In the beginning there was dance
The BNP Paribas Foundation has supported contemporary dance since it was created in 1984. As a wind of renewal swept through dance at that time, newly appointed General Delegate Martine Tridde-Mazloum proposed backing the movement. Rather than taking the beaten track, she chose boldness and modernity, resolutely taking a stand for creation, which goes hand in hand with accepting risk. Artists Andy de Groot, Susan Buirge and, later, Angelin Preljocaj were the first to receive support.
This marked the start of an extraordinarily fruitful adventure with choreographers and key institutions such as the Maison de la Danse de Lyon, which the foundation has funded for 33 years. In the late 1990s, the same process was launched for the contemporary circus. Thus began a story of loyalty and passion, written in the Foundation's DNA.
a story of loyalty and passion.
Values shared by the Foundation
Reaching out to others, being in touch, being attentive to life, making relationships one of the drivers of commitment: the values that the BNP Paribas Foundation has upheld from the outset are fully embodied by dance and the circus.
These performing arts fulfil our desire to reach all audiences with our cultural, social and environmental missions through their ability to cross language barriers. In addition, their hybrid creation process, constant sense of invention and ability to adapt to reality in order to better transform it are fully in line with our approach. Our goal is to support each artist in his journey in a personalised way and in the long term.
Our goal is to support each artist in his journey in a personalised way and in the long term.
Dance & Circus, complementary and emblematic arts
In their contemporary reinvention, dance and circus put the subject at the heart of the creative process. They share a complete freedom of style and a taste for artistic cross-fertilisation that mixes their disciplines’ codes with theatre, the visual arts, music or performance, all of which can be seen in shows by circus artists Johann Le Guillerm and Aurélien Bory. Their proposals offer a variety of perspectives, points of view and talents that speak to everyone. Of different backgrounds, physical conditions and ages, their performers and creators reflect the world’s diversity. Even more than the bodies’ youth, what is expressed on stage is first of all a real and communicative spirit of youthfulness.
Contemporary: why and how?
Supporting contemporary dance and circus is not a random choice for the BNP Paribas Foundation. While playing a part in the history of their art—Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui was, for example, the pupil of Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, who herself trained with Maurice Béjart—these disciplines are the forms that may best express our modernity today. By taking the risk of creation and exploring unknown or emerging territories, these artists provide us with the keys to question and understand our present, but also our future. From Emanuel Gat to Yann Frisch and Jann Gallois, they draw common horizons where a culture invented on a daily basis carries the hope of living together.
A network open to the world
Because their modes of creation are nourished by otherness, the Foundation supports the circulation and residency of choreographers and circus artists from all geographical horizons within partner structures: the Maison de la Danse de Lyon, Centre national de la Danse, Montpellier Danse festival, Biennale Internationale des Arts du Cirque and Fabrique Chaillot. This specific form of corporate philanthropy, which is also sometimes carried out abroad through our subsidiaries, promotes the international mobility of artists and allows them to further develop their work. Thus, the creations and tours of the Groupe Acrobatique de Tanger have been closely supported by joint Franco-Moroccan philanthropy with strong involvement from the BMCI Foundation, BNP Paribas' subsidiary in Morocco.
Digital, a new field of cultural action
The omnipresence of new technology has prompted the BNP Paribas Foundation to back creators who take advantage of these digital tools to offer an artist's fascinating perspective on these changes. As part of the Lyon 2018 Dance Biennial, this led to the creation of the first Danceathon and Yoann Bourgeois' Fugue VR, a new sensory experience that breaks down the boundaries between artists and the public. In a 2.0 world where relationships are increasingly dematerialised, the performing arts offer a field of play and analysis to bring people closer together.
At the heart of the creation process
The BNP Paribas Foundation strives to share its artistic commitments with its various audiences: the Group’s partners, customers and employees. Through many invitations to performances and by organising meetings with the artists, it seeks to offer insight into the vitality of contemporary dance and circus and their creative processes.
Aiming to breathe more dance into our daily lives and to share the experience of creation, the BNP Paribas Foundation also backs artistic projects that bring choreographers and amateur dancers together. In 2018, for example, it joined forces with the Théâtre de la Ville and the Théâtre du Châtelet to recreate Akram Khan's piece Kadamati in Paris, performed in the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville by 700 non-professional dancers! These projects are invitations to enter the world of dance and share unforgettable group experiences.