Again and again I am reminded of how lucky I am to live in one of the most creatively productive cities in the world when it comes to dance. Unlike in many places, a big problem of living here isn’t a lack of options, but rather choosing which shows to say no to. December 4th had been marked on my calendar for several months already and I gladly said no to other events as I anticipated the return of Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, commonly referred to as BJM, to Place des Arts. This is one local company we don’t see often enough (we’ll get back to the reasons why), but that is a treasure and pride of Montréalais culture. Presenting a triple bill including a world premiere, BJM have come home to show off at Théâtre Maisonneuve for the Danse Danse series.
For its 25th anniversary, PPS Danse celebrates its past and present with a recreation of one of its iconic works. Bagne debuted in the early 90s, an unconventional dance-theatre focusing on an intense relationship between two men. Homosexuality wasn’t a comfortable topic for the general-public then, and even now with the strides we have taken as a society, it is still considered controversial. Today Bagne has been updated for the current context and this reworked edition takes the stage as part of the Danse Danse series at the Cinquième Salle until October 31st.
If you know me at all you know that Danse Danse is my favourite dance series. Every year it brings the best selection of contemporary works to Montreal in an unpretentious and exciting ambiance. For its 2015-2016 season, Danse Danse opened at the Theatre Maisonneuve last Thursday night with a triple bill from three contemporary masters performed by the National Ballet of Canada. the second detail, Spectre de la Rose and Chroma are three remarkable works strongly anchored in classical ballet, each adding a unique contemporary spin that highlights different aspects of its classical foundation. High energy, technically demanding and showing three equally beautiful aesthetics, the combination made for an exceptional evening of heart-stopping dance.
From even before the day we’re born, there’s one bit of information everyone wants to know: is it a boy or a girl? Gender is fundamental in determining our identity, both for ourselves and for those who get to know us. As a woman I often wonder how men view feminism and the collection of women’s issues that make of up so much of our social and cultural conversations… Then I take a step back and wonder, but what about the guys? Issues of male identity remain a whisper in conversations about gender, even today. Leave it to the artists though to get ahead of the trend and turn that whisper into an exclamation. Case in point, and now showing as part of the Danse Danse series, Rocco by ICKamsterdam goes in depth into masculinity and male bonds through the lens of boxing.
It definitely says something about a show when you ask people what they thought of it and they all react in the same, peculiar way: they throw their hands up in the air, eyes wide, head shaking, and spread a goofy wide smile across their face. I’ll admit, this was my reaction too. Prismes, presented by Montreal Danse with choreography by Benoît Lachambre, is hard to put in words but sure knows how to shake you up.