The Embodiment of (Micro)Gravity. Kitsou Dubois's Analogies : an Artistic and Aesthetic Experience
Annick Bureaud & Kitsou Dubois
This is a two voice presentation: choreographer Kitsou Dubois's, on one side, the artist's voice, and art critic Annick Bureaud, on the other side, a specific member of the audience's voice. In other words, the inside approach and an outside one.
Kitsou Dubois's work can be apprehended by three "entries" :
- space art: her work deals with, is centered around, weightlessness and she has been working in relation with the three main space agencies;
- the art-science relations: movement analysis, neurophysiology (she worked with Alain Berthoz and achieved a Ph.D in dance on those topics); fluid and solid mecanics for Analogies. Her relation to science and theory is a constant and fundamental to her work;
- contemporary dance: she has a story in contemporary dance before her focusing on weightlessness and it is not neutral to her current approach. Moreover, she does not perfom in a vacuum but inscribes (and singularises) herself within the landscape of French and European contemporary dance experiments, researches and trends.
Those three axis have to be combined when they are often split.
This presentation focuses on Analogies, performance created by Kitsou Dubois in November 2004. In order to analyse it, the overall approach of the artist and some of her previous works will be considered as well, around the central question of how a particular (space) artwork relates to its own artistic genre and how it conveys something to an audience, or to different audiences, about outer space within it.
THE BASIS OF MY WORK, Kitsou Dubois
It is the story of an encounter between a milieu (environment) and an artistic matter. When I experimented weightlessness, aboard the Zero G. Caravelle in 1990, I encountered a milieu that was immediatly providing a sensitive state close to the state of dance.
Caravelle 0 G. CNES
Kitsou Dubois et Bertrand Lombard
© Kitsou Dubois
What I call a state of dance is this specific space-time where the body is a matter that carries identity and where the movement generates a feeling of freedom due to the openess it proposes towards possibilities/impossibilities.
In weightlessness, the moving body carries us to surpassing ourselves, and this is the result of strong imaginaries more than of a physical performance. Spining around oneself is not a matter of moving mountains of muscles, you just need to focus (body and mind joined) upon the gesture of moving your little finger for the rotating movement to happen and to be continous.
It is in this respect that it is dance, that is an artistic gesture, an inhabited state, and not productive or effecient mouvements
Very quickly came the intuition that it was throughout this path that I would find the legibility of my dance. More experiments and, above all, defining a working methodology for this dance in flight and on the ground, were necessary so that its singularity could emerge. Thus, I conceived the concept of "dance of the milieu".
My artistic approach consisted in revisiting the fundamental gestures of dance from the experience of this space-time: weightlessness.
Dance becomes then a mean to embody, with one's own body, this state of weightlessness wich is much more than simply a lack of gravity 1. The experience of dance in weightlessness allows to work on the representation of this state on the ground, in performances, installations or films.
It is both a research on the development of the experimentation in flight and the different forms of representation on the ground. The aim is to make legible for the audience another form of thought —generated by human experience of outer space— which is embodied by the dancers and the circus performers; to make visible the beauty of the body matters in this "danse of the milieu" that I am developping.
My working process includes therefore scientific researches conducted in weightlessness. I select the theoretical elements that allow me to push further the research in dance.
Those theoretical elements are then experimented in weightlessness or in environments that provide analogue situations (water, trampolin, trapeze, shadow, ....). From those experimental laboratories, an artistic matter emerges that will become the very matter of the creation.
Human being, the moving body, are central to this artistic approach.
I propose situations that generate loss of references and force to "let it go", a founding state for the creative act.
The body states that emerge during those experimental laboratories open paths toward a non traditional choreography.
By combining different artistic practices (dance and circus techniques) and based on precise principles inspired by scientific research —that have been defined at a previous stage—, I work, from the dance gesture perspective, on the legilibity of another space-time "nor heavy, nor light", in 4 dimensions.
This process proposes an immersion in an environment (in the broad sense of the word) from which a form will emerge. Hence the term "dance of the milieu" which allows the emergence of an artistic matter that will become the matter for the final creation. This approach favors body states instead of form.
In my artistic work, this approach has been refined with experience and the constant relation between research and creation.
