Performer la recherche : cinq séances sur Deborah Hay

After working with Deborah Hay as performer/interpreter, Laurent Pichaud has been working as assistant to the American choreographer since 2008. He co-choreographed indivisibilités with her in 2011, translated one of her books and journeyed through her private archives in 2015. This performed, 5-session seminar— the fruit of several years work on Deborah Hay’s oeuvre — is a hybrid form, somewhere between an academic format and a situated performance. These sessions will present on stage some of the choreographic questions such a project gives rise to: an account of his experience in the archives, how we might apprehend a choreographer’s writing, translating as a dancer, working in situ in somebody else’s body of work; the sessions will also explore what artistic experimentation does with and to a method of research that is generally theoretical.

How does a choreographic project come to be?

Since 2005 American choreographer Deborah Hay has been artistic, personal and professional mentor to Laurent Pichaud. Grounded in practice, this relationship has gradually developed over time in several areas.

Choreographic practice: in parallel to the group piece O,O in which he was one of the French performers/interpreters in 2005, like all the other performers/interpreters working on the project, Laurent Pichaud created an adaptation of a solo piece by Deborah Hay.

Working as assistant: following the O,O project Deborah Hay invited Laurent Pichaud to begin working as her assistant on certain group pieces. This partnership is still ongoing in 2017.

Co-creating: in 2011 Deborah Hay and Laurent Pichaud co-created and co-performed a duet: indivisibilités.

Also, and perhaps above all, translation work: faced with the difficulty of grasping all the stakes of her approach and especially those of her spoken and written language, in 2009 Laurent Pichaud began working on the French translation of Deborah Hay’s book My body the Buddhist (2000), her most recent publication at the time. This translation project — which recently became a publishing project, working with translator Lucie Perineau (Mon corps, ce bouddhiste will be jointly published in May 2017 by Manufacture/Les Presses du Réel) — opened up another set of difficulties. Intertwining different registers of writing, this book pays considerable attention to Deborah Hay’s textual scores. Faced with the challenge of translating these scores with all their literarily strange language, in 2015 Laurent Pichaud applied for a “Aide à la recherche et au patrimoine en danse” grant from the Centre National de la Dance in order to fund a research trip in the United States to explore the choreographer’s private archives.

Researching Deborah Hay’s archives enabled Laurent Pichaud to discover how the choreographer decided to use language, both oral and written, within the very choreographic process, and to track how such a language was conceived and how it has developed over time since the early 1960s.

In this way, his initial endeavour was not to undertake research on Deborah Hay herself, but it is interesting to observe how, over time, the practice of working through gradually became paired with the practice of working on Deborah Hay.

Ten years after they first met, this performed seminar will attempt to propose a performance format that respects both the result of these practical experiences with the choreographer or her body of work, and a specific state of research, i.e., that of an artist working on another artist’s body of work.

The 5 sessions hosted by the Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers will comprise an initial, performed phase that will be open to the public, tied to the course Laurent Pichaud teaches on the Master 1 and Master 2 courses in the Dance department at the University of Paris-8 in Saint-Denis, Spring 2017, titled Performer la recherche (Performing research).

The sessions are scheduled on

Wednesday 22 February 2017, from 1 p.m. to 2.30 p.m.
Then on Wednesday 1, 8, 15 and 22 March 2017, from 1 p.m. to 2.30 p.m.