On the stage of the Théâtre de Chaillot in Paris, athletes, led by Rachid Ouramdane, defy emptiness and gravity.
He says that up there, on his thread, he hears the chirping of birds like never before, that he sees far away, with striking clarity and contrasts, that he perceives on his skin the breeze and the variations in temperature as if all his senses were sharpened, and that this state of absolute awakening gives him, at each crossing of the sky, an ecstatic joy. “In the air, I get hypersensitive,” he smiles. Nathan Paulin is a highliner. Unlike tightrope walkers who advance on fixed cables, aided by a pendulum, he evolves, at incredible heights, on a moving strap, in perpetual imbalance. Tonight he will be on his highline, but modestly perched above the Bonlieu auditorium in Annecy, an enclosed space that obviously seems tiny to this man accustomed to
Pascale Cholette – Francois Mori/AP/SIPA