THE ENCOUNTER BETWEEN DANCE AND CIRCUS
In weightlessness, it is not the physical strengh that discriminates between people. Their capacity to apprehend the lack of references, to rely on one's own experience, on one's own abilities is more important. It requires then a certain autonomy and maturity, both mentaly and physically.
The experience of weightlessness echoes the surpassing of the limits of the body that is central to the creative gesture both in dance and in circus.
The art of dance, through the body of the dancer, evokes abstract spaces based on very concrete bodily situations.
The art of the circus gives access to impossible representations of the body.
Those two techniques bring together a concrete approach of the movement and an abstract thought of space. Their perception modes, that are different in their learning process and in their representation, come together here to displace the limits of the body.
The approach of the movement in dance is more interiorised when it is more exteriorised in the circus. The encounter of the two is situated in an in-between where each of the performers in each discipline becomes more fragile in his/her own technique and richer from what comes from the other.
A DANCE TRAJECTORY OF THE EMBODIMENT OF MICRO-GRAVITY, Annick Bureaud
CONTEXTUAL AND METHODOLOGICAL INTRODUCTION
In this paper, I present myself as a "specific member of the audience". What does it mean? Both facts and an approach. I am a new media art, or technoscience art, critic. In this respect, I have a knowledge and a gaze that are oriented. But, regarding contemporary dance per se, I am a normal audience member.
I have followed the creative process of Analogies since the "begining" (the first laboratory) to its "end" (the show), as an "embedded" art critic and theoretician. So to speak, I have an "inside" outside knowledge of Dubois's process and methods. I have seen her work from her first performance related to weightlessness (Gravité Zéro) which allows me to see the evolution and progression in her work and to propose this comparative analysis.
My approach, therefore, is to describe and analyse Dubois's work from a member of the audience point of view, but informed by and confronted to, my background and knowledge.
Kitsou Dubois's work is the attempt to embody a perception and imaginary of a different environment (what she calls a milieu) into moving bodies, within dance. The ultimate goal is to transmit to the audience the perception of something they have not experienced through the creation of "something" that is "coherent" and interesting on an artistic level.
What is interesting with Dubois is that we have a large body of works (a corpus) by the same artist relating to a same "topic", that spans thithteen years of creation. This allows to have a critical viewpoint in time and to open up to analysis.
The three main questions for me, therefore, are :
- How does her work relate to its own genre (contemporary dance) and how does the experience of micro-gravity modify it ?
- How does her work reflects upon the perception and reality of weightlessness ?
- What is the evolution of the representation of weightlessness in her creation and how this is made perceptible, legible, to the audience ?
Analogies closes a cycle in her work and creative process. With Analogies, she has achieved a trajectory toward this dance embodiment of weightlessness. In order to present the nature and quality of the embodiment of weightlessness in Analogies, it is necessary to describe this trajectory. For this, I will focus on the three performances she has created as they present a possible comparison in terms of the nature of the creations and of the reception of the work by an audience (which is different with the installations). Dubois is always adapting every of her shows to the shape and space of the different venues where she performs. I will base my analysis on where they were created and where I saw them for the first time: a regular theater with a frontal stage for Gravité Zéro (The Théâtre des Malassis, in Bagnolet, near suburb of Paris) and the rather small and intimate octogonal space of La Maison de la Villette, where the audience occupies two contiguous sides of the octogon, and is seated on the same level as the performers or almost (the first level of the gradines is at the stage level and they are in a very low declivity), for Trajectoire Fluide and Analogies.
GRAVITE ZERO (ZERO GRAVITY), 1994, OR THE "ILLUSTRATION" OF WEIGHTLESSNESS
Created in 1994, shortly after Dubois's first parabolic flights, Gravité Zéro is for four dancers. It is composed of three sequential parts, of uneven lenght. The first one, that can be considered as a prologue, is a loop of a video of herself and one of her dancer, flying endlessly in weightlessness within the CNES Zero G. Caravelle. It is projected onto a piece of clothe, reflected in a miror so that it appears, for the audience, as somewhere above the stage, in-between the floor and the rigging loft.
In the second part, the dancers are on stage, in a classical way. They dance and move on the ground and on various objects spread over the stage, that put them in a state of desequilibrium, forcing them to find their balance. They are also confronted to an articulated arm, hanging from the rigging loft, and in constant search for its own equilibrium as a moving object.
