Pale Water (Première Partie), photo by Simon Grenier-Poirier
Three choreographers, three pieces, three Canadian cities. Pale Water (Première Partie), Dorian Nuskind-Oder (Montréal)
At first, but a backlit silhouette against a white screen.
Then, neon strips are positioned on six sides around Nuskind-Oder, with gaps in between, so that the eye can read a hexagon, an octagon, a dodecagon, or a simple triangle depending on the lines that are lit or extrapolated.
Many dance shows have live musicians onstage. Pale Water
does something cheekier: it is as lighting designer that Simon Grenier-Poirier is onstage.
Nuskind-Oder’s movement is quiet, slow, deliberate. Her body is controlled until it appears to be in suspension.
I don’t want it to be over. Falling Off the Page, Jacinthe Armstrong (Halifax) Falling Off the Page
begins with one dancer’s hand seemingly controlling the other dancer’s foot, like a puppeteer and her dummy. This is the first in a long series of clichés:
-They wash their hair in pots filled with water in a purifying ritual.
-They travel along a road made of light (after first appearing in a square prison of light).
-They unroll a paper carpet along the lit road.
-They dip their hair in paint and drag it across the paper.
-They look back at the road travelled.
One redemptive quality: it is not uncommon for dancers here to jump in the air and let themselves fall heavily back on the ground; in Armstrong’s choreography, the dancers instead jump into the air and let their limbs float up so that for a second they almost seem to fly. La petite mort, Maryse Damecour (Québec)
Original movement emerges when a physical constraint is added to an otherwise common gesture, like when Brice Noeser walks on all fours, but with his hands covering his face so that it is his elbows that are dragging him across the floor. It is always refreshing when a choreographer is preoccupied by something other than beauty, when the dance is allowed to be delightfully awkward, and not without humour. La petite mort
revels in abrupt transitions and, when it pretends to be joyful, it’s laughable because it rings false.
It is always a treat to watch Noeser, who has such a distinct corporality, move. www.tangente.qc.ca www.delicatebeast.com http://damequidanse.com/
When We Were Old, photo by Adrienne Surprenant
“I bring you somewhere.”
If you’re going to follow her, truly follow her, you need to trust her.
Choreographers Chiara Frigo (Italy) and Emmanuel Jouthe (Québec) might hold hands with fingers interlaced, but it’s the only codified gesture you will find in When We Were Old
. It is their starting point, a sign of trust and desire for true connection, from which anything can happen. Their relationship and the movements that stem from it are not predetermined. They are not playing roles. Their meeting is perpetual, occurs in each moment, like when they let go of each other, evolve independently, find each other again, and everything is to be done again. As a result, their meeting feels sincere.
It also allows the performers to bypass all kinds of contemporary dance clichés that often emerge as soon as a woman and a man are onstage. Their duet is neither coupley, nor antagonistic. It just feels honest. It is no coincidence that, after the show, my date told me, “I liked that she was never weak.”
Jouthe and Frigo are trying to build something together and, like the tree trunks they use as building blocks for her to stand on, the structure might end up making things shakier than no structure at all. And that’s okay. That’s the risk one takes in building a relationship or a dance.
Even the Marley that covers the floor is loose, not taped down, and can be unrolled or rolled up, allowing change and surprise. Beneath, a new floor might be revealed, or even a new costume. It is as malleable as their relationship.
Her movement is more spastic; his, more fluid and smooth. As they hover from side to side in opposite directions, they only ever meet for a brief moment in the middle. And that’s enough. By the end, it might even allow them to transform into dinosaurs among mountains made of chairs. It all depends on whether you trust them enough to bring you there. April 24-26 at 8pm Agora de la danse www.agoradanse.com / www.tangente.qc.ca 514.525.1500 Tickets: 28$ / Students or under 30: 20$
Chorus II, photo by Jasmine Allan-Côté
12 Apr (4 days ago)
Would you want to talk to me about your new show? Do you have time? (Preferably by email, but we could do it in person if need be. Or maybe even chatting?)
I hope all is well. xo
12 Apr (4 days ago)
Email is great:)
12 Apr (4 days ago)
You went from a "man free zone" in your last work [All the Ladies
] to an all-male cast for your new show, Chorus II
. Why the switch?
