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The “Nouvelle Danse Française” of the 1980s


May B

Marin, Maguy (France)



Decouflé, Philippe (France)


So Schnell (1992)

Bagouet, Dominique (France)


Welcome to paradise

Obadia, Régis (France)


Le Défilé [clip]

Chopinot, Régine (France)

The “Nouvelle Danse Française” of the 1980s

Maison de la Danse de Lyon 2019 - Director : Plasson, Fabien

Author : Francis de Coninck

en fr


In France, at the beginning of the 1980s, a generation of young people took possession of the dancing body to sketch out artistic areas that would enable them to create their unique take on the world.

From dancer to author-choreographer, the step was made enthusiastically. The Nouvelle Danse Française (New French Dance) was born. 

In a particular political context, they enjoyed the first grants, the first experiences of decentralization and the establishment of institutions for creating and performing.

These young creators, who frequently pursued their passion collectively, dreamt of working on a French-style Danse d’auteur.


May B - Maguy Marin

Maguy Marin is to the Nouvelle Danse Française (New French Dance) of the 80s what Pina Bausch was to German expressionism: a major figure. Her caustic, committed work places mankind at the centre of a creative process, which constantly questions the future of humanity. Her radical dance-theatre, marked by the impact of gesture and the power of image, entertains a humanistic intention.

That is the case in May B, a sombre creation inspired by Beckett.

Caramba - Philippe Decouflé

Philippe Decouflé is certainly his generation’s most popular French choreographer. his generation. His pure, fantastic, dreamlike theatre gives a prominent place to image and plunges the spectator into the heart of unusual artistic and technological disciplines. 

His highly popular world sways between comic strips and fiction, poetry and fantasy, burlesque and dance. It is a tribute to the heritage of the American Alvin Nikolaïs.

Yvan Vaffan - Jean-Claude Gallotta

Jean-Claude Gallotta is one of the pivotal figures in 1980s’ French-style Danse d’auteur (arthouse dance). At the head of a tribe of artists who are crazy about movements and human experiences, he proposes adventures that thrive on imaginary folklore, on flesh and sensuality, humour and furtive triviality, like in this extract of Yvan Vaffan.

The audience discovers with delight that contemporary dance is also "writing stories to reinvent the world".

So schnell - Dominique Bagouet

The dancer and choreographer Dominique Bagouet, who succumbed to AIDS in 1992, has left behind him a delicately sketched out, inventive and singular, modest and secluded French-style Danse d’auteur.

His work brought together contemporary creators of music, visual arts and video. Often labelled as baroque, his dance thrived on perfectly straight tracks, the self-control and energy of a dilettante due to fear of being taken too seriously. This duo extract from So schnell bears witness.

Welcome to Paradise - Joëlle Bouvier and Régis Obadia

By creating their own company l’Esquisse, Joëlle Bouvier and Régis Obadia place performance at the heart of their approach and the subject of flesh at the centre of their intentions. Their creation of the intimate, filled with spectacular gestures, points to expressionism and divulges its love for the cinema. 

Le Défilé - Régine Chopinot

Wishing to burn dance and bodies at both ends, the choreographer called upon strong and totally-unexpected individuals to join her in her adventure Philippe Decouflé, Daniel Larrieu, or the fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier...

She offers bodies unprecedented performance sets: A fashion show (Défilé, in French), a boxing ring, a chessboard. Her contrarian work has a single common thread… that of avoiding writing mannerisms and customs of Italian-style theatre. And this made her successful.


Francis de Coninck was a teacher, journalist, head of the dance department at INSA, dance critic since 1980, author of documentary films for television and writer. He was also the biographer of Lifarienne Françoise Adret and blogger of the Petites Chroniques.


Extracts selection
Francis de Coninck

Texts and bibliography selection

Francis de Coninck

Maison de la Danse


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