In the third and last part, the dancers are dancing on the floor over a painted decors of a blue sky with some white clouds, strewed with some flowers (objects). They are outside of the direct view of the audience, their image being reflected in a mirror. They appear to the public as "floating" in space.
© Kitsou Dubois
Gravité Zéro is about the dialectic of balance and unbalance, fall (resistance to gravity) and continous movement (fluidity of weightlessness). It is also about the wonder of the experience of being in weightlessness. In Gravité Zéro the different components appear as sequential and separated, each of them presenting different aspects that are not fully integrated in a whole.
The video images of the prologue act as a kind of reference point of what danced movements in micro-gravity are.
The second part inscribes itself in a dance-on-stage context, showing the constant relation between deseliquilibrium-balance that we are in, under gravity conditions. There are a lot of objects and props on stage. It takes them to put the bodies into a state of unbalance.
The third part is based on an old theater trick, the mirror, used for illusion and apparition. The dancers, on the floor and reflected in the mirror, are "mimicking" the movements of a body in weightlessness. It moves "like" in microgravity but from an "outside" shape with, for instance, the arms and legs as if in loss of control (when it actually takes control for the dancers to move as if they had no control on their extremities, to use Kitsou Dubois's vocabulary). In other words, it looks like what you expect it would, after years of images of astro-cosmonauts in space, except it is on stage and on Earth, and this is important.
Gravité Zéro creates a very strong and powerful image for the audience, a poetic one. Because of the kinesthetic empathy, as a member of the public, you feel as floating yourself, somewhere above the ground, and not unconfortably seated on the bench of a gradine. The overall feeling is some kind of "dis-embodiment" and "lightness", both of the dancers and yourself (the later being the consequence of the identification with the first ones, on a kinesthetic and perception level).
Gravité Zéro deals with and conveys the dream and wonder of weightlessness and fly. In a presentation note for the show, Kitsou Dubois called it a dance poem. This is reinforced by the decors of sky, clouds and flowers, introducing a certain space romanticism.
Other artists have tried, at that same step of having experienced weightlessness for the first time, to convey this feeling and emotion into "terrestrial" images. For Morag Wightman, it was in "flying skiers" attached to elastics. And it is worth noticing that in his theater play La face cachée de la Lune (The Hidden Face of the Moon), Robert Lepage used the same mirror trick.
In Gravité Zéro, the dance (nature of the gestures) is not strongly modified from within. It seems in a direct follow up of the artist vocabulary. A comparison-confrontation between the struggle not to fall and the happyness of a continuous and safe space and mouvements, Gravité Zéro is an illustration of what the feeling of weightlessness is like (for the body and mind alike), in a beautiful, powerful, sometimes naive, image.
TRAJECTOIRE FLUIDE (FLUID TRAJECTORY), 2003, OR "THE THESIS OF THE DANCE OF THE MILIEU", THE COMPARISON
Nine years later, after an in-depth research, more parabolic flights, the elaboration of a methodology and working and creative process (the different laboratories in Dubois's terminology) that lead to the concept of the "dance of the milieu", the opening up to the circus techniques and performers, Trajectoire Fluide does not present the same face. For six performers (three dancers and three circus performers —trampolinist and jugler), it is composed of seven tableaux or scenes that it would be too long to detail here. On the contrary to Gravité Zéro, they are no longer sequential. The different notions and concepts elaborated by Dubois are expressed in each one, some focusing more on one of them.
Trajectoire Fluide is probably the most theoretical choreography of Dubois. The theory here is not some outside scientific one, but her theory on dance and the danced movement, informed by her experience and lecture of weightlessness.
It is the embodiment of her thesis and notion of the "dance of the milieu" and the embodied demonstration of her creative process and knowledge.
© Kitsou Dubois
The main dance arguments of Trajectoire Fluide are the vertical and the points of support for the performers on the one hand and spaces on the other. Spaces include space in which the performers are (around them), space in between them, in between them and objects, in between them and the audience, within them (the inside space, in her vocabulary), created by the objects, like the juggling tubes of Jorg Müller.
