Amour Acide et Noix by Daniel Léveillé was back in Montreal with its naked dance, quite literally. The performance titled Amour, Acide et Noix was presented at an intimate (sold out) setting of La Chapelle this week. Léveillé is a name synonymous with this unique contemporary dance form and with this new piece he continued his tradition of over two decades.
The striking part of watching naked people dance in front of you is the first gradual and then sudden normativity of this changed reality. We are so used to watching people in clothing all the time, that for a minute it seems shocking, with multiple queries in my head of the performers’ comfort, their training to be unaffected by this and a stoic (expressionless) sort of engagement with the audience. But a few minutes in and then the normative changes, and I got used to it.
With four performers (Mathieu Campeau, Esther Gaudette, Justin Gionet, Emmanuel Proulx), a slight gender imbalance of three males and one female, we are brought into the world of Léveillé, where the body is engaged in self-expression in all its forms. The initial act by Esther Gaudette was solitary and brought out the passion that can be brought by love and betrayal, both alike. Gaudette soared in her performance and was breathing passion through every move. She remained my favorite throughout the evening.
Then we were introduced to the stoic male performers. I call them stoic, because of this continuous expression they wore. There was zeal but also a sense of stability in the performance. In my discussions with Léveillé, he spoke of how the skin is the true costume we have and wear. This idea that we need clothes to ‘cover up’ takes away from the full expression of the human body. This was surely at display here. With Vivaldi’s Four Seasons helping the art form navigate an empty space only filled by performers, I was intrigued, partly impressed, but mostly questioning. I wondered how the barrier of clothing moved from an essential to brave the perils of nature, and turned everything else but that.
The most touching moment of all performers was when they lay down on the ground and recoiled, in silence, in fear and even shame perhaps. Their vulnerability was complete.
Danielle Léveillé’s shows are playing at La Chapelle (3700 St. Dominique). The times for the shows are: Amour, acide et noix: Monday Dec 12, 7PM and Tuesday Dec 13, 8 p.m. La pudeur des icebergs: Thursday Dec 15, 8 p.m. and Friday Dec 16, 8 p.m., and December 17 at 4 p.m. For tickets, click HERE.