Hanako Hoshimi-Caines is a dancer and choreographer based in Montreal. She began making work in 2005 with Little Bang Theory. In 2010, she left Montreal to dance with the Cullberg Ballet in Stockholm for two years. She is currently pursuing studies in philosophy at Concordia University.
Why do you move?
Because dance has given me some crazy perspectives on things that I can’t give up now – to live the world sideways, from the floor up, from the point of view of my tongue relating to my stomach and the endless number of angles that I don’t get to experience in the world otherwise. When I’m not dancing I realize that I end up standing on two legs and looking straight ahead most of the time.
Of what people have said about your work (good or bad), what has most stuck with you?
I can’t remember any specific comments but that people have been touched to the point of crying and/or laughing, and that they have taken the time to write to me about it afterward. I also can’t remember any specific bad comments. I think most people have kept their bad comments to themselves, for better or worse.
What does dance most need today?
Boring and broad but, I think, true: more money and institutional recognition. But so that it can be studied, shown, discussed and practiced more visibly as the very rich and vast system of knowledges and aesthetic possibilities that it is. I think dance is close to an ultimate play/research zone for humans and their relation to their world (body, mind, relations, aesthetics, politics, performance, well-being, presence, impermanence, and more) but because the field is so marginal the assumptions of what it means to be a dancer and what dance is are still so narrow. I think it comes down to a kind of dumbing down of the kind of knowledge that dancers and choreographers have and produce. This is very detrimental to the field and to the practitioners. Dance needs the means to be visibly practiced as physical and intellectual work. The fact that dance gets thought of and that all dance performance is fundamentally part of a plane of ideas and practices that produce knowledge is important. So basically I think dance needs the means to take up all the spaces that it can (theaters, schools, universities, books, practices) and not to make such detrimental distinctions between intellectual and non-intellectual work. To embrace the fact that dance has the opportunity to do both (to not see the mind and body as a duality) and so to straddle very vast kinds of practices.
Given the means, which dance fantasy would you fulfill?
Start some incredible dance center that would somehow find the way to fund all projects according to a perfect system of evaluation (which maybe would be based on the desire of the dancers and choreographers involved) without making dance an hourly wage affair. Aha. OK, so I would give everyone (dancers and non-dancers) a life-wage and create some kind of amazingly rich space(s) for all kinds of research and practices, from the most experimental to the most classical – super different things practiced close to each other. And no money is involved (actually my dance fantasy would abolish money), but all possibility is there.
With which artist would you like to collaborate?
There are lots here and abroad! Most of them I know, but someone I don’t know and whose work has fascinated me recently is Antonija Livingstone.
Hailing from Bulgaria, Maria Kefirova settled in Montreal in 1992. While simultaneously working as a performer, she has developed her own distinct choreographic practice that merges dance, theatre, performance, and video. She is fascinated by the correlation between internal and external realities, as well as the body’s role as an interface between the two, which is at the heart of many of her works: The Nutcracker (2014), Why are dogs successful on stage? (2011), Corps. Relations (2010), Gold Meat (2010), Manufacturing Tears (2009). From 2009 to 2012, Maria trained at DasArts, a residential laboratory for performing arts research and innovation located in Amsterdam. Recently she was invited as a visiting artist to the dance department at Concordia University. She has a particular passion for blind spots and Russian dolls.
Why do you move?
Bouger me donne du plaisir et m’aide à communiquer ce que j’ai à exprimer. Aussi, souvent je bouge pour aller ailleurs, pour changer.
What is your biggest inspiration when creating?
It depends… Often the inspiration is related to a personal question/problem/process that I need to understand and live through.
What are you most proud of?
Walking in a jungle alone during the night.
What or who was your first dance love?
Hummmm… I think the first, first love was Charlie Chaplin dancing with his two pieces of bread.
What does dance most need today?
It depends on the context where The Dance is situated; but Here and Now dance needs a lot of things: urgency, risk, sensible relation with the socio-political context, money, audience, festivals, experimentation, platforms that help us dance makers to stay aware, searching, fluid and specific.
How do you feel about dance criticism?
I am curious.
Given the means, which dance fantasy would you fulfill?
I would go out dancing regularly. I would make a group piece for non-dancers. I would make a piece for ten dancers.
With which artist would you like to collaborate?
They are too many interesting and inspiring artists with whom I would love to collaborate. I would love to develop a new work with a sound artist. And for sure another work with Hanako.
What motivates you to keep making art?
What motivates me is the quality of the relation with reality that art makes me develop. And also… I guess the imperfections of living + some curiosity, desire, stubbornness, drive, etc.
