Interview with Cecilia Bengolea & François Chaignaud

January 21, 2013 | By Kathryn Hamilton
Cecilia Bengolea, François Chaignaud, "Twerk" © Emile Zeizig

Paris-based dancer/choreographer duo, Cecilia Bengolea and François Chaignaud were in New York this January as part of the French Highlights Salon.

In your last piece, altered natives' Say Yes to Another Excess - Twerk you collaborated with dancers from very different dance and cultural backgrounds.  Can you talk about your process collaborating with this group?

FC: The first thing is to trust the dance itself.  You don’t have to trust something outside of the dance, something exterior. In our first pieces we were suspended, or inside a vacuum bag. It was always something that was outside of the dance itself. Here we wanted to trust our unstoppable pleasure in dance, especially in the clubs, and to investigate them as a situation. The process was divided into two sections: It was either in big cities like Paris, London or New York, where we would all go to the clubs, or in tiny cities like Belfour or Cannes where there is no club scene and we were just in the studio. I think those two phases are a good summary of the tension of this piece. We were trying not to discriminate between those two ways of making dance: one that is supposed to be art, being an author of movement, and the other is more of a social activity, in the clubs.  But if you look at it, the clubs are also a great place of creativity and invention: of rhythm, of gestures, of meanings and relations, and so we wanted to make a piece where all those influences and methods could collide and cohabit.

CB: We were simply teaching each other the moves that we like and the rhythms. We’d say – ‘Please give a class about ass shaking, I love how you do it.’ It was very childish, you know? And another day:  ‘lets do ballet, we need lines and to feel the space again.’ It wasn’t very premeditated. The process was very capricious: we’d stay in the studio twelve hours – get there at 11 in the morning and go back home at midnight.  

Do you feel a particular connection with any one in the American dance scene and the ideas they are exploring?

CB: I feel inspired by Sarah Michelson. We had a short time in the studio together. I like how she looks at dance and structure, and works without so much knowing what the final object will be. The concentration that she puts into the body and the mind of the dancer.  For me this is interesting even if I don’t intend to do the same kind of work, I’m interested in her.

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