13 Apr (3 days ago)
I think it had to do with the subject matter (davening), which I remember my grandfather performing. He was a really tough guy, but when he prayed he could be so tender and meditative. I was interested in exploring that "energy" with a group of male dancers, as a way of remembering and re-writing my experiences of him.
13 Apr (3 days ago)
Your performers come from a variety of backgrounds: different schools; some are barely out of them, others have been dancing professionally for a while... It almost seems as though you handpicked them. Why these particular men?
13 Apr (3 days ago)
When I first started working on this piece it was for Piss in the Pool, and I knew I wanted as many men as possible. I wanted it to be a counter-point to the twelve-women choreography I made for the pool two years earlier. I basically wrote every male dancer I knew, as well as a bunch I barely knew who were recommended to me by friends. Anybody who said "yes" was in the choreography (not the most professional method but it worked amazingly). Most of those original dancers are still in the work.
14 Apr (2 days ago)
Since you bring it up, you have been working on it for a while... I always admired you for your rigor, so I have to ask: how do you manage to maintain interest in one piece for such a long period of time? How has it changed over time?
14 Apr (2 days ago)
Oh man, it is hard to stay rigorous! It isn't hard to stay interested, but it's hard to stay committed to the thread of the work and not diverge into ideas that are outside the particular choreography I am making. It helps to have collaborators who can also see the themes of the work pretty clearly; they keep you on track. The interpreters (Benjamin Kamino, Milan Panet-Gigon, Nate Yaffe, Lael Stellick, Simon Portigal, and Frédéric Wiper
) are amazing for this, they all have their own experience and perceptions of the work, and if they feel like we have strayed too far from the universe we have created they will tell me. Working with a perceptive outside eye is also really integral. For this piece I have worked with three (Thea Patterson, Andrew Tay, Ginelle Chagnon), all of whom have pushed me to retain and clarify the voice of the work.
It also helps to be feel a bit possessed by the work:)
14 Apr (2 days ago)
During the public performance following your residence at Usine C, one of the dancers let his partner fall a bunch of times. Based on their interaction after the show, I assume that wasn't supposed to happen. Question: have you been experiencing massive amounts of guilt or was it their own fault?
14 Apr (2 days ago)
That's a hilarious question. Um, no I don't feel guilty. I am a pretty paranoid choreographer, I am constantly asking the dancers if a movement feels safe to them to execute, to a degree that the dancers have point-blank told me is very annoying. So, I had asked them about that part repeatedly before the showing, and afterwards when I asked the dancer if he was okay he basically laughed at me.
15 Apr (1 day ago)
One last question... After you presented Chorus II
at Piss in the Pool, I compared it to Édouard Lock's work (mostly just because of the black suits the men wore). I used the word "emptied" ("un Édouard Lock vidé de ses muses féminines"), which I now realize sounds pejorative, but I really meant it as a compliment. Do you hate me?
23:44 (15 hours ago)
No, I love you, you know that. I was kind of like "fuck, my work looks derivative!" but that's okay. Can't let Locke corner the market on men in suits. Anyways, it's all good, we are good:) April 18-20 at 8pm & April 21 at 3pmMAIwww.m-a-i.qc.ca514.982.3386Tickets: 22$ / Students: 15$
Collective Individual, photo by YUL.
“I fear embodying the absence ethnic war has left around me.”
A legitimate fear if there is one. While only Zohar Melinek can speak of the emotional toil that the performance of Collective Individual
takes on him, we can say that, though he is not a trained dancer, his performance is visibly felt and therefore honest; qualities that more than compensate for any lack of technical training.
He benefits from the help of his partner from their collective Thirst/Clarity, dancer Mary St-Amand Williamson. She too seems to be more concerned with sincerity of purpose and emotion than with physical virtuosity. All the better for the subject at hand, the recent revolutions in the Arab world.
The strength of the choreography is not in the symbolism of its gestures, but in the constraints they impose on the body and which differentiate it from so many others. The floor work stands heads and shoulder above the rest, like when they slowly move with their feet and head weighing them down against the floor, but their ass high in the air, triangular shapes that make their movement difficult.
