Heracles on his head

Quartet – Production 2022 – Duration: 50 min
All audiences and young audiences

© Little Shao

In 2024, breakdance will spring to the forefront of the international sporting scene. In Heracles on his head, choreographer and stage director Anne Nguyen proposes a meta-referential look at some of the issues raised by the event. She explores the values of sports and art, using the opportunity to reflect more broadly on our society.

In Heracles on his head, three breakdance champions, two men and one woman, are preparing for the future sports competition under the coaching of a trainer, who pushes them beyond their limits. Adhering to his (sometimes over-the-top) instructions, the three dancers train and lend themselves to themed battles. Strong-mindedness, competition strategy, development of physical capacity: the trainer prepares his athletes both meticulously and painstakingly. The three breakdancers mutually gauge their abilities by battling with dance steps, carrying each other aloft and showing off technical feats. However, their assertive characters are challenged by the rigidity of the future competition’s rules, which leads to conflicts among themselves and with the trainer: can one mix the different hip-hop dance styles? Should one optimize physical performance to the detriment of artistic experience? The dance confrontations that emerge from these conflicts illustrate the tensions between the creative freedom peculiar to hip-hop dance and the academism surrounding its elevation to an institutionalized status. Through a mixture of dance and text, Anne Nguyen immerses us in the creative energy and competitive spirit of the world of battles and breakdance. She questions the motto of modern athletic sports – faster, higher, stronger – by exploring the experience of the three breakdancers, who, unbeknownst to their trainer, are secretly working on a breakdance piece that they hope to perform at the future championship. They use choreography to playfully challenge the role of competition and masculine values in our society, by experimenting with the posturing and gesturing traditionally associated with the concepts of strength, heroism and virility and by driving them to their contradictions. Through their choreographed experiments, which are constantly interrupted by an intransigeant trainer, the dancers remind us of the limitations shaping our own representations of ourselves. While we watch them submit to the intense training, the dancers celebrate strenght, ingenuity and human collaboration and pay tribute to our ability to surpass ourselves.

Show’s presentation pack is available on demand.
This show contains text in French. Please contact us if you’re interested in producing an English version, or subtitled version, of the performance.


Text, direction and choreography: Anne Nguyen
Artistic collaborators: Yann Richard, Fabrice Labrana
Comedian-dancer: Jean-Baptiste Saunier
Dancers: Fabrice Mahicka, Clara Salge, Hugo de Vathaire


The par Terre / Anne Nguyen Dance Company is currently looking for partners for this project.

Coproductions:  L’Auditorium Seynod; Centre chorégraphique national de Rillieux-la-Pape, direction Yuval PICK, dans le cadre du dispositif Accueil-Studio; Centre de la danse de la Communauté Urbaine Grand Paris Seine & Oise
With the support of La Ferme du Buisson, scène nationale ; Le Conseil Départemental de la Seine-Saint-Denis dans le cadre du « Dispositif Résidences In Situ en collèges » ; Centre d’Art et de Culture de Meudon

The par Terre Dance Company is funded by l’Aide pluriannuelle du Ministère de la Culture / DRAC Île-de-France, la Région Île-de-France for “Permanence Artistique et Culturelle” and l’Aide au fonctionnement du Département du Val-de-Marne.
The par Terre / Anne Nguyen Dance Company is in residency at Théâtre de Chevilly-Larue (94) in 2020/2021 and is an associate artist to Auditorium Seynod (74) and Centre d’Art et de Culture de Meudon (92) for 2020/2021, 2021/2022 and 2022/2023.