In September 2015, Montreal choreographer Gérard Reyes presented his solo The Principle of Pleasure at Théâtre La Chapelle. What follows are excerpts from a conversation Reyes and I had after the end of the show’s run.
SYLVAIN VERSTRICHT The section of The Principle of Pleasure where you danced for the person sitting on the chair was especially potent for me because in that moment we (the audience) became voyeurs, which oddly I didn’t feel we were before that point. A question that kept popping up in my mind during the show, which might sound absurd though I don’t think it actually is, was “Are we just spectators?” What is the role of the audience in The Principle of Pleasure?
GÉRARD REYES From my experience as a seasoned concert dancer, I was sick of the conventional separation between audience and performer in a theatre, whereby the audience places primacy on the artist, yet the artist refuses to truly acknowledge the audience until the end of the show. There is a latent potential for exchange there! While I was conceiving The Principle of Pleasure, I was attending various performative events and spaces that were new to me – trans bars, female strip clubs, BDSM/fetish events, queer parties, vogue balls – each with its own code of conduct. These codes opened me up to consider a more equitable and fulfilling relationship between the ‘audience’ and ‘performer’ that is based on shared responsibility and communication. I propose a situation, encourage the audience to choose a role/perspective which speaks to them within it and hope that it will mutate over the course of the show: spectator, client, voyeur, performer, lover, dom, sub, friend, person, etc. There is another dimension to the audience. It is both inside (live participants) and outside the theatre (i.e. on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and wherever else people decide to post photos and videos they take during the show).
VERSTRICHT Speaking of Instagram, the image is a huge part of the show; there are two mirrors onstage, two photographers, one videographer, and – as you mentioned – audience members are also invited to take pictures with their cell phones. Why did you decide to set the performance in that environment?
REYES Yes, image is a part of the show, but it is only the most superficial layer of the work. I use the elements you mentioned as well as others (mirrors, chairs, cameras, lighting, humans) to create images, define space and create proximity in order to allow for more intimate relationships to emerge between the audience and myself. That is where my greater interest lies. The reason I allow photos during the show is four-fold: 1) to give the audience the freedom to make choices; 2) to invite the audience to enter into a more active relationship with me and their surroundings; 3) to subvert conventions; and 4) to play with the idea of celebrity. I want to make the theatre a more inviting place to be, where people can relax and be themselves. One of my strategies is to allow the audience to do what they do all the time when they’re not in the theatre – talk, move around, stand, sit, use their phones. I want to address the audience as individuals and encourage them to express themselves. Hopefully some will come to the realization that behaviour is a choice. We have more control than we think over ourselves and any given space. Our individual choices help inform the choices of those around us.
VERSTRICHT A big part of the way you also play with celebrity is by using Janet Jackson songs throughout the show, not to mention that she also provides you with the title for the piece. There have been quite a few works recently where queer and/or fem men have emulated pop stars (Beyonce is a particularly popular one these days). I’ve been wondering if it’s because, as a fem man in our culture, the highest level of celebrity one can seemingly aspire to is to be on RuPaul's Drag Race. It sort of makes me think about karaoke and how it’s an opportunity for people, if only for a moment, to sing as if they were their favourite pop star. It also plays into ball culture and how people who had really hard lives could act like divas for a day. This is a difficult question because it extends beyond you, but I was wondering if you could talk about what your personal reasons were for playing with the idea of celebrity...
REYES We feel we “know” celebrities by their regular appearances on magazine covers and the banal details they share about their lives. But the physical and emotional distance they maintain from their fans actually gives them a power that makes them appear elusive, unique and desirable. I play with the cliché of this kind of celebrity at the beginning of my piece by presenting an extroverted character who is not embarrassed about displaying his body or showing self-appreciation or being filmed or photographed. But I want the external image of celebrity that opens my piece to fade to the background of the more multidimensional personas who the audience encounters once we are all on stage together. These personas I created embody the deeper layers of my sexuality, imagination, pleasure and desire that I have discovered and cultivated over the last few years. They are glamorous and physically attractive, nevertheless they are not shallow. Rather they are personable, generous and open to sharing their intimacy with whoever is willing to come along.
VERSTRICHT Do you know Robert St-Amour? He's basically the best dance spectator. He goes to see a lot of shows and almost always writes a little something about them on Facebook after. After seeing your piece, he wrote “Les premiers moments sont inconfortables (pour moi), mais peu à peu, ‘j’apprivoise la bête’ ou je dirais plutôt que ‘la bête m’a appprivoisé’. La suite devient agréable et je suis presque déçu de reprendre ma place pour la fin de la présentation.” When I read that, I realized how important queer performance still is. Maybe sometimes, as queer people, we take it for granted.