On the other hand, it is at its weakest when the symbolism is obvious (and therefore I must admit on the cheap side), like when Williamson is seemingly locked between four walls made of light. The physical constraints cease to be embodied and temporarily turn the performance into little more than bad miming.
While a minimal amount of synchronicity is necessary for any social movement to effect change, here the choreography would be richer if the performers had less recourse to it. The movement is simple (delightfully so) and the eye would have benefited from constantly shifting between this simplicity and the density of juxtaposition.
Video images of the uprising only make two brief appearances, but each time the live performers get swallowed by the mass of protesters. One can only imagine how powerful Collective Individual
would be if it could represent live the energy of a sea of people and the wave they inevitably embody.
The show ends with its most compelling sequence, Melinek and Williamson noisily moving while being lit by nothing but the projector projecting nothing. It confirmed my sneaking suspicion: the whole show could have taken place in that darkness.
The world premiere of Collective Individual
was, like any good revolution, imperfect, but promising. April 5 & 6 at 8pm MAI www.m-a-i.qc.ca www.zoharmelinek.com vimeo.com/user4058531 514.982.3386 Tickets: 22$ / Students: 15$
A large checkerboard, a trivial human figure.
The beam of light from a projector appears in front of the viewer instead of just behind. The screen becomes a mirror, reminding the viewer: this is not reality; it’s just a movie. The projector lights up the title, Inland Empire, by David Lynch.
At the beginning of Mélanie Demers’s Goodbye, dancer Jacques Poulin-Denis opens with a typical Demers move, a series of statements paradoxical in their juxtaposition: “This is not the show,” he tells us. “Not a flat screen, not reality.” The question that always emerges with Demers is: then what is it? One should never readily believe what the performers are saying. Of course, when Poulin-Denis is claiming, “This is not the show,” he is reminding us of the opposite: this is a show. But does it even matter one way or another?
Extreme close-up of a needle on a vinyl record. To say that it’s just music is to undermine the kind of emotional manipulation that art is involved in.
The Black Lodge.
Even the electric guitar riffs in Goodbye are reminiscent of Lynch, most particularly Angelo Badalamenti’s score for the Twin Peaks series. That’s not to mention the floor, a black-and-white checkerboard of inhuman proportions that dramatizes the space and makes the dancers look trivial, like mere chess pieces. The Black Lodge.
A woman watches television, though on it there is nothing but static. Soon, however, the TV image gives way to animated rabbits in their apartment. It could all be in her head. Se faire son cinéma.
Do we need to believe that Brianna Lombardo and Poulin-Denis are really a couple to be affected by their dance? Of course not. The moment they interact, the moment they touch, the moment they move together, they enter into a relationship, their actions have consequences.
Every action is a performance, every performance has consequences. Photo by Mathieu Doyon.
We don’t need to believe that Grace Zabriskie is not Grace Zabriskie. She just needs to walk in, creepy as fuck. If you don’t feel anything, it’s because you’re taking Zabriskie for granted; as real. Suspension of disbelief is a myth. The true power of cinema lies in complete and utter disbelief.
Acting or not, if this face doesn't have an effect on you, there's something wrong with you.
Demers is not even trying to pretend. When a performer needs to have tears running down their face, they use eye drops. The microphones they hold are fake, aluminum paper balls on black sticks; the knife, an aluminum paper blade. No one will get hurt. At least not because of objects. No matter how much I hate metaphors, I must recognize that most blades are metaphorical. Artistic ones, always.
Brianna Lombardo and her clown tears. Photo by Mathieu Doyon.
When Laura Dern gets fake stabbed, she runs down Hollywood Boulevard before falling in front of one of the stars from the Walk of Fame. Lynch will not allow you to believe any of it is real. It doesn’t matter. If you are only affected by things that are real, you’re not human.
When Poulin-Denis looks up at the audience while Demers is sucking on his nipple, his reaction is to say, “No, no… It’s not what you think. This is not the show.” The statement is of course hilariously ironic. Demers knows that such a strong image is bound to have an effect on the audience. Would it have any less of an effect if we were to take it in as reality? Of course not. Quite the contrary.
Actors playing actors.
