David Belle

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David Belle
David Belle NewYorker.jpg
Belle at the New Yorker Festival, October 7, 2007
Born (1973-04-29) 29 April 1973 (age 41)
Fécamp, France
Nationality French
Occupation Actor
Choreographer
Traceur
Known for Parkour, film District 13
Height 1.79m
Children Isaïah (son; born 2012.)
Parents Raymond Belle (father)
Monique Belle (mother)
Relatives Jean-François Belle (brother)
Website
DavidBelle.com

David Belle (born 29 April 1973) is a French actor, film choreographer and stunt coordinator. He is deemed the Founder or leading pioneer of the physical discipline Parkour, coining it based on his training and the teachings from his father Raymond Belle. This art of motion has since spread around the world and now has adherents in many countries. Belle came to fame via his videos which spread on the internet and also via his film work including his most well known films, District 13 and District 13: Ultimatum, which were written and produced by Luc Besson. Belle has also worked on Babylon A.D. with Vin Diesel, Prince of Persia, with Jake Gyllenhaal, Colombiana with Zoe Saldana, and The Family, with Robert De Niro.

Life and career[edit]

Belle was born and raised in Fécamp, France, the son of Monique and Raymond Belle. He descends from a modest family in the suburbs of Paris. His grandfather Gilbert Kitten, father Raymond, and brother Jean-François Belle have been highly skilled rescuers in the Military Paris Fire Brigade.[1][2]

In 1984, at the age of 11, Belle moved to Lisses, France. He made close friends with a group of teenagers with similar physical passions who began training with him. Some of the friends that trained with David would later become known as the Yamakasi. Later in life David spent time in the military and fire brigade with aspirations of following in his father's and grandfather's footsteps. He left soon after for personal reasons in order to dedicate himself to Parkour.

He later joined the Troupes de marine in Vannes, where he received a promotion, a gymnastic agility certificate of honour, and champion records for regimental rope-climbing (which his father had once held) and the Essonne obstacle course. He has however said that his taste and love for adventure and freedom did not go well with the regimented life of the military.[3]

Upon completing his national service, he worked in various professions including a warehouse worker, security guard and furniture salesman. He also spent 3 months in India studying kung fu. After his return he continued his training in Parkour and filmed footage of his capabilities which he later turned into the famous Speed Air Man video. In 1997 the Stade 2 team (Francis Marroto, Pierre Sled and Pierre Salviac) were shown a video of Belle and decided to film a news feature about parkour.

In filming this news feature the term Yamakasi was used for the first time in connection with the team. David did not approve of the name and felt like it did not give credit to his father, so he split from the group after the feature. Later David would go on to train other students who gave themselves the name 'tracer.' The spelling was later adapted to 'traceur', and has since been used to define a practitioner of Parkour. However more recently, David claimed that "A Traceur is not a practitioner of Parkour, a Traceur is someone who is trying to understand Parkour."

Belle was first introduced to his acting career in a meeting with Hubert Koundé (La Haine), in order to discuss the success of Parkour in cinema. He then began developing his acting ability with the play Pygmalion, and has since been successful in obtaining a number of roles mostly in French films and promotions. Belle has been featured in promotional videos for Tina Turner, and Iam. He has starred in "Les gens du voyages" and "Un monde meilleur", followed by "L'Engrenages" and "Femme Fatale", as well as "Les rivières pourpres 2", starring Jean Reno. After filming several more advertisements and promotions for the BBC, Nissan, Canon, and Nike, Belle was contacted by Luc Besson (director of Nikita, and The Fifth Element) regarding co-starring as lead actor with Cyril Raffaelli in the action movie District 13, followed by the sequel District 13: Ultimatum. Belle co-starred with Paul Walker in Brick Mansions (2014), a remake of District 13.

On 16 April 2012 Belle announced in a status on his Facebook that he was soon going to become a father to a boy. On 18 December, he posted a picture introducing the Parkour community and world to his son Isaïah.

Filmography[edit]

Acting
Stunts

Media figure and business interests[edit]

In spite of Belle's fame he has stayed largely out of the media light over the years. Aside from the occasional Facebook updates, he is known for being camera shy, but this is most likely due to his principles and morals. His last well known appearance was made in when he appeared as a guest at the New Yorker Festival in 2007. Belle also interviewed for the article "No Obstacles" written by Alec Wilkinson which was published in April 2007.[4]

Belle currently endorses the clothing company Take Flight.[5]

David Belle's Parkour groups[edit]

  • Les Traceurs
    • Belle was the leader of a group called "Les traceurs" which also included well known practitioner Stephane Vigroux. The name has since been used to refer to those that practice Parkour.
  • PAWA (former member)
    • David helped form the Parkour World Association, but he stopped the group for lack of cohesion.
  • Yamakasi
    • Contrary to popular belief, David was never a member of the Yamakasi group. He was a part of the group that later called themselves the Yamakasi, but the group chose the name Yamakasi during the filming of the Stade 2 news feature, credited as the first news feature about Parkour. Belle was against the name and wanted to call the practice Parkour. He then split from the group after the feature because he felt that naming took away from the recognition of the discipline and its history.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "David Belle". zoom-cinema.fr. Retrieved 20 January 2011. "nous sommes le 29 avril 1973 à Fécamp. Naissance de David Belle(...)Suivant les traces de son père, Raymond Belle, et de son grand-père, Gilbert Kitten, David Belle rejoint les sapeurs pompiers de Paris puis les troupes de marine à Vannes" 
  2. ^ "David Belle". parkourpedia.com (Original French biography referenced to David-Belle.com which no longer exists). Retrieved 20 January 2011. "David Belle was born on 29 April 1973 in Fécamp, in the Seine-Maritime département in Normandy. Descended from a modest family from the Parisian suburbs, it was in Fécamp and later in the town of Sables d’Olonne that David spent the first fourteen years of his life. Raised by his maternal grandfather, Gilbert Kitten (former sergeant-major of the Parisian sapeurs-pompiers military fire service), David was impressed by tales of heroism, and developed from a young age a passion for anything to do with action." 
  3. ^ "Interview with David Belle". parkourpedia.com (Original French biography referenced to David-Belle.com which no longer exists). 22 April 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2011. "Firstly, after being a fireman, I went into the army. I was in the Marine Infantry. It was a coincidence I found myself in movies. It was not a vocation. Not something I wanted to do since I was little. What I wanted was to make my sport known: that parkour become recognized.(...)I never trained parkour to perform or show off. To me, parkour is something personal. It just happened to get popular. I’m not the one who put it on the internet" 
  4. ^ "No Obstacles". newyorker.com. Retrieved 4 December 2011. 
  5. ^ "The Website of David Belle". DavidBelle.com. Retrieved 4 December 2011. 

External links[edit]