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Noé Soulier

Mouvement sur mouvement

Amphi de l'Opéra


Ballet Lorraine 625x230

Dance and Performance

Performance is at the heart of this Biennale edition. Learn more and discover the shows.


Things to see


Noe Soulier

How do you create a dance and talk about it? That is the challenge of Mouvement sur mouvement, in which Noé Soulier reflects on William Forsythe’s improvisation techniques. In particular, he focuses on the gestures used by Forsythe to explain a dance. By dancing these movements that speak about movements, Noé Soulier continues his earlier work on the positions of classical ballet: a delightful inventory of rhetorical gestures.


What does the title of the piece tell us about your work?
I watched William Forsythe’s Improvisation Technologies closely and repeatedly. It is a series of short videos where Forsythe gives ideas on how to improvise and observe movements. He provides brief examples of improvisation and uses a lot of demonstrative gestures that steer our attention and serve as commentary on other movements. I didn’t notice these gestures at first. Because they were part of his verbal description, they were invisible in the beginning, a bit like the gestures we make spontaneously during a conversation. But I became very interested in them because they speak of other movements. They are reflexive. Through movement, they say something about a movement. That’s where the title of the piece comes from.

What was the first gesture you “modified”?
In fact, I didn’t modify any gestures; I made every effort to reproduce as precisely as possible all of Forsythe’s movements. But I removed the verbal explanations. That completely transforms the status of the movements and the way we watch them. They are no longer just gestures that clarify an idea; they become choreographic material, a dance in and of itself. It’s not the gestures I modified but the context in which we observe them.

What does Forsythe represent for you as a dancer-choreographer?
In terms of the work purely on movement, what seems crucial to me is the idea of setting oneself localized geometric constraints, rather than globalized ones. In other vocabularies of movement that I have worked on, the definition of movements encompasses the whole body. For example, with Merce Cunningham, the entire body is determined geometrically. In Improvisation Technologies, the geometric boundaries are most often localized. He assigns a vector to a part of the body and the rest of it must adapt to that constraint, but the adaptation is not geometrically prede!ned. The result is that the various iterations of a same movement might be very different and, above all, it creates another type of relationship with the body.
We go from a homogenous body that self-manipulates in space to a heterogeneous body that manipulates part of itself, as you might manipulate a separate object. You focus your attention on one part of the body and you trust your physical mastery to produce the desired effect, rather than trying to direct the whole body all of the time.

What is your subject and what story does the piece tell?
I think the piece touches on several questions: when does a gesture become choreographic? How can a study of movement be developed with movement? Then there is the question of polyphony: how does verbal discourse transplant itself onto gestures and vice-versa?
The text helps us think about the different ways of defining a movement (with geometric or mechanical parameters, with a practical purpose, etc.) and about the relationships they create with the body. I also work on how you transform your body in the short and long term, on what that means from a personal and emotional perspective. Finally, I worked on strategies that are developed to give visibility to the way in which the movement is defined: the di!erence between making a gesture and showing it. This brought me back to my initial study of Improvisation Technologies but from a new angle: when does the movement show itself?

What are you trying to say about dance in this process?
I use a very broad definition of dance. Simone Forti wrote a dance report in which she described the way an onion, as it germinates, shifts its centre of gravity until it falls from the spout of the bottle where it had been placed. In this case, dance is in the eye of the beholder.
And so the discourse I develop in Mouvement sur mouvement is as much a dance as the movements I perform because the discourse o!ers ways of understanding and watching a movement that can a!ect our experience. I believe that this broad conception of dance has great possibilities, but I don’t defend the idea as an absolute truth.


"When does a gesture become choreographic? I use a very broad definition of dance."

Noé Soulier

Amphi de l'Opéra

Dates et horaires

  • Fri 19 Sep18:30
  • Sat 20 Sep19:00
  • Durée : 50 min environ


  • Plein tarif 16€
  • Tarif réduit 13€


  • CatégorieC

Solo — 2013 — Run time 50 min — In french with english subtitles

Chorégraphe et danseur : Noé Soulier
: Opéra de Lyon, Biennale de la danse

Coproduction Festival d’automne à Paris, La Ménagerie de verre (Paris), Kaaïtheater (Bruxelles), Bruges Concertgebouw – Production WP Zimmer – Avec le soutien de Centre National de la Danse (Paris) et des moulins de Paillard – Remerciements à la Forsythe Company

Photo © DR - Portait © Laurent Philippe

To be explored



Performative dances: deframed French choreographies, 1990-2010.

Café Danse - CCI, Palais du Commerce
Wed 17, 4 pm - Free Entry

Jan Fabre

Jan Fabre is Laurent Goumarre’s special guest for a conversation that’s open to the public. 

Théâtre Les Ateliers
Sat 20, 2pm - Free entry


Performance: a history in commentary and images. This lecture, open to all, offers a journey through the history of performance with video excerpts enriched by commentaries. 

Café Danse - CCI, Palais du Commerce
Fri 19, 6pm - Free entry


Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present by Matthew Akers. A retrospective of her work which will be the opportunity for Abramović to answer the  question she is constantly asked: how is this art?

Cinéma Le Comoedia
Sun 21, 11.15am – Single price: €4.80


An event around the DVD Anna Halprin, Danser sa vie,  just released in France. An invitation to discover the career of this wonderful dancer through a historical presentation, screenings, and an exploration of the body. 

Théâtre Les Ateliers
Sat 27, 5.30pm - Free entry

Frigo Group

Performance art was one of the forms of artistic action produced by the Frigo group in Lyon in the 1980s. The Biennale has invited the players in that adventure to comment on a screening of their major performances of the time. 

Café Danse - CCI, Palais du Commerce
Sat 13 at 2pm

To be experienced


Ambra Senatore

Asta, an auction
Performance: Ambra holds an auction of everyday acts. The winning bidder will have their purchase performed at their home by Ambra Senatore.

Café Danse - CCI, Palais du Commerce
Thu 18, 12.30-2.30pm

Free entry 


Les Thermes

France Distraction - Living installation

A swimming pool filled with 25,000 black balls. On each ball, inscriptions borrowed from the Stoics. All you need to do is dive in, for a perfectly
literal immersion in a “big bath of morality”. A philosophical yet highly entertaining experience.

Café Danse - Palais du commerce
Wed 10, 17 and 24 and Sat 13 and 27, 1-5pm

Free entry, unlimited experimentation (subject to space)

Sat 20 at 2.30pm, 4pm and 5.30pm
Experiment assisted by Julien Fournet and Alice Popieul.

Free entry, booking required at ticket office

Thu 18 and Fri 19
Assisted experimentation, for schools only (booking required)