This audio business isn’t as easy as falling out of bed… I initially recorded this piece about the performance of Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal that I saw somewhere at the very beginning of October. And here it is, the beginning of November and I’m finally able to post it. Go Figure!
Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal 40th Anniversary Program. Fuel, Closer and Harry.
The Ballets Jazz de Montreal’s calendar is here. (From my quick scan, they were last here in January 2011 and I don’t know when before that as it doesn’t go further back than 2008. Their blurbs on Fuel and Harry are here and here. It appears that whomever is responsible for their website doesn’t consider Closer as being in their repertoire.
I initially wanted to list off all the dancer’s names (for what would the performance be without the dancers?) But for the most part, they don’t have individual websites and I no longer have my list of who danced in what. So I’m going to have to settle for a simple list copy/pasted from Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal’s website. Antonios Bougiouris, Morgane Le Tiec, Céline Cassone, Alexander Hille, Christina Bodie, James Gregg, Kevin Delaney, Christian Denice, Youri De Wilde, Alyssa Desmarais, Brett Taylor, Alexandra Gherchman, Andie Masazza. They all were very good. (But what I don’t understand is how they can all simultaneously also be former dancers from Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal. It doesn’tmake sense to me at all).
Saw this yesterday in thre alleyway that leads to the library, near the corner of Emory. It’s part of the FTA and called x-mal Mensch Stuhl by Angie Hiesl and Roland Kaiser and is exactly what it looks like. Obviously this was a dress rehearsal because they are really supposed to perform today at 6:00 pm and then on May 25 at 6:00 pm, May 26 at 3:00 pm and May 27 at 3:00 pm, for an hour each day.
Last month I went to La Chapelle to see Je Suis Un Autre by Catherine Gaudet with Dany Desjardins and Caroline Gravel. According to the press fluff that accompanied the show (and the program) Ms. Gaudet was attempting to show the multiplicity of beings along with the ambiguity that is hidden under the surface (my bastard translation of “cherche à mettre à jour la multiplicité et l’ambiguïté de l’être qui se cachent sous leur vernis.”
First off, there seems to be some history behind the concept of “Je Suis Un Autre.” Doing a simple Google search, first tosses up somethingwritten by Arthur Rimbaud that is written way to academically for me to even be able to concentrate on it for more than 30 seconds.
By the way, for the squareheads in the house, “Je suis un autre.” Translates as “I am another.” And once you sink your teeth into that concept you can keep running for miles and miles if you so desire. I don’t desire. I’m a big fan of Satchel Paige‘s fifth rule for staying young, so feel free to do with the concept of The Other as you see fit.
But then a little further down on the Google results page I came across this doozy.
I don’t think the Zug Im Veins song has anything to do with anything at all, but can serve as a kind of touchstone about the theory behind Quebecois dance. For the most part, from where I’ve been sitting, they seem to presume that they exist in some kind of bubble. More frequently, the choreographers just explain what they are trying to do and how they accomplished it. Very rarely will you hear or read about where some creation came from. The sources of inspiration, the antecedents, the parallels. Or if they are there and I am just missing them, would someone please whack me upside the head and point them out to me next time? Please and thank you.
