Alice Chauchat: Your work can be understood as a way of choreographing language, in the broad sense of language (signs of all sorts). With your proposal of a series, do you imagine signifiers to behave as protagonists of a fiction?

Juan Domínguez: In these episodes, I will work with different codifications: body, written language and camera. Even though I might end up not using some of them, this is the idea so far ; I want to find a mix of all these codes. I also want to work with language while manipulating temporalities so that language influences the temporality of the episodes. This is my main idea. On the other hand, the most important thing for me is to transfer the tools of the TV series to the theatre, which transfers our understanding of this temporality. Usually, the conflict in dance is solved in a hour or two, and this is a specific commitment to the spectators ; I want to transform this commitment to the spectators. This is the challenge: to bring somebody five days in a row is almost impossible, I think. But if I can get all these aspects that work psychologically in a TV series, what is the psychology for dance? This aspect is very exciting for me. Another very important aspect for me is that a dance piece is usually conventionally established. The relation with the audience can change within the piece, but, as I said, the format of going to a theatre to spend an hour or two with the dancers or the choreographer is already a strong format. And this is what the market is using, the market frames us and it's very difficult to change this relation with the spectators, that's why whatever change you want to make will suffer the conservatism of this convention. It's also political for me to try to manipulate this obligation of the market, to completely change the relation and see that suddenly there is another relation. It could be stronger than the usual relation we have. I'm talking about the format and not about the content of the pieces, which is something else.

Grégory Castéra: It seems to be very important for the piece that the same people come to see the different episodes.

J.D.: That would be fantastic. Imagine sixty or one hundred persons coming every day and following the series. On the other hand, I know that that might not be possible, so I have to think about the independence of the episodes in case somebody comes for one or two days.

G.C.: Yes, but as you were mentioning this political position, don't you think that if you create autonomous pieces from the episodes, it's not as if you were creating five, six or seven different pieces and that this would also be playing the game of the market?

J.D.: Yes, you're right. What I thought about was to work a lot with the conventions of the TV series, where, at the beginning there is a « Previously:... » where you get information about the previous episodes, and, at the end, you get information about the next episode. This is very conventional, but there is also a lot of material there to work on subversively. I'm very excited about all this configuration and how I can use it live. For example, if you come only the second day, maybe I can trap you into coming on the third day as well, even if you missed the first one.
I think it's a very nice tool to transform what happened in the episode we just saw, because we can give some extra information about something that was maybe imperceptible. Usually, TV doesn't go very far with these tools (they need to be attractive) and it would be nice to develop these tools further. All these strategies used by TV can be re-used or re-considered.

A.C.: I'm very curious about your deciding to use the TV series as a template, because I see a lot of grappling with the notion of fiction in your work, where fiction is constantly escaping linearity; you change registers so much that the story one gets caught in when watching your pieces is, in fact, the story of these changes of registers and of what makes sense. Usually, a TV series has a very linear story.

J.D.: Yes, of course in this series there won't be a story in the sense of a linear narrative or a succession of events that starts somewhere and finishes somewhere. That's why it's interesting for me to think about the relation between the TV series and choreography, and where these two ways of thinking converge. What is important is that the concept of the TV series helps me in my choreography, not the other way around! I think the spectators will not find a story to follow in a linear way, but they will find something attractive that will keep them watching the way I make choreography...
(...) I want to rethink the notion of characters in choreography, maybe the characters can be the tools we use for choreography and the tools we use for TV series; I don't want the mini-series to have a lot of meta-language, that's not the goal, but it will work a lot with these codifications.

G.C.: I was also thinking about the production of the piece. You will be staying at Les Laboratoires for nine weeks: how do you imagine the different episodes being produced? Because it's more or less the amount of time needed to produce one piece, but not several little pieces. You will need to produce some episodes very quickly, have you thought about this part of the process?

J.D.: I don't know yet. For now I have a lot of desires and I will start preparing in July; then I will see how it works. My idea is to try as much as I can to link the different episodes at Les Labos. It's a space where I can use the technique and find an audience and I would like to have at least three or four episodes ready by the end of the residency. Even if the mini-series is not finished, the most important thing for me is to try out this chain with spectators and to analyse with them how it works. I will try different things, some will not be open to the audience and others will, it will be this constant confrontation over the last seven weeks when I really want to try this chain of episodes.
But I don't know if I will manage to have two, three, four or five. At least three, I have to get there for sure.

A.C.: What do you expect from the audience for your process?

J.D.: Well, that is complex. What I want to try is to create a work relationship with the audience. I don’t know, but I want to try different ways of showing. Opening a process to the spectators is not new but maybe we can build a situation that, you never know, can be part of the episodes. So apart from giving feedback, which is a typical practice in dance since many years, the idea is to create a critical team that can distinguish the different moments of the creation. In Les Labos I think you have this orientation to open and to share. So we can change this relation together.
I think it would be important to have a first meeting explaining the whole project in order to clarify the different goals and states of the project.

A.C.: Yes, I think the contract needs to be very clear with the audience, so that, when you invite them to come and see something, they already know what the proposed conditions are. To think of it this way, of working together. To avoid consumerism, which is not always a bad thing, but this is not the moment of creation for that. I am thinking more and more how this might be really important also for the rehearsal process. It should be a group of people who engage, who don't just come once and then wonder. But who..., even if they don't come everytime, make a commitment to come at least... three, four times.

J.D.: Yes, this is very important not to waste time for anybody.

A.C.: And I think your proposal of having an introduction to the whole project is really good, and it could also be strongly recommended if people have an interest in the project. Even if we stay flexible about which episodes people attend, we can at least count on everyone's being there for this one session.

J.D.: And maybe we can, at some points, maybe toward the end, or I don't know when, we can invite more people to receive another point of view. While you are part of the project, your criticality is more generous, of course, because you are part of the thinking. Sometimes we can have another point of view. I think it is important if it is not new people, because it will be very processual... Trying to understand what it is more than offering any product...

A.C.: I'm wondering now if we should publicly announce the meeting or if we should say that the people interested should call and then they will be informed about the exact dates of the thing. And then we can imagine that, at the end, will have been set aside when it's open for more people. I'm really just thinking aloud – I don't know if that's the best way to do it. So that we can announce these dates to the larger public, and for the process before, we would rather invite people to come and take part in this group.

J.D.: Yes, exactly. Because I think that to do these commentaries, to talk about what this transfer of codification is, is interesting enough to start meeting people.

A.C.: But that's an important thing you are saying now, that you would like to have people from different backgrounds, with different experiences. Do you prefer that there be more professionals, or also interested members of the general public?

J.D.: No I think it has to be people who are interested from the general public. I mean, we are talking about the spectators and this is very wide, you know, it's not only professionals. So I think to have professionals is great, but also to have regular audience that usually go to theatre because they are interested. I think you have to have all the possibilities. I'm very interested in how people receive it.

G.C.: I think it could be very nice for the students. Just this way to frame the talk is enough. We don't need a more educational approach.

A.C.: Not at all.

J.D.: This new generation of 20-somethings have another relation with the TV. They are very aware of how this code is used.

A.C.: Well I think this sounds very promising.

J.D.: I'm afraid so, I'm afraid now.

A.C.: You can only fail after such big expectations.

J.D.: Yes exactly, to fail always implies a beginning...