Whenever Dern and Justin Theroux have a scene together, we never quite know whether they are the actors they are portraying in the movie or the characters the actors are portraying in the movie in the movie. At one point, Dern screams out, “Damn! This sounds like dialogue from our script!” That’s because, of course, it is. First and foremost, and if nothing else, every movie is about people making a movie.
Another typical Demers move: when Poulin-Denis is wiping the water off the floor, he is of course doing so for the dancers’ safety; but, by virtue of being performed onstage, the action is also necessarily dramatic. An everyday gesture becomes an artistic one. “Il y a de l’éclairage, des costumes…” he says, laying out the reasons why we might be inclined to think that this is a show. As if those things didn’t exist outside of the theatre…
“Is this our set?” Dern asks. She means in the movie in the movie. However, the set only ends up getting used in the movie. Every space is one location scout away from becoming a set.
Later, when Poulin-Denis is the one sucking on Lombardo’s nipple, Chi Long shouts, “This is it! This is the show!” Yet the gesture is essentially the same as before. If anything, the gender reversal and repetition (and therefore lack of surprise) have made it more socially acceptable, less dramatic. It’s always been the show, even before Goodbye ever started.
The needle on the record, the music, the emotional manipulation... The viewer cries. She cries because she relates with the character Dern is playing. (What in The Wars Timothy Findley beautifully refers to as “shouts of recognition.”) They encounter each other and kiss in the television. Art as a meeting ground, as the space where artist and audience come into contact, where the line between the artistic and the everyday gets blurred.
Tears as shouts of recognition.
Goodbye. No, really, goodbye. Poulin-Denis keeps telling the audience the show is over, in so many different ways that it becomes comical, yet the audience doesn’t leave. This is still the show. When does it really end? What are the cues? When the stage lights fade out, when the house lights come on, when the performers take a bow, when we clap, when we leave the theatre, when we finally stop thinking about the show… Some shows never end. And, even when shows do end, what awaits us outside the theatre? More metaphorical blades. Theatre. usine-c.com maydaydanse.ca
TtBernadette, photo by Ernest Potters
Enchanted Room, by Kristel van Issum & Guilherme Miotto
“I feel like my heart’s going to explode!”
The trees are bare. This is not an enchanted forest, but a room and, really, the enchanted part of it probably only exists in the characters’ head. Like the trunks without leaves around them, their bodies are strong, but their heads are weak. Their bodies are a joke played on them, athletic, but useless. Their pirouettes look ridiculous given that they’re barely holding it together otherwise. They’re delusional and the room in question might very well be a psych ward.
Performer Oona Doherty looks like she’s channeling Saturday Night Live’s Molly Shannon’s most neurotic characters: Mary Katherine Gallagher, Sally O’Malley, Anna Nicole Smith, Courtney Love… She takes on a sexualized persona the façade of which she cannot maintain because too fragile, and it crumbles around her.
“There is so much beauty in this world! I can’t take it in!” They may be quoting American Beauty
, but the result is ironic. They’re not upper-middle class. They can’t just quit their job, work in a fast-food joint, and still buy the car of their dreams. They’re taking the piss out of it. That kind of beauty is also a privilege, one they will never be able to experience. TtBernadette, by Kristel van Issum TtBernadette
shares a lot of similarities with Enchanted Room
. The choreography is messy. Joss Carter and Doherty jump around, fall down, and spin without grace. They mostly function independently, but when they touch it’s harsh.
As in the former, there are also costume and wig changes, like they’re sporting different personas, but it’s only an illusion; they don’t ever really change. It’s disheartening, leaving them and us with little hope. There is no escape.
The washing machine in the middle of the stage highlights the lack of domesticity rather than its presence. The only thing domestic about their relationship is the sadomasochism that permeates it.
All this to say that T.r.a.s.h. are so hardcore that they’re not for the faint of heart.
I’m kidding. They really aren’t. March 5-9 at 8pm Danse Danse / Cinquième Salle www.dansedanse.net / laplacedesarts.com 514.842.2112 / 1.866.842.2112 Tickets: 40,71$
Corps de Walk, photo by Erik Berg
You might be hearing animal sounds, but human beings are already somewhere else. They are no longer a manifestation of life itself; they have taken it and placed it outside of themselves. It’s now in the nature around them, the nature that used to inhabit them, and in the heavens above.
