Saturday, September 11, 2010

Le Show Off: A Reflection after the fact

First, let me just admit that I am not a dance expert by any means. However, I do appreciate it immensely. Dance is a consummate art expressing in movement what I never could in words.

I've just returned from seeing Le Show Off, a showcase of 3 solo male performances/works-in-progress. An initiative by Pierre-Marc Ouellette, joined by Manuel Roque and Dany Desjardins, the short "show off" featured three lauded and noted dancers charming the audience in excerpt. My mind is simmering with thoughts and imaginations and excitements...

Manuel Roque kicked things off with a breathtaking level of introspective dancing in Raw-me. He began fluidly, almost imperceptibly at first, moving quite masterfully, almost mimicking one of those contraptions inflated with air, a personnage constantly flopping and inflating, twisting side to side, sporadic, unpredictable. Manu then stuffed a large sheet of plastic in his mouth (unlearning that whole prohibition of plastic inhaling from childhood) - at first I recoiled in horror (childhood prohibitions still strong, perhaps?) but then as he moved forward, it was a choreography of the emerging, the plastic blossomed out. Roque's most chilling sequence began motionless and tremors moved from his legs up his body. Skillfully controlled, this male dancer captured my imagination. It was a divine shaking. When his limbs came into play however, the parellels with disability, parkinson's and other such physically uncontrolled states struck with greater gravity. Heart-stopping almost. As the lights went down, Manu was windmilling his arms, his limbs a blurred circle in the light.

The moment he puffed out his chest, Dany Desjardins brandished his humour and captivated the audience in On Air. Centered around a radio, waves and frequencies, this solo revealed its sharp maturity and development. A series of yogic movements - a pendulum of a downward dog repeating around the radio - were executed with finesse, obsession, an exploration of movement. Dany next entered smoking, walking with confidence, gesturing with humour, possessing an almost slapstick, comic punch, his actions were sharp (he used his hand as an ashtray, his mouth to put out his cigarette). Desjardins played with the radio warbles and high pitched adjustments, humping his radio with comic sonic responses. When the music finally kicked in, Dany displayed a virtuosity of full-body musicality. All in all, a fine exploration in movement. I could watch Dany all night (as I could Manu as well).

Pierre-Marc Ouellette concluded the night with a much more story-based exploration in Le Show Off. The movement was much more loose, much more ambiguous, to the point where it was almost clumsy. The overly theatrical music and inarticulated motivation of the piece garnered some giggles from the audience, although I feel the piece was trying to be more grave. I appreciated Ouellette's integration of spoken text into his piece, it added a nice dimension. It is undeniably that Pierre-Marc is effortlessly charming, bringing his glance to the audience immediately warmed up the crowd. At times, his long wispy bangs seemed to get in the way, or, as I would like to believe was an intentional part of the movement. Hair masked his eyes an added an interesting dimension to the solo introspection of the piece. More haireography! Conducting to a semi-circle of chairs, Ouellette flowed most when the music picked up again and his arms and body surrendered to a series of conductorly swoops.

All in all, a tantilizing evening of works-in-progress. Snippets to charm and to whet the appetite...

Dany Desjardins officially premieres the full work of On Air (developed in Berlin) September 12 at 4:30 at Maison de la culture Maisonneuve (4200, rue Ontario Est), September 14, 16 at 8:00pm at Maison de la Culture Cote-des-Neiges (5290, chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges) and September 22 at 8:00pm at Maison de la Culture Notre-Dame-de-Grace (3755, rue Botrel).

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