Juggling and dancing | Interview with Thomas Guerineau

How can juggling be a starting point of dance composition? For French choreographer Thomas Guérineau, this is a way to consider the relationship between the body and objects, gestures and actions. His ongoing research has culminated in some acclaimed performances, including Maputo–Mozambique, winner of the Public Choice Award 2018 at The Young Audiences Music Awards (YAMawards). 

We spoke with Thomas about the importance of listening to the audience, his approach to movement, juggling and music, and his upcoming projects during the Paris Olympic Games 2024.

DAJ: You started juggling at the age of 15, how did you discover this passion? 
TG: I discovered juggling in London when some jugglers introduced me to it at a party.

DAJ: Your training includes clarinet, ballet and circus. How did these experiences contribute to finding your artistic identity? 
TG: I first worked on juggling, then body expression and dance and music. It seems to me that at a certain point, at the beginning of my training, I dreamed of assembling these three things into one gesture. But it’s by pushing in front of my feet the feeling that I have of juggling, dancing and making music that my work is constructed.

DAJ: Gesture plays an important role in your creative process, is that right?
TG: Thought, sound, the movement of an object, a body gesture, all of this remains movement for me. What is important to me here is that the sensation of the body that produces these movements is sufficiently intense. 

DAJ: Your work is accessible to all ages. How do intergenerational encounters inspire you?
TG: I have found that children and especially babies are sensitive to my work. I find contact with young audiences interesting because they receive certain parts of my work very differently from adults. This varied perception allows me to consider my work differently.

DAJ: You have a permanent program of workshops focused on the connection of bodies with objects. Can you tell us more about this?
TG: I am interested in the moment when, in the manipulation of an object by a body, the sensation of the latter no longer dissociates its body from the object that is being manipulated. I consider the object to be both external and intrinsic to a body. 

DAJ: How do you approach the relationship between dance and the juggling? 
TG: In juggling, there are different ways for artists to consider the relationship of the body with the objects they use. In my work, the movement of the body is often worked on from the nature of the gesture to throw and catch an object. Then I observe this gesture, I play with its different amplitudes and I look for a strong desire to produce these gestures to use them in the composition of the piece.

DAJ: What are you working on at the moment? 
I am currently working on a creation with Malian artists and basketball players in which I am developing a musical juggling with basketballs. This creation will be released in the spring of 2024, in connection with the 2024 Olympic Games planned in Paris. 

DAJ: Where can we see you early next year? 
TG: I will be performing my show Petite Rêverie at the Confiserie in Wimille, in the north of France, on 10, 12, 13 January 2023 and then on tour from 21 March to 21 April 2023 in France, Belgium and Iceland with my show Maputo-Mozambique.

Header image by Pascal Bouclier.