With just one day left, you better get your booty to the Bouge d’Ici. This annual dance festival celebrates up and coming choreographers by pairing them with seasoned mentors. The finished works showcase at the festival. Well aware that dance is a slightly foreign art form to many, the festival organizers go out of their way to make dance accessible to those who are curious about the art, but not sure what they’re getting into by attending a show. It’s a perfect opportunity to see what’s new and hot in Montreal’s independent dance scene.
The Common Space/L’Espace Commun is the flagship of Bouge d’Ici. 1o juried pieces created by 12 choreographers (two in collaboration) feature a range of contemporary dance that goes from artistic abstract to comedic. Each was short, lasting ten minutes maximum and between each one, houselights came up so the audience could read the playbill as to what they either just saw or what was coming.
Things opened with Oyat (choreographed and danced by Josiane Goneau and Pascale Talbot under mentor Andrew Tay). Initially, there were two “white” figures in a dark space, and as the lights came up, what materialized were two women standing in beige colored undergarments, their arms and hands held out as the sound of water dripped. Each would drop into a backbend and then return to the original position. The piece had a stark eroticism to it, and called to mind how fragile thing bear up under stress. In complete contrast, Mannerisms (choreographed by Naomi Adam-Johnston mentored under Holly Greco) was a strong and acrobatic piece where five dancers moved in groups. The constant flow of movement made this a very visually engaging short.
Choreographers and performers Guillaume Losiler Pinard and Luciana Lua (mentored by Lael Stellick) brought the comedic Sit down to life. Taking the form of two alien creatures in 80’s aerobics clothing, they sniffed, jerked, and slid their way around a wooden chair. It was a dance of discovery, finding ways to move that were almost feline or jerkily unfamiliar with the environment. The chair became a third partner in the dance, not only as they sat upon it, but lifted it up between their bodies. The L’allégoire du poisson volant (choreographed by Chaterine Laframboise Desjardins mentored by Stéphanie Bernard) was another highly physically acrobatic piece in which two dancers came together and apart. Initially there was the sense of carrying a dead weight as one dancer hauled the other on her back. What came to my mind were allegories of the responsibility that goes with caring for a person that one wishes to release. When at last they separate to oceanic, electronic waves of fuzz, their movements were helical and languid, and the one once carried was now free to evolve at last. Inequality played a role throughout. This was followed by a Solid Structure, a piece done on a pole by Bailey Eng, mentored by Maria Simone. Part circus, part gymnastics, it had an urban aesthetic and was as beautiful as it was awesome. The liquidity of her spine was always matched to strength.
The second act was as great as the first, with slightly longer pieces. Dans la Lune (choregraphed by Brittney Canda Gering under Dorian Nuskind-Oder) was a four woman fantasy. With televisions on stage showing trains and a recording of the metro, the four started as if riding the metro and then breaking into a joyous, free dance that would erase any and all monotony of life. There was childlike wonder in this one, as the dancers girlishly kicked their feet in the air and leapt over the televisions as if occupying a basement for a slumber party. Movement in Serra: 2nd Movement choreographed by Lorraine Albert (mentor Helen Simard) used a recording of English-French verbs that a seven dancers then expressed through their movements. The dancers took clothing on and off, and would at times repeat each other or find completely new movements. Each movement felt as if a lever had been pulled to make a change.
Sorry I Can’t Talk Right Now/Le Black Hole choreographed by Virgine Desroches (mentor David Albert-Toth) certainly conveyed a sense of erotic tension. Two women stared at a lightbulb on a stand and then danced in such a way that suggested a relationship that had become problematic. The light itself put portions of this piece into shadow, which made it illusionistic in its appearance, but also served as an allegory for all the things that are not communicated. Maxine Segalowitz (mentor Lara Kramer) then came to the stage and took a downward facing dog over a pair of ridiculously high heeled shoes. With her hoodie pulled up over her head, she shielded her gender in part from the audience, leaving plenty of space for interpreting her relationship to those shoes. She eventually put them on her feet and started to exclaim “Wow!” and “Oh my God!” This wild and creative piece spanned the chasm between charismatic performance art and dance. The large group that performed Je Fuis, j’oublie, je reste choreographed by Chloe Bourdages-Roy (mentor Sasha Kleinplatz) was a darker piece. Women wearing matching outfits moved in a synchronized way to suggest both loneliness and entrapment. Their stark, scared faces as well as the way the groups formed, often leaving one behind, called to mind the coldness and inhumanity of institutions. Yet even in this alienating space, the dancers would show tenderness to the one who stood apart.
One of the great things about dance is that each person reads into the performance differently, but each dance is successful in generation emotions, sensations, or ideas. While the ten shorts of common space are varied — some straddle performance art as much as dance — they certainly show the depth of skill and creativity in Montreal’s up and coming crop of choreographers. Their ability to communicate using the body, whether their own or someone else’s, is a pleasure to watch and experience.
Bouge d’ici’s Common Space shows one more time on January 16 at 4 p.m. at the Mainline Theatre. $15/12. It is followed by the Cabaret Bouge d’ici at 8 p.m. $12/10. Tickets can be purchased HERE for both events.