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.
Sometimes it’s all in our perception. I went into Dream Away not expecting much – I know that Stephan Toss’ work isn’t always my cup of tea, but that Les Grands Ballets’ dancers always find a way to move me – whereas my date for the night had very high hopes. In the end, I loved everything she couldn’t stand, and vice versa, and yet we are young women with similar taste! Sometimes you realize mid-dream that you are in fact dreaming, and it wipes away the magic of what you had been experiencing. Sometimes you even wake up, losing that dream world completely. In Dream Away, Stephan Toss captured both these sides of the dream, and where I was fully swept away, my companion was wide awake. Which side will you see?
Crossing the country to Montreal, Vancouver’s own Company 605 was at the Agora de la danse last week presenting brand new work. Premiering at the Vancouver International Dance Festival in March, they performed their latest piece, Vital Few, across western Canada before embarking on the eastern phase of this country-wide tour. Company 605, previously Collective 605, is know for blending urban and contemporary dance to create athletic work that uses the body language of the millennial generation. They make no exception in Vital Few, inspiring themselves from break dancing that blends seamlessly with the dancers’ more formal dance training.
A wonderful thing about Quebec artists is that most people can’t guess where they’re from. Our style is a mishmash of European and American influences, with an international flavour that combines hints from around the world. There is often something otherworldly about our creations, and no one embodies this more than the living deity herself, Marie Chouinard. Accompanied by the Orchestre symphonique des jeunes de Montréal, Compagnie Marie Chouinard returned to the Theatre Maisonneuve in Montreal last week as part of the Danse Danse festival, performing Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and Le sacre du printemps.
In a time when contemporary dance has left most of the actual dancing to the wayside, it’s a relief to see work that gives dancers a chance to move. Although Montreal choreographer Audrey Rochette likes to add a political layer to her pieces, she doesn’t let the intellectual take away from the physical. Her piece Cake filled five nights at Theatre La Chapelle last week. I saw it first a couple summers ago at Zone Homa, and since then Cake has continued to evolve with input from Rochette, the performers, and a collective of outside eyes. Though clearly the same work at its core, Cake has evolved in ways I didn’t expect, ways that have fundamentally affected my appreciation of the show.
In the spirit of this month of love, the Shanghai Ballet presents the quirky story of Coppelia. Lust leads the way to jealousy, deception turns into trickery, but finally young love finds its way. The Shanghai Ballet has pulled out all the stops for its first invitation to dance on Les Grands Ballets’ stage. Counting a troupe of a couple dozen dancers, three full sets, and countless costumes, they made the largest stage in Montreal look cozy on this cold February night. Demonstrating impeccable technique and laugh-out-loud comedy, they’ve turned out a totally accessible night at the ballet. That’s saying something for a two and a half hour show, counting intermissions.
It felt like the beginning of the end as I took my seat for what is sure to be one of the last times at the Agora de la danse. I’ve often said it is one of my favourite venues in this city. It has the ability to transform from bright, open classroom with windows that give views all the way to the mountain, to intimate, floor-seating only theatre, to grand space with high ceilings and a steep slope of seats to match. Soon the Agora will be moving into the newly constructed Wilder dance building. Until then, the countdown begins. Opening the new year this week at the Agora is an interdisciplinary work by Isabelle Van Grimde, Symphonie 5.1.