Bastien Dausse

A Journey into the World of Acrobatics

Bastien Dausse’s acrobatic journey began at the Bordeaux circus school, leading him to the Académie Fratellini in 2011, where he specialized in acro-dance. Under the guidance of directors like Jérôme Thomas and Yoann Bourgeois, Bastien honed his skills and explored new dimensions of performance. In 2014, he co-founded the Barks company, creating the acclaimed show “Les idées grises” and earning prestigious grants. His talent shone at the IN d’Avignon festival in 2016, solidifying his reputation as a dynamic force in acrobatics. 

Today, we caught Bastien Dausse in a moment of temporal and physical suspension, providing us with the perfect opportunity to delve deeper into his story and discover the essence of who he truly is.

Thank you for joining us, Bastien. Can you tell us about your journey into the world of acrobatics and how you discovered your passion for it?

Thank you very much for this invitation. I’ve always been fascinated by the acrobatic body and the body in motion. When I was very young, I was already trying to reproduce the stunts and impossible jumps I saw in martial arts films. I wanted to surpass myself, to be able to run up walls, jump from rooftop to rooftop – in other words, to play with gravity.

I then trained in circus arts, which was an extremely complete discipline for my taste. I could develop my passion for acrobatics, while discovering dance and theatre. Basically, an immense creative freedom.

The concept of equilibrium, derived from the Latin “aequilibrium,” holds different meanings for different individuals. What does it signify to you personally?

Equilibrium has always been a particularly concrete notion for me. When I was very young, I taught myself to walk on my hands; it was almost natural for me. Then there was the notion of perfect balance in my acrobatic practice. A little more height, a little less speed, a little more grip, a little less inclination: the success of an acrobatic figure was the result of the perfect equilibrium of a multitude of small actions.

It was only later that I realized that equilibrium could have a much broader meaning. The “equilibrium” I portray in my shows is open to interpretation and reverie. It’s a notion that speaks to everyone, and can mirror the world around us.

What drew you to specialize in acro-dance at the Académie Fratellini, and how did your experience there shape your artistic development?

The choice of discipline came very naturally. It wasn’t circus in particular that interested me, but rather the creative freedom I could find there.

Acro-dance was a discipline a little less full of history, less restrictive, and therefore, for my taste, offering me more narrative possibilities.

My discovery of dance, of the choreographic art form, came through acro-dance. I learned a form of acrobatics that could find its richness beyond the circus cliché of the most dangerous trick.

Your art frequently incorporates suspension from the ground. Could you elaborate on the significance of this recurring element in your work?

What fascinates me is the universality of suspension. The universality of the relationship with gravity. I like the idea that spectators can identify with what I present on stage. People often ask me if they can try out my devices, as if they were easy, as if they were just forms of gravitational escape. Unfortunately, I have to tell them the truth, explaining that it takes years of acrobatic work. But these reflections are very flattering, because that’s exactly what I’m aiming for, to convey a feeling of weightlessness, a lightness, always in a form of visual minimalism. I’m quite convinced that you can tell a lot with simplicity.

Can you share a memorable moment from presenting “Les idées grises” at the IN d’Avignon festival in 2016?

It was a quite crazy experience for me. The very beginning of my career, my first show, presented at the biggest theatre festival in the world. In fact, there are very few acrobatic forms presented at this festival.

The most beautiful memory was quite simply the evening of the premiere: we were playing outside, in a magnificent courtyard, the walls covered with ivy. Nightfall came right in the middle of our show, creating a completely timeless moment.

If you were to improvise a performance right now, what music or sound would you choose, and why?

For something so spontaneous, I think I’d choose Nils Frahm or Hania Rani. What I like about their music is obviously the lightness that can emanate from it, but also their evident mastery of their instruments.

The history of cinema has long depicted a conflicted and troubled relationship between man and machine, often portraying them at odds, as seen in Kubrick’s film “2001: A Space Odyssey.” However, in this case, we are discussing love rather than struggle. How did this symbiotic relationship with the machine develop? It is intriguing how, philosophically speaking, your temporal and gravitational suspension is also facilitated by the “machine,” which assumes an artistic purpose in our lives because of your presence.

My relationship with the machine has always been one of fascination rather than fear. From the early days of my training, I was captivated by the possibilities that machinery offered in terms of extending human capabilities. The machine, in this context, becomes an enabler of artistic expression, allowing me to explore new dimensions of movement and suspension.

