Sylvain Bouillet

Des gestes blancs

Sylvain Bouillet and Lucien Reynes – NAÏF Production

Eight is an exciting age; imagination is abundant and energy never runs out. Seesawing between self-declared independence and the need for care and comfort, children dart around, without brakes and without taking breaks, learning through play.

In Des gestes blanc, father and 8-year-old son, Sylvain and Charlie Bouillet, joyfully explore a highly physical, adventurous relationship. Together they swirl, flip, jump, and balance, their weight suspended in a fleeting moment that is sure to pass when the little one’s body matures. From offering support and companionship to finding new hurdles to overcome, they build on the foundations of trust.

And just as the son follows in his father’s footsteps, the father imitates his son. It is just as much a journey of discovery for the full-grown acrobat as it is for the cheeky child.

Beatrix Joyce

It’s not unusual to see a close bond between performers on stage, but rarely does it carry the same intimacy as witnessed between Charlie and Sylvain Bouillet. The father and son spent 18 months crafting this deeply touching and visually stimulating work, practising once a week so as not to tire or bore the now 8-year-old.

The result is a piece so natural, so free of artifice, we could be observing the Bouillets in their own living room. Parent-child relationships, in all their complexity, form the heart of Des gestes blancs – from protection to discipline to fun. There are moments of joyful abandon, when their large and small bodies conjoin to roll, tumble, jump and fall, the mutual trust never waning.

As with any familial connection, annoyance creeps in momentarily – until the rip and repair of love we all recognise re-seals the bond.

Kelly Apter