Why do some individuals put their our bodies by excessive acts? Why cross the Seine on a wire or climb a mountain throughout a thunderstorm? The explanations are most likely the other of what you think about: Peace. Calm. Serenity.
In his evening-length “Corps Extrêmes,” the choreographer Rachid Ouramdane works with acrobats, a climber and a contemporary tightrope walker, or highliner, to discover what lies behind the hunt for thrills in such actions — and the on-the-spot psychological readability that comes with it.
When the physique is pushed to its limits, when concern actually sinks in, it’s essential to take care of each a part of your self, together with “your vulnerability, your fragility,” Ouramdane mentioned in a video interview from France. “The notion of danger is all the time current. Nevertheless it’s not a danger that you simply don’t think about. It’s nearly the other, a danger that turns into your associate; a danger that you’re used to coping with.”
Danger, in essence, turns into an confederate, making a hyper alertness or sensitivity to the current second. Because the highliner Nathan Paulin says in a voice-over within the manufacturing, “To maintain my steadiness on this skinny transferring wire, I must be 100% targeted on every little thing that occurs, on my physique and every little thing round me, so I really feel every little thing extra intensely.”
For all of its motion, a meditative high quality runs by “Corps Extrêmes,” a melding of efficiency and spoken phrase that opens on the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Oct. 27 as a part of Dance Reflections, a competition sponsored by Van Cleef & Arpels.
Through the manufacturing, carried out by Compagnie de Chaillot, a movie of mountainous landscapes, shot from many daunting angles, is projected on the again of the stage, which can be a white climbing wall. Within the movie, we see the climber Nina Caprez and Paulin, who holds his steadiness within the wind whereas on a highline between cliffs; each are rendered diminutive towards the pure world.
Performing reside, Paulin — a world-record-holding highliner — crosses the stage on a wire because the eight acrobats steadiness on each other’s shoulders and scramble up the climbing wall. Basically, they stretch the stage from horizontal to vertical as a dreamy guitar rating by Jean-Baptiste Julien performs; we additionally hear spoken testimonies by Paulin and Caprez in regards to the freedom they discover in exposing their our bodies to nature. Watching all of it unfold is sort of like floating.
Ouramdane, a French-Algerian choreographer who, in 2021, turned the director of the Chaillot-Théâtre National de la Danse in Paris, has created one thing not solely to look at, but in addition to really feel. It is a choreography, not simply of our bodies, however of consciousness. “Once you see the present,” he mentioned, “it’s super soft.”
For New Yorkers, it’s a likelihood to see a special sort of work from Ouramdane, whose American debut, in 2006, was the masterly “Les Morts Pudiques” (“Discreet Deaths”), a solo exploring the loss of life fixation amongst younger individuals. Ouramdane typically focuses on weak populations, exploring the way in which id impacts individuals utilizing a mix of motion and textual content, which is generated from interviews he conducts. He creates portraits that think about each the physicality of his topics and what’s occurring of their minds — work that he continues with the forged of “Corps Extrêmes.”
“You understand that they aren’t supermen or superwomen,” Ouramdane mentioned, talking of contributors in excessive sports activities. “They’re simply very assured with their fragility, with their vulnerability. And that’s what permits them to do these completely sudden issues”; for them fragility can “be a power.”
Ouramdane first began eager about excessive sports activities and out of doors actions after being approached by the French acrobatic collective Compagnie XY to make a piece. Compagnie XY knew that Ouramdane had expertise working with a various vary of our bodies — older individuals, athletes, youngsters. And Ouramdane knew that the acrobats’ follow was virtuosic.
“What actually touched me was not a lot the loopy issues they have been doing within the air, however the particular consideration they’ve to one another,” Ouramdane mentioned. “How they must handle one another and the softness of their contact, the data of the best way to obtain a physique, the best way to assist a physique, and the methods they watch one another. I wished to zoom in on this sensibility.”
