Dance among the Water Lilies: Noé Soulier

Mouvement sur mouvement [Movement on movement], soloist from and by Noé Soulier

In Mouvement sur mouvement, Noé Soulier uses some extracts from Improvisation Technologies by the choreographer William Forsythe, a multimedia interactive work created in 1994 for the Frankfurt Ballet with the Center for Art and Media (ZKM) of Karlsruhe. With graphics and videos of static and mobile performances performed by William Forsythe and four ballet dancers, this tool offers an insight into the analysis of movement by showing possibilities rather than rules, and enables the dancers to be guided in their improvisation: the idea of returning to an original dance where each movement remains an event. Noé Soulier introduces a discrepancy between speech and movement in order to examine the manner in which they participate in the elaboration of meaning. Questioning simultaneously the way we perceive and interpret gestures, this “lecture-performance” underlines the prolific heritage of the American choreographer.  From this scenic re-contextualisation there springs a dance of multiple possibilities and shifts in meaning.

© Noé Soulier


In Mouvement sur Mouvement, I reproduce, as precisely as possible, sequences from the Improvisation Technologies by William Forsythe. They are short lectures where Forsythe demonstrates different tools to generate and analyse movements. He produces short improvisations and many gestures that comment on other movements by indicating and highlighting specific elements. These movements are not Forsythe’s choreography, they are what happens when he explains his approach to movement. By treating them as dance material, I hope to shift their status: what was an explanation of the material becomes the material itself. I thus try to address the question: how can movement be about movement? While performing these gestures, I develop a reflection on the ways movements are defined in various choreographic techniques and on the experiences of the body created by these modes of definition. (….) All these differences will have a profound impact on the experiences of both the performer and the spectator. Noé Soulier

This work on analysing choreographic and composition practices has its origin in an experience in 2007, while he was dancing Set and Reset by the famous choreographer Trisha Brown. The young dancer was surprised to discover that he had difficulty in interpreting this dance, which did not however present any technical problem. He then realised that his way of looking at the movement, resulting from his classical training, did not allow him to really comprehend gestures or actions related to other dance styles or practices. 
This revelation thus led him to develop focal lengths of attention: conceptual frameworks that offer different ways of understanding the movement and the body. This research is situated on the tenuous border between an artistic practice that focuses on the spectator's attitude and a reflection on art that seeks less to decipher the meaning of the works than to enrich the many different ways in which they can be experienced.

Noé Soulier’s work thus explores choreography and dance through many different devices. In conceptual projects as his book Actions, mouvements et gestes [Actions, Movements and Gesture] published in 2016 (1) or the performance Mouvement sur Mouvement, he analyses and describes different ways to conceive movements that aim to offer multiple ways to experience the body. The series of choreographic pieces including Removing, Faits et gestes, Second Quartet for the L.A. Dance Project company and Les Vagues [The Waves] (created in 2018), tries to activate the physical memory of the spectators with movements that aim at objects or events that are absent, thus suggesting more than they display. The choreographed exhibition Performing Art, created at Centre Pompidou in 2017, reverses the usual position of dance in the museum by choreographing the installation of a selection of works from the collection by professional art handlers on stage.

Born in Paris in 1987, Noé Soulier studied at the CNSM in Paris, at the National Ballet School of Canada and at the PARTS school for contemporary dance in Brussels. He received a master’s degree in philosophy at La Sorbonne University (Paris IV) and took part in Palais de Tokyo’s residency programme: Le Pavillon. In 2010, he won first prize in the Danse Élargie competition, organised by the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris and the Musée de la Danse. Noé Soulier has been an associate artist at the CND, Centre national de la danse, in Pantin since 2014 and was an associate artist at the CDCN Toulouse / Occitanie from 2016 to 2018.

(1) Actions, mouvements et gestes, Noé Soulier, Collection Carnets, Editions du Centre National de la Danse, Pantin, 2016
Statement of intent for the show and biography: Noé Soulier website