Festival de Nouvelle Danse both violent and inventive
As the Festival International de Nouvelle Danse finishes this weekend, Montrealers will have had 10 days of looking at what happens after modern dance. They may have been shaken by the violence or thrilled by the inventiveness of post-modern companies from around the world. But watching the works of four local choreographers last weekend, a visitor could see why it's in this city in particular that such challenging and lively art has gathered.Skip to next paragraph
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Montreal dance companies at their best showed boundless inventiveness; at their worst, they got bogged down in electronics and violence. The dancers began to look familiar as the weekend went on. Modern-dance choreographers here don't maintain full-time companies, but space out their performances so the same dancers can work all year. This must be demanding, since three performances and a rehearsal for ``Stella,'' which opens tonight, showed four very different styles. The choreographers tackled serious
issues, unlike many from the United States, who tend to emphasize form rather than content. If the energy with which they did this verged on frenzy, their audiences seemed to keep pace with it.
In some works, dance was only part of the theatrics. Montanaro Danse performed Michael Montanaro's ``East of Egypt,'' which looked like a messy rock video and finished with a plaintive warning about arms and the world. On a smoke-filled stage, dancers did an appropriate ``scared'' walk -- all quaking legs and inquisitively raised elbows. They were surrounded by electronic instruments, microphones, TV screens, and, briefly, a life-size inflatable camel. As a voice complained that there was little time le ft to dream, revolvers appeared on some TV screens, the globe on others.
Fortier Danse Creation did even less dancing more stylishly in an excerpt from Paul-Andr'e Fortier's ``Chaleurs'' (``Heat''). A white set studded with paper rocks was inhabited by women in white-paper ball gowns that crackled as they stalked each other. Fanning themselves frantically or crawling alertly, they resembled insects in some new-wave horror movie, perhaps acting out inhumanity.
O Vertigo, an aptly named company, was violent in its inventiveness, but choreographer Ginette Laurin's attitude toward people was kindly and amused. In ``Crash Landing,'' Kenneth Gould and Louise Bedard, two excellent dancers, were zooming horizontally more often than standing up. Gould opened with a solo that seemed completely off balance, though he only took one fall. Bedard's flying, dynamic stumble took her in and out of Gould's arms. Once Gould lay on his back and Bedard just landed on him. He sho ok her off and she did it again. Sometimes they crashed into each other.
Especially in the grim context of the festival's opening days, they seemed harmless and affable. Through it all, they flashed the audience constant smiles, aping the feverish calm you sometimes see in magic shows. Both wore sturdy overalls, as if prepared for this sort of thing. There was something reassuring and oddly romantic in all this. This was a couple that had its figurative and literal ups and downs, presented with the choreographic equivalent of a cheery Gallic shrug.