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Performance review – Marie Chouinard Compagnie May 4, 2008

Posted by Raul in dancing, friends, Vancouver.

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending a performance by the Marie Chouinard Compagnie. A friend of mine got us tickets to the event, which was held at the Vancouver Playhouse. Since I’m trained as a dancer, and part of my training was in contemporary/modern dance, I thought it would be easier for me to understand and appreciate the performance.

While it is true that I’ve done this kind of work before, and I could find a theme in the first 45 minutes, the second 45 minutes lost me. The piece, “bODY_rEMIX/gOLDBERG_vARIATIONS” is described on Chouinard’s website:

In this new work by Marie Chouinard, the company’s ten dancers execute variations on the exercise of freedom. Often, the dancers appear on points: on one, two, and even four at a time. In a spectroscopy of the gesture, we also see them using different devices – crutches, rope, prostheses, horizontal bars, and harnesses – which at times liberate their movements, at others fetter it, and at still others create it.

This use of accessories gives rise to unusual bodily shapes and gestural dynamics and opens onto a universe of meticulous and playful explorations in which solos, duos, trios and group work, in their labour, pleasure and invention, echo the human condition.[Compagnie Marie Chouinard]

The athleticism and performance capabilities of these dancers were beyond what I have seen in my many, many years of dancing. I was suitably impressed. There are a few tidbits for just about everyone in the performance. The story I felt was being told in the first 45 minutes was an evolutionary tale that went from almost absolute immobility and crippled-ness to one of freedom and flight. It was indeed an outstanding performance. Do I think people would need to be trained in dance to appreciate it? Hmmm, a lot of people may argue that not, but I think that at least, you need to understand that sometimes, contemporary/modern dance performances don’t have a “theme”.



1. David Gratton - May 4, 2008

I’ve read all the amazing reviews for the show. I like your take on it. I have always struggled as a spectator with modern dance. As pure entertainment it’s hard for me to grasp, and as artistic expression, I can appreciate it at some level, but I cannot really understand it. I think in many ways you need to be a dancer to fully embrace a performance like “bODY_rEMIX/gOLDBERG_vARIATIONS”

Bad analogy to follow:
I love watching curling. I used to play for many years when I lived on the prairies (naturally). I understand what’s involved and the difficult of play. I get excited with a great shot or highly strategic game, but my friends consider it to be the dullest thing on TV – “Darts on Ice.”

2. Raul - May 6, 2008

Thanks for the comment David – surprisingly, I can completely understand your analogy, as one of my best friends (the very one who got us tickets to this performance, and who shared the performance with me) curls, and he loves watching it. And I *did* think it was the dullest thing. And then I realized I just didn’t understand the strategy. Now, I like it 🙂

Unfortunately, I don’t think the same happens with dancing! This performance was complex, I have to say. But people seem to be raving about it!

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