Creative collisions between body and mind

Gilles Jobin, an internationally renowned dancer and choreographer from Geneva, is just starting his three-month residency at CERN. It’s the Organization’s first Collide@CERN dance and performance residency and is funded by the City and Canton of Geneva. Freshly installed in his new office, he’s just starting to get to grips with the combination of dance and high energy physics.


Jobin's 2011 piece "Spider Galaxies" was in part inspired by a visit to CERN and its music incorporated LHC data. © Cie Gilles Jobin 2011 – Photograph: Grégory Batardon.

“I’m really in an exploratory phase of what I’m calling “The Metaphor Dance Project” at the moment,” Gilles Jobin explains. “And I’m learning so much. For example, I didn’t know that gravity is one of the weakest forces, and that the force which holds matter together and therefore which holds us together is much stronger. Just knowing this is making me experience my body in a different way.”

For a dancer, that’s quite a fundamental statement. And Gilles Jobin is not just any dancer, but an internationally renowned choreographer. He has been commissioned by the Paris Théâtre de la Ville and the Ballet Gulbenkian in Lisbon, and he lived and worked in London for seven years. His dance pieces have been produced all over the world, yet he remains a local in Geneva, his native city. “That’s one of the things I appreciate about the residency at CERN,” he says. “It gives me a chance to get to know the ‘city outside the city’, which is how some people in Geneva see CERN. Also, because I will still be in Geneva after the end of the residency, I will easily be able to follow up any promising activities and connections that emerge from it.”

His first step, after the success of the official launch event which took place on 23 May in the Globe, is to reach out to people working at CERN. “Scientists use different metaphors to explain the abstract ideas they work with, and they use their bodies to make gestures and illustrate what they are talking about,” he explains. “So as well as working with my inspiration partner João Pequenão I want to meet more people at CERN and discover more about how the metaphors connect with movement as well as with science.” So keep your eyes peeled for the announcements of the various activities that Gilles is preparing. Who knows, your contribution to "The Metaphor Dance Project" might just be the essential creative impulse for the next Jobin masterpiece.

by Joannah Caborn Wengler