Having being initiated to dance by Isaac Alvarez and the Circus Academy of Annie Fratellini, Philippe Decouflé created his Company, DCA (sometimes for Decouflé's Company for the Arts sometimes for Défense Contre Avion) in 1983 after a first career as a dancer (Régine Chopinot, Alwin Nikolais). The company's first production, Vague café, met an immediate and large success with both the public and the professionals.
Philippe Decouflé then created several productions whose titles bore evidence of his interest for the world of comics and to its humour: with Surprises, Fraîcheur limite, Soupière de luxe, Tranche de cake, Decouflé's fame spread in France and throughout
In 1986, the success of Codex confirmed the blossoming of the Company and contributed to defining a more and more singular artistic identity. Codex was inspired from an illustrated encyclopaedia, drawn at the end of the 1970s by a young Italian, Luigi Seraphini: the fantastic animals, the imaginary plants and the living vegetables were to inspire Decouflé in the years to come. Meanwhile, Decouflé became more and more interested in video.
When DCA was first funded he directed a few “dance videos” –La voix des légumes, Jump; a few years later, he wrote and directed a short film – Caramba as well as music videos' for New Order – True Faith - or the Fine Young Cannibals – She Drives Me Crazy.
In 1989, the mainstream public acclaimed Decouflé for his Polaroïd commercial that won him a Silver Lion at the Venice Festival. Even more celebrated was the Danse des Sabots : this creation turned out to be the highlight of the great Bleu Blanc Goude parade on the Champs Elysées on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution.
The year after, Decouflé turned back to the stage productions with Triton. The research on unexpected forms and materials lied at the core of those productions and Decouflé's deepest artistic identity was thus further established. The collaboration with Philippe Guillotel, a plastic artist now a member of DCA and who created stunning costumes, gave way to a still more personal artistic and choreographic identity.
In 1992, Philippe Decouflé was chosen for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the XVth Olympic Games held in Albertville, France. For these grand shows, he relied on long term collaborators such as dancers Pascale Henrot, Christophe Salengro, Eric Martin, costume designer Philippe Guillotel and designer Jean Rabasse, musicians Joseph Racaille, Antonin Maurel et Martin Meissonnier. The success of the ceremonies gave birth to a new word “decoufleries” to refer to the unusual meeting upon the stage of the worlds of dancing, circus and film.
In 1993, Philippe Decouflé created Petites pièces Montées where he “dream[ed] about Méliès and phantasmagoria”. He explored the space on stage by wondering “how to have the dancers enter and exit through the flies and have them burst from the stage floor”. He then worked on a new short film: Le P'tit Bal featured Decouflé himself and Pascale Houbin whose performance illustrated Bourvil's famous song « C'était bien » with sign language. The film won many international awards.
In 1995, DCA found its home in Saint-Denis outside Paris in a former heating factory hence nicknamed La Chaufferie. There were finally present together all the vital elements of the company: rehearsal rooms for the artists, workshops for the technicians and staff offices. The place was to gradually become an exceptional laboratory, alive with the encounters and exchanges of many different artists, designers, technicians and inventors.
Ultimately Decouflé's imagination turned once again to the odd animals and weird plants of Codex: he imagined Decodex, another production that met an outstanding success through a long tour both in France and abroad and also to receive the Grand Prix National of the French Ministry of Culture.
In 1996, Decouflé started working in Japan with the musical Dora, the cat who lived a million times. His relation with that country was to last. The same year, Decouflé directed an important publicity campaign launched by France Telecom.
He widened the scope of his creations in 1997 with a children workshop, L'art de la Parade held at the Georges Pompidou Center. In Cannes he staged the Opening Ceremony for the 50th anniversary of the International Film Festival, and back in Saint-Denis, he created Denise, a show that announced a future production, Shazam!
In 1998, he directed Abracadabra, an essay in the form of a film, and focused on Shazam! This show has been given more than two hundred times in France and abroad between 1998 and 2001. Also in 1998, Triton et les petites Tritures, inspired from the 1990 Triton, was staged under a circus big top.
In 2002, the production toured France and Europe through 2003.
In 1999, he redesigned the visuals of the French television channel, France 2.
