I COULD NEVER BE A DANCER : "Our relationship to dance is not obvious"

Choreographers, creative directors and directors Carine Charaire and Olivier Casamayou - formerly dancers who collaborated with contemporary dance masters Jérôme Bel, Blanca Li and Marco Berrettini the duo - created the duo I COULD NEVER BE A DANCER with the ambition to « export » dance towards fashion, contemporary art and advertising. They collaborate with fashion brands (Kenzo, Chanel, Lacoste, Hermès…), cultural institutions (Comédie-Française, Gaîté Lyrique, Hyères Fashion & Photography Festival) and artists (Valérie Belin, Keren Ann) and create visual, conceptual and pop video and dance ensembles.

I COULD NEVER BE A DANCER was one of the artists invited for the First Franco-Chinese Fashion Meetings in Spring 2018, during which they staged a dance performance and two video installations highlighting their work in Beijing and Shanghai.

 

Why did you choose the name I COULD NEVER BE A DANCER? What is your connection with dance?

Olivier Casamayou: Our connection to dance is not so clear cut, both having taken somewhat chaotic and indirect routes to where we are now.

Carine Charaire: I’ve studied classical dance, that is to say, done 20 years of ballet. In ballet, one is supposed to compete and face up to these doubts: am I a dancer? What does it mean to be a dancer? I learned and I unlearned, eventually forming my own vision of what dance is as well as other models.

Olivier: I took up dancing very late, but I’ve always felt like a dancer and I’ve always danced. I took my first dance class at 18, that’s super late. Not to mention I’ve had some health issues along the way. So while my dream of being a dancer could not be realized earlier, I did develop a different approach to dance that got me into the choreography side very fast.

There’s a irony behind the name I COULD NEVER BE A DANCER. It refers to the moment when people are told we are dancers and choreographers, and they immediately feel obliged to say, "I am a very bad dancer". It's a cliché we hear a lot. The strange thing is that for other art forms, say directing or acting, people won’t say they act badly or that they don’t know how to hold a camera. There is such a basic relationship to the body that stimulates people to respond to our control over it by countering with their own lack of control. This essentiality is quite interesting. That’s what the name is about.

You work on choreography, as well as videos, installations, etc. What excites you the most?

Olivier and Carine: What we are passionate about is shifting from one to the other. The key to our way of working is this diversity and being able to project it into our various roles. We work on such a range of projects. For Hermes we created a showcase in which there was no movement. We might manage projects from A to Z, whether performance or live artistic direction. It's very versatile and we love that about it!

What are your inspirations?

Olivier: There are so many! And not only dance of course. My first major inspiration was Pina Bausch. Watching her was a defining moment, the reason I started dancing.

Carine: For me, it's a mix of classical influences and conceptual and contemporary aspects of 60s performing arts and their revival in the 90s with Jérome Bel and a whole movement to which we are very close.

Olivier: We also have very strong pop influences. We are immersed in pop culture and derive a lot of interest from it.

How do you feel about your exhibition and dance performance in the context of the Franco-Chinese Fashion Encounters Series? What would you like to communicate with the Chinese public?

Carine: This installation is very important to us, and we wanted first of all, in context of encounters, to create a bamboo structure that would evoke Asia in its design and traditions. We’ve tried to interpret our installation in support of it, since we like to create in a specific context each time.

Read I COULD NEVER BE A DANCER's Proust Questionnaire

More about the Franco-Chinese Fashion Meetings