At the beginning of choreographer Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar’s Corps de Walk
, the twelve Carte Blanche dancers lift their arms up to the sky like they’re in Alvin Ailey’s Revelations
. However, while in the latter the performers couldn’t be more earnest, here something is already off. It reads like parody. By spiritualizing themselves, human beings have become more disembodied, less animal, less human.
In her previous show presented in Montreal, Bertolina
, Eyal already offered us a microcosm of human society, though in this former vision each was still allowed to retain some individuality. Here, differences are eradicated until uniformity takes over both their appearance and movement. It’s at first funny, then unsettling, and eventually nightmarish.
From robots to ballet dancers, there’s only one step. They go there. By dehumanizing themselves, human beings end up parodying themselves. In Corps de Walk
, uniformity and synchronicity reach obsessive heights, falling into sci-fi horror territory. Think Village of the Damned
, The Stepford Wives
, Invasion of the Body Snatchers
, and any other movie where a single entity controls multiple bodies. The resulting creatures are androgynous and beige, desexualized, deracialized. Their bodies, overly controlled, are troubling.
A dancer shouts: “Now”? Their synchronicity is regimented from the outside, dictated military-style. Obedience is necessary; and disturbing. They are a mindless herd. The togetherness does not feed them; it feeds off them. As opposed to Karine Denault’s Pleasure Dome
or Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Cesena
, they are but empty vessels. In Denault’s show, you witnessed the ego fade away; here, it is the self itself that is eradicated. The oppression is claustrophobic.
On the rare occasions when a dancer escapes the group to execute their own movement, it is liberating; but they inevitably get swallowed back into the mass. (After the show, I heard an astute audience member compare it to Jean-Pierre Perreault’s work.)
Dance music blasts over the speakers. As the lights slowly fade, the dancers (barely) move to the beat in a tight formation. They are zombies at the club. Just do like everybody else. Don’t bring any attention to yourself. Don’t stand out. Don’t be. February 28-March 2 at 8pm Danse Danse / Théâtre Maisonneuve www.dansedanse.net / laplacedesarts.com 514.842.2112 / 1.866.842.2112 Tickets: 34,85$-62,34$
My wish for the Montreal dance scene in 2013 is for Marie-Hélène Falcon to quit her job as artistic director of the Festival TransAmériques. I’m hoping she’ll become the director of a theatre so that the most memorable shows will be spread more evenly throughout the year instead of being all bunched up together in a few weeks at the end of spring. With that being said, here are the ten works that still resonated with me as 2012 came to an end.
Cesena, a utopia for 19 performers, photo by Anne Van Aerschot
1. Cesena, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker + Björn Schmelzer (Festival TransAmériques)
I’ve been thinking about utopias a lot this year. I’ve come to the conclusion that – since one man’s utopia is another’s dystopia – they can only be small in nature: one person or, if one is lucky, maybe two. With Cesena, Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker showed me that it could be done with as many as nineteen people, if only for two hours, if only in a space as big as a stage. Dancers and singers all danced and sang, independently of their presupposed roles, and sacrificed the ego’s strive for perfection for something better: the beauty of being in all its humanly imperfect manifestations. They supported each other (even more spiritually than physically) when they needed to and allowed each other the space to be individuals when a soul needed to speak itself.
2. Sideways Rain, Guilherme Botelho (Festival TransAmériques)
I often speak of full commitment to one’s artistic ambitions as extrapolated from a clear and precise concept carried out to its own end. Nowhere was this more visible this year than in Botelho’s Sideways Rain, a show for which fourteen dancers (most) always moved from stage left to stage right in a never-ending loop of forward motion. More than a mere exercise, the choreography veered into the metaphorical, highlighting both the perpetual motion and ephemeral nature of human life, without forgetting the trace it inevitably leaves behind, even in that which is most inanimate. More importantly, it left an unusual trace in the body of the audience too, making it hard to even walk after the show.
