Dear Dana Michel, This is just to say that I have no idea how to review your work, Yellow Towel, that I saw last night as part of the FTA — a dilemma as I am a dance critic and one who, as you will appreciate, must produce something and in a timely fashion.
Last night, South-African choreographer Robin Orlin and the Moving into Dance Mophatong company presented Beauty remained for just a moment then returned gently to her starting position… Despite Orlin’s international reputation as a creator of powerful and provocative works, Beauty failed to pack a serious punch, giving a disappointing start to the FTA festival for dance.
Jonathan Burrows and Matteo Fargion were in Montreal this past weekend for a blink-and-you’ll miss-it run of Cheap Lecture and The Cow Piece, followed by Counting to One Hundred and One Flute Note. Packaged by Usine C as Quatre Créations in two nights, the individual works seemed shakily whole – a feeling reinforced at the close of each by Burrows and Fargion’s look of bemused surprise that they had, once more, pulled it off.
With only a few performances left in its run, Michele Anne de Mey and Jaco van Dormael’s spectacular Kiss and Cry at Usine C is not to be missed. De Mey has worked frequently with fellow Belgian choreographer and dancer Anne Teresa de Keesmaeker, who performed in Montreal last spring during the FTA festival. Here, the full range of de Mey’s fluency, elegance and wit is concentrated in her hands, and in the hands of fellow performer Gregory Grosjean, the four acting out the work’s five love stories on a set of Playmobil dollhouses and toy train sets.
Mary St-Amand Williamson and Zohar Melinek performed Collective Individual on Friday night, a careful, discreet new work that explores the physicality of revolution. Presented in conjunction with Le Printemps du MAI, Collective Individual is part of a two-week program focused on politically engaged art.
For a brief three-day run, Maria Pagés and company perform Autorretrato, a self-portrait of its star Flamenco dancer. On Thursday night, the theatre of the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier was packed, with many in the crowd shouting out words of encouragement and praise as dancers executed steps with dynamic finesse. These excited audience members helped bridge the gap between the imposing stage and the seats below, bringing an unscripted intimacy to the work that furthered its personal theme.
Veteran dancer and choreographer Margie Gillis returned to the stage Tuesday night with The Light Between, a collaboration with fellow dancers Marc Daigle and Paola Styron, choreographer Holly Bright, and painter and sculptor Randal Newman. Gillis, combining lightness of step with a thrashing upper torso, again showed herself to be a dancer of great sensibility. Her signature Rapunzel-esque hair, gathered in a long, swinging braid, moved, at times, like an extra appendage.
“It’s over!” Jacques Poulin-Denis yells at the small press group scattered about Usine C’s large auditorium Tuesday night. “Au Revoir! Auf Wiedersehen! Good Bye!” Nobody moves. “What? What, you wanna dance? Get the fuck out of here!” Silence.
Danz & TooT opened Thursday night at Theatre Maisonneuve with a program of five short teasers compiled from longer works by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, followed by the single and complete TooT by Dutch choreographer Didy Veldman. The works were originally created for Les Grands Ballets and performed back in 2008 and 2005, respectively.
Invited to a dress rehearsal of Didy Veldman’s TooT at the Les Grands Ballets studio, it took me two tries before I finally located the building – a nondescript, concrete block just south of Saint Joseph. Having pictured something closer to the Alvin Ailey Extension in New York or the famous Paris Opera garret, I instead found myself in a time warp, the exposed concrete ceilings and fluorescent lights recalling a particular South Yorkshire gym, circa 1996. ‘Is this Hell?” I was tempted to ask the security guard that awaited me. “Fourth floor,” she said, crossing my name off her list. “They’re waiting for you.”
For choreographer Sharon Eyal, walking is the new dancing. Corps de Walk, performed here by the Norwegian National Company of Contemporary Dance, Carte Blanche, redefines the mundane act with sharp, rigid lunges and robotic arms. Dancers wear flesh coloured body stockings and ice-blue contact lenses, marching in unison like an army of goose stepping zombies.
In a work of eight successive solos, José Navas explores the effects of time, memory, and dance upon his body: through each, the vulnerability of the soloist is revealed and heightened. As the title suggests, we the audience move through a series of Navas vignettes: detailed studies from which we can but guess their subjects and significance. Beauty rests in the shared intimacy of the space, and in the concentration of the dancer’s efforts.
There is an anarchic animalism to Harold Rhéume’s Fluide. Clothed in punk garb, Le Fils d’Adrien Danse exude the dexterous pack mentality of wolves and the languid cool of a vampire cult. When its seven members move in wave-like formations they are a smooth unit, almost pourable. Yet placid combinations break apart when one dancer resists, the group disbanding and reforming, willing the dissenter back into line by cutting off paths of motion.
Trois Paysages, as choreographer Karine Ledoyen notes, is not meant to pack a punch. Instead it should flow naturally, like a river; its dancers blown about like leaves in the wind. Poetics were absent Wednesday night at Agora, however, and the work felt disjointed and stagnant.
Persephone Productions’ staging of Paul Van Dyke’s Oroonoko arrives in timely fashion for Black History month. Adapted from Aphra Behn’s 17th century novel of the same title, Oroonoko has the feel of a homily, with the dialogue somewhat staid and the story predictable. Yet the performances are sincere and affecting, at best injecting a fresh and palpable energy into these old lines.