All this is subtly weaven together in each tableau. For instance, the vertical and the points of support being a permanent theme all over the show, it is questionned in the tableau where Manu Debuck and/or Mathurin Bolze design verticals and horizontals on the trampolin in front of the projected image of the performers underwater, in an endless up and down movement on the vertical axis. But the bodies do not move exactly in the same way, but according to the milieu, that is, in this case, underwater and air (in 3D). Later on in the show, some performers are just walking on the stage, introducing the ground "normal" gravity milieu, confronted to the trampolin and underwater altered state of gravity environments. At the end, filaire images from the parabolic flights reflect upon the weigthlessness milieu while the performers move on stage attached by elastics that create point of tensions and another point of support, together with the ground they are on. These are only a few examples.
Trajectoire Fluide is also a demonstration of her creative process in two ways. The first one is that with the underwater and micro-gravity images associated with the trampolin and the juggling sequences, it presents on stage, so to speak, the laboratories methodology. But, moreover, what is presented on stage is the material that actually emerged from the dance research during them.
One could say that Trajectoire Fluide is less spectacular than Gravité Zéro, that is, in an "expected" way. However it relates more to weightlessness in a sense that it is no longer an illustration but the first step to its embodiment, for instance with the chair. Generally speaking the performers movements are according to the forces they are confronted to and do not try to imitate an outside form. The show is a confrontation-comparison between danced movements in different environments (or milieux) that includes weightlessness as an inhabited one.
I am sure that most of the audience does not decipher consciously and with words all the theory that is embedded in Trajectoire Fluide. However it carries you away, even if you don't understand how. For instance, I did not understand first what was exactly going on with the dancer on the chair. I could only recognize it was different and that this difference was generating a modification of my perception and of my feelings in my own body. This can be applied to all the tableaux. One does not necessarily understand but one perceives. This is also due to the stage design, for instance the projected image "leaking" on the walls or vanishing on the semi-transparent screens, unifying the space to which the audience then belongs. Seated and still, we also belong to a milieu in a specific posture that becomes, in a way, our point of reference for the comparison with the other milieux that are proposed to us. And this comparison does not take place in abstract thoughts but in bodies perception, leading not to wonder but to emotions and questions.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS, Kitsou Dubois
• The art-science process
I met with the scientists during the Spring of 2004. Together with the Observatoire de l'Espace (The Observatory of Space) of the CNES, we did a survey of the current space researches that were in relation with my problematic of the dynamic of the movement. We selected two laboratories that are working on the mecanics of fluids and solids:
- L'Institut de Mécaniques des Fluides (The Institute of Mecanics of Fluids) in Toulouse (Catherine Collin and Jean Fabre). One of their researches is on the diphasic exchanges between a gazeous state and a liquid state.
- The Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique (The Nuclear Energy Institute) in Pessac-Bordeaux (Daniel Beyssens and Yves Carrabosse) which works on the effects of vibrations upon inhomogeneous matter, during vibrating phenomena.
Then, I proposed an artistic connection based upon the "key-words" used by those scientific laboratories and I elaborated the protocol for the danced movement according to the following:
• Inertia (quantity of movements in a body when it does not move) ; its importance in micro-gravity and wich vision of the body it proposes for dance.
• Critical points in science, that echoe in dance the "quiet points" or equilibrium points. Dependent of the environment, they will allow to shift from a body state to another.
• Contact surface: how to keep it when there is no gravity. Observation of the surface tensions that generate different kind and qualities of movements.
• The dynamic of movement: how do go from an anchoring to a displacement, how does the movement organise itself, what are the directions that appear ?
• The particles choc and their expression in the bodies brushing one another, the push/chased.
During the parabolic flight campaign of November 2004, with the performers, we have experimented the aesthetic choices that had been progressively elabored during the meetings with the scientists and during our experimental work (participation of Kitsou Dubois in a preliminary parabolic flight in April 2004, gesture research underwater and with the dance and acrobatic techniques).
Dancer Laura de Nercy
Parabolic Flight, Airbus 0G., CNES, 2004
© Kitsou Dubois
The artistic translation of this process materialised in a show presented at La Maison de la Villette in Paris, in November/December 2004. On the occasion of thoses performances, the contribution of the scientific research was proposed to the audience through a video document, presenting the scientific researches involved and how the processes in micro-gravity can impregnate the artistic field.
