Celebrated choreographer Daniel Léveillé is back in Montreal with his shows Amour, acide et noix and La pudeur des icebergs and Karan from Montreal Rampage spoke to him:
Karan Sinj (KS):Dance is seen to be a universal language. How does your work align to or is different from this idea?
Daniel Léveillé (DL): Dance is indeed a universal language but can be perceived differently by people with a different cultural background. In Berlin, in Tel Aviv, in Barcelona, in Djakarta, in Toronto, in Paris or in New York, where theses pieces has been presented among many other cities way over two hundred times, the reception has been slightly different.
KS: You use the human body/form in a unique way to speak to your audience. What is it about the naked human body that inspires this work and what is it that you are attempting to communicate?
DS: I am still fascinated by the beauty, the extreme complexity and the fragility of a human body. Nakedness, to the contrary of what many people would think, erases the eroticism or the sexuality from the dancers or at least, makes people think that their sexuality is nothing more than one component of their entire being among many others. We are much more than that and that is what I want the audience to realize.
KS: Both La pudeur and Amour dabble in the self and life through some sort of an esoteric prism. What have been your personal explorations through the creation of these works?
DL: Numbers. Choreography is about numbers, like in music. Amour is about the number four and so one and two, while La pudeur is about the number three. Throughout these very precise and given frames, the humanity of these protagonists bloom: life, emotions, relations, confrontations, love etc.
KS: Marking 25 years of your company and over 40 years of practice, does the dance form still inspire you and if so why?
DL: Not sure any more. I bet it’s the price to pay for having battled with creation for so many years. But certainly, when these two pieces were created, Amour in 2001 and La pudeur in 2004, inspiration was fully there. It’s extremely rare in contemporary dance for pieces to survive and continue to be presented for this long.
KS: In the description of Amour you ask the question: “Is skin not the one true body costume?” How does one respond to this when living in a world where stereotypes surrounding bodies and body image rule and pretty much dictate how people are perceived?
DL: These two pieces danced in Mother Nature’s costume are all but stereotypes, prettiness, images and these sorts of things. They pretend to access, by the use of a real, full transparency from the dancers, to a certain kind of truth. Skin is indeed a fantastic costume for dance or movements, matchless.
KS: To someone who is new to your work and this particular art-form, what would you ask them to come bearing in mind before they engage with your work?
DL: Easy! Come with no expectations and see what will happen when exposed to it. Do not try to understand. There is no storytelling, nothing to understand. It’s about a feeling, like if you go to see a monumental colourful Jean-Paul Riopelle from the ’50s in a museum. Look at it and enjoy. Whatever you feel, see, or understand will be right. There is no one way to expose yourself to a work or art, but zillions.
KS: Can you summarize your artistic identify in less than ten words, what best defines you and your work?
DL: I’m haunted and so nothing but a maniac about the space and I’m still fascinated by the infinite possibilities of expression that a simple single human body can possess.
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. For tickets, click HERE.