AN UNFORGETTABLE FORAY INTO THE WORLD OF CONTEMPORARY DANCE
AT MUSÉE DE LA CIVILISATION IN THE QUEBEC CITY
Rebel Bodies, running from March 11 until February 14 of next year at Québec City's Musée de la civilisation, is an original and unforgettable foray into the world of contemporary dance. Contemporary dance neophytes and long-time fans will find an outstanding opportunity to get to know or get reacquainted with Québec and international dance by exploring the language of the body in motion and how choreographers write with dance.
"It's grasping the immaterial, the intangible," said Les Musées de la civilisation executive director Michel Côté. "The Museum has set itself the challenge of giving dancers' movements body and memory, making the trajectories of dance tangible—putting a living art form on display."
Dance as rebel
Contemporary dance is transgressive. It rebels and upends notions of the ideal body and of art as mere entertainment. Each work of dance establishes new aesthetic and poetic frameworks. Dance crosses disciplines. It knocks down the boundaries between the arts and forges a hybrid creative process. This is the essence of Rebel Bodies.
The importance of Rebel Bodies derives as much from its approach as is does from how its insights into the creative world of this living art form. It stands on the border between installation and artwork to reveal contemporary dance as a universal language and reflection of society, drawing on numerous video clips by Jean-Louis Pecci along with photographs, vignettes, and explanatory texts.
Six themes, six choreographers, six bodies to dance
Rebel Bodies begins by establishing a context for its subject and looking back over the history of contemporary dance. Then to address its main subject it considers six themes, each approached through a specific body. There are six bodies mapping the way, framed in immersive spaces. They express themselves in movement and words with video, featuring choreographers Victor Quijada for the body urban, Margie Gillis for the body natural, France Geoffroy for the body atypical, Daniel Léveillé for the body politic, Louise Lecavalier for the body virtuoso, and Martine Époque and Denis Poulin for the body multiple. Incidentally, each of these choreographers might equally well be associated with one of the other themes and bodies.
The urban body is expressed in choreography that reveals the dancing body in its relationship to the city. Its vocabulary often draws on the movements of walking and street dance. The body moves through the modern, anonymous environment of the city.
The body natural reveals its own organic and primitive nature. It is deployed to express a return to free, instinctive, natural, fluid forms.
The body atypical—nonstandard, constrained, disabled, transformed, hybridized—intimately explores movements that transcend movement. It questions our perceptions of beauty, our classic understanding of the body, and our image of perfection.
The body politic is about choreography that makes political demands and takes a position. It problematizes everything with its use of raw movement, nudity, staging, or, more soberly, the absence of dance.
Intensity, athleticism, and technique are the unifying thread of the body virtuoso. It is the body made glorious, magnified by its physical power even as it is revealed in all its fragility and poetry.
The body multiple comes out in choreography that places the dancing body in an interdisciplinary relationship with other art forms such as music, the plastic arts, or the theater, or with digital technology.
A look back at the origins
The roots of contemporary dance go back nearly 100 years. As Marcelle Michelle and Isabelle Ginot wrote in their classic book on 20th-century dance, it has from the beginning "drawn sustenance from its historical period and from the experience and personality of those who have lived and shaped it." It has taken from modern dance, ballet, postmodern dance, and other sources. Its creative imagination bears the mark of heroic figures like Isadora Duncan, Sergei Diaghilev, Vaslav Nijinsky, and Mary Wigman, as well as Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Pina Bausch, Trisha Brown, Tatsumi Hijikata, Maurice Béjart, and George Balanchine. Québec figures discussed include the likes of Françoise Sullivan, Jeanne Renaud, Françoise Riopelle, Elsie Salomons, Ludmila Chiriaeff, Peter Boneham, Martine Époque, and many more.
The Québec dance landscape has recently become more diverse, and its choreographers' creations celebrated beyond the confines of North America. Among these are Daniel Léveillé, Louise Bédard, Paul-André Fortier, Jean-Pierre Perreault, Édouard Lock, joined by his one-time muse Louise Lecavalier, as well as Danièle Desnoyers, Sylvain Émard, Hélène Blackburn, Ginette Laurin, Jo Lechay, Margie Gillis, and Marie Chouinard—just to scratch the surface.
A classic revisited: Le Sacre du Printemps
The explosive premiere of Vaslav Nijinsky's Le Sacre du printemps, with music by Igor Stravinsky, took place in 1913. It remains an unsurpassed example of unfettered creativity as the driving force of artistic emancipation and resistance. An immersive video installation in the middle in the hall presents eight readings of the Rite of Spring's three final acts, by celebrated choreographers Pina Baush (1975, shot in 1978), Heddy Maalem (2004), Maurice Béjart (1959, shot in 2012), Angelin Preljocaj (2001, shot in 2004), Régis Obadia (2003, shot in 2005), Marie Chouinard (1993, shot in 2013), Jean-Claude Galotta (2011, shot in 2012), and Millicent Hodson (from her 2008 reconstruction of Nijinsky's original 1913 choreography).
"Dance Joe": A Participatory Experience by Moment Factory
Rebel Bodies also features a special studio where Moment Factory has prepared a one-of-a-kind participatory experience. Participants will take part in a revival of Joe, a seminal work by choreographer Jean-Pierre Perreault, which entails being costumed as Joe, being introduced to the character, experiencing the work, and reviewing the experience. The voice of répétiteur Ginelle Chagnon and illuminated instructions guide participants through this celebrated routine. "Dance Joe" was made possible with help from Fondation Jean-Pierre Perreault.
The studio is also host to creative residencies by professional choreographers as well dance masterclasses throughout the run. Audiences can watch choreographers and dancers at work live onsite. Choreographer Harold Rhéaume, who collaborated on the content of Rebel Bodies) and the dancers of his Le fils d'Adrien danse company will kick off the series of residencies starting March 11. To date there are 11 companies of choreographers and dancers programed.
Rebel Bodies is an essential stop for all those fascinated by contemporary dance, as well as those interested in getting to know it. At Musée de la civilisation in Québec City, March 11, 2015, to February 14, 2016.
A Les Musées de la civilisation creation with the participation of Moment Factory, presented by Loto-Québec with support from Ville de Québec, Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the French consulate general, the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac as official hotel, and Le Soleil. Alcoa is Musée de la civilisation's exhibition programming partner.
Québec City: Serge Poulin, 418-528-2017, firstname.lastname@example.org
Montréal: Rosemonde Gingras, 514-458-8355, email@example.com