After training in contemporary dance (Hawkins and Cunninghum), composition (Yano) and movement analysis (O. Rouquet), Kitsou Dubois became part of the New French Dance movement.
Kitsou Dubois has always enjoyed taking dance off stage and out of doors, bringing it onto building façades, water, and into factories. After her first stay at NASA in Houston, USA, sponsored by the Villa Medicis hors les murs programme, Kitsou Dubois embarked on her first parabolic flight in 1990 with the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES - the French Space Agency). Her experience on that flight proved fundamental, focusing her choreographic work on microgravity - a theme she has developed ever since. Starting from the phenomenon of weightlessness, she has built up a unique choreographic language that counterbalances the force of gravity on earth using imagination, skill, dance, images, circus arts, and digital technology. Her approach has led to the creation of multi-disciplinary productions that lie at the intersection between dance, plastic arts, circus, new technology and science. Kitsou Dubois has developed a sensory choreographic language that throws the audience’s perceptions off balance. Her artistic work establishes various types of relationships with the audience through shows, installations, immersive videos, in situ productions and films.
In 1999, Kitsou Dubois completed a PhD in Aesthetics, Science and Technology of the Arts at Paris 8 University, and her doctoral thesis was entitled Application des techniques de danse au vol en apesanteur, une danseuse en apesanteur (Applying dance techniques to weightless flight: a weightless dancer). After obtaining her PhD, she embarked on a two-year residency in London (1999 to 2000) with the arts and science agency Arts Catalyst at Imperial College London, with the Bio Dynamic Group. While in London, she was invited to go on a parabolic flight at Star City near Moscow. Kitsou Dubois has now gone on around twenty parabolic flights during her many residencies at the CNES Space Observatory and has shared the experience with around fifteen acrobats and dancers in her company. She immerses her performers in environments that alter gravity: in flight, in water (work in swimming pools) or via virtual reality devices (visual and sound environments, and sensory-based sensors). Her experimentation has enabled her to adopt a new approach to exploring movement, environmental perception, the sensation of time, our relationships with matter and others, and the poetry of an environment in which all bearings are altered. She has strong relationships with scientific and technological research and is frequently invited to conferences and meetings between the arts, sciences and technology. She received the 2020 International Grand Prix for Art in Space from the Fondation Jacques Rougerie, in partnership with the Academie des Beaux-Arts (French Academy of Fine Arts).
ARTS AND SCIENCES
Kitsou Dubois regularly collaborates with scientific establishments, universities and space agencies, particularly when researching and creating new productions. For her new stage productions Trajectoires Fluides (2002) and Analogies (2004), she took inspiration from the so-called ‘hard’ sciences by working with the Neurosensory Physiology Laboratory of the CNRS (French National Research Centre), the Institute of Fluid Mechanics in Toulouse, and the French Atomic Energy Commission in Pessac.
When creating Attraction Plurielles Kitsou Dubois worked with the CALHISTE laboratory to experiment with the deconstruction of images.
She then worked with the prestigious training centre for the Equipe de Voltige de l’Armée de l’Air (EVAA - French Air Force Aerobatics Display Team) creating a globally unprecedented aeroplane duet. Her acrobatic aerial show Du Haut Vol has been performed many times in France, in particular for the French National Holiday in Marseille, which attracts over 300,000 spectators.
To create her new production Ecoute/Expansion, she worked with the Centre de recherche en informatique et création musicale (CICM - Centre for Research in IT and musical creation) at Paris 8 University. She worked with the same laboratory when researching her project Le Corps Infini in 2017 and 2019, within the framework of a Labex Art H2H project led by Paris 8, with the Académie Fratellini and the ENS Louis Lumière.
Kitsou Dubois has been a teaching fellow at the Denis Diderot Paris 7 University for many years.
She has headed up many projects with the ESA (European Space Agency) and at the CNES’s (French Space Agency’s) Space Observatory. All her parabolic flights and underwater experiences have been filmed and images form part of her artistic material and are used in video installations, shows and in-situ performances.
*An aeroplane climbs to high altitude, cuts its engines and nose-dives. For twenty seconds, the body is freed of its weight, before it comes back down to the ground with a force of 2G.
Kitsou Dubois creates projection spaces that are designed to immerse the audience in a gravity-free universe. Her first installations used large-format images: Gravity Zero (in the year 2000 at the Lux Gallery in London) and Trajectoire Fluide (in 2002 at the International Film Festival at La Rochelle).
She then worked on the image itself: File/Air l’ambiguïté des limites was presented at the @rtOutdoors / @art Outsider at the Maison Européenne de la photographie (MEP - European House of Photography). In this piece, each stroke or line draws the outline of bodies linked to the contours of the environment, blurring the lines between imagination and reality.
Inversion1 in 2006, explored the time taken for movement to appear, from blurring to clarity, and was shown at the CNES’s premises for the Nuit Blanche event in Paris.
For the first time in March 2009, she was able to take cameras on board an Airbus A300-ZERO-G that enabled her to film in 3D or relief. These unprecedented images are part of her Perspectives : le temps de voir installation, presented in November 2011 at the @rt Outsider festival at the MEP Paris, at the Centre Pompidou Metz and then abroad, particularly at Riverside (United States).
Kitsou Dubois has also shown other forms of in situ installations at the Ouf d’Astro festival (Vaulx-en-Velin in 2012), Sidération (CNES, in Paris), in the ‘Air’ space at Futuroscope, and at the Piscine des Amiraux (Amiraux Swimming Pool) for the Nuit Blanche Event in Paris’s 18th district in 2014.
