The Arts Center New York University Abu Dhabi Rachid Ouramdane Corps extrêmes culture
In 2023, Dance Reflections by Van Cleef & Arpels is continuing its commitment to the art of choreography in the United Arab Emirates. In partnership with The Arts Center at New York University Abu Dhabi, the initiative is presenting Rachid Ouramdane’s latest creation, Corps extrêmes.

Since its creation, the Maison has been keenly interested in the world of dance. This attachment grew stronger in the 1950s when Claude Arpels met the choreographer George Balanchine. Their shared passion for precious stones led to an artistic bond, giving birth to Balanchine’s ballet Jewels, first performed in New York in April 1967. Echoing this encounter, a new collaboration was initiated in 2012 with Benjamin Millepied, former principal dancer in the New York City Ballet and founder of the company L.A. Dance Project.
In 2020, these close ties between the Maison and dance are perpetuated with the creation of Dance Reflections by Van Cleef & Arpels, an initiative that aims to promote dance companies and institutions worldwide. This program expresses the Maison’s commitment to supporting the choreographic repertoire and presenting contemporary creations to wider audiences.

Pierre Arpels, Suzanne Farrell and George Balanchine circa 1976.
BALANCHINE is a trademark of the Balanchine trust

Located at New York University Abu Dhabi’s campus, on Saadiyat Island, The Arts Center is a multidisciplinary cultural laboratory dedicated to the development and the presentation of theatrical, cinematographic, choreographic, and poetic works.
Since 2022, Dance Reflections by Van Cleef & Arpels is partnering with The Arts Center to create a dynamic relationship between the arts and the university curriculum by initiating a dialogue between professional artists and students. This program perpetuates artistic exchange between the local and international art scenes.

The Red Theater, The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi © NYUAD

This first year of collaboration provides a chance for the public to discover a variety of shows. In September 2022, Set and Reset/Reset by the Candoco Dance Company; in October 2022, What the Day Owes to the Night (Ce que le jour doit à la nuit) by Cie Hervé Koubi; and Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre: Last Ward in February 2023.

Hervé Koubi Company. What the Day Owes to the Night
(Ce que le jour doit à la nuit)
© Didier Philispart

To complete this rich program, Dance Reflections by Van Cleef & Arpels will present Corps extrêmes, Rachid Ouramdane’s latest work, in May 2023 at The Arts Center at New York University Abu Dhabi.

Originally Corps extrêmes manifests the desire, expressed by Rachid Ouramdane, to be “really focused on the fascination triggered by the wish to take off, to drift, a state of weightlessness, a suspension…”. Two emblematic accomplices who dedicate themselves to the practice of extreme sports – the French highliner Nathan Paulin and the Swiss climber Nina Caprez – are on stage, far from their habitual playgrounds, with eight acrobats.

Rachid Ouramdane Corps extrêmes
© Pascale Cholette

Gifted for lightness, often circling, this extraordinary community of freedom lovers – of which the members incarnate in different ways the Icarus dream in today’s world – evolve between the sky and the earth; an impressive climbing wall at the back of the stage as a main fulcrum. A long rope crosses high above, the stage sometimes transforms into a huge screen, on which images are projected of magnificent natural landscapes – great vertigo – with Nathan Paulin and Nina Caprez in action.
The voice-overs of these exceptional athletes also play a part, just like the voice-over of the flyer Airelle Caen; all of them providing personal accounts of their practice. Sometimes airy, then stirring, the musical score of Jean-Baptiste Julien increases the reliefs of this gathering, with several subtly suggested strata.

Rather than giving in to the facile attraction of virtuosity, the piece endeavours to give rise to an existential – even metaphysical – dimension, flirting with the void. Simultaneously anchored in reality as well as heading for a dream world, both intimate and bigger than life, the performance sheds an artistic lighting on a far from ordinary human experience.

Rachid Ouramdane Corps extrêmes
© Pascale Cholette

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