When it all began...Aurora Bauza and Pere Jou

Interviews 10.03.2023

A BEGINNING #16161D, is what remains of the color when you are plunged into the dark and this is the experience that Aurora Bauza and Pere Jou propose to us to cross at the Auditori of Barcelona next March 11 and 12. An original and poetic musical and choreographic creation that pushes the limits of the senses and offers itself to the fantasy and to which Hémisphère son is associated. Meeting with the two protagonists.

Aurora, Pere, where and how was your project born?
Pere Jou: Eleven years ago, as part of a master's degree in interdisciplinary music at the Higher School of Music of Catalonia and the Autonomous University of Barcelona. We both had the same interest in discovering and perceiving music from different angles. I studied classical music, but when I met Aurora, I was working in the field of pop music.
And you, Aurora ?
I was also classically trained, I studied piano, then musicology.

And then it all started?
PB : Little by little we started to compose for audiovisual, dance and theater companies, and our work gradually merged with a scenic language, until the interest overtook the situation. Suddenly, we felt the need to create proposals in which we worked with the scenic language, but in such a complex way that we didn't know where the body ended and where the voice ended.
AB: In fact, we still have a hard time defining our proposal, because we are sometimes categorized as theater, dance, music..... And to tell the truth, I don't know myself!

And how do you interpret this difficulty in categorizing and cataloguing your proposal?
AB: The institution still has a hard time understanding that languages are more and more hybrid and that they fit less and less into canonical categories; we still continue to categorize the proposals; I suppose it's to make them understandable to the public.
PJ: We work on the musical and the choreographic.
AB: Yes, it's true, we needed to propose something musical but at the same time linked to the stage, but in a different way.

And from what point of view?
PJ: There is something in our way of thinking about music that goes beyond what is traditionally conceived as musical; something that remains limited to the strictly musical terrain.

Give us an example.
PJ: You're at an early music concert and suddenly the musicians are standing, not sitting. That already seems like a powerful scenic choice to us; and then we ask ourselves, why not go further? Because you perceive the sound phenomena not only through your ears, but also through your sight.
AB: Yes, and aesthetically too. At the beginning we wanted to try other formats of musical creation. Also, Pere and I came from a very codified music where everything is very measured, with dramaturgies without movement. The question is how the music is perceived if the code is different. That's the way we approach dance.
PJ: Exactly, because dance has elements of rhythm, composition, etc. And the voice, which is a crucial element in our work, is a key element in our work. And the voice, which is a crucial element in our research, is the perfect link, because it is the instrument-body.
AB: In fact, all our research starts from the body.

Indeed, you do research on the body, but from what perspective?
PJ: We tend to arrange the bodies in the space so that the relationship between them, in a very dilated temporality of the events on stage, allows a series of images to be born that refer precisely to these bodies.
AB: Yes, and which refer to the construction of oneself, to human relations, to the construction of language and of a social group, of oneself with the group, etc; that is to say that an extra-musical material emerges and thanks to it new codes are perceived on all these themes.

And how do you work?
AB: We start with an idea that is usually more formal than conceptual. For example, in the work for theAuditori, we started with the idea of darkness. Then, with a group of people, we asked ourselves what happens in the auditory field when we provoke this darkness; what could happen if, in this darkness, the sense of the visual is eliminated and other modes of understanding, sensitivity and perception are reinforced.
PJ: In other words, the starting point was how to perceive movement, if not through the visual. It was about rethinking things in reverse.

Like synesthesia?
PJ: Yes, and when you put a point of light in this darkness, it's a great discovery, almost an epiphany. The question is how to dissociate the voice from the body that generates it. For example, in order for me to generate a certain melody or a certain sound with my voice, the body is arranged in a certain way. So I want to hack that, go against that and see what image it generates.

It must be a delicate job.
PJ: We play, we take the time to research and understand what we want to talk about. When we know what the piece is about, we start to...
AB: ... build it. And we need several weeks of rehearsal to figure it out: we have to create materials, research and test them in the space.
PJ: Of course, since it is a performance, it is necessary that the performers incorporate and embody the materials of the movement composition in its integrity.

Now tell us how your first piece "I AM (T)HERE" came about?
AB: We had already presented this first piece in a reduced format at a festival created by the Liceo. We then received a commission from this festival and we thought it was an opportunity. So we started our research, presented it in January and realized that we liked it and decided to continue researching and developing it until we presented it at the Greek Festival (in July, ed.).
PJ: That was the idea before: how to dissociate the body from the voice and propose two lines of language in parallel, but embodied in one body.

And then came WE ARE (T)HERE.
PJ: Yes, that piece is 25 minutes long. It's the same idea but moved to the group, to the collective.
AB: And, of course, this new approach generated other symbolisms.
PJ: In fact, the piece went its own way: how does a stage presence maintain itself because the voice and the body are dissociated?

This idea almost goes back to the classical idea of whether the body and the soul can be dissociated.
AB: When we see a body that sings, but whose presence goes in another direction, it generates a body that is alienated from itself, because it does two autonomous things. This particular presence allows us to talk about the images that interest us, in the poetic field, by suggesting different interpretations. We place the body in a frame that allows the spectator to project many interpretations onto it.
PJ: Yes, that's true, but framed in a semantic field of human relations.

To conclude, I would like to address A BEGINNING #16161Dthe piece you will be presenting at the Auditori.
PJ: That number in the name is the code for a color. In fact, colors have codes.
AB: This is the color we see in the absence of light. In fact, we have the ability to see black: for example, if we see a black object in bright conditions. But in the absence of light, it's not black that we see, but a color that looks gray, hence the idea of the title. 

The starting point was darkness. It resonates very well.
AB: Yes, we looked for information about this whole world of darkness, about retinal processes, about psychology, cognition, people with vision problems, etc.
PJ: I would like the audience to receive it from a child's point of view, in a good way, because by entering the darkness, the viewer will be immersed in vulnerability, and with the idea of voice, body, and movement, they will enter the fantasy.
AB: This work demands that one be interested in other modes of perception, because by extracting the visual, which is the quickest way to analyze reality, the work proposes that one understand what happens when the visual is displaced. To open up and let oneself be carried by the proposal.

Interview by Txema Seglers

Photos © Anna Fàbrega