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The Body of The City: Urban Connection Through Dance

With urban sprawl and the rise of new technology we are becoming less and less connected with others and our surroundings, living in physical and virtual bubbles. The ‘The Body of the City’ (Le Corps de la Ville) is a series of short films designed and directed by Nicolas Habas that seeks to bridge the gap between the body and cities through 4 minute dance films which document a poetic journey through cities. Each choreography creates interactions between the dancer’s body, urban landscapes and city dwellers, establishing a metaphorical sense of place.

Author: Siphilele Magagula

Image: Courtesy of CCCDanse

The city can be described as a network that connects people, places and activity and is often analogized with living organisms. “...’Urban tissue’, ‘the heart if the city’, ‘arteries’, and ‘lungs’ are some of the terms that comprise the extensive urban planning vocabulary” (Jesús Hernández, 2014)...The city can be described as a network that connects people, places and activity and many times analogies with living organisms have been used to describe urban environments. ‘Urban tissue, a city’s heart, arteries and lungs are some of the terms that comprise the extensive urban planning vocabulary’ (Jesús Hernández, 2014)... However, modern architecture has created disembodied forms that have lost and their anthropological significance and connection with the human body. French anthropologist Marc Augé has coined the term “non-place” which refers to spaces where social relations, references to history, and identity are erased.

The Body of The City (Le Corps de la Ville) aims to “highlight the architectural heritage that has a social and human history, and to revalue certain forgotten or denigrated places by bringing a new dimension to their memory, a fresh look at the experience lived by the users of the city” - thus attempting to reconnect cityscapes with the body through artistic expression. This initiative has produced a total of 30 mini films with 130 dancers made in 10 cities in 5 countries of the European Union (France, Spain, Slovenia, Croatia and Germany) and has reportedly attracted about 50,000 viewers online. Each city presents its unique characteristics and challenges, which the dancer try to embody through movement.

Video: Courtesy of Le Corps de la Ville

Video: Courtesy of Le Corps de la Ville

Connection and Sense of Place in City Through Body Navigation

How we navigate through the city influences our experience of space. Walking, for instance, creates more intimate forms of space exploration, without the physical and emotional barrier of vehicle. The project Le Corps de la Ville troop scale, mimic and compliment the shapes of the cities’ landscapes, creating an artistic and expressive composition, frame by frame. Every single step is inspired by the city they are in, the city which serves as the muse, the stage, the audience, and a part of the performance.

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