3. (M)IMOSA: Twenty Looks or Paris Is Burning at the Judson Church (M), Cecilia Bengolea + François Chaignaud + Trajal Harrell + Marlene Monteiro Freitas (Festival TransAmériques)
By mixing post-modern dance with queer performance, the four choreographer-dancers of (M)IMOSA offered a show that refreshingly flipped the bird to the usual conventions of the theatre. Instead of demanding silence and attention, they left all the house lights on and would even walk in the aisles during the show, looking for their accessories between or underneath audience members. Swaying between all-eyes-on-me performance and dancing without even really trying, as if they were alone in their bedroom, they showed that sometimes the best way to dramatize the space is by rejecting the sanctity of theatre altogether.
4. Goodbye, Mélanie Demers (Festival TransAmériques)
Every time I think about Demers’s Goodbye (and it’s quite often), it’s always in conjunction with David Lynch’s Inland Empire. The two have a different feel, for sure, but they also do something quite similar. In Inland Empire, at times, an actor will perform an emotional scene, and Lynch will then reveal a camera filming them, as if to say, “It’s just a movie.” Similarly, in Goodbye, dancer Jacques Poulin-Denis can very well say, “This is not the show,” it still doesn’t prevent the audience from experiencing affect. Both works show the triviality of the concept of suspension of disbelief, that art does not affect us in spite of its artificiality, but because of it.
5. The Parcel Project, Jody Hegel + Jana Jevtovic (Usine C)
One of the most satisfying days of dance I’ve had all year came as a bit of a surprise. Five young choreographers presented the result of their work after but a few weeks of residencies at Usine C. I caught three of the four works, all more invigorating than some of the excessively polished shows that some choreographers spend years on. It showed how much Montreal needs a venue for choreographers to experiment rather than just offer them a window once their work has been anesthetically packaged. The most memorable for me remains Hegel & Jevtovic’s The Parcel Project, which began with a surprisingly dynamic and humorous 20-minute lecture. The second half was an improvised dance performance, set to an arbitrarily selected pop record, which ended when the album was over, 34 minutes later. It was as if John Cage had decided to do dance instead of music. Despite its explanatory opening lecture, The Parcel Project was as hermetic as it was fascinating.
6. Spin, Rebecca Halls (Tangente)
Halls took her hoop dancing to such a degree that she exceeded the obsession of the whirling dervish that was included in the same program as her, and carried it out to its inevitable end: exhaustion.
7. Untitled Conscious Project, Andrew Tay (Usine C)
Also part of the residencies at Usine C, Tay produced some of his most mature work to date, without ever sacrificing his playfulness.
8. 1001/train/flower/night, Sarah Chase (Agora de la danse)
Always, forever, Sarah Chase, the most charming choreographer in Canada, finding the most unlikely links between performers. She manages to make her “I have to take three boats to get to the island where I live in BC” and her “my dance studio is the beach in front of my house” spirit emerge even in the middle of the city.
9. Dark Sea, Dorian Nuskind-Oder + Simon Grenier-Poirier (Wants & Needs Danse/Studio 303)
Choreographer Nuskind-Oder and her partner-in-crime Grenier-Poirier always manage to create everyday magic with simple means, orchestrating works that are as lovely as they are visually arresting.
10. Hora, Ohad Naharin (Danse Danse)
A modern décor. The legs of classical ballet and the upper body of post-modern dance, synthesized by the athletic bodies of the performers of Batsheva. These clear constraints were able to give a coherent shape to Hora, one of Naharin’s most abstract works to date.
Scrooge Moment of the Year
Kiss & Cry, Michèle Anne De Mey + Jaco Van Dormael (Usine C)
Speaking of excessively polished shows… La Presse, CIBL, Nightlife, Le Devoir, and everyone else seemingly loved Kiss & Cry. Everyone except me. To me, it felt like a block of butter dipped in sugar, deep fried, and served with an excessive dose of table syrup; not so much sweet as nauseating. It proved that there’s no point in having great means if you have nothing great to say. Cinema quickly ruined itself as an art form; now it apparently set out to ruin dance too. And I’m telling you this so that, if Kiss & Cry left you feeling dead on the inside, you’ll know you’re not alone.
