Supporting experiments with new forms

Digital technology is profoundly changing our world. That’s why the BNP Paribas Foundation supports dancers and circus artists in making digital technology a living source of creation. For example, it backs the (LA) HORDE collective, whose post-internet show To Da Bone brought a dance created on and with YouTube to the stage. 

Working closely with the Maison de la Danse, which it has backed for several years, the BNP Paribas Foundation also created the first European Dansathon with the Théâtre de Liège and Sadler's Wells in London, at the crossroads of dance and new technologies

The Foundation, which is also a partner of the Dance Connected section and the Lyon Dance VR programme, enabled circus artist, choreographer and co-director of CCN2-Centre chorégraphique national de Grenoble Yoann Bourgeois and multimedia author Michel Reilhac to co-direct Fugue VR (for Virtual Reality), a mixed-reality film co-produced by the Biennale .  

VR on the cutting edge of innovation 

"Technology shapes our use of the world,” says Maxime Fleuriot, transmedia enthusiast and artistic advisor for the 2018 Biennale’s digital programming. “And this is just the beginning. “It’s vital for performing artists to embrace these creative tools to give us their critical or poetic visions.” Whether individual, collective or in sensory interaction via mixed reality, virtual experience is a key asset. Artists must "get out of the theatre and the unity of place and time and reach new audiences by varying their approaches," says Fleuriot. 

That point of view is shared by Bourgeois, who has always wanted to "spread out and go to places where culture does not". In virtual reality he sees "the possibility of pushing this approach even further, even into a patient's hospital room, for example.” The sensations associated with VR are the very heart of his work. "My search is based on balance and vertigo. Even if the process of directing has nothing to do with it, VR allows me to delve deeper into these themes." Conceived as a variation on his Fugue/Trampoline created in 2009, Fugue VR explores "new forms while offering unique means of perception that have never been experienced before,” says Bourgeois. 

The Dansathon, a playground for tomorrow’s dance 

Aiming to foster dialogue between dance and digital technology, the first Dansathon took place in Lyon, London and Liège in September 2018. In partnership with three theatres (the Maison de la Danse de Lyon, Sadler's Wells in London and the Théâtre de Liège), the collaborative, connected, creative, three-day event brought together 90 artists of every stripe, dancers, coders, designers, makers and media specialists. Selected from over 400 applicants, they were divided into multidisciplinary teams in large dedicated spaces. Around some common themes, they experimented with digital working methods and technologies in a collaborative, trans-disciplinary and iterative approach.

After 72 hours of co-creative brainstorming, the teams presented their achievements to a multidisciplinary jury made up of such personalities as choreographers Wayne McGregor, Wang Ramirez and Pierre Rigal, Sadler's Wells director Alistair Spalding, Wong Chi-Yung, Théâtre de Liège director Serge Rangoni, the (LA) HORDE collective and Dominique Hervieu. The three winning projects were Digital Umbilical in London, Vibes in Lyon and Cloud Dancing in Liège. Each received a BNP Paribas Foundation grant and a commitment to help the partner theatres develop their prototype. 

Inventing support at the crossroads of practices

By making these events possible, the BNP Paribas Foundation is more than ever true to its calling, which is to create connections. Tomorrow's dance will take the viewer's experience beyond borders and limits and put life at the centre. The Foundation also experiments with ways of spotting and supporting artistic projects that are part of digital culture work processes and foreshadow the future. 

Being present at the emergence of innovative means of creating, producing and sharing, whose economy is still fragile, is in lockstep with the mission of the Foundation, which has always backed groundbreaking initiatives. 

"Dance, the art of the sensitive, cannot cut itself off from the technologies that permeate our lives," Hervieu said at the presentation of the Danceathon. Rangoni concluded with these words: "The Danceathon paves the way for new models where everything is possible, even the impossible!

Cloud Dancing - ©Romain Tissot.

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