"Expect classical contemporary dance technique but make it slutty"
Technology like dating apps, chat rooms, and social media have undeniably changed modern relationships. Tinder, Grindr, Instagram, Scruff, Twitter, Bumble and Facebook, have all go their pros and cons. But the jury is still out if it’s for better or for worse (although we can all probably guess the answer).
In their new performance Achilles Pierre & Baby are questioning whether “the instantaneous nature of these apps can create an unhealthy cyclical habit that could have damaging effects on our seminal wellbeing”.
For our readers who don’t know; who are Pierre & Baby?
Pierre & Baby are a cute dance duo that make work based on their experiences as millennial queers. Pierre Babbage and Luke Bafico started working together in preparation for Resolution Festival 2018 and have gone on to perform in queer venues such as Royal Vauxhall Tavern and The Chateau as well as more traditional settings like the V&A and the Wellcome Collection. They’re all about making full on immersive dance productions by collaborating with videographers, musicians, lighting designers and stylists to create their own sexy fucked up worlds that they feel reflect their own lives and that of their lovers. Expect classical contemporary dance technique but make it slutty, married with club and gabber dancing, all with a hint of romanticism.
How did you both meet and how long have you been working together?
We met when we were both twinks training in our respective dance schools in London around 2012 through a mutual friend and kept in touch ever since. After graduating, Pierre went to find their darker side in Berlin, whilst Luke found himself back in Cardiff after a breakup. When we finally both made it back to London in 2017, we drunkenly decided to link up creatively and got in the studio for the first time in the autumn of that year. Haven’t looked back.
What kind of experiences do you make your work about?
Hookups. Sexuality. Dark Rooms. Gender representation. Voyeurism. Shame. Physical appearance. Feminine power. Mental wellbeing. Raves. Obsession. Commitment issues. Breakups. Toxic masculinity. Fucking. Love. Cruising. Power play. Addiction. Instagram. Sending nudes. Dominance. Pain body. Internalised homophobia. Sexual liberation.
How does the relationship between the two of you, and the people around you effect your work?
We want to bring our own experiences to the work, hopefully without too much self indulgence. The work only exists because of our life experiences. Neither of us were resonating with much dance work we were seeing at that time, so we decided to create our own. Starting out as friends, we realised our experiences had been so similar; creating something together was so easy. There was a strong vibe from the get go. Chatting with friends you get a sense that we’re all going through the same shit: adjusting into a world obsessed with technology and social media and everything being judged by a self-produced, superficial existence. The shift in developing relationships through dating apps. The need to be desired, but then being blocked after sending more pics. These toxic cyclical habits that end up wrecking our mental health. Fear of emotional connection yet a constant appetite for physical intimacy. Hedonistic lifestyles in London. The hyper-sexualisation of gay spaces etc… Our relationship has got so much stronger since we started working together. Exploring such physical intimacy made it so much easier to talk about our own problems in relationships and intense sexual experiences.
We are seeing an epidemic of loneliness and isolation within young people, and in particular the Queer community. Which has been attributed to the way we now primarily digitally “connect” with the world around us. What are the ways you reconnect yourselves with the real world that surrounds you?
Yeah this is definitely an issue right now… it’s still so easy to feel so lonely, despite all the different ways to “connect” these days. Partying can be a good thing but there’s always going to be that temptation of going too hard and then feeling even more empty afterwards. We’d love to have more spaces for queer people that aren’t centred around partying. Getting into the studio and using our bodies is always a good start to get out of that hole because its always an exploration and investigation into something deeper. We go and see a lot of art together for the emotional triggers and the companionship. You can always connect through those shared experiences. When you’re going through it, its so important to make the effort and experience things in real life. Sometimes it’s good to change your environment and leave the city. Going back to your hometown to reset a little bit and maybe get back to a more neutral state of mind can work. Sometimes you gotta get out of London to fully appreciate living there.
If Pierre & Baby has to leave a lasting legacy, what would it be?
Honestly we haven’t thought about leaving a legacy yet. We’re still playing around a lot and discovering who we are as artists, but we are massively inspired by others pushing boundaries, which pushes us to elevate our own practice. Dancing is our only outlet and creating is a very cleansing experience for both of us. There’s always an element of fantasy in our work and we’re lucky enough to get to experiment with different mediums like film and costume and sound design in our practice. It can be very playful and very dependent on the moment. But for sure it’s all about creating something that feels real and relevant. We’re both very proud of being able to perform our own work, especially because we try and make it so authentic. Its been really cool getting to perform at places like The Place and the V&A and The Wellcome Collection and getting to really queer up those spaces. Knowing what our legacy is will come in time but right now we’re just focusing on having fun.
What are you working on now? And what’s next for Pierre & Baby?
We’re working on a big performance as part of Ugly Duck’s In Transition festival, on 26 + 27 Jul at their Tanner Street location. It’ll be the first time we perform the extended version of Achilles so we’re really excited. There’s gonna be a bar and Fruit Boy is DJing afterward. We’re also working with Drew Lint, a Berlin-based filmmaker who we met at the London premier of his debut feature M/M, to adapt Achilles into a short film. And finally we’re on the hunt for a producer because we really wanna take the Pierre & Baby project to the next level.
5 tracks that you’re obsessively listening to right now?
These are all on the Achilles soundtrack, which was mixed by Fruit Boy, and are all bangers.
If you want to see Pierre & Baby live in action get tickets to Achilles here.
22 July 2019