Because there is a song by Georges Moustaki which does have everything to do with the performance by Dany Desjardins and Caroline Gravel
Je suis un débutant aux tempes qui blanchissent
Un beatnick vieillissant patriarche novice
Jardinier libertin aux goûts d’aventurier
Voyageur immobile et rêveur éveillé
Je suis de ces lézards qui naissent fatigués
Un optimiste amer un pessimiste gai
Un homme d’aujourd’hui à la barbe d’apôtre
Je peux être tout ça pourtant je suis un autre
Je suis toi je suis moi je suis qui me ressemble
Et je ressemble à ceux qui font la route ensemble
Pour chercher quelque chose et pour changer la vie
Plutôt que de mourir d’un rêve inassouvi
Avec eux je m’en vais partout où le vent souffle
Partout où c’est la fête et partout où l’on souffre
Mais lorsque je m’endors au creux des herbes hautes
Je me retrouve seul et je me sens un autre
Je suis venu ce soir la guitare à mon cou
Partager mes chansons et rêver avec vous
Crier d’une voix sourde toutes mes révoltes
Et parler de mes peines d’un air désinvolte
J’ai laissé au vestiaire un reste de pudeur
Pour mieux me découvrir devant les projecteurs
Et chanter les amours qui sont un peu les vôtres
Qui sont les miennes même si je suis un autre
I am a beginner at the temples that whiten
A beatnik aging patriarch novice
Gardener libertine tastes of adventure
Stationary traveler and daydreamer
I’m one of those lizards that are born tired
An optimistic pessimist bitter gay one
A modern man with the beard of an apostle
I can be all that I am yet another
I am you I am who I like me
And I like those who make the journey together
To search for something and to change lives
Rather than dying of a dream unfulfilled
With them I go wherever the wind blows
Wherever the party and everywhere where people suffer
But when I fall asleep in the hollow of grass
I find myself alone and I feel another
I have come tonight to the guitar around my neck
Share my songs and dream with you
Shouting in a hoarse voice all my rebellion
And talk about my troubles with an air of casual
I left the locker room a remnant of shame
To better find me in front projectors
Sing and the loves that are a bit yours
Which are mine even if I am another
Sorry, but they haven’t quite figured out how to do machine translations that rhyme.
Anyhows this is just a very long winded way of saying that Ms. Gaudet writes in the program (and in the press fluff that accompanied the show) “…je suis une zone ambiguë et floue, je suis tout et son contraire. Je suis végétal, animal, matière en devenir.” (for the blokes: I am fluid and ambiguous, I am everything and its opposite. I am vegetable, animal, stuff not yet made.) Which if you don’t look too closely is pretty much the same gosh darn thing that M. Moustaki sings (sorry that I wasn’t able to find a copy of the song). I (and by extension the other members of the audience) shouldn’t be having to do research to figure out where a performance is coming from. Heck, maybe even next time, they can figure out some way to incorporate the song into the performance.
Speak of performing, I should at some point get around to talking about it, dontcha think? Judging from the promo videos
And how they are not at all related to anything I remember seeing, my guess would be that this was not an easy show to get to stage, and when it is performed at the OFFTA later this year it’s going to be still different.
For the most part, I will take the harsh, rude, nasty and unkind side and say that I don’t think Ms. Gaudet succeeded in showing how bodies react when freed from feelings, emotions and consequences. Which isn’t to say Je Suis Un Autre was a bad performance, quite the contrary. A full month after the fact and I still get all warm and fuzzy when thinking about it. Ms. Gravel and M. Desjardins were extremely tight (I don’t know what it is but when when I see people jumping up and down at the same time and only hear one thump every time they land I get goosebumps on my arms, the hair on the back of my neck stands up and I scrawl in really big letters on my notepad “OMG! They’re AWESOME!!!!” I think it might have something to do with my inability to jump up and down and make only one thump when I land) and there were a bunch, not quite a plethora, but a significant number of tableaus that I thought were quite nice.
My take on the piece is kind of like when I tried to make crab cakes. For some reason, I forgot to strain the (frozen) crab meat. As a consequence when I went to fry the mixture and it ended up being more like a mash than a cake. Everyone, without exception, told me it was delicious and scrumptious. But to me it wasn’t crab cake, it was fried crab mash. Sometimes in a performance you got good dancers doing bad moves precisely. Other times you might have bad dancers doing great moves badly. Then there are still times when you have great dancers doing great moves precisely. That was the case here. The only fault I would find is in the explanation of the moves. Which was like me trying to pass off my mash as cakes. Trying to pass off the movements as giving some concept of “other” just did not come through in any way, shape or form. Even if it wasn’t Rimbaud’s or Moustaki’s concept of the other.
He also wrote a song called “Je Suis Un Autre.” But his take on being an other, was more pedestrian and simple. In the song he basically outs himself as a liar. While I would not go so far as to call Ms. Gaudet a liar, I do think that she might have worn some blinders while working on the piece that prevented her from seeing it from a distance.
