Anne Nguyen

Anne Nguyen: Dancer, choreographer, writer and theatre director

Dancer, choreographer, writer and theatre director founded the par Terre Dance Company in 2005. She has created about twenty dance and theater-dance shows, several interactive installations and one short film, Épicentre. Appointed Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2015, Anne Nguyen was awarded the Nouveau Talent Chorégraphie SACD prize in 2013. She was an associate artist to many theaters and cultural venues, such as Chaillot – Théâtre national de la Danse from 2015 to 2018. Anne Nguyen’s shows have been presented at many prestigious festivals, such as Holland Festival in Amsterdam, Tanz im August Festival in Berlin, Crossing The Line Festival in New-York, OzAsia Festival in Adélaïde, Festival d’Avignon IN and OFF, URB Festival in Helsinki, Huê Festival in Vietnam, COLOURS International Dance Festival in Stuttgart, Biennale de danse du Val-de-Marne, Festival de danse de Cannes, Groove’N’Move Festival in Geneva, Festival de la Cité Lausanne, Schrittmacher Festival in Heerlen, Tanz Bremen Festival, Potsdamer Tanztage in Potsdam, Underconstruction Festival in Wuppertal, TANZtheater INTERNATIONAL Festival in Hanover, Kidanse Festival by L’Echangeur CDCN, Odyssées en Yvelines Festival by Théâtre de Sartrouville et des Yvelines – CDN, or Dies de Dansa Festival in Barcelona.

The par Terre / Anne Nguyen Dance Company has been presented at prestigious French venues, including La Villette, Chaillot – Théâtre national de la Danse, Opéra de Limoges, Opéra de Massy, Opéra de Saint-Étienne, numerous National Scenes, Conventioned scenes of national interest, National Choreographic Development Centres, National Choreographic Centres and National Drama Centres, as well as at many international venues, including Gibney Dance in New-York, Salders Wells Theatre in London, le TQW in Vienna, Akademie der Künste in Berlin, PACT Zollverein in Essen, Tanztheater Wuppertal, Mercat de les flors in Barcelona, Dansens Hus in Stockholm, NorrlandsOperan in Umeå, Dansehallerne in Copenhagen, Charleroi Danse, KVS in Brussells, Theater Rotterdam, Frascati in Amsterdam, Kortrijk Theater, Amare in The Hague, tanzhaus nrw in Düsseldorf, Theater im Pfalzbau in Ludwigshafen, HELLERAU in Dresden, National Center for Dance Bucharest, Theater Azarian in Sofia, Trafó in Budapest, Zagreb Dance Center, Yangon National Theater, Kuala Lumpur Performing Art Center, Ben Thanh Theatre in Hô Chi Minh, Centre Culturel Français in Kinshasa, or Brasil’s Bank Cultural Center in Brasilia.

“Dancing for the Earth”

Since 2005, Anne Nguyen has dedicated herself to sublimating hip-hop dance and its rebellious culture and injecting it with a dose of mystery. She combines a raw, virtuoso gestural vocabulary with a geometrical, pure, destructured choreographic expression that exalts the power of abstraction. Echoing the hip-hop dancer’s explosive movements, her pieces depict the human being’s passionate struggle with a hostile contemporary environment. Incarnated by virtuoso dancers with magnetic personalities, her choreographies depict dance as a universal and salutary art that embodies the resistance of the living in the face of ever-shifting values.

Square Root, Yonder Woman, PROMENADE OBLIGATOIRE, bal.exe, Autarcie (….), Kata, À mon bel amour, Underdogs, Heracles on his head, Matière(s) première(s)… The titles Anne Nguyen gives to her pieces reveal her many influences: from mathematics to martial arts, myths to utopian concepts. She concentrates on gesture as a symbol, the body as a means of assertion, movement as a primary need, the stage as a special place for sharing. On the bare stage, she builds choreographic architectures loaded with meaning where powerful, liberating dancing becomes a magical ritual designed to make us reinvest in the present moment. Anne Nguyen’s choreographic pieces combine constraint and freedom, poetry and mathematics, technicality and improvisation, sensuality and explosiveness.

