With a classical and contemporary dance background and holder of a Master’s in philosophy, the choreographer Noé Soulier combines these disciplines to create a new choreographic language. Exploring the relationship to time and space allows the dancer to dissect the movement and the intention behind it. Noé Soulier continuously enriches his dance vocabulary that evolves at the same pace as his creations. In July 2020 he was appointed director of the Centre National de Danse Contemporaine d'Angers (CNDC), a place of creation, representation, and training dedicated to contemporary dance.
Noé Soulier creates his own choreographic language from a vocabulary of actions and “practical goals” such as hitting, throwing, avoiding, ... He relies on the wealth of this vocabulary shared by all human beings, full of emotions and affect, which heightens the empathy and kinesthetic resonance within the spectator. Yet, the choreographer wishes to curb the identification of these actions, by not accomplishing them in full or by using parts of the body not adapted to such goals, in order to make them unfamiliar and offer another perception of these gestures.
Created in 2015, ”Removing”offers the public a choreography showcasing the body in motion as it achieves “practical goals”. Through this approach, Noé Soulier highlights the details of the mobility of the human body when it focuses on a precise goal to attain, to achieve. Few people think about how they perform a movement when they carry out a precise action with a goal to achieve. In ”Removing”, Noé Soulier structures the choreography based on everyday movements from which he has removed the practical aspect. The composition of the piece is fairly classical, and is choreographed in a highly controlled and planned manner.
The piece ”Faits et gestes” leaves room for the dancers to improvise: all the phrases are already written but the interpreters make improvised choices on the stage. The fact that the phrases are written and strongly defined guarantees a legible structure and brings the dancers together in unisons or canons. The improvised choices such as entering and leaving the stage or even the decisions to start or stop a phrase, create another form of choreography, far more decentralised and organic, where the dancers constantly adapt to one another. This way of writing, for Noé Soulier, is in keeping with the very nature of his vocabulary, incorporating the incomplete, the unfinished that is reflected in the choreography itself.
While “Les Vagues”, a piece for six dancers and two percussionists, pursues the same idea of decentralised composition as ”Faits et gestes”, the improvisations were filmed, and each interpreter then learnt their danced part so as to fix movement phrases. The music is also composed in a decentralised manner: starting from the structure generated choreographically, the musicians have built rhythmic phrases linked to each movement phrase. On stage, the interpreters, musicians and dancers alike, adapt to one another. In this way, through his pieces, Noé Soulier wishes to extend his creative approach to the varying aspects of representation: choreography, music, scenography, etc.
”The series of choreographic pieces including ”Removing, Faits et gestes”, ”Second Quartet” for the company L.A. Dance Project or his latest creation ”Les Vagues”, attempts to trigger the body memory of the spectators with movements that target absent events or objects and that, through this, suggest more than they actually show”
In his work, Noé Soulier shows how different ways of conceiving movement can change our perception and generate different experiences, for the dancer and the spectator alike. He designs choreographic projects for presentation off-stage, for example in museums. He has also written a book ”Actions, Mouvements et gestes” (Editions du CND, 2016) in which he develops his approach to analysis and writing of movement as a choreographic proposal.
Since 2017, Noé Soulier has led a choreographic project in museums. ”Performing Art”, created at the Centre Pompidou in 2017 and revived at the Mucem in September 2020, proposes to change the traditional presentation of exhibitions by choreographing the process of installing works of art before the spectators. The works presented thus appear in an ephemeral manner. This project reflects on the place of dance in museums, as well as on choreographic art as the art of arranging space and time. We also find once again the desire to use “practical goals” – in this case, installing works, where performers are exhibition installers – in order to create a choreographic device.
”Mouvement sur Mouvement”, created in 2014, and also performed in museums, shows Noé Soulier alone on stage, carrying out the sequences from William Forsythe’s ”Improvisation Technologies”. He depicts this tool of choreographic analysis and creation, while orally presenting the gestures performed, as well as the various ways of observing and producing movement. The overlay of words and danced gestures offers a totally different perspective on movement for both the dancer and the spectator; his voice guides his dance, sometimes in harmony, sometimes in complete opposition. Practice of dance and reflection are presented on the same footing; precise explanations are deflected and placed in motion, raising new questions as to the possibilities of dance.
”The analyses of the ways of defining and presenting movement that I propose […] hover on the narrow line between artistic practice that focuses on the spectator’s attitude, and a reflection on art that seeks less to decipher the meaning of works than to enrich the multiple ways of experiencing them.”