Ms. Gaudet and Fred Gravel, the lighting designer for the show, are members of what I would call a loose collective of choreographers and dancers, 2e Porte à Gauche. From where I sit at their performances, they seem to me to be similar to the cool kids in high school. No matter what they do, everyone thinks it’s amazing and wonderful. Their parties are always the most popular, and your mom always asks you why you can’t be more like them.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a negative or bad review of something done by one of the members of the 2e Porte à Gauche, unless it was one I had written myself. Given the amount of dance that happens here in Montreal, it seems to me that they get an inordinate amount of press (specifically covers on Voir). But then again, I have not done any systematic study, and as I am fond of saying, I have been wrong in the past, and I will be wrong in the future.
So, what’s the upshot of all of this? I dunno. Since Je Suis Un Autre will be performed as part of this year’s OffTA, I’d strongly suggest going to see it. But I also have some sinking suspicion that the performance there is going to be very different from the performance I saw last month. Which means you gotta have faith in M. Desjardins’ and Ms. Gravel’s ability to dance, since if Ms. Gaudet is going to create some kind of new performance each time until she gets it right, and just reuse the name then I’m not really going to have any confidence in what she calls it.
Kind of like Ella’s version of Mack the Knife, where she forgets the lyrics. Yes, the song is a great song, but it is her performance of the song that is absofuckinglutely incredible. And just to hammer home the point; can you name the person who translated the Kurt Weill’s lyrics into English? When you have great performers, just about anything they do is wonderful. It doesn’t matter what the title is, nor the theory behind it.
I’m real tardy on this one. I don’t know quite exactly what happened, but something like a little over a month ago, I saw this very nicely done performance, from of all places, Calgary. I don’t quite know what happened in between then and now, that caused me to postpone writing this for so long (actually, I’m being disingenuous, I know exactly what was up, I’m just not quite prepared at this time to be completely transparent about it, bear with me, if you will) but this morning I received a copy of Canadian Whisky by Davin de Kergommeaux and I made a solemn vow to myself. I would write up all the other reviews that I had been lollygagging about while reading Canadian Whisky by Davin de Kergommeaux in order to have a completely clear conscience.
Hmmmm, I think it might be a good thing that I am a very slow reader. Unfortunately, I’m not a very fast writer. But if you hadn’t figured it out already, “baited breath,” breathless anticipation,” and flat, outright drooling don’t even become close to expressing how much I’ve been anticipating Canadian Whisky by Davin de Kergommeaux.
I also apologize, because I now realize that I might refer to some of the other shows while reviewing the one at hand, and while a month or so might be bad in terms of a performance, my behavior has been completely and utterly unprofessional when it comes to the books (I don’t have exact dates, but I think I might be more than a year behind schedule with regards to things that are bound). But, with some luck (and some understanding PR folk) I’ll be able to get everything back in order in something like two weeks. Bear with me, and I hope that the catching up is entertaining.
A couple of things to point out in advance of me opinionating on things, A) after reading a number of negative reviews of Lucy Lost her Heart by Mark Lawes at Usine C I wondered if anyone had bothered to keep track of the positive versus the negative reviews of shows at Usine C. Usine C is pushing whatever is beyond the edge of the envelope with regards to theatre and dance and performance and that sort of stuff, and while I have not done a systematic study, my guess would be that negative reviews are the norm, and they have become accustomed to it. B) There’s some sort of new hybrid-type of performance that really needs to find a name soon. Because a hybrid performance with some dance, some theatre, some video and some other stuff is not likely to appeal to a dance critic, nor a theatre critic, nor a film critic. C) I wish I would have had the opportunity to ask Mr. Lawes if he knew about Centralia, PA and D) given the current state of affairs here in Canada how can you not just unconditionally love some bilingual hybrid performance art that pushes the envelope and comes from Calgary?
Now that I’ve got that off my chest (especially the part about Centralia, PA – despite reading that Wayne, AB served as the inspiration for the performance, I feel extremely strongly that Centralia, PA echos the concept better) let’s get it on with regards to the actual performance that I saw (or what I can remember about it a month after the fact).
The thing that strikes home hardest, is that in my notes I wrote, “this is pretty cool.” During a performance, when I am writing my notes, I’m never quite certain if I want to be like the Danny Gallivan and try and describe every gosh darn movement that happens on stage, or if I want to be more like Dick Irvin Jr. and just relax and explain why and how things are happening. So when I discover in my notes, that I actually wrote something opinionated, I gotta take a step back and accept it, even if I don’t remember writing it. Because for the most part, I end up writing more play-by-play than color.
