Something unusual is happening in Taikoo Place this week: a graceful, human-sized roly poly comes to life in the lobbies; then a couple step onto a one-legged platform, moving around carefully to find their footing. These incredible balancing acts are, in fact, part of ArtisTree Selects: Moving Pieces’ finale show, Tentative Approaches to a Point of Suspension, by French dance and circus artist Yoann Bourgeois.
Bourgeois, who rose to international fame in 2017 after his phenomenal performances at Paris’ Panthéon became a viral sensation, is known to combine elements of dance, theatre and circus arts in his avant garde works. “I am a dancer, acrobat, actor, juggler…but I also call myself a joueur (player),” he says. “In circus arts we often manipulate physical forces such as gravity, centrifugal force and balance, and I want to explore new ways to play with these forces in and out of the theatre.”
Bourgeois’ highly anticipated Asian debut at ArtisTree consists of five short pieces each featuring unique sets. The show begins with Culbuto, starring a dancer-turned-roly-poly, transitions into Dialogue, which features a raised platform on a single central leg. The journey then continues with Fugue/Table, in which two performers dance on and around a wobbly table and chairs; while Hourvari shows a couple’s interaction on a spinning turntable. Finally, a staircase and a trampoline become the stage in Fugue/Trampoline. Through these devices, invisible physical forces are made discernible as Bourgeois and his partner attempt to balance (and challenge) the forces, at times resisting and at times giving into the pull.
Bourgeois doesn’t only manipulate the forces in his performances, however. His artistic curiosity finds him even manipulating common places into spaces in which to experiment, both with techniques and with the boundaries of a limitless stage. “To place a device in a public space requires us to compose with the environment,” he says. “By regularly adapting the devices to the environment, we put our work in a state of continuous evolution, and this is a way of staying alive.” For instance, the performance venues at Taikoo Place provide Bourgeois a creative ground on which to play. Culbuto and Dialogue are first staged in the lobbies of Taikoo Place, where passers-by can marvel at the mesmerising acts from a close distance; followed by Fugue/Table, Hourvari and Fugue/Trampoline, which are performed inside ArtisTree.
While each piece showcases a different set, a common theme runs through all of them. “As a juggler, I’m fascinated by the notion of the suspension point, which is the brief moment when an object – or in this case, our bodies – thrown in the air reaches the summit of its arc before the inevitable fall,” he says. “This is precisely the moment that I want to capture – the peak before the fall, the moment of weightlessness, the moment of immortality.”
In a way, the suspension point also transpires an existential issue, according to Bourgeois. “We as human are very small in the face of nature, and we have little control over the forces that act upon us,” he says. “Through my works I want to show that even if we give into these forces, do nothing and just let things happen, as long as we can focus on this moment of balance and live in the now, we are going to be fine.”
ARTISTREE SELECTS: MOVING PIECES
8 August-28 Septmeber
Tentative Approaches to a Point of Suspension is now on show with free performances taking place in the lobbies of Taikoo Place. Find out more here.