+This is the third in an occasional series of videos on the fountains of Montreal+
+This is the third in an occasional series of videos on the fountains of Montreal+
Last night I participated in the Dans La Rue fundraiser, De La Rue aux Etoiles as a judge because they were serving burgers. Or so I was told. In fact it was a phenomenal event, basically a cocktail dinatoire (doesn’t it sound much better in French?) where they served a bunch of appetizers (or as is the current style, tapas) that just so happened to be on a bun.
Thankfully, no one called them sliders. After 10 of them, I was just a tad stuffed.
We (Ryk ‘E Coli’ Edelstein, Jean-Philippe Tastet, Lesley Chesterman and Peter Iliopoulos) were served our burgers without knowing which restaurant made them. Although in certain cases it was fairly easy to identify a certain chef’s handiwork, however in other cases we were completely and utterly wrong.
This was the first ‘real’ burger…
The roasted peppers with cheese were delicious.
Submitted without comment, for the most part.
Going from south to north.
Saint Jacques, looking north.
South side of Saint Antoine, looking south.
North side of Saint Antoine, looking north.
In between Saint Antoine and Viger, looking north.
Viger, looking south.
The fancy programming of the water…
+This is the second in an occasional series of videos on the fountains of Montreal+
Back on Monday (who schedules dance performances on a Monday?!?) I got to see the opening night festivities for Quartiers Danses. Now as an aside the current scuttlebutt is that dance is the poor bastard child of the arts and gets absolutely no respect, no press and no one cares about it. Well I think that Quartiers Danses is the poor bastard child of dance festivals.
This was the first time in my life that I had seen an opening night where the theatre wasn’t even half full. and they had even taken up a bunch of space with tables replacing chairs, so to begin with there weren’t an awful lot of seats to fill.
Anyhows, since it is quite likely that you’ve never heard of it, Quartiers Danses is a festival that has its mandate to bring dance to the people. Instead of Mohammed going to the mountain, the mountain comes to Mohammed. Unfortunately given the crowd, it was more like a hill or a mound than a mountain.
All of this is a long-winded way of saying “pity.” Because for the most part it was quite good. There were four short pieces performed; L’Absense by Marie Brassard, danced by Sarah Williams. Sente by Lucie Grégoire. Dédale by Françoise Sullivan, danced by Ginette Boutin. And an excerpt from Out of White by Jane Mappin, danced by Francine Liboiron.
I gotta hand it to whomever programed the evening (I presume it was Rafik Hubert Sabbagh) they kind of knew what they were doing. For the first time in my life I thought that the evenings programming went as well together as a well done set by a DJ or a well curated exhibit at a museum. You know the sensation you get when you suddenly sit up and say “Hey! Those things not only only go well together, but they compliment each other and actually make more sense together than apart”? Kind of like that.
I hear y’all asking “why?” (Or my preferred question: “How come?”) Well, they are all variations on the same idea. Basically one woman swaying in space with a focus (more or less) on one part of the body. In Sente it’s the hips, Dédale the arms, and in the excerpt from Out of White it’s the legs.
There were also a couple of cool moments in L’Absense due to the backdrop sort of looking vaguely floor-like and Sarah Williams’ ability to contort herself so despite lying on the floor, it appears as if the audience is hanging from the ceiling – just like one of those photographs by Alain Paiement.
It all really kicked in with Dédale (Daedalus for the people in the house who only read one language, yes that Daedalus). In my lifetime I must’ve seen a 63 year-old dance, but for the life of me I can’t remember one. And I’m fairly certain I’ve never seen a 63 year-old dance done in the presence of its creator. Because yes, Françoise Sullivan was in the house (and yes, I was too chicken to go up and talk to her).
The backstory: Françoise Sullivan first performed Dédale on April 3, 1948, the same day that Harry Truman signed the Marshall Plan and the very same day that Arlette Cousture was born. For reasons that I won’t go into here (you can find the details elsewhere) it’s a fairly significant piece of of work within the context of Quebecois culture.
I don’t know if it has ever been performed since then (my guess would be yes) but either way, it’s still pretty gosh darn cool to see a dance that was made way back then. For the most part dance eats its young and not an awful lot of it survives to adolescence, let alone old age.
Nine minutes long, it starts with Ms. Boutin tapping on her hip and then expanding on that movement ever so slightly over time until she is rolling about on stage. Even if you don’t know the story of Daedalus it works. And as a connecting piece between Sente and Out of White it works even better.
Sente is basically a woman swaying to some fado, while a woman recites something over it (apologies, but I wasn’t really paying attention to the monologue. I’m certain it was important and would have aided me greatly in gaining a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the performance, but I was kind of getting a kick out of watching Lucie Grégoire move. Sometimes a superficial and simplistic appreciation is all that is needed).
And then in the excerpt from Out of White you get Francine Liboiron lying on her back making her legs act like hand puppets. It’ll be interesting to see how that little bit fits into the larger piece which I am going to see on Thursday, I think.
