• Un laboratoire d’exploration / L’outil hypnotique

Catherine Contour conceives exploration as an « open work ».
She has created many exploration devices such as Plates-formes d’expérimentation, Polaroids along with 22 mai, Herbe-classe-chantier with the Blois art school, Friche en août – Institut sauvage (Summer school), Zoo at the Montpellier zoo, laboratories in educational and artistic creation spaces (Aubervilliers, Lyon, Grenoble, Montpellier, Paris etc.), with research grants from the French Ministry of Culture in 2002, 2005, 2010, 2016, from Centre Chorégraphique National de Montpellier in 2007, the Institut Français in 2014 and has benefitted from funding by DRAC Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (the regional body for cultural affairs) since 2017 for the Bains laboratory.

Since the 2000s, she has been developing the hypnotic tool for creation. A tool and procedures that she shares in various contexts along three axes :

  • The hypnotic tool in the field of dance
  • The hypnotic tool for creators in all fields
  • The hypnotic tool for all.
    In 2017, she set up a mobile exploration-creation laboratory called Bains, to develop a new choreographic practice and its modes of transmission. She also experiments with hypnosis as a « new medium ».

Bains – A mobile exploration-creation laboratory

Bains is a nomadic laboratory conceived by Catherine Contour to explore the artistic and educational possibilities of the hypnotic technique enhanced by knowledge borrowed from various other movement arts. Since 2016 it has brought together a team of artist-researchers, research professors and partners.

La suite

This exploration combines:

  • research on the body and movement in an energetic approach, on the notion of intentionally non-voluntary gestures and on Danser brut, new modes of choreographic writing related to work on sound and speech through hypnosis.
  • research on creative forms and formats that question the relationship to the site and the audience.
    Each Bain has shades of the location where it appears. Public openings allow experimentation in terms of audience presence and sharing questions and discoveries.

The development of the hypnotic tool also continues beyond the Bains in many fields in the form of accompaniments and transmissions.

The hypnotic tool for creation

To develop this research, Catherine Contour benefited from the Centre National de la Danse’s creative research grant in 2011 and from the support of the Fondation Royaumont and the Gaîté lyrique Theatre/Paris of which she was an associate artist in 2013-2014 for the Danses augmentées cycle. She created Plongées in ten, monthly episodes. In 2016, with the help of the Direction Générale de la Création Artistique (the French national body for artistic creation), succeeded since 2017 by the Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (the regional body for cultural affairs), she set up Bains-Laboratoire de recherche-création nomade, which brings together a team of artists and research professors. In 2018, one of these Bains took place at the Lam-Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Brut in Villeneuve d’Ascq as part of the exhibition Danser brut. With the agreement of its curators (Savine Faupin and Christophe Boulanger), this title has since designated her practice of choreographic writing using the hypnotic tool.

Catherine Contour - « From the hypnotic technique to the hypnotic tool in a few steps ».

Catherine Contour encountered hypnosis at the end of the 1990’s while learning energy techniques and more specifically Zhi Neng Qi Gong from Zhou Jin Hong and Dr. Jean Becchio. Starting in 2002, she gradually trained in hypnotic techniques with Dr. Jean Becchio. She began to explore its artistic and pedagogical possibilities and developed a specific tool for creation. A long-term research process that nourishes a growing community of artists and researchers from various generations and fields.

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Study sheet Photo Dance using hypnosis - Catherine Contour 2011

Catherine Contour - A step in the research, 2018.

As trance is in the spirit of the times, how can hypnotic trance enrich the dancer’s practice, open new paths to choreographic writing and help consider devices for connecting dance with its audience? What gestures, what rituals could accompany this secular practice? What art forms can be used in which the hypnotic trance is neither a demonstration nor a staged object, but an aesthetic experience shared by an ephemeral community in resonance with a space? These are some of the questions that run through this work with dancers and other associated researchers.

La suite

The various Bains have enabled the foundations to be laid for a technique that uses the hypnotic tool in an energetic approach to the body and movement. It is based on the activation of the hypnotic trance from a stimulation of the imagination, which is very deeply rooted in the body and oriented towards movement and dance (I make certain connections with Butô and connections with various somatic practices). This activation takes the form of an accompaniment through presence and speech. These accompaniments take the form of open and adapted scenarios. Each person experiences this in a singular way and in a shared presence, activating the body at various levels (consciously and subconsciously) for the upcoming dances. Envisaging these scenarios through the notion of « score » and specifying their components is one of the aspects addressed in the research. Other aspects: The various ways of integrating-incorporating the experiences encountered during these accompaniments and how they can be combined in successive strata. The development of the hypnotic process in dancers results in responsive qualities of body and presence in a fine, amplified sensoriality that fosters the emergence of non-voluntary movement, various forms of resonance, contamination of impulses and affects, between dancers and with the audience members- renamed bathers or divers in these immersive forms. It is a question of observing what favors their deployment, what resonances generate this situation and what is at stake during the various preparatory stages and when the work is put into play in the presence of an audience.

* Pascal Rousseau «  La disposition du corps – L’hypnose comme média chorégraphique  » in «  Une plongée avec Catherine Contour – Créer avec l’outil hypnotique », édition Naïca, 2017.

