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“TransForme” is an exceptional artistic adventure outside the norm.

In popular opinion, dance is often reduced to being formal artistic expression. However, beyond questions of aesthetics, this art, in its practice, proves to be a formidable medium of emotions and an unexpected tool for personal development and openness to others.

In 2012, the dance company AToU decided to embark on the creation of a dance piece  about sixty of residents of two communes in the Greater Lyon area. For six months, the Japanese choreographer Anan Atoyama and the dancer Marc Ribault accompanied this diverse group, through weekly workshops mixing technical instruction with choreographic creation, in order to reach the end goal: the stage!

“TransForme” is an exceptional artistic adventure outside the norm, where the particularities of every individual contribute to a common aim, transcending social-cultural background, age, and physical abilities. The aim is to foster the belief that the other is above all a source of richness and of shared experience rather than a threat to the self. 

TransForme was born when the participants in the 2012 Biannual announced their desire to continue the adventure with AToU (who has choreographed the parade for the city of Vaulx en Velin) and to continue dancing together.

The fundamental idea of TransForme is to share and acquaint people with the power of dance. To accomplish this, three working points were developed.

-Gather dancers from all walks of life around a common objective.

-Demonstrate that beyond being aesthetic expression, this art is a powerful medium for emotion.

-Experience the joys of performing. 


Seventy-five people participated in the project, divided over nine weekly workshops. Children from a fourth grade class, residents of Ste Foy les Lyon and residents of Vaulx en Vélin, members of a world language organization and retired individuals, individuals with visual and mental disabilities, a group of adolescents and a sewing group. It was an unbelievable group of people: all ages, socio-cultural groups, and all physical and mental abilities… Nothing predisposed these people to gather together to undertake an artistic project. Over the course of four months each group met once a week, guided by a dancer, in order to learn choreographies written for TransForme and to work on their own movements centered on a given topic. Then for a month there were general rehearsals with everyone, where the group, in addition to working on the performance, lived together and therefore shared countless moments and emotions.

Dance beyond aesthetics

The title TransForme, “through form,” was chosen because it synthesizes the artistic direction chosen by AToU: To show that dance is much more than “nice positions” and “beautiful movements to beautiful music,” it is, beyond aesthetics, a powerful form of expression, a means of exteriorizing our internal energies, and communicating what we feel. The choreographies common to each group were created in this spirit by Anan Atoyama, and the general structure of the performance as well. In order to present this vision of dance to participants, AToU chose to work with each one of them on a solo. To go from a superficial form to searching for emotions and feelings buried deep down can be frightening: one has to trust in order to do so. The solo is both the most intimate form possible but also allows the dancer to establish a sincere and trusting relationship with the participant. The theme of the solo was “transmission,” “Express what you received from your ancestors and also what you would like to transmit in turn.”

The Stage:

For an artist the stage is indispensable for deepening his or her art, because it allows an artist to harness all of the stage’s properties in order to share art with the greatest number of people possible. TransForme was organized three times, on three different stages: the performing space RamDam in Ste Foy les Lyon, the Charlie Chaplin Center and the Festiv-Amphis festival, both in Vaux-en-Velin. For 90% of them, it was a new experience. Indeed, they were able to experience the entire process: the lighting creation, placement rehearsals on stage, general rehearsals, managing pre-performance stress, the very particular emotion that comes out during the show, and even the applause… The fact of being able to have this experience three times again was also exceptional because they were able to realize that each show is different, but could also benefit a bit each time, because they felt more at ease. The participants were happy to share their work with the audience. For some, and particularly for the physically and mentally disabled dancers, it was a matter of pride to be on stage to be able to show that they were just as capable as others. It was also one of the reasons for this undertaking: to give confidence to people about their own abilities and creativity through dance.

 A second project, with the same principles, was launched during the year 2014 " Transcription" and a third one in 2015 " Transgression".

Around the artistic action
Photo de l'action culturelle transforme

Through shapes

The experience of TransForme was fulfilling on many levels, both for the participants and for AToU. The documentary “TransForme” directed by a video team that followed the project during the three final months, perfectly follows the intensity and spirit of the project.

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