B.Y.E presents Bach Studies where Benjamin Millepied directs dancers towards the magic space between craft and creativity for Dom Pérignon.
Deeply inspired by a meeting with Dom Pérignon’s Chef de Cave Richard Geoffroy, Millepied turned to his beloved medium of dance to recreate Geoffroy’s magical mixture of meticulous craft and poetic instinct. Inspiration sits at the heart of Dom Pérignon and was the driving force behind the collaborations which followed. Working with dancers who excel in variations of classic hip hop dance, Millepied inspired his artists to push new boundaries by setting them the challenge of choreographing to pieces of music by Johann Sebastian Bach.
I-D Vice Interview
What was your meeting with Richard Geoffroy like and how did it inform the project as a whole?
Benjamin Millepied: We had an extensive champagne tasting with Richard where we talked about the process and history of Dom Pérignon. It was a really refreshing experience and we felt that we were speaking to an artist. Along with Richard’s extensive knowledge of his craft he also has to rely on his instincts to create this extraordinary champagne – he’s quite the poet.
From there, how did you develop that sense of craft and artistry into a concrete idea?
BM: It became very simple, it wasn’t like a conventional meeting with a brand where you have to create these fake relationships, we came to really understand the art of making this champagne and what it represents socially, how it unites people around special moments. From there, Dimitri and I started to think about artists who had the right sensibility to meet and interact with these ideas.
Why did you decide to use only dancers?
BM: We started developing on this feeling of classical craftsmanship, and dance fits that very naturally. At its core, dance feels classical, though it draws from and inspires so many different styles. Dance is forever evolving, in the same way you have different wines because of different weather and conditions. The project became about this idea of creating something timeless.
How did you pick your artists?
BM: First and foremost, they are all extraordinary dancers. Dimitri and I first made a film with Lil Buck in 2012, I work with him quite a lot. Lia is an incredible dancer from South Korea and absolutely captivating on screen. Jon is one of the greatest poppers in the world and so it’s really remarkable to work with him.
Can you outline the process it took from selecting the dancers to creating the final films?
BM: First we chose the score together, I left them to choreograph the pieces and then we discussed what would be the most exciting environment to perform them in. It really was a narrative that way. With Lia the way her piece interacts with downtown LA and the city is just fascinating. She’s dancing in the street and nobody even really cares. They’re so used to seeing everything and anything on the streets of LA that someone dancing their heart out on the sidewalk has become meaningless to them.
And for Jon, why the beach?
BM: With Jon I wanted something really pure. We decided that having the ocean as a kind of partner to his dancing was very beautiful.
Finally for Lil Buck, why did you choose to represent him as a sort of lost astronaut?
BM: There’s a sense of complete madness in that music and so I wanted to kind of imagine him as stuck in a place. If you look at Lil Buck dancing you’ll see ballet, ballroom, flamenco – you can find every culture in the way that he dances, which is incredible. There’s real instinct in the way that he approaches things.
What has been the most rewarding element of this process for you?
BM: I think because we’re so used to seeing these three performers dance to hip hop, watching them dancing to Bach allows a different level of rhythm, sophistication and subtlety. That was really exciting for me.