Photo by Dave St-Pierre

Essay by Craig Francis Power


I don’t know if a Dude Bro Rock Band with a bunch of male dancers slopping beer everywhere and a singer screaming “I’M A FUCKING MAAAAAAAAN!” is contemporary dance, but I like it. And that’s what Groupe D’Art Gravel Art Group has in store for us come October — a bad-ass, brawny kind of rock opera satire called All Hell is Breaking Loose, Honey, and from what I’ve seen, it sure seems like it is.

What the hell is contemporary dance, anyway? I have no idea, do you?

Back when I was in art school I thought dance was dumb. As a dirtbag conceptual guy I could never get over how precious the whole thing seemed. Hearing people talk about dance was similar to how I imagined somebody’s grandparents would talk about seeing Van Gogh or Monet at the National Gallery with their bus tour group in London. Like: “Oh my, the colours, the brushstrokes, how sublime!”

And that’s what Groupe D’Art Gravel Art Group has in store for us come October — a bad-ass, brawny kind of rock opera satire called All Hell is Breaking Loose, Honey, and from what I’ve seen, it sure seems like it is.

Dance seemed not very serious, yet seemed to take itself extremely seriously. Something people who weren’t political could get themselves hot and bothered over. It seemed inaccessible and elitist. Something people who considered themselves cultured liked to be heard talking about. Wine and cheese types. Oldsters. People who seemed intent on making you feel stupid and small because you didn’t get it. Not my people. Assholes, basically. So maybe in a way they were my people, but whatever.

And anyway, I’m wrong and I’m dumb, of course.

Someone asked me to write this piece for the Festival. I was hesitant. They sent a link to a Groupe D’Art Gravel Art Group performance, and said I was a great fit to write about it. I watched the video.

I don’t know about you, but I like to be surprised, and I like to laugh. These guys were nuts. Ball caps, cowboy boots, shades, and T shirts. A distinct dumb-bro-college-kegger-frosh-week vibe. A “dude, do you even dance?” type deal. Sweat, spit, the singer screaming into the microphone. Toxic masculinity. Bravado like an overfilled balloon—ready to pop. Beer explodes out of a bottle. Flood lights blast. So does the music. Four male dancers flex and fall over. At points they seem in total control of themselves, other times, totally confused. Beer bottles held up in the bright lights, like trophies. It looks funny, grotesque, violent, raw, and sad—parts dance piece, rock show, and performance art—I said I’d be happy to write about it.

These guys were nuts. Ball caps, cowboy boots, shades, and T shirts. A distinct dumb-bro-college-kegger-frosh-week vibe. A “dude, do you even dance?” type deal. Sweat, spit, the singer screaming into the microphone. Toxic masculinity. Bravado like an overfilled balloon—ready to pop. Beer explodes out of a bottle.

What a sad, sad specimen is the straight white man. Me included. All of us. The North American Male. The booze, the impotence, the rage, the comical desire to dominate, the fragile ego. How could you not set it to music and interpretively dance? How could you not laugh and be repulsed at the same time? And how could a skeptic like me not like to see that deconstructed — totally taken apart — while having a good time, to boot?


All Hell is Breaking Loose, Honey /
Tout se pète la gueule, chérie
Frédérick Gravel
Saturday, October 7
LSPU Hall, 8pm

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Photo by Juan Saez