Dominique Bagouet was born in Angoulême on July 9, 1951.
In 1965, he became Rosella Hightower’s student in Cannes where he received a classical training. In 1969, he was hired by Alfonso Cata in the Ballet du Grand Theatre de Genève. The following year he performed in Felix Blaska’s troupe and then with Béjart’s Ballets du XXeme siècle in Brussels. His experience with Béjart’s troupe went on for two years. Bagouet then moved on to work with the Chandra group (where Maguy Marin was also working).
Back in Paris in 1974, Dominique Bagouet took lessons with Carolyn Carlson and Peter Gross. He also danced in Joseph Rusillo, Anne Beranger and Peter Gross’s troupe. He then decided to go to the United States where he discovered the American contemporary techniques.
Upon his return to France in 1976 his first creation, Chansons de nuit, was presented to a contest (Concours de Bagnolet) and won the first prize. Soon after, he decided to create his own troupe. Unfortunately to make his new company successful Bagouet had to create one show after another at a very sustained pace. By 1979 he had created fourteen shows and felt that they were sometimes rushed. He felt unsatisfied by this urgency.
With the creations Ribatz, Ribatz ! and Voyage organisé, the young choreographer started to impose himself and found his haven : Montpellier. The city welcomed the company and gave it the means to exist when Bagouet was invited to set up and become the director of the Regional choreographic center of Montpellier. It is also there that he created and directed the International Festival of Montpellier Dance until 1982.
The Choreographic Work
In Montpellier, Dominique Bagouet created some of the most memorable shows of contemporary French choreographies, from d’Insaisies (1982) to Necesito, piece pour Grenade (1991) - his final work which was commissioned by the Spanish town, Granada, to celebrate its 500th anniversary.
With creations such as Deserts d’amour (1984), Le Crawls de Lucien (1985) and Assai (1986), Dominique Bagouet clearly established his personality and style. All his creations displayed a unique subtle gesture, sometimes qualified as « neo-baroque ». His choreographic approach consists of many small gestures (feet and hands’ games, specific inclination of the torso ...) without any mannerism and executed with an incredible accuracy.
The choreographer always surrounded himself with renowned talents. He worked with Christian Boltanski and Pascal Dusapin on Le Saut de l’ange (1987), with Tristan Murail on Deserts d’amour and with the actress Nelly Borgeaud on Meuble sommairement (1989), the choreographed adaptation of Emmanuel Bove’s novel.
He directed two films with Charles Picq, Tant mieux, tant mieux (1983) and Dix anges, protraits (1988) inspired by his own creation, Saut de l’ange.
Dominique Bagouet died in Montpellier on December 9, 1992 at the age of 41.
Les Carnets Bagouet
The death of Dominique Bagouet in 1992 raised questions around the issues of legacy – How to keep the memory of the contemporary choreographic repertoire? The members of Bagouet’s company decided to create the association Les Carnets Bagouet. The concept was that the dancers themselves are the “notebooks” of Bagouet’s oeuvre, they are carrying the writing of the choreography within themselves. The primary goal was therefore to collectively find the answer to the crucial question: what to do with this dance? How to keep it alive? How to save it from oblivion?
Les Carnets Bagouet was born out of the desire to transmit Dominique Bagouet’s dance to other dancers and to create a discussion around the contemporary dance repertoire. This desire is still alive today but is very different from what it used to be. As time goes by, people’s path goes in different directions. The dancers’ experiences have grown and expended to different places and shapes, but the work of transmission is still going on.
Working with new dancers, sponsors and structures triggered a discussion around of the means, methods and objectives of the association. The answers were always found within the group by sharing and debating (within the think tank we call "artistic council"). Les Carnets Bagouet has accepted the diversity of opinions and has allowed contradictory ideas to be spoken freely without always offering to solve these contradictions.
Looking back at the association’s 25 years of work we can notice that the purpose has evolved and is very different today than what it was at the creation of Les Carnets Bagouet. The profusion of answers, methods, medium, wording and compositions has enriched the remembrance process and the association’s work in general. Today Les Carnets Bagouet is going forward and is opening to new projects.
The aim to keep Dominique Bagouet’s dance alive has stopped. His mark stayed alive within his dancers for a while, but we know that Dominique's dance is gone. With time, Les Carnets Bagouet evolved and discovered new questioning and goals. The wish to open to new ways of thinking and working emerged, and the group is now interpreting the choreographer’s work in a fresh way and in collaboration with people who have never met Dominique Bagouet themselves.