In 2001, Shazam! was finally performed at the Paris Opera. A DVD was made, produced by François Roussillon et Associés and distributed by Sony. Decouflé then started the Cyrk 13 long adventure. Cyrk 13 was born out of the encounter of Decouflé with the 13th class of the National Center of Circus Arts in Châlon, France. It was first created in 2001 and remodelled afterwards.
Keen on returning to his first identity of “choreography craftsman”, and dancer as well, Decouflé created and performed Solo in 2003. Initially destined to Greek Festival in Barcelona, the piece, also subtitled Personal Doubts, has never ceased to evolve and has been performed over the years.
That same year, Decouflé and his troupe were invited to open the 10th Kanagawa Arts International Festival with a new production to be called Iris. Back in Paris in November, the piece was hosted for an exceptional two-month performance.
In 2004, a new version, IIris, was taken on a long national and international tour. This complex project gave birth to two parts film, 2iris, directed by Decouflé himself and aired on the German-French TV Channel Arte. In the meantime, Naïve released Kaleïdoskop a DVD presenting most DCA's experimental videos and short films.
Also in 2004, a new production, Tricodex, came along. Conceived for the dancers of the National Ballet of the Lyon Opera, Tricodex was then performed in Paris and throughout the world (Bilbao, Beijing, Shanghai, London, New York).
Since 2005, Solo is still on tour across France, Europe, Asia (Bangkok, Tokyo, Osaka), USA (New-York, Atlanta) and Canada (Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Montréal, Toronto).
In September 2006, Philippe Decouflé presented L'autre défilé at the “Parc de la Villette”, an extravagant “fashion show” of costumes from the Paris Opera and the Comédie-Française, directed for 120 amateur models. The event brought together more than 15 000 spectators. Also in 2006, he created Sombrero for five dancers, two actors and two musicians. Conceived with his partners Olivier Simola, Patrice Besombes, Alexandra Naudet, Sébastien Libolt and Christophe Salengro, this show was inspired by an important work on shadows and referred to cinematography.
In 2007, Decouflé explored the frontiers of intimacy and exhibitionism with a new show: Coeurs Croisés. The question is : “Why the hell do we get undressed anyway? ”. And it's a good question, when we consider global warming and the mind-body dichotomy. To this question the show brings pictures and answers.
In September 2007, a thousand of merry ravelling, forming a large parade entitled La Mêlée des mondes invaded the streets of Saint-Denis in the honour of the opening of the world cup of Rugby.
In 2008, Philippe Decouflé created a new version of Sombrero: Sombreros. The tour, which had started with Sombrero was to be one of the major success of the company since its creation.
In 2009, after having being appointed artistic director of Crazy Horse, he directed a new production for this parisian cabaret, Désirs.
In 2010, Philippe Decouflé created Octopus with a partly renewed group of dancers and 2 musicians, Labyalla Nosfell and Pierre Le Bourgeois. Beauty and ugliness, passion and jealousy, or sensuality are sources of inspiration.... Premiered at the Théâtre National de Bretagne in October, the piece is on tour for three seasons.
Besides DCA's activities Philippe Decouflé directed Iris (2011) for the Cirque du Soleil, a permanent show on the theme of cinéma at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, USA.
In 2012, he revisits the company's history by dipping into its past work with Panorama : the result is a combination of selected sequences from previous productions (Codex, Petites pièces montées, Shazam !...) and, for the first time since premiered, a number of pieces taken from the very early days (Vague Café, Jump). The same year was presented in Paris Opticon, an exhibition project of interactive video installation, half way between contemporary art and fairgound stall, confirming once more his popularity.
In 2013, Philippe Decouflé started workshops on Contact (opening 2014). Lines of research were presented to the public during performances in Paris (“Entrée Interdite” at the Théâtre de La Cité Internationale) and Rennes (“Fine Arts” at the Fine Arts Museum).
In 2014, Tours of “Panorama” continue.
Philippe Decouflé is also the special guest of the Exit Festival, organised by the Maison des Arts in Créteil. For this occasion, the Compagnie DCA will create new Opticons for the Micro-Macro exhibition, which will be presented in Maubeuge, the Créteil Maison des Arts and the Saint Sauveur railway station in Lille.
In 2015, Philippe Decouflé created Wiebo a tribute to David Bowie for the opening of the exhibition David Bowie is... in Paris.
Tours of “Contact” continue over the 2015-16 season and new projects are in development.