The underwater dance performance is graceful of an artist. The body can be flexible, splashing like waves, folding, opening, rolling, and turning at will.
The body can also be strong, like a hurricane, crashing into high walls, climbing buildings, and diving into the deep sea. Underwater dance is constantly exploring the elegance of the body.
In the continuous development of new dance techniques, the dancers always try to show the instinct of the body. We always think we have seen the limits of the human body, but we look forward to seeing other possibilities.
There will be artists who will make crazy movements to completely shock our aesthetic and prevent us from immersing ourselves in it.
Especially the director and underwater dancer Julie Gautier, who launched a dance piece called “AMA” (women of the sea) on March 8th (International women’s day). The entire underwater dance lasted about six minutes, Is a short film, but it’s long suffocation that challenges the limit of life.
In this beautiful underwater dance, Julie has long flowing hair and wears a simple black tight skirt. In a shallow pool twelve meters underwater, she appears to be an underwater creature that doesn’t need to breathe, turn, jump, and water pressure.
The resistance to the buoyancy seemed to have lost her limit, it was completely immersed in the dance, elegant and free.
She always calmly enjoyed the packet of water until the end of the movie, when she jumped up, she slowly breathed a sigh of relief, and the water splashed over each other. The music is cheerful, the background is soft, so simple, yet so beautiful.
Who is Julie Gautier?
She is a dancer – this dance piece underwater in a 12-meter deep pool like the picture above is enough to show off her dancing skills.
She is also a photographic model – she and huge animals coexist harmoniously in the sea under the lens.
She’s also a director – she can dive to the bottom of the sea without oxygen equipment, and shoot people and animals at the bottom of the sea in search of freedom.
Of course, she is the French free diving champion, and also the creator of constant weight freediving records in 2006 and 2007.
Julie grew up in Réunion. Compared to us who were born in reinforced concrete, she has more opportunities and reasons to be in contact with nature and the sea.
As her father was an underwater hunter, she was able to dive freely and fish in the sea at the age of eleven.
After setting out on the road to competition, she set a new record in 2007, diving 68 meters with constant weight! Julie’s mother is a dance teacher and she learned to dance from her mother since she was a child. Although there are often interruptions in the process, Julie learns very carefully.
The real opportunity for Julie to combine sport and the art of dance was in the 2005 series Ashes & Snow in collaboration with Canadian photographer Gregory Colbert.
In this group of works, Julie often dances with huge animals in the ocean. The contrast between weakness and danger, small and large, makes this group of works interesting.
From there, Julie also discovered that underwater dancing has very high efficiency in expressing emotions. The three important elements of dance, water, and snorkeling have found an intersection since then.
“NARCOSE”, which shocked the world
Indeed, eight years ago, Julie and her partner Guillaume Néry (former freediving world champion) created a cross-over work called “NARCOSE”, which shocked the world.
The nitrogen is accumulating in the human body during sport diving and the water pressure will increase with the depth of the dive.
When the diver is in a high-pressure water environment, the nitrogen in the lungs will have an anesthetic effect on the diver due to the high pressure.
This feeling is also called deep ecstasy, and at this point, the nerves and perceptions of the diver produce hallucinogenic experiences.
“NARCOSE” is to show the different illusions that Guillaume Néry had in mind after having plunged into the deep sea for more than 120 meters.
“Freefall” shot in the Great Blue Hole of the Bahamas
In 2012, Julie and her husband founded Les Films Engloutis Film Company, specializing in underwater photography. Julie’s free diving and shooting without oxygen equipment make her job more natural.
Representative works of the duo include “Freefall” shot in the Great Blue Hole of the Bahamas, which has been viewed nearly 30 million times on Youtube. And the music video they shot for Beyonce’s song “Running” received almost 300 million views.
“Ama” (Ama) an underwater short film
On the occasion of International Women’s Day in 2018, Julie released her new short film “Ama” (Ama). It filmed in the world’s deepest pool in Venice, Italy.
Because the underwater environment can provide dancers with completely different support than the ground environment, Julie not only needs to reinforce the basic dance skills training on the ground, it is also necessary to improvise underwater to determine a batch of expressive movements underwater environment.
At the end of the movie, the three letters “AMA” have been typed on the screen. AMA means “daughter of the sea”. The pronunciation is similar to “A Ma” in Chinese.
She reads with a slight sigh. The word hainu originates from Japan and is the name of the women who make a living by diving fishing and collecting underwater creatures.
Julie was born on the French island of Reunion, near Madagascar, in Africa. As a child growing up by the sea, she naturally has an incomparable admiration for the sea. She feels like all women who live by the sea. The sea gives her life. To this, she is Hai’s daughter.
How to dance underwater? AMA is her quest underwater to succeed
“Squeeze out the air from the nasal cavity, release 80% of the oxygen in the lungs, dive twelve meters, and I suffocate every second.”
She tied a little lead around her waist to help her sink, and came to the 12-meter-deep swimming pool. Unlike every movement on the water, which is drawn and assisted by gravity, every muscle in the underwater dance is affected by the water pressure.
Fighting against buoyancy not only violates the nature of relaxing when diving but also greatly increases oxygen consumption. The pressure of dancing is comparable to diving to a depth of 20 meters.
She recalled the state of just getting into the water. While adapting to physical discomfort, she had to control her muscles and brain, think about movements, and ensure that her limbs presented a perfect dance.
“In the beginning, she just thought about how to make the dance right.” She smiled, “she just wants the finished product, but she forgot to feel the present.”
Fortunately, as time passed, music helped her feel and also helped her find Go back to your heart and find the original intention of the story and creation.
After jumping nearly 25 times, every time she was underwater for nearly 2 minutes, she became calmer and calmer, and this huge energy also penetrated the surface of the water and spread to the entire space.
She relayed the observations of others. Later, people passing by the diving pool did not consciously stop and watched the shooting quietly. They did not know what was happening, but they could feel that something major was happening underwater.
Underwater photography, Choreography, and improvisation
Combining choreography and improvisation, Ophelie Longuet, the choreographer of “AMA”, does not have a diving professional himself.
The choreography of the work completely relies on Julie’s launching time and time again with GoPro to record her improvisational movements, and then return to the shore through the film.
In her various attempts to choreograph actions. The images other than the fixed shots are improvisations created by the photographer and her. Together, the two resist bubbles and buoyancy in the water, one jumps out of improvisational emotions, and the other captures moving images.
What about painful stories behind Julie’s creation
“I often think that great stories can be presented with great dancing. What about painful stories?”
While everyone is in awe of the beauty and elegance of this dance, the driving force behind Julie’s creation is the unexpected pain of losing her daughter.
Julie said “When I was a child I learned ballet, and later exposed intermittently to different styles of dance. Julie loves free improvisation and chooses to release her pain through dance.”
“My story, everyone has their own interpretation based on experience, and there is no right or wrong. What I want to express is my greatest pain in the world. So that this pain is not abrupt, I added a little elegance, the story is not painful and I have to take advantage of the buoyancy of the water.”
The pain of mourning is something that cannot be forgotten no matter how long it has been. Therefore, she chose not to include narration and information in “AMA”.
She hopes everyone can freely project their own stories and suffering while watching the film. With beautiful music and dancing, the film’s final leap of depression is released as she exhales her last breath in her lungs.