It is not just about overcoming physical limitations, but also the desire to create objects that will intrigue and question the curiosity of the audience.

What does the idea of “living human sculpture” signify to you?

I’ve always had a passion for the visual arts, and modern art in particular. 

When I was younger, when I saw certain works of art in museums, I regularly felt like climbing on them, playing with them, bringing them to life in a way other than by looking at them. This is one of the reasons why I now create performances with a dual purpose. The first is aesthetic, the second choreographic.

I like spectators to wonder what my devices are for, to appreciate them as sculpture, and to rediscover them when the dancers start working on them.

Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian scientist, inventor, and artist—a true Renaissance polymath, renowned for blending science, technology, and pure art poetically. Similarly, I see a skilful integration of science, technology, and art in your performance process. What were the initial steps in testing the machinery? Where did the intuition to present it to the audience in this manner originate? And how do you envision its evolution in the future?

Thank you for seeing similarities with such a genius ! The integration of science, technology, and art in my performances began with a deep curiosity and a desire to go further with my practice.

The initial step begins with the idea of a movement. I imagine an action, or a sensation I’d like to achieve, such as simulating lunar gravity, or walking on walls. Then there are months, even years of experimentation and research. I work a lot on an empirical basis, to find the solution that best suits my idea. I carry out dozens, hundreds of trials, modifying and improving the structures I imagine, sometimes even starting from scratch if I have the intuition that it’s not the right track.

Only then, when the object has been created, do I start the choreographic work. This stage is usually fairly quick, because the basis of all my creation comes from the idea of a movement. 

I like the idea of building up a collection of objects, each of which in its own way allows gravity to be varied. In the future, I’d love to be able to develop the museal aspect even further, presenting real exhibitions with regular performances, where all the pieces are activated at the same time, for example.

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations and goals for your career as an acrobat and performer?

Obviously, I want to continue defying gravity. It’s a constant I think I need in my life. I want to continue and go even further in my work around the hybridisation of forms. I like to bring together circus, dance, sculpture and science.

And finally, I’d like to pursue my work as a choreographer, and not only as a performer. I take immense pleasure in orchestrating bodies, and I’d like to take things further, especially in my next show where I won’t be on stage.

Team

Photography · Matias Alfonzo
Styling · Elisa Schenke
Grooming · Miwa Moroki
Location · Cirque Les Noctambules

Husband Wife

Crafting Comfort: The Journey of HUSBAND WIFE

Founded in 2015 by Brittney Hart and Justin Capuco, Husband Wife is a New York City-based design studio known for its sophisticated yet playful and eclectic interiors. Throughout our conversation, we explored the profound connection between “comfort” and contemporary design, delving into a nuanced discussion that intertwined social and cultural analyses of the concept.

To start our conversation, I’m intrigued to learn about the journey that led to the establishment of Husband Wife.

Our name sort of started as a joke. We bought the domain name for our wedding in 2010 while we were still working for other designers. As life went on we realised we wanted to have a bit more control over our lives and express our own design visions. We realised we already had a website….and then a name. It felt a bit tongue-in-cheek but also mildly anonymous, which we like. More importantly, it led to us thinking about what it meant to do this together, and that design can be about duplicity and negotiation. Although we share so many common interests, like our guiding light of sci-fi and antiques, we’ve realised that it’s more our differences that are our strength. We have the respect and capacity to see each other eye-to-eye, but we want there to be differences in opinion. Now that our team has grown, we have built this into our mantra.


Describe Husband Wife in just three words.

Romantic, restrained, considerate.


Given your New York base, how do you perceive the city artistically, and what changes do you anticipate in its artistic landscape?

We both come from a very specific music scene that has a strong DIY ethos and for us that is a nostalgic detail we hold on to. Simultaneously, New York seems to balance on this tightrope of time where everyone pushes forward while still having nostalgic concepts of the past. We’ve accepted this and bred it into our thinking about projects. For many artists and creatives in NYC, some of these notions of time are coming to the forefront in different ways. For instance, we are already seeing our generation grow companies that reject prescribed notions of the future, most noticeably embracing craft (seeming of shoot of the DIY-ethos) and narrative (in varying ways, see Bode, TIWA Select, Studio Giancarlo Valle). For us, we see this manifesting in our own way; always searching for a thorough line of modernity where this layering of time creates a framework for real life. We hope that the people that occupy our spaces have a voice.

Could you elaborate on your definition of “comfort”? 