Catherine Contour has been using hypnosis in her choreographic practice for the past fifteen years. She attempts to renew the dance experience using this rather unexpected means, while remaining attentive to an economy of gesture in her relationship to the world and to others, by summoning the creative virtues of the « hypnotic process ».

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The hypnotic tool for all

Pascal Rousseau and Catherine Contour in « Danser sa vie avec l’outil hypnotique », 369 éditions, 2019.

The hypnotic tool is an instrument for emancipation through movement. Movement is paradoxically what seems to be lacking today, in a society that advocates mobility but increasingly sets restricted conditions of development. The hope here is that this tool will contribute to the awakening of these « critical bodies », whose action, as historian and performer Laurence Louppe emphasizes, « opens up new horizons ». May this tool stimulate their creative imagination, which is asking to be deployed on various individual and collective scales, as a gesture of vigilance and resistance. Favor being attentive together and becoming the author of one’s life to the new cultures of attention established during triumphant capitalism.

La suite

While it is up to each person to naturally and spontaneously be in a hypnotic state,  » engaging in hypnosis  » is always an intentional and relational act. This technique has a history with very diverse manifestations and interpretations, depending on the era and cultural context. This technique was constructed from the observation of specific cases and draws on shamanism, experimental psychology and meditative traditions. Today, the most widespread hypnotic practice stems from the work of the American psychiatrist Milton Erickson who proposed, from the 1950s onwards, a new relational therapeutic approach, centered on a benevolent freedom of choice on the part of the subject, with a strong pedagogical dimension. This pioneering work was able to stimulate, in France, approaches such as that of Léon Chertok and François Roustang, who both agree that hypnosis cannot be reduced to a set of instructions, but that it is an effective tool for modifying undreamt of resources. Far from being an instrument of dispossession of one’s faculties of judgment or to act, this renewed technique offers multiple transformation possibilities. It allows one to create and build, through simple but carefully orchestrated gestures of attention, a highly emancipating relationship with oneself, one’s environment and others. Choreographer Catherine Contour explores this inventive side to develop what she calls  » the hypnotic tool « .

Jérôme Delormas « Catherine Contour la buissonnière » dans « Une plongée avec Catherine Contour – Créer avec l’outil hypnotique, édition Naïca, 2017.


Artistes et enseignants-chercheurs

Nina Santes, Lou Abramovici (danse) et ponctuellement : Myriam Gourfink, Jennifer Lacey, Loïc Touzé, Laurent Pichaud
Patrick Najean (électro-acoustique), Lambert Colson (cornemuses, cornet muet)

Depuis 2016, une équipe s’est constituée au sein des Bains:
Alexandre Da Silva, Sonia Delbost-Henry, Marie Fonte, Marie Lise Naud, Marie Papon, Jonathan Schatz (danse), rejoints en 2020 par Katia Petrowick
Bertrand Gauguet (saxophone alto et son), Anne-Laure Pigache (voix)
Loren Capelli (tracés), Mathieu Bouvier, Niels Najean (film, photo)

Anne Boissière – Professeure à l’université de Lille en esthétique et philosophie de l’art (département arts), membre du Centre d’Etude des Arts Contemporains qu’elle a dirigé de 2008 à 2012.
Julie Perrin – Maître de conférence au département danse de l’université Paris 8 Saint-Denis et membre du laboratoire Discours et Pratiques en Danse.
Pascal Rousseau – Professeur d’histoire de l’art contemporain à l’Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, commissaire d’expositions « Sous influence. Résurgences de l’hypnose dans l’art contemporain » (2006) et « Cosa mentale. Les imaginaires de la télépathie dans l’art du XXe siècle » (Centre Pompidou Metz, 2015). Ponctuellement :
Romain Bigé – Agrégé de philosophie et danseur
Céline Eidenbenz – Historienne de l’art, directrice du musée d’art du Valais à Sion
Hervé Brunon – Historien des jardins et du paysage, directeur de recherche au CNRS (Centre André Chastel, Paris)


The 40Neuf association is supported by partners who back research in a variety of ways, on a long-term or occasional basis.
DGCA (Paris), DRAC Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Conseil Général de l’Isère, Ville de Grenoble, Gaité lyrique (Paris), Fondation Royaumont, Le Pacifique-CDCN de Grenoble, CCN puis CCN2 de Grenoble, CCN de Caen, Musée de la chasse & de la nature (Paris), Musée d’art de Sion (Suisse), Prohelvetia, Dôme Théâtre à Albertville, Institut Français de Paris et Ville de Grenoble (pour un séjour au Japon en 2018), Sanctuaire de Dazaifu (Japon), Fondation Martell (Cognac), Lam–Musée d’art moderne et d’art brut à Villeneuve d’Ascq, Lieues (Lyon), Saint Pierre (Beaumont-en-Diois), Honolulu (Nantes).
En 2021 : Grand théâtre de Grenoble, L’Esssieu du Batût (Lozère), Ramdam (Rillieux-la-pape), Musée des arts de Nantes, Sanctuaire de Dazaifu (Japon).
Catherine Contour a bénéficié de l‘Aide à la recherche et au patrimoine du Centre national de la danse (2010-11), du programme Hors les murs Institut français (2014).

To host a laboratory session