Jean-Sébastien Lourdais's Trois peaux, photo by Luc Lavergne
Here it is, the last dance show of the year. As customary, it is provided by the third-year students of L’École de Danse Contemporaine de Montréal and involves three pieces. The first two come courtesy of Montréal Danse and the last, an original creation for ÉDCM, is by visiting French choreographer Julien Desplantez. Trois peaux
, by Jean-Sébastien Lourdais
The human body transformed until it is no longer human, transformed until it is animal, but no particular animal: humanimal. Fists instead of hands, hunched over, head hanging low, on all fours. Mouvement half fluid/half stops, the organic interrupted by the robotic. (The music, which could be described as electrogrunts, reflects this aspect.) Sometimes, in passing, the dancers appear to be flexing, with their awkward arm positions. The body shakes, organic, too organic, uncontrollable. The movement is other, less articulated than that of human beings, but it says plenty of other things, things that cannot be understood and that are therefore unsettling. Husk
, by George Stamos
Already discussed at length here: http://www.localgestures.com/1/post/2012/02/husk-a-review.html
Only thing to add: did the costume Rachel Harris wore in the Montréal Danse version lose its dick? Why? Are the third-year students at ÉDCM not all adults? Is it because the show is mostly performed in front of their family and friends? And, most importantly, who cares? L’art n’est pas fait pour les demi-mesures. Il y avait ce fou…
, by Julien Desplantez
Thank God, the fashion-trash music that opens the piece soon subsides to offer us what school dance shows do best, i.e. the superficial pleasures of excess: a dozen dancers onstage from beginning to end, so much action that the eye cannot take it all in, synchronicity. Did Desplantez steal his small stationary steps from Hofesh Shechter’s Political Mother
? If so, good for him. Even though his choreography is not particularly innovative, it’s still less lazy and juvenile than Shechter’s. De la danse-bonbon. December 19-22 at 7:30pm Conservatoire d’art dramatique de Montréal www.edcmtl.com 514.873.4031 ext. 313 Tickets: 18$ / Students: 10$
Usually Beauty Fails, photo by Denis Farley
Usually, I take notes during a performance to make it easier to write the review later. Last night though, at the premiere of Frédérick Gravel’s Usually Beauty Fails
, I barely wrote anything. Instead, I kept thinking that I would simply recycle lines from reviews of previous Gravel shows I’d already written.
However, now that I’m rereading those, it seems like a bad plan. It’s that, when I was first introduced to the work of Gravel over four years ago, I was still somewhat of a dance virgin, and most definitely a Gravel virgin. It was all new to me.
On the other hand, I didn’t feel the need to take notes last night because I felt like I’d already seen it all before. And it’s about the only feeling I had. While Gravel’s choreography used to pack emotional punch, last night I felt nothing.
I was ready to say that maybe it was official, that I was dead on the inside; but I was comforted by the fact that I just finished reading Jacques Poulin’s Le Vieux Chagrin
this week and my heart can definitely still feel things.
So, if I’m not dead on the inside, what changed? After the show, my date told me something to the effect that the show didn’t have as much impact on her as the choreographer’s GravelWorks
(2008) had, maybe because the element of surprise was gone.
Funnily enough, her statement echoed what little I had written in my notebook: “L’émotion est une surprise? Comment expliquer son retour? Ou, plutôt, l’émotion nous prend par surprise?” No matter how it works, the result here is: no surprise, no emotion.
The one thing that was useful from a review of Tout se pète la gueule, chérie
(2010) that I had written was this: “It is as if, in the absence of women, [Gravel] does not quite know how to make men dance together
.” Now that women have been reintroduced into the mix, I realized that he doesn’t know how to make women dance together either.
At a certain point in your life, you want to stop fucking virgins and hopefully have better sex. Usually Beauty Fails
has yet to reach that point.P.S. While I was revising this text, I came across this quote by Lewis Mumford:
“Because of their origin and purpose, the meanings of art are of a different order from the operational meanings of science and technics: they relate, not to external means and consequences, but to internal transformations, and unless it produce these internal transformations the work of art is either perfunctory or dead.” November 7-10 & 14-17 at 8pm Cinquième Salle www.dansedanse.net 514.842.2112 / 1.866.842.2112 Tickets: 36.10$