Photo: André Cornellier
“An intoxicating marriage of performance brilliance, ritual and feverish” — Dance Current, Toronto
Louise Lecavalier and partner Frédéric Tavernini risk all in the high-voltage atmosphere of this radical, raw, and haunting work set to the visceral music of Mercan Dede. Quick as thought, the body dictates its laws and transgresses its limits. “I wanted to allow the body to say everything it wants to say or can surprise itself by revealing, without censoring it, so that out of this profusion of spontaneous movements, something true and beyond our control emerges, something that exposes some of the states of confusion, excesses, and contradictions we’re made of — both the darkness that inhabits us and the unbearable lightness of being and of the soul.” (Louise Lecavalier)
Speed, slowness, abstraction, theatricality: all are valid means to express, represent, and incarnate — in a simple, complex, strange, and sometimes even spectacular manner — the noble, thoroughbred body, the animal body, the excessive body, the changing body, always mysterious, the perpetually-searching body, alive, untamed and nervous with and without constraints, the body that takes risks and even invents them as if constantly goaded to surpass itself, the body, object of play and of challenge, first alone, then paired, a known and unknown object of representation, the body, in trance and transcended, blue atomic, mutating into the body of breath, energy, and light, the body we no longer need to decode. Ultimately, it traces its own path, struggles, gives up, bounces back, and fades into space.
Here, the body becomes a “living art”, between sculpture, performance, and dance. Dance states succeed one another, producing waves that ripple through arms, legs, feet, neck, head, and face, occasionally in rhythmic, syncopated sections: vivid, obsessive sequences that also contrast with slower, more fluid ones, rigidly controlled to the point of abandonment. Almost all the movements are inspired by simple everyday gestures that become extreme when they are repetitive, decomposed, or cumulative.
Louise Lecavalier took the risk of plunging alone into the adventure of choreographic creation, assisted by France Bruyère, her rehearsal mistress and artistic collaborator. A large part of the intensely rhythmical soundtrack consists of pieces by Mercan Dede (alias Arkin Allen); this Montreal composer of Turkish origin is an essential, atypical world-music artist who fuses Ottoman tradition and Western modernity. The lighting is designed by Alain Lortie, who also collaborated with Louise Lecavalier in Children and A Few Minutes of Lock. Costumes are by stylist and creator Yso, now a Montrealer by adoption. The stage design, minimal and sober, gives the dance both a more intimate and a more open framework by delineating the performance space with bands of light-coloured dance floor set upon black.
Born in Montreal, Louise Lecavalier has been a professional dancer since 1977. She joined La La La Human Steps in 1981 in Oranges and went on to perform in all of the company’s productions until 1999. In 1985, she became the first Canadian to win a Bessie Award in New York for her performance in Businessman in the Process of Becoming an Angel (1983). She starred in Human Sex (1985), New Demons (1987), Infante (1991), and finally, in 2 (1995) and Salt (1998), works in which she attained remarkable maturity as a performer. As the company’s icon and luminary for nearly two decades, Louise gave her heart and soul to her art, embodying dance on the outer edge with passion and unrestrained generosity, dazzling audiences everywhere. She also participated in all the major collaborations of La La La Human Steps, including the David Bowie Sound and Vision tour in 1990; The Yellow Shark concert by Frank Zappa and the Ensemble Modern of Germany in autumn, 1992; and Michael Apted’s film, Inspirations, in 1996.
