When Dance Met POP

Jackie Gallant and Karen Fennel. The Trouble with Reality. Photo A. Potvin. Jackie Gallant and Karen Fennel. The Trouble with Reality. Photo A. Potvin.

POP Montreal is a sprawling beast that has gone far beyond the Montreal music scene showcase that it once started out as. One of the more purple babies that it hatched has been the contemporary dance component that we are treated to this year. Working in collaboration with Tangente, I had the pleasure of hitting up the dress rehearsal for the double bill of rock-themed dance shows that you can attend this weekend as part of the festival. And yes, that means that you can use your pass… I recommend that you try to seriously see these, this is a fun double bill and very different.

The Trouble With Reality

Karen Fennell and Jackie Gallant’s creation is at its core, really funny, and manages to walk the fine line between art wank and something dark that quite frankly, all creators have to explore at some point in their creative careers, which is the authenticity of why they create. What I understood is that these women are exploring the issues that come with performance at its core, that we are different people onstage and off, that the creation of stage persona is both profoundly honest and dishonest, that there is a lot of ego gratification as well as uncontrollable drive to create, and the percentage and balance of the two is what makes an artist authentic. Those are really long sentences, and I am proud that they kind of make sense.

It sounds quite heavy when you put it that way, but as previously mentioned, the performers do no take themselves seriously as they pursue the themes. As the rock stars debrief, clean up after themselves, and have a chat about whatever, you are left with that sense that the glamour is all performance and the reality is much more mundane. The question period clichéfest that follows really gets into how vapid artist interviews can be, and deconstructs the expectation of what artists are expected to respond to by a consumer public and how they are supposed to sound… It’s a really interesting piece and I rather enjoyed it.

Jackie Gallant and Karen Fennel. The Trouble with Reality. Photo A. Potvin.

Jackie Gallant and Karen Fennel. The Trouble with Reality. Photo A. Potvin.


Oh Helen Simard. You are a crazy lady. This piece, based on the look, feel and movement of the forever iconic Iggy Pop, is pure sex, drugs and punk. The dancers are hot, act like epic hot messes and they proceed to hotdog all over the stage in a sheer sex frenzy that leaves you panting and confused. There is sound, there are lights, there is excess in every degree and even a rather memorable onesie. Now if that doesn’t sell it, you are dead inside.

Sébastien Provenché is extraordinarily sensual in his almost nude solo off the top of the show, and he has Iggy down pat, with his swivel hips and erotic backbends. Stéphanie Fromentin is so graceful in the midst of the madness that you start to wonder where she ever got the energy. Emmalie Ruest is about to go off the rails at any moment and she’s the one that makes you a bit nervous. The band is hot, and they come in and play with the dancers throughout.

This is a show that throws you back to when rock was a dangerous thing, something that warranted the pearl-clutching of the powers that be. It reminds you that there is something primal in pushing it all to the limit and that that energy is timeless. I pity the fool who grew up on Ariana Grande, in a world where this was the standard, and it is good to be reminded of a world with NO FUN. Don’t let your world get watered down, the passion inside is too damn great. Everyone needs to take a sip at this well once in a while.

The Trouble with Reality + No Fun is being showed at Monument National (1182 St-Laurent) from September 17-19 at 19h30, September 20 at 16h00. Tickets are 23$ or 19$ for students…and there is a 3$ discount on a second ticket! Bring a friend! POP Montreal continues until September 20.