REYES I want to respond to St-Amour’s comment about my solo – that he was uncomfortable at first but then “the beast” (i.e. I) tamed him. It is indeed my intention to softly confront the audience but with the hope that they will overcome their fear. If they feel uncomfortable with my revealing costume or being on stage with me or in a moment when my eyes meet theirs, then the non-judgemental environment that I create is propitious for them to feel their discomfort and let go of it (if they so choose).
Here, the performers still create characters, but the world never follows suit. Instead, as can be seen in their insistence on facing the audience, they are merely performing for us. With the loud buzzer that periodically interrupts their performance, they appear like contestants on a reality TV show pathetically vying for our attention.
The show relies on excess (seven performers are onstage for the entire eighty minutes) but, rather than helping in making a particular environment emerge, this merely leads to distraction. Our eyes travel from one to another, noticing that some are merely moving not to be still during the main action and that the three cymbal players look the way I do when I hang out at a bar just hoping someone will take me home so I can get the fuck out of there. These musicians become a too easily accessible exit.
At the FTA back in 2008, I’d accused Marie Chouinard’s obnoxious Orphée et Eurydice of suffering from Middle Child Syndrome. I could say the same of De marfim e carne, which is funny because Freitas cites the myth of Orpheus as an inspiration in the program. Perhaps the artistically gifted Orpheus is ironically performance kryptonite. Maybe those who killed him could hear his so-called divine music after all.
During the show, I also thought about Nicolas Cantin. Last week, I saw his Philippines at the OFFTA. Cantin is definitely not for everyone, but artistically I admire his work, which seems perpetually concerned with figuring out what’s the least that one can do on a stage. I sometimes find myself wishing some shows, De marfim e carne being a perfect example, were doing less.
With its constant “let me entertain you” attitude, it sometimes seems like the show is striving to be a critique of the vacuity of entertainment culture. 1) Yes. 2) And…? 3) Where’s the critique? Because, with its lack of bite, De marfim e carne doesn’t seem to critique so much as to be complacent about the vapidity of entertainment. If anything, it capitalizes on it. It is the artistic equivalent of overconsumption.
Yet, when the dancers come back for an encore, i.e. the worst concert ritual, it seems like they must know they’re acting like the worst. In the words of Kurt Vonnegut, “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
June 3 & 4 at 8pm
Place des Arts – Cinquième Salle
Tickets: 39$ / 30 years old and under: 33$
Once they have completed their task, Gayer takes his position behind the console and Lourdais molds the wires left in the corner with his feet. There, he gathers himself, first resting his hands on his ribs, then on his pelvis. When he is ready, he walks backwards to the opposite corner, so slowly that I have time to notice an insect also walking on the stage in the distance. From my perspective, Lourdais is facing me and moving away; to the other half of the audience across the room, he has his back to them and he is getting closer. When the sound becomes so loud that it begins to be painful, Lourdais shakes while I use the ear plugs that were given to us upon entrance. We come to expect the same sluggish pace as in Milieu de nulle part, Lourdais’s last show.
But no. Once Lourdais has crossed the stage, he switches gears, goes back to the regular speed of a task-based approach as he slides all the wires across the floor with one push – he just laid them down! – and Gayer takes his shirt off before lying down on the ground in their place, a microphone by his face. Lourdais takes the nest of wires and buries Gayer under it. This tableau takes place in relative silence, but I don’t remove my earplugs. I can hear my tinnitus and my breathing, like I’m wearing a diving suit. It seems appropriate for Lourdais’s work. I can also hear Gayer’s amplified breathing. It sounds as loud as mine.
Once Gayer has rolled out of his hiding place, Lourdais pulls on one of the wires until it snaps and he falls back with a scream as the lights go out. He taps his shoes against the floor so forcefully it almost looks like flamenco. His arms sway by his side as he walks in a style that’s reminiscent of Broadway. And then there’s something of Flashdance in the way he displays his body as he flies past the audience on both sides of the room. “Want some ‘real’ dance?” Lourdais seems to say. “Well, here it is!”
With each section of La chambre anéchoïque, Lourdais metaphorically lays down his wires before yanking them out from under us, requiring the audience to constantly get used to a new register. Whether these breaks strengthen the work or weaken it is a question each audience member can only answer for themselves.