None of the dances have any elaborate costumes or fancy lighting. The soundtracks (when there were any) were either completely ignorable, as was the case with Sente or completely forgettable, as was the case with the others. So basically what you got was dance. Movement in a fairly controlled and focused state. And when it’s done well, it definitely deserves to have more than a half empty house watching.
One suggestion that I would make to the fine folk who organize the Quartiers Danses, is to switch the time of year when they present it. Trying to compete with all the other season opening events is not working. I’ve followed it now for about three years, and each year (this one included) I’ve always thought “how can I squeeze it in?” Most other dance organizations kick in with big-budget press and marketing at the beginning of September (how many of those Rodin/Claudel ads have you seen?) and trying to compete is obviously not working.
Moving it to March or April would seem to me to be a no-brainer. While most marketing budgets will have been spent by then, the buds on the trees and the weather getting warmer and better make everyone more inclined to do things, get out of the house if you will. It worked for the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville, I’m certain it would work for Quartiers Danses.
Lets get this out of the way first and foremost: For the past two weeks I have been living and breathing Jocelyne Montpetit almost 24/7. Back in August I interviewed her, and if you’ve been watching this website regularly, you already know that there is a six-part interview with her available for your viewing pleasure. Well, in order to get that six-part interview here, I needed to do some editing. And in order to do the editing, I had to watch the film, again, and again, and again, and again, you get the picture.
All that being a kind of long winded way of saying that I’m not objective in the least. But then again, I rarely am objective about anything. But I digress.
The short version of my review of Avril est le mois le plus cruel by Jocelyne Montpetit at the Agora de la Danse could be summed up as “It’s great! Go see it.” But if you want the longer more detailed version, keep scrolling.
As you might have guessed, it was inspired by the first four lines of T.S. Eliot’s poem from 1922, The Wasteland. But, not the English version (obviously), the French. I transcribed the version that were in the program notes, but then noticed that they seemed a little bit different from what I was used to.
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
The version in the program notes
Avril est le mois le plus cruel
Il engendre des lilas qui jaillissent de la terre morte
Il mêle souvenance et désir
Il réveille par ses pluies de printemps les racines inertes
And then a version I found online
Avril est le mois le plus cruel, qui fait surgir
Des lilas de la terre morte, mêle
Mémoire et désir, réveille
D’inertes racines avec la pluie de printemps
I’ll leave it up to you to decide which one you prefer and if the differences are significant or not.
I very deliberately did not re-read The Wasteland, not even the beginning before going to see the performance because a) I thought that it was inspired by the first four verses of the poem (my mistake; vers in French doesn’t mean verses, it means lines) and b) I did not want to make the mistake of wanting, or expecting, the performance to be a literal representation of the poem (I’ve already seen one of those).
And I’m glad I didn’t reread it until after the performance, because, knowing myself I would have gone looking for direct connections between both, and there really aren’t any. The performance is all about sadness. It just as easily could have been named after Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, Fauré’s Requiem in D minor or anything else imbued with an overwhelming sense of sadness.
Anyhows, now that I got that out of the way we can get on with everything else. Before anything begins there’s a humongous block of ice (about four feet high, two feet wide and eight inches thick) front stage left and a bed with some glasses underneath it back stage right. I don’t know if it was intentional (and somehow I think it wasn’t) but on the night I was there (opening night, September 14) it looked like there was an image of a really really big tulip that hadn’t quite gotten around to blooming, yet. There also seemed to be something like pollen squirting out of the top.
I mention this, because if you use your imagination a tulip that’s just about to bloom with some pollen squirting from the top can, and does look like something else, and neither of them look like lilacs. I also mistakenly thought that the glasses under the bed were bubble wrap. I think I might have to go see my optometrist to make sure my prescription is correct.
Dressed in a white nightgown to start, Ms. Montpetit comes out on stage from the rear and starts wandering around the stage. Although I should be horsewhipped for using the word wandering. Unfortunately words fail me when I try to describe how Ms. Montpetit moves and I end up sounding like a blathering idiot. After thumbing through my thesaurus, I guess it could be called a combination of slow, in control of every muscle in her body, deliberately ungraceful, beautiful, and emotionally moving. But that’s 121 letters, the word wandering is nine letters.
As is mentioned in the program notes, Avril est le mois le plus cruel is the first in a trilogy of Elegies (or if you prefer, Élégies) that Ms. Montpetit is creating. Dedicated to Tomiko Takai, who died in May, I do not know if it was directly inspired by her death, but as I have already mentioned, her performance is very emotionally charged almost completely permeated with anguish, despondency, disconsolateness, dolefulness, dolor, dysphoria, forlornness, grief, heartache, melancholy, mournfulness, mourning, poignancy, sorrow, sorrowfulness, and woe (man I adore thesauruses!)
To quote another famous and sad piece of English literature, “there’s the rub,” expressing a difficult and deep emotion without saying a single word. But Ms. Montpetit makes it look as easy as falling off a log.
