LE CRI DU MONDE AND 24 PRELUDES
Directed and choreographed by Marie Chouinard
Monday, January 20
Jack Singer Concert Hall
High Performance Rodeo
Since her first performance of Cristallisation in 1978, dancer Marie Chouinard has taken the world by form. After nearly 50 productions, an intense period of solo work, and a plethora of duets, trios and group ensemble pieces, it is tough to avoid asking if she has a trademark inherent to her work and success.
"Ive never tried to have a signature," says Chouinard. "For me it depends on the group and on the performance. My goal has always been to create a piece that will create a new land that I can manifest or explore."
In 1990, Chouinard retired from a celebrated dance career and founded the Compagnie Marie Chouinard, with an in-house troupe of multinational performers. Since then, Chouinard has created about a dozen works, instilling the same sense of precision in her dancers that defined her own work. Her themes lean towards the exploration of the bodys "secret intelligence," our human fragilities and lifes ordinary pleasures.
Chouinards studies in the human form surface noticably this week in her much-anticipated return to Calgary with two celebrated performances. One is Le Cri Du Monde, an architecturally inspired ensemble piece that emphasizes the construction (and deconstruction) of the human body. Chouinard, who applies an academic and practical approach to all her work, describes Le Cri Du Monde as the result of several movement exercises.
"As in architecture, the body is a structure in space and time, and this was the basis of the work," she says. "I was studying the body, its articulations, and it developed as a system of movement."
Chouinard began work on Le Cri Du Monde in 2000. Her emphasis on joints and articulation began first with the wrist, then shifted to other areas of the body. As the movement evolved, so did the production, with her sharp eye on choreography.
"Theres a focus on polyphonic movement," observes Chouinard. "The work is multi-directional, simultaneous like an equation that explodes in mathematics."
Chouinards second piece, 24 Preludes by Chopin, is exactly that a celebration of Chopins music, each distinct in sound, subtext and movement. As in previous works, the choreographer has found a certain comfort with classic composers, and the dramatic sound of Chopins music accompanies Chouinard every day.
"I find him very clever, very spacious in breath," says Chouinard. "He is so articulate and so precise, and most concerned with the moment itself."
As with many of her performances, Chouinard favours a clear focus on physicality and precise lighting over sets and costumes. The dancers movement becomes an underscore to Chopin, unravelling new layers and meanings.
"The movement goes according to each of the preludes, and I tried to keep the spirit of their structures. Each prelude has a clear technique for creation in form, and each one is a different spirit, a different room of the soul."
Several of Chouinards productions, including 24 Preludes by Chopin, remain in repertoire, and after visiting cities like London, Paris, Amsterdam and Lisbon the company continues to receive invitations from around the globe. Chouinard is excited to return the High Performance Rodeo, and admits its hard for her to choose her favourite world destination.
"Its so hard to say. For us, the place is the theatre itself everything is happening there, at that moment."
After her Calgary visit, Chouinard hits Vancouver for a performance of Etude #1, a 35-minute solo on a small stage, performed in amplified tap shoes. After 25 years of creation, she continues to work on the most grandiose and the most intimate of productions, with two new creations lined up for the summer between tours. Although she may not have a trademark to her legendary style, the icon was able to offer up some advice for Calgarys emerging artists and rising dance scene.
"In dance, it starts with a community of teachers and students," she says. "Community is important, and the audience is important. If I had any advice, it would be to really go out there for the people. The most important thing is when an artist brings something to the scene a new world, mind, spirit and intelligence."