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.
The classic ballets always attract a crowd, so when Swan Lake was announced as part of the 2015-2016 NAC dance season it’s no surprise that tickets went fast. In fact, the one-night Canadian premiere of Dada Masilo’s Swan Lake sold out long before the event. “With a famous score like Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, the audience thinks they know what is coming next”, Masilo writes in the program notes. “When it is something different, they become interested and curious.” Clearly Canadian dance-goers were intrigued with the concept of one of the best known ballets of all time remade with a mix of classical and African dance. Judging by the standing ovation at the end of the show, Masilo’s Swan Lake didn’t let us down.
Usine C is not your typical venue. It is, as the name lets on, a converted factory, located halfway between the Gay Village and Parc Lafontaine. You turn down a semi-residential street, make your way through an uninviting alley, and enter into a warm and creative space that erases any hesitations you had before crossing through the doorway. I headed over here last week to catch Au sein des plus raides vertus by Montreal’s own Catherine Gaudet. Since premiering at the Festival TransAmériques back in 2014 it has also been staged at Theatre La Chapelle, and continues to live beyond its excellent reviews. Now, demand wants this show to be seen again.
There are as many types of dance as there are people who dream of dancing. Those pieces that make it to the stage though often only represent a small portion of the rich variety of styles and expressions that are out there. In an effort to broaden the horizon of theatre-worthy dancing and offer professional opportunities for street dancers, two young ladies founded 100Lux. Already recognized as a staple dance festival in Montreal after only 4 years of existence, 100Lux speaks to the artists’ needs and the public’s desires. For this year’s edition, four unique nights took place from December 2-5 showcasing respectively solos, in situ work, short creations and long creations. I was among the lucky few to snag a ticket for the shorts showcase.