After more than a quarter century in Montreal, I find there is still so much to discover. This week I’m discovering Créations Estelle Clareton, founded in 1999 and counting over a dozen productions under it’s belt. A dance company at it’s core, founder Estelle Clareton is a touche-à-tout, interested in everything that relates to moving bodies in space. This month she presents her new work, a co-creation with playwright and theater director Olivier Kemeid, at the Théâtre de Quat’Sous, from November 15th to December 2nd. Sous la nuit solitaire (Under the Solitary Night) is a collage, dance enhanced through friction with theater and literature, under the theme of Dante’s Inferno as illustrated by Gustave Doré.
Four singers, five musicians, five choreographers and six dancers are united under the inspiration of Léo Ferré this week in an evening of song and dance at the Cinquième Salle. Corps Amour Anarchieis an ode to the French singer-songwriter, created to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth in 2016. His career spanned nearly 50 years and a number of his hits are immortalized as classics of French song: C’est extra, Avec le temps, Jolie môme, to name a few. Montreal’s festival Coup de Coeur Francophone, highlighting French music from November 2nd to 12th, is behind the production, with choreography by PPS Danse and musical direction by Philippe B. and Philippe Brault.
Japan has always fascinated me. Whereas the unknown can often be synonymous with scary or intimidating, the Japanese culture evokes instead a delightful mystery. On one extreme, we recognize the Japanese in bright and daring fashion. On the other, we know them for being extraordinarily humble and quietly respectful. Their rich culture has evolved so differently from what the western world calls normal, and it has completely captured our imagination. Agora Tangente, the short name for the two-company neighbour-collaborators, indulges our fascination this month with a two-week focus on Japan, Dansu. Comprising three dance shows and a movie series, it’s a close-encounter with the wonderfully foreign scene of current Japanese performance.
Who is more authentic than Jose Navas? After hearing the name from fellow dancers auditioning for his Compagnie Flak, back when I was in ballet school, I only first saw Navas in a photograph, one taken by my Concordia classmate Valerie Simmons. In the simple, static curves of his naked body, he spoke a message so clear that it was beyond words. My next encounter with him, via the film ORA, on which he collaborated with director Philippe Baylaucq, still gives me goosebumps and is among the only times I have seen dance portrayed so truly on film. For his 50th birthday, Navas performed his solo Rites at Danse Danse, pushing his body and his creativity while unabashedly baring his whole self to his audience in his adopted city of Montreal. At Agora de la danse this week, he presents ON, an hommage to his longtime collaborators Marc Parent, light designer, and Alexander MacSween, composer. Evidently, I hopped on the opportunity to witness Navas’ presence once again.
The first thing you need to know about a Marie Chouinard show is that it’s sensational. Dance may be best known as an art of the body, and these shows work with the whole body, you bet, but a Compagnie Marie Chouinard show is an integral experience for your eyes and ears… and curious mind. To open it’s 20th season, the Danse Danse series have programmed a weeklong Chouinard-fest. First, Le Cri du Monde and Soft Virtuosity, Still Humid, On the Edge run for two nights and add themselves to the list of a dozen works Danse Danse have now collected by Chouinard since 1998. Then, an hommage to Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights makes its Montreal premiere with a three-night run.
Ballet BC captured Montreal in Danse Danse’s 2014-2015 season with an all-male choreographed triple bill. Now they are back with another triple, lead this time by three amazing women. Emily Molnar, artistic director of Ballet BC and largely responsible for catapulting the company to its international status, presents 16 + A Room. Fellow Canadian Crystal Pite follows up with Solo Echo, a piece she originally created for Nederlands Dans Theater, and satisfying my bias as a superfan of NDT. Finally Israel’s Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar’s Bill closes the night. With all these winning elements together in one night, there was no excuse not to see this show.
Last year the world lost a remarkable poet and musician. Montreal-born Leonard Cohen decks the halls of fame of Rock and Roll, Canadian music and Canadian Songwriters, for his opus of work spanning over sixty years. His folksy sound is especially resonant through his lyrics, which speak to love, loss, religion and political unrest. For their upcoming 2017-2018 seasons, two landmark Montreal dance companies will pay homage to him with a new work created to his music, and a gala danced in his honor. Dance Me, by the Ballets Jazz de Montreal, will premiere in December, and Les Grands Ballets will hold special gala performances, Soirée des Étoiles, the following June under the theme Dance Me to the End of Love, both companies taking their title inspiration from Cohen’s 1984 song.