• Analogies: the show
Analogies, collage of images from the performance and in micro-gravity flight
© Kitsou Dubois
Analogies is a show that is a "nucleus", without any artifice. It expresses deeply a world without weight, nor light, nor heavy, where it is difficult to point the anchoring of the bodies, of the movement. It is a finite and infinite world, where the work on the gestures is achieved in this "hypnotic", repetitive quality that evokes another space-time, the one that exists in weightlessness.
The reference to the vertical is systematically avoided; everything is oblique or on the principle of the circle, the objects, the bodies, the supports (screens, the inclined plane, oblique mirrors, stage design). The circulation is continous, a sensation of flow whether the dancers are visible or not, the impression that the movement is constant and never stops. The centers of gravity of the bodies or of the objects are displaced, they are located bewteen the bodies or between the bodies and the objects or between the bodies and their points of support, etc. This provokes a sensation of loss, of destructuration of the usual anchoring of the dancers or of the acrobats, and a loss of visual references for the audience.
The different sequences explore always the same moment in the movement: the moment of desequilibrium, of the acceleration and its gestion. Never can we escape this moment, always we come back to it. This creates a form of introspection that applies to the performers but also to the spectators facing the sensation of their own movements. It is a work about a particular space, where time has stopped, suspended, which allows the very existence of this space.
Similarily, the references are blurred, as we don't know any more who is a dancer and who is an acrobat. This was my goal because in weightlessness it is no longer the terrestrial physical capacities that provide the reference (strengh, flexibility are no longer tangible values) but what can hinder the dancers or the circus performers.
What is shown here is this other space-time, a space where there is no more weight, nor light, nor heavy, but masses, the body matters, splendid, in a raw state; where up and down are not an issue. Performing art allows a kinesthetic comprehension from the bodies of the performers to the bodies of the spectators. What we propose is then a sensitive comprehension of what is at stake in a world without gravity to people that never experienced it.
This kind of work raises either an empathy from the audience or a withdrawal because it refuses this type of aesthetic, or simply because it refuses to being dragged into that universe. In this later case, the entrance into the show is more difficult because the minimalism of the choreography does not propose other possible doors.
Some perceive mostly the tensions that are underlying the creation of this space, and for them it is a form of violence. Others won't let them be embarqued in this adventure and therefore will be frustrated not to see the usual codes of circus and dance: no physical spectacular achievements, no concrete forms to base one's gaze upon.
Others, finaly, will let themselves go and be carried away, and it is where empathy takes place. The loss of references is fundamental because, for the spectator as well as for the dancer, there is a necessity to create a link between oneself and the adventure on stage, in order not to sink. And, as a ricochet, this is this loss of references that allows to question oneself on one's own positionning.
This is that very place that interests me particularly because it creates a kind of "bodily committement" from the public, with its body and emotions.
This relationship to the audience questions the necessity of the link with the goup, or with the situation, in order not to sink.
ANALOGIES, 2004, OR THE "EMBODIMENT" OF WEIGHTLESSNESS, Annick Bureaud
One year after Trajectoire Fluide, in a kind of acceleration, Analogies was created, pushing further Dubois's choreography. If Trajectoire Fluide still included a lot of props on stage and some spectacular components like the trampolin or the tubes juggling, they are gone in Analogies. And the theory has been digested.
Analogies is for six performers (three dancers, three acrobats) and is composed of nine "linked" sequences, that I cannot described within the framework of this article.
With Analogies, what is proposed and achieved is the embodiment of weightlessness within the dance. It is no longer an "outside" perspective on weightlessness but an "inside" expression: inside the performers bodies and within the show itself. This creates a destabilisation and a loss of references for the audience who has to rely on its inner perception (and not to an outside "image", be in in the dance or in the usual "vision" we have of weightlessness) to feel it more than to see it.
Analogies is a minimalist, abstract (there is no story, no narrative), self-contained show, reduced to its essential, where everything (the dance, the choreography, the stage design) is echoing, reflecting upon everything else.
When Trajectoire Fluide was trying to include many ideas and informations in every tableaux, that present themselves as a sort of collage with clear breaks between them, Analogies is a variation on the same theme. It then gives the feeling of a greater density. The fact that there is always something going on (or felt so) and that it expresses the same idea, creates a unity and a continuity for the audience. But there is no escape and, as Kitsou Dubois mentionned, no other entry point.
