NEW YORK - Juliette Binoche, the Academy Award-winning screen star, has veered into new artistic directions, appearing in a modern dance work in New York and mounting an exhibit of sketches and drawings.
"I'm still an actress," she told AFP in an interview in which she described her creative forays outside of the acting world as a "leap into the unknown."
"I always want to explore life differently, to dare to try something new," she said.
The 45-year old French star earned her best supporting actress Oscar in 1997, for her role as the nurse to a tormented, fatally wounded soldier in "The English Patient."
She has a long list of other critical successes to her name, including performances in "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," "Damage" and the film "Blue" from the acclaimed Krzysztof Kieslowski "Three Colors" trilogy.
The dance-theater work she is appearing in, called "In-I," is a co-creation with British dancer-choreographer Akram Khan.
The work, melding European and traditional Indian movement, debuts on September 15 as part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music's "Next Wave" festival of avant-garde performance art, and runs through September 26.
"I came to realize that dancing with the muscles alone is not enough, that the energy comes from somewhere else," said Binoche, a novice dancer, who told how she recovers from the rigors of dancing through the Chinese meditative movement Qigong.
Meanwhile, an exhibit of several dozen of Binoche's ink drawings opened this week at New York's French Consulate.
The drawings depict directors from films she has appeared in over the years, from Andre Techine to Anthony Minghella, who made "The English Patient".
"I wanted to get closer to the directors that I worked with ... without regard for the end-product," said Binoche of her first-ever art show on US soil.
She also sketches herself, although some have said the self-portraits bear little resemblance to the actress -- a criticism Binoche dismisses.
"Self-portraiture comes from a place that is not visible, it is more a feeling than a form," she said.
In all of her artistic endeavors, she added, "you have to dare yourself to let go."