Anne Nguyen also uses text to create productions where dance becomes the support for a wider reflection upon our society: Goku’s Trialand Hip-Hop Nakupenda offer stories exploring dance. The problematics that suffuse the world of dance and art inspire her to explore the relationship between institutions and individuals, the tensions between creative freedom and academism, the mechanisms of cultural transmission, freedom of expression. She draws from the observation of gestures, danced as well as ordinary, individual as well as collective, to turn urban dances and popular cultures into a support for a reflection on tradition, on social markers, on diversity, on cultural appropriation and on the tensions between multiculturalism and cosmopolitism.

Danse des guerriers de la ville_Patrick_Berger_3 DGV_Patrick_Berger_4 DGV_Patrick_Berger_4 DGV_Thomas_Bohl_5

Anne Nguyen: Artistic journey

At a very young age, Anne practiced competitive gymnastics, then started learning a number of martial arts, including Viet Vo Dao, Capoeira and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Fascinated by science, she intended to go into the field of physics, but finally abandoned that path when she discovered the world of breakdance and battling, its values reflecting her desire to break free.

“Having a style is knowing how to hold a position.”

She first put forth her desire to set the mind free through the body in written form with her collection of poems, the Manual of the City Warrior, published in Graff It! Magazine from 2004 to 2009, a magazine for which she was chief editor of the dance section between 2006 and 2009. Choreographer Faustin Linyekula, for whom she danced at the time, urged her to choreograph a solo structured around these poems: Square Root thus came into being in 2005. In 2009, this solo won second prize in the Masdanza contemporary choreography competition. Anne Nguyen performed her solo around the world for many years, while continuing to nurture her passion for breakdancing in battles and cyphers, at a time when hip-hop dance was booming in France. She danced with legendary crews such as RedMask in Montreal and Phase T, Def Dogz and Créteil Style in France. She took part in hundreds of battles, with her crews and mostly solo, winning IBE 2004, BOTY 2005, and being on the jury for BOTY 2006 and Red Bull BC One 2007. The movie documentary, Planet B-Boy (2007) reflects a period when Anne was busy with numerous battles while developing her own dance company and pursuing her career as a performer for contemporary dance companies, such as Salia ni Seydou, and hip-hop dance companies, such as the famous Black Blanc Beur.

Trailer of Anne Nguyen (B-girl Anne) in battle

Anne Nguyen on TV5 Monde Television News

In 2007, a lockers crew invited her to create Keep it Funky!, which marked the beginning of a cycle of works in which Anne set out to sublimate the essence of the different hip-hop dance styles. With PROMENADE OBLIGATOIRE in 2014 and bal.exein 2014, she sculpted the popping gesture into precise, elegant, minimalist structures, and invented looping pop, a robotic dance style performed in pairs. Anne has continued to perform in her own works: after Square Root, she choreographed the duet Yonder Woman then the quartet Autarcie (….)in 2013, in both of which she performed alongside key female figures in hip-hop dance. For Avignon IN Festival in 2019, she co-authored and performed the duet Axis Mundi besides puppeteer Élise Vigneron. In 2017, Anne paid tribute to her discipline of predilection with Kata, which enhanced the martial spirit of breakdance. À mon bel amour, created in 2019, offered a perspective on diversity by staging hip-hop dances alongside ballet, vogue, krumping and contemporary dance. The trio Underdogs, touring since 2021, explores the etymology of popping, the political symbols and the social markers of the urban collective unconscious. Quartet Heracles on his head, touring since 2022, is a danced investigation of the principles of competition, hierarchy, and meritocracy that puts into perspective the adoption of breakdancing as an Olympic discipline in 2024. The piece for six dancers Matière(s) première(s), touring since 2023, highlights the mechanisms fostering resource extractivism through an initiatory trip into the world of African urban and traditional dances.

In January 2025, Anne Nguyen will create [Superstrat[, a solo for an African urban and traditional dancer exploring the relationship between the ancestral roots of dance and music and the history of the Afro-American diaspora. In the Autumn of 2025, she will create Witch Hunting, which will stage six dancers, men and women, of different dance styles – krumping, hip-hop and African urban dances – to explore the dynamics of scapegoating and the mechanisms by which groups are formed, dissolve and transform.