The strong, although minimal, stage design is a unifed one, all the same throughout the show, which strenghens the feeling that the different sequences are linked to one another. The space is both closed and round. The closeness is brought by the fact that there is no decors. The walls are used (by screens, mirrors) or can be the support of direct projections, but so is the ceiling with a round screen, even if its images are at the limit of the peripherical vision for a large part of the audience. The audience, being seated along two contiguous sections of the octogon, is totally immersed and part of that space. There is no escape, space and bodies are all around us, or felt so.
The roundness comes from the stage design and from the dance and choreography, among which the fact that there is no vertical, as Dubois explained. The floor, then, no longer appears as defining a horizontal point of reference but just as another surface. And whatever the positions of the performers (on their feet, on any other part of their body, on any other part of another performer's body, with the chairs or the trapezes, etc.), they always seem normal and "natural", when they are not, under terrestrial conditions of "normality".
Analogies does not include any spectacluar components. It recenters itself on the bodies, the structure and "origin" of their movements. Those bodies are multiple, of different nature and density: the physical body of the performers on stage, the image-body of the projections (underwater, processed images of trampolinists, duplicated image of a dancer on the inclined plane projected on the same plane, etc.), the reflected-body in the mirrors, the shadow-bodies trapped in the light of the projectors, sometimes at the fringe of perception. The multiplicity of those bodies, and of their simultaneous "presence" on stage, opens and weaves together different layers of spaces and allows the perception of the concept of milieu and body states in a subtle way.
In Analogies, Dubois pushes further what she started in Trajectoire Fluide in the modification of the dance, of the gestures, according to her perception of weightlessness and succeeded in transmitting it to the audience. This is rooted in: the continuity of the movements, the nature of their genesis and the displacement of the centers of gravity.
The movement is continuous as in weightlessness. What does it mean? To give an example, in dance, raising one leg very high is the expression of elevation, accomplished against gravity, witch requires specific skills from the dancer. But the leg goes back to where it was, through the same, inverse, trajectory. Dubois lets the movement follows the entire trajectory, without "coming back", as if there were no resistance, no friction, no tension to prevent it to do so. Our notions and representation of dance are therefore challenged.
The performers have to find within their bodies, articulations, muscles, where and how a movement can go through from a given point of departure, which can be anywhere in the body. This is not done with strengh, power, force, velocity (which it could be) but by modifying the way the performers use their points of support, by a deep attention to their inner body and by an original let it go, experienced and worked-through during the laboratories. Every performer then, moves according to his/her own body and personnality and does not reproduce a pre-determined movement or gesture that would have been defined, in its form, by Kitsou Dubois. This specific genesis of movements both underlines the singularity of each performer and, at the same time, homogenises the nature and kind of movements. In other words, they all "move the same" but each in his/her own way.
This causes the usual differenciations between bodies to collapse. As she wrote, one cannot tell who is a dancer and who is an acrobat. But, moreover, the distinction between the masculine and the feminine is blurred too. Although we know who is a woman and who is a man on the stage, it does not matter anymore. Similarily, the opposition between the shapes of the bodies, between a thin and a muscular one, a small and a tall one tends to disappear. For instance, there is this beautiful couple formed by the dancer Laura de Nercy and the trapezist Chloé Moglia. Two opposite bodies: Laura de Nercy is small, thin, almost skinny, with dark hair, in her late 40s, while Chloé Moglia is tall, muscular, powerful, blond and in her 20s. Very quickly, the audience does not make any difference when they are together. And when they carry each other, we don't feel, or even think about, the effort and the difference in the body shapes. Nor light, nor heavy. What is left is the individual, body and mind.
This singularity within homogenity, not based on an outside shape or form but on a specific genesis of the movement, engenders a confusion for the audience and questions its own identity.
The dialectical relations between the group (collective) and the person (singular) is present all along the show. The modification in the gesture at an individual level is also to be found in the organisation of the group movements and its perception by the audience. As Kitsou Dubois explained, the center of gravity is located between the bodies. The movement of a group of performers is then perceived both as the ones of the individuals it is composed of and the one of a single unified entity, creating a feeling of disorientation-destabilisation for the audience. I particularly think here of the introductory and closing sequences.
