Kitsou Dubois: Weightlessness Gives Us Incredible Freedom

The extraordinary circus performance Écoute / Expansion by the author and choreographer Kitsou Dubois will be held in the in the great theatre hall of the  NIS business centre in Novi Sad, within the Flags of the Future programme on 30 April twice – at 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. This time, the Novi Sad audience will have an opportunity to experience the fascinating connection of science and performing arts, while this unique performance will create a special ‘dreamlike universe’, discovering a new sensation of a weightless state.

French choreographer Kitsou Dubois is a talented artist who, it seems, has always danced off stage. She is fascinated by the unusual. Therefore, her stage is often on the façades of buildings, on the water, and even in factories. Her artistic work is enriched by the unique experience of parabolic flight when she spent several minutes in a weightless state. She experienced this state during her stay at NASA in Houston as part of the Villa Medici Hors les Murs programme. The experience was fundamental in leading her towards her choreographic work on ‘microgravity’. Taking the phenomenon of weightlessness as a starting point, she has adopted a different approach to exploring movement, the perception of surroundings, the sensation of time. Her work between scientific research and performing arts is motivated by the desire to share with the public the new sensations she experiences in a weightless state, and now, through the ‘Écoute / Expansion’ performance, she shares her experiences with us.

The artistic circus is coming to Novi Sad on the last day of April, and after the performance, Novi Sad citizens and visitors to the European capital will have the opportunity to talk to the author of this programme. Although busy with intensive rehearsals for the performance in Novi Sad, Kitsou Dubois took the time for an interview, and we share her vision of the universe and movement in a zero-gravity state. She also revealed her impressions of Novi Sad, and which arts, besides dance, she truly enjoys.

The Novi Sad audience will have an opportunity to see the performance ‘Écoute / Expansion’ within the ‘Flags of the Future’ programme. Could you describe the concept of the performance? What does the name itself indicate?

It is a creation where the two acrobats, one aerial, the other more earthly, are in an immersive environment of sound and light that react to their movements. They have to be attentive to everything that is happening and we have the feeling that the space of the set breathes at the same time as them, from which derives ‘Listening / Expansion’.

The project ‘Écoute / Expansion’ is inspired by your flying experience and experimental work with sound and light technologies. Why has your flight experience become so significant that you have decided to focus on it? Is it the freedom we experience during the flight that is so significant for body and mind?

I was overwhelmed by my first flight in weightlessness, where I became aware of all the loss of bearings caused by the absence of gravity… suddenly I felt the movements inside my body (the circulation of liquids, joints, etc.). My body became a space and what was intimate and difficult to apprehend became concrete and obvious. The fact of no longer falling gives us incredible freedom in our movements by releasing all the tensions linked to the fall… It is an experience for the body as much as for the spirit.

What does our body experience when we are weightless? Why is it important to recognise the feeling? What did it bring to you?

Instantly, we have the feeling of being space, we are only eyes, we have more body… which can be anxiety-provoking or enjoyable… Then we have the feeling of expanding because our organs are organized differently… we can no longer rely on gravity. We are in total loss of reference. It is this need to find landmarks that has been overwhelming for me, because my body has become fundamental to recreating an inside and an outside.

You said that the goal of the performance is to see how science and technology can activate (discover) sensations and thus be close to people. What will the audience experience/feel on that occasion? How does this performance affect the audience, what are the experiences so far?

With ‘Écoute / Expansion’, we have created an immersive universe, like a matrix in which the two acrobats evolve and which they transform at the same time. Everything is done in real time. The objective is to embark, by empathy, the spectators in this improbable universe. Initially, they are cradled in our dreamlike universe and then we offer them a more analytical listening. It is a double experience where the tension between dreamlike and didactic is the engine of an approach at the crossroads of arts and sciences.

You had a unique opportunity to experience a parabolic flight within the Villa Medici Hors les Murs programme, what did the experience look like?

This experience deeply upset me by changing all my bearings. I have thus developed and affirmed a research work in dance where the perception of time and space is at the center of my choreographic writing. The circulation of movements inside the body, and their projections in the space of representation define the time and the progress of my creations. The use of image, sound and light technologies allows me to recreate a universe where the landmarks are disrupted as if in weightlessness.

You are known for pushing your performances beyond theatre stages, out of the box. Why is it important? A larger number of audiences can experience what you have imagined, and it is certainly a great challenge for the artist.

I am part of this generation of dancers who do not think that the theater stage is the only place where dance can exist. Moreover, it is with my dance that I perceive the world around me. It’s my way of meeting other environments and other audiences. I feed on these encounters and I wish to convey to the spectators the importance of movement in life and of the discovery of the different landmarks that can open up possibilities.

What other types of art do you enjoy as an audience? What relaxes you in particular?

I like cinema a lot (the art of movement too!), plastic arts and video installations, and I go to the swimming pool a lot… the water relaxes me enormously.

What are these everyday activities that make your day, regardless of thinking about choreography?

My morning warm-up, going swimming, taking care of the garden and going for walks with my dogs and otherwise the life of the house, the kitchen, etc.

How do you like Novi Sad? Have you had an opportunity to explore it so far? How do you see Novi Sad in the light of the European Capital of Culture title?

We stayed in Novi Sad last November and I was very touched by the welcome and the kindness of the people… I felt the desire and the enthusiasm for this participation in the European project for culture. I can only support and encourage him… and hope so.

The ‘Flags of the Future’ programme is sponsored by IDEA, DDOR, А1 Srbija and NIS.

Authors: Gala Gajin and Marina Marić

Photo: Kitsou Dubois’ private archives

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