Her art films A World Without Gravity (2012), which recounts her flight and water experiences, and Aquafoot (2016), which shows an underwater match between two footballers, are regularly screened in France and abroad.
DANSE & CIRQUE
By alternating specific abstract limitations (the rules of the game when giving yourself to dance) and the tangible limitations of the circus arts (fixed trapeze bars, a rope, acrobatics and a trampoline etc.), it is possible to sense the right duration of a movement and the minimum force needed for maximum efficiency. Kitsou Dubois recreates the sensation of aerial acrobatics for her company - the process she went through to master falling, with the aim of revisiting an interiorised experience. By immersing dancers and circus performers in environments, situations or technologies that enable a form of unconsciousness (in water or in flight) and listening (using sensors) to be recalled, she can ‘give form’ to a performer’s subjective experience. The aim is for both the circus performer and the audience to forget the apparatus and the possibility of falling. In this way, she has created many circus numbers, putting together around ten shows mixing dance and circus.
For many years, she has notably worked with and taught regularly at the circus arts school, the Académie Fratellini. She also trains students at the Centre National des Arts du Cirque (French National Circus Arts Centre) at Châlon-en-Champagne (in partnership with the Centre National de la Danse - French National Dance Centre) and at various circus arts schools (at Catelleraux and Bordeaux etc.), and at the Briqueterie, the CDCN (French National Choreographic Development Centre) at Val de Marne.
Kitsou Dubois has also created a duet and two solos for circus performers at the initiative of the Académie Fratellini: A contrepoids (2007), Le Temps debout (2008) and l’Echappée (2010) for the “Actes seconds” and “Mises à feu” shows. She combined the three numbers to make one show: En suspens.
In 2009, she was the artistic director for the Autres Pistes festival (Cirque de la cité) at Théâtre de la Cité Internationale in Paris.
She was again given carte blanche in 2012 to create L’Eté en Apesanteur with the French musician, singer, actor and performer Fantazio. The show was devised as a contemporary cabaret, combining circus, dance, music and video. Her new productions for the stage include Ecoute/Expansion (2020), R+O (2017), Attractions Plurielles (2014), Sous le Vertige (2011), Traversées (2010), L’Espace d’un Instant (2006) and Trajectoires Fluides (2002) which all mixed dancers with circus performers.
Kitsou Dubois powerfully incorporates surroundings in her choreographic language, leading to the creation of in-situ productions directly linked to the architecture and environment. Her accumulated work with images enables her to fully inhabit these spaces, alternating image projection with live performances and universes of sound.
She has completely transformed unusual spaces in this way, including the Bagnolet swimming pool with Entre deux eaux (2006 - Paris, Quartier d’Eté event), the Château de la Chapelle Gauthier with D’un univers à l’autre (2007 Mémoires vives Act’Art 77), the Noirlac abbey with Vertiges des lieux et nuit (2009, Excentrique festival, and 2013), the chapel at the Collège Fontenelle with Passages for the Festival Automne in Normandy and the sky over Marseille in Provence with Du Haut Vol in 2013.
Her show Apparizione/Incarnazione transformed the spaces of the Rivoli Castle in Turin for the Teatro a Corte festival in July 2011.
She created Une Plongée en Apesanteur in 2014 for the Nuit Blanche, Paris at the Piscine des Amiraux (Amiraux swimming pool) and Un après midi avec Kitsou Dubois at the Collège des Bernardins in 2018 in Paris. Kitsou has done many residencies at town/city level that have involved giving exhibitions, workshops, lectures and creating unprecedented new shows for public spaces: in 2012-2013 at Prés-Saint-Gervais (93), then in 2020 at Ivry (94), as part of a CLEA (Contrat Local d'Éducation Artistique - a French scheme for promoting artistic education for the young) with La Briqueterie, the CDCN (National Choreographic Development Centre) in Val de Marne.
Kitsou Dubois is a choreographer and dance researcher. She explores experimental fields (notably weightlessness), extracting choreographic material for her shows.
She became the first choreographer in the world to experience weightlessness on board the French Space Agency’s (CNES) Caravelle zero G in 1990. Her experience on that flight was fundamental and the phenomenon of weightlessness became the departure point for her exploration of the perceptions of interior movement, space, time, and our relationships with matter and others.
As a research pioneer in this field, she has used scientific research into microgravity (primarily in neurophysiology) as the foundation for a method for developing her own artistic material. Using experimentation and observation she has developed a phenomenological approach that she applies to her art.
The experience of a weightless body is a fantastic illustration of how porous the relationship between the body and its surroundings can be. Without gravity, the fleeting disembodiment of bodies questions our behavioural strategies and how our brains influence our sense of balance. What is impossible on solid ground, remains possible in sensory memory. The resultant creative process immerses performers in situations that question their perception of gravity and attempts to balance the reality of weight on earth with the power of the imagination, which lives weightlessly. Kitsou Dubois focuses on mechanisms for developing gestures without lingering on their completion.
Setting bodies in motion using the phenomenon of tensions between the lightness of imagination and the reality of physical weight, between muscular power and vital energy, allows bodies to achieve states that are the basis of her choreographic language.
These investigations open fields of exploration for finding different readings of movement. Kitsou Dubois takes inspiration from a particular form of knowledge provided by science to trigger investigative themes in her artistic work. She draws on immersive experiences in experimental laboratories and creates situations where all bearings are lost in order to create the material for her shows.