The 28-year-old highliner from Haute-Savoie has just broken the world distance record on a slackline (one line) at Mont Saint-Michel.

At the Théâtre National de Chaillot, alongside acrobats and aerialists, he participated in “Corps Extrêmes” (June 16-24), his first show created in 2021.

“The fact of evolving in a theater, in a closed environment, it was something that frightened me a little at the beginning, me who relies on the immensities” of the places, he confides to AFP . “The fear of emptiness turns into stage fright and fear of disappointing the public”.

As for the “highline”, this sporting discipline which is similar to tightrope walking, he has tamed stage fright and “takes pleasure” during the show where he alternates walking and breaks on a wire, before interacting with the acrobats.

“I understood that the stage was a great space of freedom, that you could create whatever you wanted (…) the fact of having 1,000 people in front of you and transmitting things directly, that’s very strong,” he said. And as for the crossings, “the people who look at me are much more afraid than me”, he jokes.

Star in his discipline – at Mont Saint-Michel, he traveled 2,200 meters long, perched a hundred meters away -, Nathan Paulin will go on tour, before chaining the crossings: this summer alone, he will attempt a crossing over the Pont du Gard, Lake Geneva, Lake Annecy, the port of Bonifacio…

The young man, who strikes by his concentration, was however a boy “with dissipated attention”.

– Reprogrammed brain –

Originally from Le Reposoir (Haute-Savoie) to parents who often took him to the mountains, Nathan Paulin tried, in the summer of his 17th birthday, to walk on a wire between two trees.

“I was quickly captivated by the meditative side. Walking on a wire, it concentrates me,” he recalls. “It was also a way of accepting my body. I am very tall (1.97 m), a little in my corner and on a wire, we have to open up to be in balance”.

Self-confidence came “in small steps”. “When you’re in the Gorges du Verdon, it takes years before you’re comfortable, it’s a bit of a reprogramming of the brain”, says the highliner who has twice crossed between the Eiffel Tower and the Chaillot Theater.

He still asks himself questions. At Mont Saint-Michel, “I asked myself what am I doing at the top of this 100-meter crane? I really don’t want to be there,” he smiles. But “once I start walking, I regain my reflexes”.

As with dancers, “there is really a memory of the body. The body learns and does not forget”, explains the man who likes to see himself as “100% athletic and 100% artist”.

With this record-breaking regular, who gives corporate conferences on risk-taking, the aesthetic side came “through the eyes of others” and the transmission of emotion.

Slacklining at the Olympics? He’s not too convinced. “I like the freedom side (…). The fact of structuring, it freezes things a little too much”.

With its performance, it also gives an ecological spotlight, as when crossing the Argentière glacier (Mont-Blanc). The void he walked through “didn’t exist a few years ago, it was filled with ice. And the ice 100 meters below my feet won’t exist in a few years,” he says.

“I live in the Alps. Global warming is twice as fast there as elsewhere, and these environments, we want to protect them”.