Then combine that with the fact that more than a month after having seen the hybrid performance (does anybody else have a better term that can be used? Please!) upon re-reading my notes I can actually remember the performance (and while I wouldn’t quite say the words “Broadway Smash!” I would say “Two Thumbs Up”) leads me to believe that Mr. Lawes and Co. are on the right track.
I guess at this point, it would be as good as any to try and explain the plot: In short; five people are stuck in an abandoned mine and can’t quite find their way out. I’m not quite sure if the plot really is the be-all-and-end-all, From where I was sitting it seemed to me to be more like some sort of vehicle to further Mr. Lawes‘ idea of what should be contemporary performance.
As an example Stephen Turner, playing the part of Pierre; for the most part I have self-identified as a dance critic, and went into Lucy Lost her Heart by Mark Lawes at Usine C as if I was covering a dance, but what are you going to do when one of the performers looks like they have a BMI of 35?
Where I was brought up, dancers were supposed to have BMI’s of 15 or less. And it is exactly this pushing of the boundaries that makes Lucy Lost her Heart by Mark Lawes a success.
I think that for the most part, trying to make sense out of the story ultimately is an exercise in frustration. As far as I could tell, it wasn’t really intended to do more than impart a feeling, a sensation or an emotion depending on where you are in the performance. Letting it flow over or around you kind of like a river is how I ended up dealing with it. Yes, each of the characters has a name and a history, but ultimately it doesn’t really matter. Hence why I identify it more with the history of Centralia, PA instead of Wayne, AB.
I also gotta say that there is a tremendous difference (for the good) when a performance (hybrid, or not) is done with live music. Chris Dadge did a great job as both musician and narrator kind of, not exactly holding things together, but more like making sure that they didn’t stray too far away.
Which is not to say that the other performers, Raphaele Thiriet, Ian Killburn, Isabelle Kirouac and Mike Tan weren’t carrying their weight. Just that they were playing music or painting rocks. In an ensemble piece, like this one, there are certain times when the sum of the individual parts is less than the total of the whole. And that was most definitely the case with Lucy Lost Her Heart.
Color me embarrassed! Last month I went to go see The You Show by Kidd Pivot Frankfurt RM, and it wasn’t until long after I had seen the show that I discovered that instead of it being one dance performance in four acts, that it was in fact four separate dances combined together to make an evening’s program. Oooops. (And it’s obvious that my habit of going into a performance attempting to be a tabula rasa works). Then on top of that, my notes, which get scrawled in the dark, and sometimes are extremely difficult to decipher after the fact, somehow got mixed up and taken out of order. So I wasn’t certain that lines that I had written, such as “repetition of voice / with new moves / switch to her” were referring to something that happened before or after “moving together / all others leave / and we’re back to two.”
But I think I have everything sorted out as best as I can, and can attempt to make some sense out of what I saw (apologies, again for my lack of timeliness, but as per normal, things here have been busy). I find life is so much easier when I don’t really have to force some sort of narrative on something that doesn’t have one. Plus in this case, there are a whack of other reviews and articles to draw from and react to.
In this particular case I find it fascinating that without too much trouble I was able to find over a dozen reviews from a variety of places (at first I was concerned that they were all from North America, but then looking at Kidd Pivot Frankfurt RM’s website it appears that it has only been performed outside of North America in three places. It’s also a little weird that it has been performed 22 different times in eight different cities in the rest of the world versus nine times in two cities here in Quebec. I wonder if there are any other international touring companies that spend 30% of their time here in Quebec? But I digress).
The reviews, as you might expect, were all over the place. Most took advantage of the fact that there were four different pieces to say that three of the four were great and one was not. But there was no consensus on which one sucked. I particularly enjoyed Wendy Perron’s take over at Dance Magazine, where she wrote “I’m skipping the third duet because it didn’t add much…” Imagine skipping the third side of Tommy, because it didn’t add much. Or skipping the lobster omelette in your review of the Pied de Cochon’s sugar shack? If you’re reviewing it, review the whole thing. Not just the good bits.
