Playful Conceptualities:
Another Winning Concept

Three highly inventive choreographies combined in one great show at Tangente

By Luc Archambault

On March 17, not just one, but three different choreographies took front stage at l’Espace Danse in the Wilder building, home of Tangente, Montreal’s top billing for contemporary dance. All three were chosen for this particular show because of their approach towards playfulness and satire, combining interplay and performance art into their work – three completely different approaches, three strong performances, three delights for the eyes.

On Fridays a discussion always follows the performances, and Dena Davida, commissioner at Tangente, explained that the high number of artists invited to perform is due to the delay in Tangente’s programming due to the ongoing renovation of the Wilder Building, which is still not completed, although it is now functional. So from now on, at least for this season, the different shows will count at least a double, if not a triple bill.

…three completely different approaches, three strong performances, three delights for the eyes.

The first dancers to step onstage were Esther Rousseau-Morin and Nathan Yaffe, in the choreography entitled Facing away from what which is coming, by Andréa De Keijzer and Erin Robinson, with help at the dramaturgy level from Hanna Sybille Müller. The two protagonists – one could even call them opponents or combatants – are standing one behind the other. The stage is empty, except for a few objects in the back.

As the choreography begins, they each take charge of the other’s body, as one would play with a giant doll, and are each at the other’s mercy. They both dance with abandonment and complicity with their partner, using objects lying on stage to transform, limit and mock the integrity of their humaneness, or of stereotypes that we all accept as common ground. The two dance in unison and a deep current seems to pass between them.

playful conceptualities WestmountMag.ca

‘This trio really wanted to bring the house down, with a choreography as eclectic as it was original.’

playful conceptualities WestmountMag.caThe second group onstage includes Claudia Chan Tak and Louis-Elyan Martin, both dancers and choreographers, and Sébastien Provencher. They performed the piece called Tangente conceptuelle : neo-contemporary duet, pour requiem intellectuel. This trio really wanted to bring the house down, with a choreography as eclectic as it was original.

Playing with erotic abandonment, they exploded onstage with a fury hard to contain. Helped by a superb soundtrack, they explored a side of the “too much-too many”, as explained in the program: “Too many movements, too much technique, too many lines, too much emotions, too many hashtags, to much poetry…” The defining moments for this choreography is the opening up of the lateral wall of the stage, the transgender moves of Louis-Elyan Martin in high heels, and the yelling finale by a Claudia Chan Tak, metamorphosed into a harpy or a valkyrie, on a high-pitched tone, crying out concepts written on cards – highly imaginative, praiseworthy for the limitlessness of the ride.

playful conceptualities human synthesizer WestmountMag.ca

The third and final act of the soirée was Human Synthesizer, with and by Katie Ward, dancer and choreographer, Michael Feuerstack at the helm of the music, both conceptualizing and performing, and Paul Chambers for the lighting and onstage object handler. Here, a discreet memory play was at hand. Objects from the prior performances were onstage: a shoe, fruits, a scaffold, all handled by Paul Chambers, whereas Michael Feuerstack played with the speakers orientation.

‘…this choreography holds the most potential of the three; it opens up doors to new heights…’

playful conceptualities human synthesizer WestmountMag.caThe music created an ambient atmospheric environment while the lighting changed constantly. The choreography itself reminded me of whirling dervishes. A slow beat at first, circular, as the audience was transformed into an onstage circle, delimiting the performance area. Here again, highly experimental stuff, but the concept wasn’t fully carried out.

I would’ve liked to see a continual circling of the audience by Katie Ward, with a self-rotation, like the Earth rotating the sun, and rotating on itself, to bring her and the audience to a fever and a trance-like openness, with an even more rhythmic, tribal, primal music. As for the lighting, why not go to full-range up to the UV band, and wear clothes, or even a robe, like a true whirling dervish, specially designed to take advantage of this new reality?

But these are just my musings and, as a whole, this choreography holds the most potential of the three; it opens up doors to new heights, and is thus a work in progress… but what depth, what ingenuity, what conceptual research!

If this show is to be the forbearer of Tangente’s future presentations, then that future is looking ever so bright and I can’t wait for what comes next.

Images: Frederic Chais

Luc Archambault WestmountMag.ca

Luc Archambault
Writer and journalist, globe-trotter at heart, passionate about movies, music, literature and contemporary dance, came back to Montreal to pursue his unrelenting quest for artistic meaning.

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