because the personal is cultural
1. Judson Church is Ringing in Harlem (Made-to-Measure) / Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at the Judson Church (M2M), Trajal Harrell + Thibault Lac + Ondrej Vidlar (Festival TransAmériques)
American choreographer Trajal Harrell’s work has always been impressive if only for its sheer ambition (his Twenty Looks series currently comprises half a dozen shows), but Judson Church is Ringing in Harlem (Made-to-Measure) is his masterpiece. In the most primal way, he proves that art isn’t a caprice but that it is a matter of survival. Harrell and dancers Thibault Lac and Ondrej Vidlar manifest this need by embodying it to the fullest. The most essential show of this or any other year.
2. ENTRE & La Loba (Danse-Cité) & INDEEP, Aurélie Pedron
Locally, it was the year of Aurélie Pedron. She kept presenting her resolutely intimate solo ENTRE, a piece for one spectator at a time who – eyes covered – experiences the dance by touching the performer’s body. In the spring, she offered a quiet yet surprisingly moving 10-hour performance in which ten blindfolded youths who struggled with addiction evolved in a closed room. In the fall, she made us discover new spaces by taking over Montreal’s old institute for the deaf and mute, filling its now vacant rooms with a dozen installations that ingeniously blurred the line between performance and the visual arts. Pedron has undeniably found her voice and is on a hot streak.
3. Co.Venture, Brooklyn Touring Outfit (Wildside Festival)
The most touching show I saw this year, a beautiful portrait of an intergenerational friendship and of the ways age restricts our movement and dance expands it.
4. Avant les gens mouraient (excerpt), Arthur Harel & (LA)HORDE (Marine Brutti, Jonathan Debrouwer, Céline Signoret) (Festival TransAmériques)
wants&needs danse’s The Total Space Party allowed the students of L’École de danse contemporaine to revisit Avant les gens mouraient. It made me regret I hadn’t included it in my best of 2014 list, so I’m making up for it here. Maybe it gained in power by being performed in the middle of a crowd instead of on a stage. Either way, this exploration of Mainstream Hardcore remains the best theatrical transposition of a communal dance I’ve had the chance to see.
5. A Tribe Called Red @ Théâtre Corona (I Love Neon, evenko & Greenland Productions)
I’ve been conscious of the genocide inflicted upon the First Nations for some time, but it hit me like never before at A Tribe Called Red’s show. I realized that, as a 35 year-old Canadian, it was the first time I witnessed First Nations’ (not so) traditional dances live. This makes A Tribe Called Red’s shows all the more important.
6. Naked Ladies, Thea Fitz-James (Festival St-Ambroise Fringe)
Fitz-James gave an introductory lecture on naked ladies in art history while in the nude herself. Before doing so, she took the time to look each audience member in the eye. What followed was a clever, humorous, and touching interweaving of personal and art histories that exposed how nudity is used to conceal just as much as to reveal.
7. Max-Otto Fauteux’s scenography for La très excellente et lamentable tragédie de Roméo et Juliette (Usine C)
Choreographer Catherine Gaudet and director Jérémie Niel stretched the short duo they had created for a hotel room in La 2e Porte à Gauche’s 2050 Mansfield – Rendez-vous à l’hôtel into a full-length show. What was most impressive was scenographer Max-Otto Fauteux going above and beyond by recreating the hotel room in which the piece originally took place, right down to the functioning shower. The surreal experience of sitting within these four hyper-realistic walls made the performance itself barely matter.
À la sortie de Piss in the Pool, que retient-on cette année? Surtout Flotsam, la pièce de Leanne Dyer pour laquelle les cinq interprètes sont cachés sous d’imposants costumes composés de centaines de sacs de plastique. Trois grosses boules couleur vert menthe – les sacs du Supermarché PA – mais dont la couche s’avère être gracieuseté du Jean-Coutu, et deux chenilles de plastique, une blanche et l’autre noir (on se tient ici dans la palette limitée de Glad). C’est un défilé de mode, c’est un rituel consommateur, mais c’est surtout un petit monde étrange et aux images marquantes.
On remarque aussi la rigueur que la chorégraphe Sasha Kleinplatz amène à tous ses projets avec Chorus Two… Après s’être entouré de femmes pour All the Ladies, c’est maintenant sur cinq hommes qu’elle projette son travail toujours très physique. Avec leurs complets noirs, les danseurs font penser à un Édouard Lock vidé de ses muses féminines.
La New Yorkaise Shannon Gillen offre une introduction à la soirée qui nous plonge immédiatement dans un univers inquiétant avec WOLFMAN Redux. Le visage de la seule danseuse au fond de la piscine est recouvert de papier métallique. Son mouvement reflète le désarroi et l’anxiété que pourrait causer un manque d’oxygène.
Ces trois pièces se retrouvent toutes en première partie, alors on peut deviner que la deuxième n’est pas tout à fait du même calibre. Toutefois, il y a Manuel Roque qui se démarque avec trou (pour deux) (à capella), un duo aux airs de compétition sadique qu’il danse avec Lucie Vigneault.
Piss in the Pool 2011
18 juin à 20h30
Bain Saint-Michel, 5300 Saint-Dominique
Billets : 12$
Clap for the Wolfman, photo by Corrine Furman
Imagine you’re a wolfman. At night, you’re traveling with a pack of wolves. Then, as soon as day breaks, they end up surrounding you. No longer one of their own, you have suddenly gone from friend to prey. Their teeth could pierce through your skin just as easily as you could pierce through a body made of balloons.
Things can shift just as quickly in Clap for the Wolfman, a dance show by Shannon Gillen that the New York choreographer is presenting at the Fringe. Like night becomes day, the relationship between the five women performing can switch on a dime. Friendly one moment, they can be cold and even threatening the next.
A woman with a long braid gets down to a two-piece black spandex suit that displays her athletic body in movement. Behind her, a life-size skeleton made of balloons imitates her. Two women sitting on the edge of the stage use microphones to create amplified sounds of the dancer’s moving body as they imagine them, turning the micro intro macro. The body is fragmented by the space between balloons, parts rather than whole.
However, it is in partner work that Gillen excels. In duets, her dancers often become intertwined, forcing her to find creative solutions to the progression of their movement.
In a playful section, performers pass a microphone around and, holding different positions, articulate their body into words. Her palm open and arm straight in front of her, a woman says, “This is me dancing in the 80s. This is me showing my wedding ring. This is me when I’m surrounded by wolves.” This exercise demands from the performers an awareness of their body in its present state at the same time as they must recall a body memory that overlaps it. They must consciously observe through their body how it organizes itself in relation to different external elements.
Things don’t appear as light-hearted when a dancer hits planks of woods together. The lack of clear motivations behind her actions makes them look so senseless as to be menacing.
The lighting might be the element that speaks the most to Gillen’s talents. Often, a single spot is used to light the entire stage from the front, so that the dancers’ monster shadows become a sinister backdrop. There is a tableau during which a performer holds the spot in her lap and shakes her unzipped hoodie on both sides of the light, making the shadows flicker like a stroboscopic television left on at night. I say that such details speak of Gillen’s talents because it reflects the choreographer’s ability to do a lot with little. Clap for the Wolfman is full of ingenious finds, from its use of light and sound to its choreography.
Clap for the Wolfman
June 15 at 10pm; June 17 at 6:45pm; June 18 at 8:45pm; June 19 at 3:15pm
has an MA in Film Studies and works in contemporary dance. His fiction has appeared in Headlight Anthology, Cactus Heart, and Birkensnake.
s.verstricht [at] gmail [dot] com