As for my take? Overall I thought it was quite good. The dancers (Eric Beauchesne, Peter Chu, Ariel Freedman, Sandra Marín Garcia, Yannick Matthon, Anne Plamondon, Ji?í Pokorný, Cindy Salgado and Jermaine Maurice Spivey) were all amazing to varying degrees – great amazing, really good amazing, very good amazing and just plain amazing.
In my notes the only dancer that I singled out happened to be Ms. Plamondon. I wrote “she quite accomplished dancer (sic).” But at the time I didn’t know that in fact she was who she was. Personally I think that her background (or what I know of her background, I’m no walking dance encyclopedia) in both Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and Rubberbandance Group serves her well in dancing to Ms. Pite’s work. Where Rubberbandance does a very obvious and direct combination of hip-hop and classical dance techniques. From what I have seen of Kidd Pivot, their work appears to me to be more variations and modifications on hip-hop while leaning heavily on the rigorousness of both classical dance techniques and training.
The variations and modifications, for the most part work way more often than they don’t. Again, I think when it works, it has more to do with the caliber of the of the dancers in Kidd Pivot and when it doesn’t more to do with the caliber of the choreography. Or in blunter terms and plainer English, Ms. Pite is obviously trying to combine old moves (for the lack of a better term) in new ways while at the same time develop new moves. Because the dancers in her company are so good, most of the choreography shines really well. But occasionally, Ms. Pite stretches too far, tries too hard and no matter how good the dancers are, the moves aren’t as bright. Unlike Ms. Perron, I thought that the parts that didn’t work, were exactly that, small parts within the larger piece, not entire pieces.
If I were to get specific, one of the parts that didn’t work for me was when everybody else turns Ms. Garcia and Mr. Spivey into Transformers in A Picture of You Flying
I must’ve spent over an hour searching through my files trying to find the other time I’ve seen dancers become Transformers, however my searching skills are obviously not up to snuff, because for the life of me, I can’t. But I am completely convinced (unless I made it up) that I’ve seen something similar before. But whether or not I have almost becomes secondary, because beyond being derivative I thought there were other reasons why it didn’t work.
While it was obvious that Ms. Pite wanted something cinematographic, it ended up turning the piece into something more cartoony. During the piece Mr. Spivey recites what I was calling simplistic pop psychology. Things like “It’s about thinking about later, later / And know your own limits / And know what makes us vulnerable.” Or “It has nothing to do with the glory / You do it because you love it.” Which had the effect of making the piece comedic in nature – the audience laughed at some of the jokes in the text. However, I presume that Ms. Pite wanted the subject matter and the dancing to be taken somewhat seriously. In the parts when there weren’t any jokes, it was possible to take the subject seriously. But once they turn into the Transformers it makes it extremely difficult to take the dance very seriously, which then also ends up making the subject matter silly as well. And I am not convinced that that is a good thing. But as I mentioned, it’s a small part of a larger whole, and not a profound fault. More like a scab the day before it’s going to fall off. Something that you’re aware of, and is mildly annoying, but not major.
I guess at this point I should mention The Other You, and Das Glashaus, the other two pieces in the evening’s performance.
I’m not sure why Ms. Pite decided to use the Moonlight Sonata as part of the score to The Other You other than the fact that it is a very pretty piece of music. The dancing is also very pretty. Ms. Pite steals the idea from numerous other dance performances in that she has Mr. Beauchesne and Mr. Pokorny mirror each other and/or control each other like marionettes, but with invisible strings. But in this case, the moves that they do, again modified hip-hop, in my notes I called them “funky chicken” “kung-fu fighting” and “robot,” are pretty good. In performances like that the dancers need to be perfectly synchronized and Mr. Beauchesne and Mr. Pokorny were.
There’s not an awful lot I remember about Das Glashaus, and it also is the piece where my notes got all out of order. There was some crashing sounds (which other people called breaking glass, probably due to knowing the title in advance) there’s some wrestling or aggressive cuddling, and modified yoga according to my notes, but overall it mainly draws a blank. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, just how it happens to be.