With Goku’s Trial in 2020, Anne Nguyen signed her first theater-dance piece. Performed inside classrooms, this duet stages the trial a B-Boy summoned before justice for having done a dance step protected by intellectual property law. Hip-Hop Nakupenda, touring since 2021, is a biographic solo for Congolese dancer and choreographer Yves Mwamba, in which he tells, sings, and dances his story, a story intricately bound up with that of hip-hop dance in Africa and of his native country, DCR.

Convinced that dance is a positive good for society, Anne Nguyen created Dance of the city warriors in 2016, a path of interactive installations offering the audience a digital and physical immersion into the world of urban dances, as well as in 2021 SKILLZ, a fun, free-access online video game designed to educate the public about their diversity. In 2024, she will create an installation for exhibition Danser by Cité des sciences et de l’industrie.

Anne Nguyen’s 2021 short film Épicentre invites the onlooker to question the concept of cultural appropriation through dance, the symbolism of the body and the stereotypes associated with bodies. Presented all around the world, it won the Performance Award at Urban Films Festival 2022 and the 3rd place Audience Award at TANZAHOI International Dance Film Festival 2022.

Many of Anne Nguyen’s choreographies are set to original music scores that she co-creates in close collaboration with musician-composers, like Sébastien Lété or Benjamin Magnin. She has collaborated with conductor and artistic director of opera Company Opera Fuoco, David Stern, on Bach en scat in 2019, and will create Monteverdi opera Ulysses is Back! with him in 2026/27. She has also collaborated with Orchestre Régional de Normandie, then with CSMDP, for the creation of bal.exe in 2014.

Regularly called upon for her expertise on urban dances and cultural issues, Anne Nguyen has participated in numerous debates and symposiums. She holds discussions with the public, gives conferences and moderates conversations that put into perspective dance, culture, and society. From 2012 to 2018, she has been teaching an artistic workshop on hip-hop dance at Sciences Po Paris University. She works alongside teachers in the context of cultural programs or in relationship with Universities or Boards of Education. She was president of the jury for “Choreographic dance” at IXes Jeux de la Francophonie in Kinshasa in 2023.

Anne Nguyen is a patron of association Fondament’ALL in Champigny-sur-Marne and of association Irilojù in Benin, which are both engaging in the education of children and adolescents and their fulfillment, as well as family support, and artistic and cultural development. In 2024, she will co-create Behind the Line with Malik Djoudi and Joris Avodo, a piece produced by Le Carreau du Temple which will stage four young Beninese dancers from association Irilojù, les “Enfants des Collines”, alongside four dancers from the par Terre Dance Company.

SKILLZ video game


“My dance transgresses movement. My feet are sucked up by the concrete. The cement blocks around me try to mould me in their image. I am submerged by the crowd, it engulfs and steers me along the streets.

Drifting with the linear tide, I take control of my center of gravity. I dive to the tarmac, beneath the surface where other people move around. My freedom awaits me in the space built for legs and feet. I fold myself up and climb inside, to finally shake off the laws that govern the surface.

Close to the asphalt, where I live, my body’s my own at last. My energy is channeled into a tighter spot, and the power of my moves is magnified. My body becomes a compact ball, which I bounce against the concrete. Now, with no bottom or top, no hands or feet, I cannot fall any more. Falling becomes a controllable mode of locomotion.

I tap my energy from under the surface; I can re-emerge in the current without being swept away.”

Anne Nguyen
Interview with Anne Nguyen by Céline Gauthier in Cahiers de danse, a magazine edited by La briqueterie CDCN Val-de-Marne (September 2023)
“La danse en jeux ? De la culture hip-hop à l’olympisme”

Anne Nguyen interviewed by Arnaud Laporte in Affaires Culturelles on France Culture (April 2023)
Anne Nguyen : “Sans patrimoine et sans héritage culturels, on finit par tendre vers le rien.”

L’œil d’Olivier (24 January 2023)
Anne Nguyen, le break en transmission

Sweep Podcast (22 November 2022)
Sweep #49 • ANNE NGUYEN – danseuse, chorégraphe, auteure, metteuse en scène

Affaires à suivre on France Culture (October 2022)
Rencontre avec la chorégraphe hip-hop Anne Nguyen