The few objects (chairs, trapezes) have another function than in Gravité Zéro and Trajectoire Fluide. They are no longer there to create the unbalance or to be the points of support for another body state or to generate a new space. The relocation of the center of gravity, provoking a change in perception, also holds true for the relation bewteen the performers and objects. For instance, Xavier Kim is turning a chair around his body, juggling with it, so to speak. For one brief moment, we don't know anymore what is turning around whom (and vice versa) and whom/what is turning whom/what, although we can clealy see that he is standing on his feet and holding the chair. Is it the chair which is turning around him or is it him turning around the chair ? Nor light, nor heavy. In micro-gravity, everything(one) can move around everything(one) else. And although non intentional, objects can have movements of their own.
This is what is made perceptible here. What is proposed on stage is the coagulation of the ground, gravity-based, and the weightless milieux, the terrestrial space, enriched by the weightless space.
Analogies presents no point or plane of references for the audience. It moves all the time, everywhere, that is, felt as in any potential point of the space, in an unusual way that seems normal and at the same time not. We "know" there is something "wrong" (or different), but are unable to identify immediatly what. There is a conflict between what we "know", or are used to, about dance, circus, body movements, etc. and what we see and feel through all our senses and the kinesthetic empathy.
This loss of references, together with the sensory-knowledge conflict, provoke a destabilisation from wich emerge the emotions. The emotions are of course also grounded in Dubois's aesthetics, conveyed by the generosity and beauty of the performers.
Analogies leaves the spectators with the task to find in themselves, and in the way they relate to what is going on on stage, new, individual and personal point(s) of reference(s).
Beyond proposing to "see" the embodiment of weightlessness —that is giving body(ies) on the ground to something that occurs in an enterely different environnement—, Analogies creates the conditions for the audience to be, physically and mentally, destabilized as they would be in micro-gravity.
Analogies closes a cycle in Kitsou Dubois's work that goes from the illustration of weightlessness, to its comparison with other milieux, to its embodiment. Not only does she push further her research but she asserts her choreography and her aesthetical approach (far away from virtuosity and the outside forms). Some people reject it, for the reasons she detailed, for others, it is a window open to a new environment, full of new perceptions and emotions.
In any case, it is not a scientific vulgarisation wearing the clothes of dance but one strong, specific, artistic and aesthetic approach of weightlessness and dance.
Among the things we have in common, one is probably our mutual interest in how art, through emotions and aesthetic experience, practice for one, reception for the other, analyses for both, is a cognitive process for a better understanding of ourselves and of our world. A world now enlarged to outer space, bringing a new form of thought and phenomenology that needs to be explored and expressed. And it goes through a dialogue between the "inside" and the "outside", in all the meanings of those words.
- DUBOIS Kitsou, "Dance and Weightlessness: Dancers'Training and Adaptation Problems in Microgravity", Leonardo, Vol. 27,N°1, pp.57-64, 1994
- DUBOIS Kitsou, "Gravité zéro, une danseuse en apesanteur", Du corps au corpus technologique, Odyssud-Blagnac, 1996
- DUBOIS Kitsou, "Body, movement, dance and weithtlessness", Extracts from the doctoral thesis of Kitsou Dubois, in the proceedings of the symposium Visibility-Legibility of Space Art. Art and Weightlessness: the experience of parabolic flight, Paris, 2003
- BUREAUD Annick, "The Reasons for a Symposium", in the proceedings of Visibility-Legibility of Space Art. Art and Weightlessness: the experience of parabolic flight, Paris, 2003
- THIERION Denis, "Access to micro-gravity. Parabolic Flights. A300 ZERO G", in the proceedings of Visibility-Legibility of Space Art. Art and Weightlessness: the experience of parabolic flight, Paris, 2003
1 - For Kitsou Dubois, the word "weightlessness" is much more than the "technical" cancellation of the effects of gravity, which is much better and correctly expressed by the word micro-gravity. Weightlessness refers for her to a complex, lived and inhabited (by the body, the mind, the knowledge and the imaginaries) environment. I used this word in this paper in her acception. AB
© Annick Bureaud, Kitsou Dubois, Leonardo/Olats, mars 2006