In the same way that the city seeps into an artist’s perspective, every gesture within a home imprints on the person experiencing it. To us, when you’re truly aware of your space and everything in it, you’re engaging in the present moment in a way that keeps you emotionally awake. We see our spaces as a bespoke response to the outside world and take the time to study our clients’ lives. For us comfort is this attention to the users movements and feelings. These can be small moments that feel personal and considerate. Observing the weathering of a wooden cabinet or the patina of a brass bowl; the comfort that comes with this idea is almost meditative to us.

Building on the idea of comfort, what societal and cultural needs do you believe people are seeking to fulfil ? 

Connection. We believe in the power of local communities, from our home in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, to subcultures in music, to the NY design scene – we’ve seen how these relationships affect life positively. New York City, in particular, shows how these different groups can interact and, we believe, was a real reason for acceptance and cultural change in the 21st century. Sadly, many of these smaller scale communities are disappearing. We believe homegrown communities create a sense of comfort and belonging and we don’t want to see them disappear. 

We try to express this in our work by embracing our communities and supporting others’. We design our spaces to foster connection – sometimes it’s the smallest acts like a refurbished piece of furniture or art from a local gallery that reinforce this notion. We believe most people seek a sense of place, grounded in comfort, and crafted through meaningful connections.

Your work often explores the interplay of volume, scale, and form. Can you delve into how you leverage these elements in your designs?  

Everything we do is an expression of tension layered in research. A brutalist building may inform the design for a piece of furniture. A vintage picture frame might influence paneling applied to a dressing room. There are so many lessons we can glean from historical codes, interpreting them in subtle ways, and tailoring to our clients’ lives. Ultimately we try to use unexpected interplay in volume and form as a tool that transports our clients (and perhaps resets) their perspective 

Something we refer to often is Marina Abramović and ULAY’s ‘Rest Energy’ art performance piece  where each person is responsible for holding the other in steady balance with what’s happening in  every moment. Abstractly, this is how we go about every project – holding mirrors up to each other’s instincts. Practically, we believe moments of tension in design (the unexpected) create  follies that allow engagement in the moment.

Can you share some of the most emotionally resonant projects you’ve undertaken and what made them particularly memorable? 

Every project is emotional in its own right because each contains a completely idiosyncratic charisma that’s tied to the character of its residents, the minutiae of the building’s architecture, and the research that went into every object sourced for the space. This astute awareness of the relationships that are fostered with every brief – through our clients, collaborators, vendors, and team – is something we hold dearly. It’s a dance of challenge and joy, of puzzle-piecing and of letting go. It’s an immense privilege to be a part of people’s interior lives. 

That being said, one project that has been long important to us is a residence we are developing in Ohio for a lovely couple and their growing family. This is a large historic home on the National Historic Register with an incredible, beautiful, and weird composition. This is a gothic mansion with true historical craft and a wild history of ownership. Details include a repurposed chapel with original confessionals, limestone wrapped gardens, and a vaulted dining room on the top floor of the property. We have been working on the project for five years, slowly creating a space that reconciles our clients’ grand property with their humble and family-oriented lives. This was a client that took a risk on us quite early in our studio’s existence – so in a sense, we feel that we have all grown together.

Looking forward, what aspects of Husband Wife’s future are you most enthusiastic about, and can you give us a glimpse of any upcoming projects or collaborations? 

Having completed our first hospitality project earlier this year, we’re curious to explore more eclectic mediums of space moving into the future. The infusion of residential beauty into commercial settings can be an intriguing test of design’s malleability in which the intimacy of private space is translated for public consumption. At this moment in time, we are working on an eclectic residence for a well-known contemporary artist, composer partner, and two children. They bring their own sensibilities to the conversation. Finding our common ground – or more specifically – negotiating a design language has been a rewarding challenge. Here we are blending historical codes with modernity to create a vibrant, engaging space for her family to play, love, host parties, relax, and in New York – find as many places to hide storage as possible. In her words the result is “blade runner meets art nouveau”.

In order of appearance

  1. Steinway Tower, Residence, New York, 2022. Photography by Nicole Franzen. Courtesy of Husband Wife.
  2. One Hanover Square Offices, New York, 2023. Photography by William Jess Laird. Courtesy of Husband Wife.
  3. Orange Barrel Media Office, New York, 2023. Commercial Project. Photography by Nicole Franzen. Courtesy of Husband Wife.

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