June 2-4 at 9pm
Tickets: 34$ / 30 years old and under: 28$
In this colourful dump, performers can disappear without leaving the stage or fall from considerable heights without hurting themselves. It is a post-apocalyptic world of overconsumption that lies before us and they are doomed to live in it. They may be able to choose from thousands of articles of clothing, but the choice is unappealing; it’s the only one they have. Their movement translates as play that spurs from idleness, which even comes across as the source of their masturbation and dry humping. They don’t even have the internet.
Every once in a while, unexpectedly, the performers cease their dicking around and break into beautiful song. In juxtaposing the music of Bach with a garbage dump, a thematic kinship emerges with Meg Stuart’s Built to Last (FTA, 2014): how is it possible that the species responsible for this post-apocalyptic mess also created such divine music? As the performers live out the last moments of life on earth in slow motion, we think there might be something redeeming about these creatures after all.
May 29-June 1
Monument-National – Salle Ludger-Duvernay
Yes, Gladyszewski does invoke magic by concealing bodies in darkness, like when Martin Bélanger’s arms appear out of nothingness from behind a strip of light and float in the air. The image recalls Brice Leroux’s Quantum-Quintet (FTA, 2007) and Cindy Van Acker’s Obtus (FTA, 2011). Half-seen, the movement becomes inexplicable. Lights in the sky are a familiar sight; it’s only when they move in unexpected ways that we suspect alien life. It’s for this reason that I’m less convinced by the voice work of the performers, decidedly too human.
For the most part, however, Gladyszewski uses technology to reveal what is always there but which usually goes unseen. Such is the case with cameras that reveal the heat patterns of the human body and of the liquids it comes in contact with. Suddenly, it’s like we’ve entered a psychedelic world where the human body is turned inside out, a world of tie-dye souls and auras as moving skins. The body becomes as malleable as playdough, liquefies before our very eyes. We are witness to the com/motion of the dis/embodied internal. Our bodies are haunted by spirits whose life force is muffled by their shells. It’s otherworldly, yet the internal landscape laid before us is so recognizable that I was tempted to scream, “This is the real world! The world where our bodies appear to be solid is obviously a lie!”
And I was completely sober. That’s why you should see Phos.
Place des Arts – Studio O Vertigo
Tickets: 29$ / 30 years old and under: 23$
First off, let me say that I’ve only been following choreographer Daniel Léveillé’s work since 2006. I’m mentioning this because, though Léveillé’s style remains just as recognizable in Solitudes duo, there are also some noticeable departures, at least to those of us who’ve only been following him for the past decade. Like Mathieu Campeau and Justin Gionet drawing circles with their hips in the first duet, which comes across as downright flirtatious. Léveillé’s choreography looks a little less cold and mechanical, a bit more theatrical.
When Ellen Furey looks up to the ceiling, her eyes are so expressive as to look frightened. For a moment, her interaction with Gionet is even messy; not as a result of the effort required, as is usually the case in Léveillé’s work, but in its very performance.
One could blame the music – which so easily colours our perception of the dance – for these changes. Léveillé predictably goes for Bach and Royer, but surprisingly slips in some classic rock (The Doors and The Beatles). It’s not just the music though. The dance is more languorous. While there must have been duos in Léveillé’s group works, I don’t recall anything ever looking this… coupley. Brianna Lombardo and Emmanuel Proulx hold hands and use all of the resulting arms’ length as tape to wrap around their partner.
Since Léveillé’s movement seems based on an aesthetic rather than on its effect, there’s usually some incidental humour that slips into the choreography. Not so here. We have to wait until the last duet with Campeau and Esther Gaudette to find some humour and it’s calculatedly funny. For starters, the dance is set to The Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” Given how much Léveillé capitalizes on lifts and gravity, that choice can only be qualified as a joke. As if that weren’t enough, the dancers headbang, make the devil sign, and thrust their hips. How ironic that the more Léveillé’s dancers have clothes on, the more sexual they act. Sometimes, it looks like it could have been choreographed by Virginie Brunelle.
Solitudes duo is, like all of Léveillé’s work, a dance of every moment; there is no climax. Yet, when it ends, it still manages to feel a bit too short.
May 26-28 at 9pm
Agora de la danse
Tickets: 45$ / 30 years old and under: 38$
has an MA in Film Studies, though he mostly writes about dance. He is a reporter and producer for the cultural radio show Quartier Général on CIBL 101,5 FM. His fiction has appeared in Cactus Heart, Headlight Anthology, and Birkensnake.
s.verstricht [at] gmail [dot] com