They created “Möbius,” a production exploring murmuration, or the way in which massive teams of birds soar collectively in a flock, altering route as one. Their exploration has influenced Ouramdane in his work with massive repertory firms, he mentioned, during which he buildings transferring teams like flocks, incorporating “this sort of blurring composition.” It additionally influenced his determination to make use of acrobats in “Corps Extrêmes.”
“You begin to see types, shapes.” he mentioned. “As quickly because it seems, it disappears. It’s a sort of everlasting morphing.”
He bought to know practitioners of maximum sports activities due to the place he lives: within the French Alps the place he has been in a position to observe the world of climbers and base jumpers. “In such sports activities, many practitioners are thought-about loopy individuals,” he mentioned, “individuals who prefer to play with loss of life. However they pay particular consideration to every little thing that’s alive round them: panorama, nature. Their follow is feasible as a result of they know the best way to take care of a cliff, with the feel of a rock, with the modulation of the wind.”
Among the athletes spoke to him about how in class, “nobody teaches you the best way to benefit from the rain or your face or the wind in your again,” Ouramdane mentioned. “It’s a bit romantic after they say that, however these are actually the issues they work with.”
In fact, in “Corps Extrêmes,” there is no such thing as a wind or rain for the performers to cope with. Nor are the gap and peak of Paulin’s onstage journey something like what he has skilled outside. At first, Paulin mentioned, being within the theater was onerous for him: His follow is inextricably linked to the immensity of the panorama and the unpredictability of nature. He has crossed 2.2 kilometers (about 1.4 miles) of slackline at Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy, a world report; as compared, a theater is sort of a playground.
“Usually, I’m on actually lengthy traces,” he mentioned. “Within the theater, it’s about 20 or 30 meters most,” or about 65 to 100 ft.
Changing a mountain with a stage has been significant in different methods, too. Ouramdane requested Paulin to decelerate his motion for the manufacturing. “When it’s a must to do it slower, it’s a must to be actually exact,” Paulin mentioned. “I do what I’m used to doing outdoors, however Rachid requested me to do it actually slowly in order that the viewers can see each small element. My job is fairly simple. For the acrobats, it’s actually onerous. On the finish, they run in each route.”
The presence of acrobats in “Corps Extrêmes” adjustments the environment, he mentioned; it anchors him. For as soon as, he’s not alone. And whereas there is no such thing as a wind — which he refers to in a voice-over as “as a lot a buddy as an enemy” — Paulin can faucet into one thing else: the viewers.
“It’s unusual, every little thing is flat, however I can really feel the individuals,” he mentioned. “After I’m outdoors, I do it for me. Prefer to seize one thing from the surface, to take one thing for me. And once I do a present, I attempt to give it again to the viewers.”
Ouramdane is pondering extra about audiences, too — or attracting completely different sorts — particularly together with his management function at Chaillot, one in every of 5 nationwide theaters in France, and the primary to be targeted on dance. Exploring, even additional, the connection between artwork and sports activities, he’ll create a number of initiatives associated to the Olympic Video games being held this summer time in Paris, for which the Chaillot Theater is an official website. He hasn’t deserted creating dances, however, more and more, his strategy isn’t restricted to the stage.
“That’s what brings me to bop: It’s to see how dance meets individuals, how dance faces social topics, how dance meets all fields, truly — not solely within the dance world, however how dance has an influence,” he mentioned, referring to its potential for therapeutic, training and pleasure. “Dance is in all of the layers of our society, from weddings to events or leisure or care. We see dance in all places now.”
Physique and dance practices aren’t only for dancers. They, too, are for everybody. “You already know, lots of people not too long ago requested me, ‘Can you continue to do a challenge being in Chaillot, being answerable for such an essential establishment?’” he mentioned. “I all the time reply ‘that makes me much more of an artist.’”
There are numerous methods for dance to have an effect. “Yow will discover a number of creativity by organizing a competition, by organizing a creative camp for youngsters — and instantly you understand that by dance you give the chance to these youngsters to essentially enhance their childhoods,” he mentioned. “I believe that’s an artwork perspective. It’s an artwork motion.”