to understand what the fighters are trying to achieve if one does not know this martial art. The fact of not being able to identify the precise of each movement makes possible many different readings. The bodies form multiple configurations by grabbing one another; they can evoke plants, animals or the sensual entanglement of bodies. Contrary to a real fight, the dancers collaborate to execute the sequence of movements. They constrain each other, and it is this mutual constraint that generates the movements. The erotic dimension of the fight and the violence of the sexual intercourse meet in this collaborative fight. This duet is the opposite of Contact Improvisation where the movement is generated by sharing weight and by following the directions taken by the ensemble formed by the bodies in contact. To grab and to constrain the other is precisely what one should avoid when doing Contact Improvisation. In this research, it is the motor of the action.
The composition uses several kinds of unison by choosing different parameters the movement sequences can have in common: same geometrical structure in space, same type of action, same body part, etc. The resemblance can be extremely strong or barely perceptible. They allow the creation of different types of counterpoint (duo + solo, duo + solo + solo, duo + duo, etc.). I try to play with what could be called visual density: the quantity, complexity and heterogeneity either with sudden contrasts or progressive evolution. This visual density can change suddenly, for example by going from a four voices counterpoint to a unison, or on the contrary, evolve progressively.
Choreography: Noé Soulier
With Jose Paulo Dos Santos, Yumiko Funaya, Anna Massoni, Norbert Pape Nans Pierson & Noé Soulier
Music: Éric La Casa
Lights: Gilles Gentner
Costumes: Chiara Valle Vallomini
Production: ND Productions (Paris)
Coproductions: CN D Centre national de la danse, Pantin (FR) ; Festival d’Automne à Paris (FR) ; Maison de la danse, Lyon (FR) ; Théâtre Auditorium de Poitiers (FR) ; Centre de Développement Chorégraphique Toulouse / Midi – Pyrénées (FR) ; Musée de la danse – Centre chorégraphique national de Rennes et de Bretagne (FR) ; PACT Zollverein, Essen (DE) ; Kaaitheater Bruxelles (BE) ; Tanzquartier Vienna (AU) ; in co-production with le Centre de Développement Chorégraphique Toulouse / Midi-Pyrénées, in the frame of "[DNA] Departures and Arrivals", cofinanced by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union
With the support of Direction régionale des affaires culturelles d'Île-de-France - Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication au titre de l’aide au projet
Noé Soulier is associated artist at CDCN Toulouse / Occitanie for the period 2016-2018
Noé Soulier is associated artist at CN D Centre national de la danse