In May 1999, Louise Lecavalier received the Jean A. Chalmers National Award—the first time this award was given to a performer. In February, 2003, Louise received a career grant from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec. In December 2008, she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in recognition of her illustrious contribution to contemporary dance. In June, 2011, she was named “Dance Personality of the Year 2010-2011” by the Syndicat professionnel français de la critique (French Critics’ Union), in Paris. In November 2011, she became the very first winner of the Prix de la danse de Montréal, an initiative of choreographer Marie Chouinard. In September, 2013, she won the prestigious 2013 Leonide Massine dance prize in the category of “Most Outstanding Female Dancer of the Year on the Contemporary Scene” in Positano, Italy. Finally, in March, 2014, Louise Lecavalier and her company, Fou glorieux, won two very prestigious awards, almost back to back. The company received the 29th Grand Prix du Conseil des arts de Montréal, and the dancer was among the winners of the illustrious 2014 Governor General Performing Arts Award (GGPAA) for lifetime artistic achievement, Canada’s highest distinction in the performing arts. In March 2015, the dancer was named a Companion of the Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec, among 35 personalities honoured for their contribution to the resonance of Quebec’s culture.
In 2003, Louise Lecavalier worked with choreographer Tedd Robinson, who created the duet Lula and the Sailor for Louise and himself, followed by Cobalt rouge, a quartet for three male dancers and Louise. Cobalt rouge premiered at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and was performed at the Montreal HighLights Festival in February 2005, at the Venice Biennale, and in Brazil. In 2006, choreographers Benoît Lachambre and Crystal Pite each created a solo for Louise. The two solos “I” Is Memory and Lone Epic, together with the duet Lula and the Sailor created by Tedd Robinson, made up a full program that was presented 80 times from 2006 to 2009 in North America, Europe, and Japan. The above works were produced under the banner of Louise’s company, Fou glorieux, a flexible working structure that she established in 2006.
The duet Is You Me, a collaboration between Louise Lecavalier and Benoît Lachambre produced by the company Par b.l.eux, was created in spring 2008 at Festival Transamériques in Montreal and performed 54 times in international tours until the summer of 2011. The double bill made up of Children, a duet conceived by Nigel Charnock and A Few Minutes of Lock, three updated duets by Édouard Lock, was presented 92 times from 2009 until the end of 2013 in North America, Europe, and Australia. In parallel to these performances, Louise Lecavalier created a new work, So Blue, which she choreographed and staged. The first part of this piece was performed in preview at Festival Sommerszene in Salzburg in July, 2012. The world premiere took place on December 7, 2012, at tanzhaus nrw in Dusseldorf, and the North-American premiere on June 7, 2013, at Festival TransAmériques in Montreal.
Frédéric Tavernini obtained a state diploma in classical and contemporary dance at l’École de danse de l’Opéra de Paris. He worked with the Ballet National de Nancy et de Lorraine before dancing as a soloist for Béjart Ballet Lausanne, the Ballet de l’Opéra de Lyon, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, and the Ballet national de Marseille. An independent dancer since 2005, he has collaborated with Juha Pekka-Marsalo, Louise Lecavalier (Cobalt rouge), Danièle Desnoyers, Lynda Gaudreau, Virginie Brunelle, Dave St-Pierre, and Frédérick Gravel.
As a choreographer, Frédéric has created: Li fet met (2003) and Le projet de la chambre humaine (2005) for the Jeune Ballet du Québec; Slonec Street (2004) for Les Ballets de la Parenthèse; Green (2004) for the June Events festival under the direction of Carolyn Carlson; Ju-ON (2005) for l’École supérieure de ballet de Montréal; and in collaboration with composer and musician Jean-François Laporte, Wedged in the Red Room (2009), an installation/performance work presented at l’Espace Totem in Montreal and at OFFTA 2010. A previous work, Le tératome, was presented at the Monument National in Montreal as part of Tangente – Laboratory for contemporary movements. His new production, Wolf Songs for Lambs, premiered at the Théâtre La Chapelle in Montreal in April 2015.
Conceived and choreographed by: Louise Lecavalier
Created and performed by: Louise Lecavalier, Frédéric Tavernini
Assistant Choreographer and Rehearsal Director: France Bruyère
Lighting Design: Alain Lortie
Music: Mercan Dede
Additional Music: Normand-Pierre Bilodeau, Daft Punk, Meiko Kaji
Remixing Producer: Normand-Pierre Bilodeau
Costume Design: Yso
Length: 60 minutes