At this point, I gotta remember to mention Sonoyo Nishikawa who did the lighting, he (she? Are Japanese names like Italian names and the boys get the “O” and the girls the “A”?) did a phenomenal job. Not only did I think a bunch of glasses were bubble wrap, but about two thirds of the way through the performance, they made the bed disappear. Solely through judicious use of spotlights. I can’t say I was as enthralled by the soundtrack, some Arvo Pärt, Louis Dufort and Alessandro Scarlatti (at least I presume it is Alessandro Scarlatti, since the other two Scarlatti’s weren’t known for their vocal compositions and his first name is not noted in the program notes).
Beyond that, there’s not much more I can say. If you’re interested Ms. Montpetit not only “wandered” around the stage, sometimes she lay down on the bed, or next to the bed. There were a couple of times she writhed around on stage or crawled from place to place. She changed costumes three times, and by my count there were six parts (although other people who probably know far more than me say there were only three). And it all takes about an hour.
But basically, Ms. Montpetit is a living and breathing testament to the concept that somethings truly can’t be spoken or written down. They need to be experienced. Avril est le mois le plus cruel is one of them.
Avril est le mois le plus cruel continues at the Agora de la danse, tonight, tomorrow and Friday the 23rd at 8 pm. Tickets are $26. And I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that it has a couple of more engagements both here in Montreal and elsewhere.
+This is the first in an occasional series of videos on the fountains of Montreal+
I’ve always been fascinated by Horloge solaire by André Mongeau. According to the Palais des congrès’ website “a laser beam makes the color of the fibers change according to the sun’s intensity.” That would have been so cool, if it ever worked…
Ses œuvres cherchent à traduire l’essentiel. Peintre-architecte de l’espace cosmique, il crée par une myriade de points, colorés et lumineux comme autant d’étoiles dans l’univers, une constellation de signes qui invitent à partager une magie sombre et étincelante, silencieuse et féerique.*
Or if you prefer in The King’s English; His works seek to capture the essence. Painter and architect of cosmic space, it creates a myriad of points, colorful and bright like stars in the universe, a constellation of signs that invite you to share a dark magic and sparkling, quiet and magical. [machine translated by Google, it does a wonderful job on artists’ statements]
As far as I know it was built as part of the first phase of the Palais des congrès way back in the 1980s. Given that at the time the city was going bonkers for Melvin Charney‘s work, and the supports are rather genericly thin struts of steel, I for the longest time, thought that Mr. Charney had in fact made it. But I was very wrong. And doing a little more Googling on M. Mongeau, it appears that he lives in the wonderfully named town of Sainte-Émélie-de-l’Énergie.
And as far as I can tell, the current overlords of the Palais des congrès don’t even like it anymore, as this picture taken on axis from the Palais des congrès looking towards Complexe Guy Favreau shows, they have strategically placed trees in the way, so you can’t see it.
I vaguely remember seeing it working once, a long, long time ago.
Last week I was a guest on the Barry Morgan show on CJAD to talk about hamburgers. If you missed it, you can hear it here.
Le Jolifou, 1840 Rue Beaubien Est
Pataterie Chez Philippe, 1877 rue Amherst
Mr. Steer, 1198 rue Ste-Catherine O
Brasserie T!, 1425 Rue Jeanne-Mance
Lawrence, 5201 boul. St-Laurent
Bagel’s etc., 4320 boul. St-Laurent
Helm, 273 rue Bernard Ouest
Laura suggested the Burger Bar, 1465 rue Crescent
Tim suggested The Burger Bistro on Saint Jacques
Ryk suggested Tous les Jours, 1689 Avenue du Mont-Royal Est & Nouveau Palais, 281 Rue Bernard Ouest
Wayne suggested Dilallo, 2523 rue Notre-Dame O & Bun’s Hamburger House, 3673, boul Saint-Laurent
Barry suggested Decarie Hot Dog, 953 boulevard Décarie
Michael suggested Moe’s (aka Casse Croute du Coin), 2214 Maisonneuve West
Michael suggested Mama’s, 1805 boul. O’Brien & Paulo et Suzanne, 5501 boul. Gouin Ouest
Christine suggested La Belle Province
George suggested Burger de Ville, 59 Westminster N
Information on Dans la rue’s From the Street to the Stars is here.
The Montreal Burger Report’s (incomplete) Map of Burgers in Montreal:
And if you’d like to hear the previous discussion about burgers in Montreal on CJAD, click here.
It occurred to me recently there is a phenomenal amount of art that is accessible to the public (as opposed to public art) on and around Greene Avenue in Westmount.
I’m not quite certain what ghosts and clouds have to do with things that are erotic, but there was a fuss over the display of cartoon genitalia, and the ghosts and clouds were added to give a sense of modesty.
I’m surprised that no one complained about the bondage…
Sorry about the glare, but I wasn’t brave enough to enter into Westmount Square in order to take pictures. There’s another one in one of the other towers, but my pictures were horrible. If you’d like a better picture, try this.
Wars, and war memorials were much different then. There are 192 names on it from World War I, which lasted four years. And 260 names from World War II, which lasted six years. The Canadian Army has been fighting in Afghanistan for almost ten years, and I can guarantee you that there will not be any additional names added.
The less said about this, the better. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I took so many pictures.
If anyone knows any details, or has any information about the photographer, title or why, I would be extremely appreciative.