The apparently oxymoronic title of Solitudes Duo describes accurately the opening performance at the 2017 Festival of New Dance.

Produced and choreographed by Daniel Léveillé, Solitudes Duo was chock full of seemingly contradictory facets.

The piece, a series of pensées, is divided into six duos consisting of two men, two women, or one man and one woman. It took place on a simple but blazingly bright white stage. Lighting, too, was unpretentious but effective. Costuming was very plain – shorts, tee shirts – and in some instances barely existed. I think, though, this sparseness – the staging, lighting and costumery – invoked the elemental rather than the banal. It emphasized the three dimensionality of the work, the dancers, and the audience, too. Why do we wear clothes, really? Okay, it gets cold, but …

Why do we wear clothes, really? Okay, it gets cold, but …

The sections, as you would expect from the title of the piece, concentrated on the sometimes oppositional relationships that develop between two people – love, hate, displeasure, support, tenderness, passion, humour, sensuality, sexuality, romance, togetherness, apartness. It characterized what couples need and what they get.

We understand this because the principals – Mathieu Campbea, Ellen Furey, Esther Gaudette, Justin Gionet, Emmanuel Proulx and Simon Renaud – translate Léveillé’s disarmingly simple language with great effect. The pairs usher us into their world easily; they work in forms that are familiar to us. Their simplicity and grace we identify at times as martial arts, or architecture, or gymnastics, or geometry, or calisthenics, or synchronized swimming. Part triathlon, part Busby Berkeley, part moiré pattern.

The aspect I didn’t quite get was the music, or at least the choices made.

Part triathlon, part Busby Berkeley, part moiré pattern.

Baroque piano and harpsichord works supported four of the sections, but one was scored with the Doors’ noirish drama “The End” and another with the Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” The jump from Bach and Royer to the pop music of the `60’s and then back … well, probably another of the contradictions!

I found Solitudes Duo endlessly fascinating. There wasn’t a moment when my attention flagged.