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Arts of motion


Sanctum - Imago

Nikolaïs, Alwin (United States)



Decouflé, Philippe (France)

Maison de la Danse de Lyon 2009

Choreographer(s) : Decouflé, Philippe (France)

Video producer : Maison de la Danse

Integral video available at Maison de la danse de Lyon

Take a look at this work in the video library

Sans Objet

Bory, Aurélien (France)


Öper Öpis

Zimmermann, Martin (Switzerland)



Bourgeois, Yoann (France)



Kayassine (France)


Pas touche terre

Pas touche terre (France)

Arts of motion

Maison de la Danse de Lyon 2018 - Director : Plasson, Fabien

Choreographer(s) : Nikolaïs, Alwin (United States) Decouflé, Philippe (France) Bory, Aurélien (France) Zimmermann, Martin (Switzerland) De Perrot, Dimitri (Switzerland) Bourgeois, Yoann (France)

Author : Anne Décoret-Ahiha

en fr


Dance, juggling, aerobatics… Beyond their differences in intention, in form or in implements, the common thread of these arts is to explore the physical and expressive resources of the body in motion. Sometimes, some of these art forms rub shoulders with others, and give birth to enrichment. The ever-so traditional trapeze act, for example, becomes an airborne choreography. And sometimes, a dance goes beyond the realms of a dancer’s gestures: unites in harmony with the effects of lighting and images to transform the stage into an expanse in motion.

Circus, dance, video… the three registers that the artists of this Journey delight in weaving together and, at the same time, embellish.


Sanctum et Imago - Alwin Nikolaïs


Alwin Nikolaïs' great desire was to stimulate the spectator’s imagination. The American choreographer created performances, such asSanctum, , where lighting, costumes, danced movement and even music participated together, harmoniously, in fashioning shapes that were in constant, abstract mutation. The choreographic art is, thus, devised… an absolute art of motion. “I turn dance into an art that is just as much visual as it is kinetic”, he said.


Decked out with accessories that attenuate corporality, hidden under elastic fabrics, used as a moving screen for luminous projections, the performer dances in synchronicity with the undivided space of the stage, which he makes dance. Motion comes just as much from the movement and gestures of the dancers as from the play on light and the optical effects that are thus generated. A sense of magic and of enchanting mystery springs forth. A sense that led Alwin Nikolaïs to acquire the well-deserved nickname – “the magician”.

Solo - Philippe Decouflé

Heir to Nikolaïs, Philippe Decouflé creates performances where imaging techniques participate fully in the choreography. In this extract of Solo, camera and dancer join together to create an amazing pas de deux that swings between reality and virtuality, between the horizontal plane and the vertical. Created “live and direct” through the dancer’s gestures, the video images offer the body a poetic flight. It gives it wings, it multiplies it, disarticulates it and metamorphoses it into arabesques, kaleidoscopic magma. The movement, thus, unfurls in a multidimensional expanse that, in concert, reflects the worries of the choreographer, tormented by doubts and obsessions.

Sans objet - Aurélien Bory

In this sequence of the performance Sans objet, the protagonist initiates an incongruous duo with a robot. The imposing articulated arm, reigning in the centre of the stage, seems to have enticed the young man, to coax him into a slowed down dance, a profusion of suspensions and disequilibrium. It is the machine which, in this instance, guides the dancer, and the latter, compelled to follow the robot’s movements, uses the opportunity to find other supports for his dance.

Öper Öpis – Zimmermann & De Perrot

Mechanics, machinery, objects: the scenography of Zimmermann et De Perrot overflows with them. In this extract from Öper öpis, the movement seems to be created by the mobile ground which causes sliding, rollovers, tumbles and complicates the tightrope walker’s performances. The lack of stability, the perpetual oscillation of the stage makes the bodies grapple even more with the test of verticality.

Everything is in motion, all the time, and risk-taking is permanent. This results in sequences that are full of humour: a tango with chairs, “hand-in-hand” acrobatics that become “hand-in-foot” ones. Because this wobbly, crooked scenography with its impossible horizontality also echoes the day-to-day life of human relations, and the perpetual readjustments that these relations imply.

Cavale – Yoann Bourgeois

Acrobat, actor, juggler, dancer, Yoann Bourgeois is, first and foremost, a player. In this extract from Cavale, the performers surrender themselves to the Earth's gravity. They attempt to reach a suspension point, the perfect place where a flying body reaches its climax and where the fall has not yet begun. In this elusive state, between horizontality and verticality, a wish for weightlessness appears.

Kayassine - Les Arts Sauts

The company Arts Sauts has focused its artistic project entirely on trapeze art. Their aim was to move the flying trapeze out of the sole framework of performance and to empower it with aesthetic scope and, with a specific scenography and dramaturgy. This approach, played a key role in the overall revival of the circus, which began at the end of the 1980s. The New Circus promotes the idea of a piece of work making sense, exposing relevance, rather than a sequence of spectacular acts that were not linked in any way. In this sequence from Kayassine, the trapeze artists plunge, cross paths, dialogue and, as such, create a type of airborne ballet, paced by musicians and singers.

Vent d'Autant

This duo of acrobats from the Vent d’Autan company inspires the tenderness of a lovers’ stroll. Borne by this dreamy “hand-in-hand” that leads to the embrace, the female artist doesn’t touch the ground. Each artist is in their own sphere… he is on the horizon, whilst she is perpendicular. Their contraries are joined together in an attractive formula, where acrobatics and dance meet.

In more depth


ADRIAN. Le sens de l'équilibre : équilibristes, fildeferistes, funambules, cyclistes, patineurs, perchistes : une clef pour l’art du cirque. Paris : éd. Paul Adrian, 1993. 143 p. (L’encyclopédie du cirque).

BOISSEAU, Rosita, DECOUFLE, Philippe. Philippe Decouflé. Paris : Textuel, impr. 2003, cop. 2003. 168 p. (En compagnie).

CALAIS-GERMAIN, Blandine. Anatomie pour le mouvement. Tome 1, Introduction à l'analyse des techniques corporelles [2e éd.]. Méolans Revel : Désiris, cop. 1991. 302 p.

LABAN, Rudolf, CHALLET-HAAS, Jacqueline (trad.). La maîtrise du mouvement [The mastery of movement]. Arles : Actes Sud, 1994 (2ème éd.). 275 p.
 (L’art de la danse).

LORENDON, Gilles, LORENDON, Laurence. Nouveau Cirque : la grande aventure : Centre National des Arts du Cirque. Paris : Le Cherche Midi, 2001. 127 p.

MOREIGNE, Marc, DAVID, Claire (dir.). Les Arts Sauts : entretiens avec Fabrice Champion, Laurence de Magalhaes, Stéphane Ricordel. Arles : Actes Sud ; Châlons-en-Champagne : CNAC, 2010, 92 p.


Anne Décoret-Ahiha is an anthropologist of dance, doctor of Paris 8 University. Speaker, trainer and consultant, she develops proposals around dance as an educational resource and designs participatory processes mobilizing corporeality. She animates the "Warming up of the spectator" of the Maison de la Danse.


Extracts selection 

Olivier Chervin

Texts and bibliography selection

Anne Décoret-Ahiha


Maison de la Danse

The "Arts of motion" Course was launched thanks the support of General Secretariat of Ministries  and Coordination of Cultural Policies for Innovation.

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