I think that trying to combine the four pieces thematically is a little bit of a stretch – especially if you’re viewing them with no prior knowledge. Instead of “The You Show” it just as easily could have been called the “You Two Show,” or “Four Duets.” But that does not take away from the fact that the dancing was pretty gosh darn good. For the most part when I go to see contemporary dance, I’m not expecting a story. I’m hoping to see some spectacular moving. It seems to me that dance has become so technically sophisticated that for the most part trying to combine it with some other art form (like theatre) ends up making a mess. Either because the dancers aren’t as accomplished in the other art form as they are in dance, or that the choreographer isn’t as accomplished or quite frequently both. In this case, while I recognize that there was an attempt to combine things thematically, because I went in not knowing that, it was mighty tough to figure out on the fly. Which does not take away from the dancing or the choreography, in fact to me, makes them even that much better.
Merely a month late… Apologies, better late than never. Back in March, I got to see Sliding by Lise Vachon with Marielle Morales and Acéphales by Catherine Lavoie-Marcus with Kelly Keenan and Magali Stoll by Tangente. Two short pieces that Dena Davida said in her introduction were “idea based dance.”
I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that statement, as I find it hard to wrap my head around the concept of dance that is not based on an idea. As far as I can tell all dance is “idea based.” It’s the differences in the ideas (some obviously being better than others) that make individual dances, unique.
In the program Sliding was also referred to as a being perceived as a “series of postcards.” A postcard being a “condensed idea of the history of a particular moment in time” Ms. Vachon said. Given that nobody sends postcards anymore, I’m not quite sure what to make of that statement either. But it’s a good thing that the performance itself was made up of different types of statements. Statements that didn’t involve words, because I was fairly confident I knew what to make of that.
As the proverbial curtain lifted (because there wasn’t any curtain) there was some sort of screen above a low riser that was center stage but towards the back. At the front of the stage in either corner was an overhead projector (now that I think about it some, maybe Ms. Vachon just likes things that have become obsolete due to newer technology).
Ms. Vachon and Ms. Morales kind of peek their heads out from the bottom of the screen, not in a cute or coy way like Betty Boop. More in an experimental way of testing what’s out there, kind of how a new born (and blind) animal checks out the world. Eventually the rest of their bodies flop on stage and it becomes a proper dance performance.
Both Ms. Vachon and Ms. Morales were wearing what I at first thought were black unitards and black stockings, but as I was able to get a better look at things, I changed my mind and noted that they were wearing black socks but then realized it was in fact just the shadows, and what I had thought was a unitard was shorts and a top. So while Patricia Eggerickx costume design might not have been the most original, Marc Lhommel’s lighting design was particularly intriguing if it caused me to get confused about the costumes.
There’s nothing particularly striking about the movements both dancers did. But at the same time they weren’t banal either. More like they were movements well done, without any flash or glitz. At one point I wrote down that it looked like it was done in a “Concordia University” style. But I quickly wrote down after that “what is Concordia University style?” As if I would be able to identify and then explain how the dancers and choreographers trained at Concordia moved differently than those at say UQAM or elsewhere. That’s just me being pretentious while hte lights are down.
Although if I were to now make a calculated guess, instead of Concordia University I’d venture a guess that in fact Ms. Vachon’s style is closely related to that of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, seeing as how she studied with and worked for Ms. De Keersmaeker. But then again, that’s just me trying to be pretentious again, because I wouldn’t recognize a piece by ms. De Keersmaeker if it smacked me in the head.
Also, while doing research I discovered that Sliding had been originally performed by Lisbeth Gruwez and Lise Vachon and somewhere along the way lost 15 minutes. I don’t know if Ms. Gruwez was taken by Ms. Morales or if Ms. Vachon switched parts. But after having seen Ms Gruwez perform I am intrigued that she did it and wonder how different it would been and what it would have been like. Tant pis.
Also In the program (and elsewhere) it was written that Sliding was inspired by (or from) Edward Hopper. Now I’m no Hopper specialist, but like the rest of you I know what Nighthawks looks like,
And I’m also familiar with some other of his paintings, and the closest I can think of is his Rooms by the Sea and the second use of the overhead projector where there are some lines that transform the scene into a bare room and then a yellow gel is placed on to form the ceiling. But Rooms by the Sea has a yellowish floor. But then again, I haven’t seen all of his paintings, so I might be missing something as obvious as the nose on my face.
