The Breathing Of Particles


On the ground, face down, she’s collapsed,

The fight has been hard,
A body at risk,
A mind overwhelmed.

There was something under her skin, wasn’t there?
Violence nestled in her abdomen?

Wasn’t she eaten from the inside out?

She can hardly stand,
To the right
To the left
Falls to the floor,
Tears at the skin
With fingernail tips,
Seeks to escape the evil consuming her.

But it is too strong.

In her white dress,
Stricken with a thousand lights,
Martyred in the flesh,
She wrestles with death.

She’s on the ground now, as if extinguished.

Calm follows the storm.
Perhaps she’s resigned herself?
Or else, was she defeated?

And the breath fades.

And the lights fall.

These particles of light that ceaselessly strike her.

They fall back.
Follow her fall.

And the breath grows faint

And again all is still.
She has calmed now.

Everything’s calmer.

The breath had penetrated my flesh
As it consumed its own.
A terrifying gasping
Was blowing
In a frenzied rhythm.

A twitch.

A spasm.
And two,
And three.

Multiple tremors.

Brutal jolts.

But the breath is gone.

In front of this inert body, I’m almost relieved. There was something troubling, something fundamentally disturbing about that struggle. This body, so terrified that it seemed on the verge of madness, threatened my own peace of mind. I hadn’t asked for this ! I wasn’t prepared.

Then, in front of this inert body, dare I confess, I am appeased. The struggle is over, the anxiety gone,
and though worry should torment me,
For her,
For her sake,
I am at peace,
For my own.


I am at peace…


Her hand.

It’s moving.

Her hand.

One finger,

Then two,

Play across the floor.

The struggle will start anew. She remains lying down for the moment, walking her fingers across the wooden slats, gently, but the struggle is about to resume.

She strikes!

Her fingers are wandering, faster, rhythmically, her fingers wander.

She strikes!

Beats the ground, sharply, with the palm of her hand

She’s going to get back up.

She’s gotten up. The struggle has resumed, she invests it with all her strength, her rage almost, striving to free herself.

The particles have returned,
And the breath as well!

The breath has returned, penetrating the flesh until it freezes the bones. A shiver runs up my spine, through my vertebrae, all the way from bottom to top, making me shudder. Shudder for me, shudder for her.

She seems to be taking control!

She’d lost it entirely, until she collapsed.
But then, facing her shadow, she stopped gasping for breath.
There, facing her shadow, her wavering stopped.

She has tamed the light.

She plays with it. With her hands she moves the particles. One by one, they follow her.


A voice rises. Round, powerful, reassuring.

The voice has woken her up.

It rises, the voice, and the body follows, and I am as if under a spell, she’s alive!

It is the earth that has begun to sing.

The sound has ascended from its depths.

She has freed herself from the evil that had been consuming her.

The breath has softened, and so has she. She plays with the light now, dances out the reconciliation.

And I emerge from my trance, trembling.

 . . .


“Le souffle des particules” is a performance mixing contemporary dance, digital arts, and live music, co-written by Pétronille Leroux (digital artist, voice and multimedia scenographer) and Louise Soulié-Dubol (dancer and choreographer), and performed with the assistance of Cyril Adam (composer and performer). It was presented with the support of Quelque Chose de Neuf at the Musée national des arts asiatiques – Guimet in February 2020 ; at La Villette’s Zénith de Paris, and in Toulouse for the Traverse Vidéo Festival in March 2020


Grégoire Prangé
This text has been translated from French by Anna Cummings.

Front image : Le Souffle des Particules, performance au Musée national des arts asiatiques - Guimet, 8 février 2020. Pétronille Leroux (interprète numérique et voix), Louise Soulié-Dubol (danse), Cyril Adam (musique et arrangements). © Tadzio Photovideo.
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