He Who Falls


Compagnie Yoann Bourgeois: He Who Falls at London International Mime Festival

Six performers appear to defy the laws of gravity, responding with strength and grace to maintain balance onboard a constantly shifting platform.

When an imposing, suspended, podium begins to spin, pivot, swing and elevate, the only way to withstand its forces is through agile movement. Faced by such instability, bodies lean, climb, hang and fall, coming together and then apart, in this perilous dance of survival.

A French artist equally dedicated to the circus arts and contemporary dance, Yoann Bourgeois has long been fascinated by ideas of weightlessness and the physics of suspension. For this ingenious show, he challenges performers from both disciplines to meet the physical demands of his intriguing staging, each scenario choreographed to rousing tracks from opera aria, ‘Casta Diva’, to Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way.’
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Compagnie Yoann Bourgeois - He Who Falls (Celui Qui Tombe) 2 © Géraldine Aresteanu

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Interview with Compagnie Yoann Bourgeois 

ART.ZIP: He Who Falls is described as a poetic creation, is this your personal preference or any meanings behind the poetics?
CYB: By poetic I mean it touches all our senses. The drama I’m looking for is multi-layered and with many different meanings. I don’t want there to be just one. I specifically want to point to multiple meanings.

ART.ZIP: The music is impressive, which is a perfect match with the performance. Please introduce us how your team work together, such as sound, lighting and stage setting?
CYB: In collaboration with my team I work towards creating a working relationship between the different elements of staging a piece – the sound, lighting, action et. We look for the dramatic tension between these various elements. To make all this work we need to gently re-arrange these relationships. We adjust everything which goes towards creating ‘le jeu’, the game, a term we use in its purely mechanical sense – the space left between two pieces of machinery which allows them to function freely.

ART.ZIP: Performing on the constantly shifting platform reminds us the sort of acrobatics, would you tell us about the inspiration of this stage setting?
CYB: The image you see is essentially a simplification of all the different acrobatic techniques of classic circus. The various styles are reduced or concentrated, but at the same time our perception of their impact is maximised.

ART.ZIP: This work is not just to bring the audience a visual feast such as acrobatics. More importantly, it is a sense of imbalance and confrontation in the physical and psychological way, what do you want to explore and express in essence?
CYB: The work arises from the relationship between different forces. I seek to place the drama at the highest point and most acute angle at which these relationships occur.

ART.ZIP: Is there any particular reason that you chose six characters – three men and three women, rather than two, four or eight?
CYB: I chose three men and three women to represent a sort of mankind in miniature.

ART.ZIP: How do these actors perform on the unceasingly moving stage, it looks really difficult. Besides, is there any memorable experience during the rehearsal you can share with us?
CYB: The performers’ task is to allow a story to be conveyed. The platform that we’ve constructed is sensitive to emotions, and very powerful. It transmits elemental forces. Humanity as I’ve chosen to show it, reacts forcefully.