However before you get the impression that I spent the entire performance scratching my head and questioning things that didn’t make sense to me and as a consequence didn’t like it. I should start to write some positive stuff as well. At the time I quite liked it (well, actually everything but the music, but you can’t win ’em all). The dancing was quite accomplished and well done, there were a bunch of different place in my notes where I wrote things like “really good,” “double checkmark” and “very nicely done.” It’s just that without the benefit of a script, I can’t tell you where. In certain parts they seemed to be moving like six year-old girls pretending to be models, and in other places I noted that they looked like “post-modern cheerleaders” with their arms out spinning and kicking. Then towards the end there’s a nice bit where their shadows kiss.
Although it sounded to me like it received tepid applause at the performance I attended, I thought it was quite accomplished, despite my difficulties making the same connections as Ms. Vachon would have wanted me to.
As you would expect, I had the same sort of opposing reaction to Acéphales. According to my notes, the applause it got was “much warmer.” I have no idea why. (Actually, I do, the dancers, Kelly Keenan and Magali Stoll, along with the choreographer Catherine Marcus-Lavoie are locals who are probably recent graduates from university, and as a consequence the audience was packed with their friends who would be naturally inclined to clap louder). But it still makes no sense to me.
[Edit January 11, 2013: Apparently I am much older than I thought, or dancing makes you look much younger than you are. I just met with Catherine Marcus-Lavoie, and neither she nor Kelly Keenan, nor Magali Stoll have been anywhere near a university in a long time. And Ms. Marcus-Lavoie also informed me that the show I saw didn’t have an awful lot of her friends in the audience.]
Acéphales somehow translates into “without a head” in English, although it isn’t half as poetic sounding. In retrospect it’s kind of easy to see how that idea made its way through the performance. But the performance – I hesitate to use the term “dance” – could have equally been called “Head,”
or “heady,” or “head’s up.” As most of the moving was based around and on the head. Plastic bubble wrap covering a head.
Or facepainting, but not like what you see during the Jazz Festival but more like what you would expect children to do if they did the facepainting themselves.
[Edit January 11, 2013: Ms. Lavoie-Marcus also asked me to remove a picture that was taken for a different performance and not Acéphales.]
The stage itself looked vaguely like a minimalist Thomas Hirschhorn installation (if that’s actually possible). A lot of bubble wrap and other plastic, some blenders, paint, you get the idea. Ms. Keenan and Ms. Stoll were both dressed in what could be called plastic smocks. Despite the precautions, everyone did get dirty.
[Edit January 11, 2013: Apparently I also need a stronger prescription for my glasses Ms. Lavoie-Marcus informed me in no uncertain terms that they were wearing regular street clothes street-like clothes.]
There was no real rhyme or reason to the action that I could see, but if I was going to get all technical on you, it looked to me like the two women were possibly in opposition. Why? I don’t know, it was never quite stated.
When the promo video for a performance concentrates on a microphone as much or more so than it does on the performers, and when a significant portion of it is deliberately out of focus, you can understand that the actual movement on stage isn’t exactly of the highest priority. And in this case it didn’t strike me that it was.
Whether it was intended as some sort of commentary on the practice of female mud-wrestling, or was intended as some sort of PoMo female mud-wrestling, or was intended just as a means to muck about with paint on stage, I have no clue. But whatever the intention was, it really didn’t come across as anything more than mucking around.
And if you’re going to muck around, it helps to be two years-old, blonde and outdoors instead of an adult in a block box theatre…
[Edit January 11, 2013: As you might guess Ms. Lavoie-Marcus did not like what I wrote about her piece. She has a view that there are certain things that a reviewer should always do. In conversation with her, I got a sense she wants critics try to keep some sense of objectivity, reporting facts of what happened, and then explaining whether these things that happened were done well or not. I’m probably not doing her point of view any justice for any number of reasons. But it was quite obvious that she really doesn’t like my attempts at new journalism reviews. As a consequence I have offered her a carte blanche to respond as she sees fit. As soon as I have it, I will post it.]