CriticalDance Forum

Marie Chouinard
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Author:  Azlan [ Mon Mar 24, 2003 9:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Marie Chouinard

The reaction in Cleveland:

Canadian choreographer challenges dancers, audiences

Wilma Salisbury
Cleveland Plain Dealer Dance Critic

Compagnie Marie Chouinard comes from a country that shares a border, a history and cultural roots with the United States. Yet the Canadian company speaks a nonverbal language that is foreign to the American dance audience. lmore

Author:  maria_technosux [ Tue Mar 25, 2003 8:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Marie Chouinard

Oh well, I ran a RB (can't spell out the name, sorry) site for three years (I regret it, it's my I-was-a-dumb-and-naive-adolescent mistake), I don't think there is any female performance artist out there that is going to shock me with their masturbation and urination pieces. It's just a cheap party trick (even for the seventies) and doesn't say anything smart or significant about female bodies or body-politics. To me, it's RB for people who won't go see RB (can't blame them though) - just like several people at the time said that RB is pr0n for people who won't go see pr0n... do we have a case of meta-data here? ;-)

And I also suspect that Chouinard has got a bunch of Greek friends who told her about that notorious Greek expression ("Gamo to kerato sou/mou"), and that this is what inspired her to use the horn as a #### in the Afternoon of a Faun piece.


Author:  beatbeat [ Sun Mar 30, 2003 11:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Marie Chouinard

hmm, just a note here, since I'm new... as I recall it, Chouinard's performances at the Joyce in 2001 were about the only good thing I saw that year at that venue...I find her work focused, disciplined, and imaginative, she seems totally unafraid to completely enter her subject matter. That to me is ultimately the most generous kind of work. She is true to her material as she finds it, and doesn't worry about taking care of us, which makes its rewards for us ultimately immense. I mean how about that piece about Sunday morning, with the jumps and the bells pealing?? What a vision she has.

As for shock value, sometimes I think it's time people got past being shocked by explicit material. It all depends on whose hands its in. If the artist is working with those themes expressively and using them to say something essential about the human condition, well, then I think it's extremely valuable. I have never sen anything merely titillating in Chouinard's work. Sex is always coupled with some grotesqueness for a complete statement.

I found that moment where the horn becomes a ####, and this woman/animal is wearing it (which refers obliquely to several traditional African dances, and I'm sure there are some in other cultures, too) while a shower of stars descends upon her, to be one of the most ecstatic theatrical moments I've known. Chouinard is an incredible artist and talent. Brava.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Mar 30, 2003 11:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Marie Chouinard

Hi beatbeat and welcome to CriticalDance. A year or so ago, I was pleased to see Compagnie Marie Chouinard in London with two of her recent ensemble pieces. As you say, intense and distinctive work.

Author:  brianlawson [ Fri Apr 18, 2003 11:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Marie Chouinard

I attended a performance by Compagnie Marie Chouinard at the Canada Dance Festival in June of 2002. I had gone with high hopes of seeing some beautiful choreography. The program for the show that I saw was two pieces, both solos. One was approximately 45 minutes, and the other was close to, or more than an hour in length. I found the first piece quite interesting, but I agree that the chroeography seemed less than beautiful. In fact I felt that the dancer's use of tap dancing interspersed with bodily contortion was used to create an almost ugly image. The second piece was atrocious, though. It was severly lacking in dynamics and after about 45 minutes, the soloist strapped a pair of roller skates on and began skating in figure-eights around the stage. I left feeling terribly disappointed. I just felt that the show in general lacked any artistic goals or dynamics. Oh well, just my humble opinion.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Apr 19, 2003 5:33 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Marie Chouinard

Hi brian - it may be worthwhile trying her Company again when they are performing her recent ensemble work for 10 dancers or so, which to my eyes have plenty of structure and interest.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Dec 20, 2003 12:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Marie Chouinard

Creatures in Torment Seek Their True Nature

The New York Times

Nowadays the choreographer Marie Chouinard from Montreal is apt to garner international prizes, including a Performing Arts Award from the Governor General of Canada. Gone are her images of early revolt: no more retching or urinating before an audience or, as in her brilliant gloss on Nijinsky's "Afternoon of a Faun," pasting a phallus onto a female body.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Dec 20, 2003 12:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Marie Chouinard

Press release

2003: A Remarkable Year for Marie Chouinard

Montreal, December 18, 2003 – The year 2003, which marked the 25th anniversary of choreographer Marie Chouinard’s career, was a year rich in new work, innovations and recognition.

A film, a multi-screen film and a choreography are born
Marie Chouinard presented three new works, which were very well received by audiences and critics alike: The group choreography Chorale, her first film, Cantique no. 1 and the multi-screen version, Cantique no. 2.

For the first time, Marie Chouinard’s work becomes part of the repertoire of another dance company
The Rite of Spring and Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun have become part of the repertoire of the Ballet Gulbenkian in Lisbon, Portugal.

Numerous awards for Marie Chouinard
In June, Marie Chouinard received the Choreography award of the Société des auteurs et des compositeurs dramatiques (SACD) in Paris, France. In October, the Festival international de nouvelle danse in Montreal paid homage to her 25-year career. The following month, in Ottawa, she received a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award: The National Arts Centre award. Her film Cantique no. 1 won the Best Performance award for the performances of Carol Prieur and Benoît Lachambre at the 12th Moving Pictures Film Festival in Toronto in November.

Marie Chouinard’s Zest Continues in 2004
Marie Chouinard will be working on a new film project and a new choreography while the Company’s dancers continue to perform around the world.

Author:  kurinuku [ Sun Dec 28, 2003 11:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Marie Chouinard

When Feathers Fly

The Village Voice
December 24 - 30, 2003

From her choreographic beginnings as a soloist in 1978, Montreal's Marie Chouinard has defined herself as an explorer in the regions of the body and its desires. Yet the images she creates—however primal, however shocking—emerge as meticulously designed. Who could forget her Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, in which—dappled, horned, and two-dimensional, like Vaslav Nijinsky in his 1913 encounter with Debussy's music—she repeatedly thrust a third horn (a strapped-on ####) into light beams that fled like nymphs.

Author:  maria_technosux [ Mon Jul 12, 2004 9:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Marie Chouinard

Here is my take on Marie Chouinard's ads and promotional materials, which I posted to the alt.arts.ballet newsgroup here

As to why I wrote about the adverts instead of the show, my answer is very simple: because that's how I find out about shows. Aren't ads the way that a lot of people decide whether to attend or not? Therefore, the way a company presents itself (or are presented) in their ads (or a festival's ads) is very important and worthy of an investigation. Under no circumstance should the ads of a company be pushed aside as "miscellaneous" or even as "a necessary evil" which is not of importance to the study of dance or worth the trouble.

Regarding my article, obviously I was very disappointed at the way this company presents itself. I happen to feel that Chouinard really owes it to her dancers to demand that both performances receive equal attention in the ads. I also think that by emphasizing the more titillating performance at the expense of the experimental one, the Julidans festival ad-men barely manage to walk the fine line between complimenting the audience's intelligence and insulting it. You can decide for yourselves whether they swing either way.


Author:  maria_technosux [ Wed Jul 21, 2004 10:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Marie Chouinard

In my previous Chouinard article, I wrote:


"Marie Chouinard prides herself up on the fact that her dance is (allegedly) non-balletic. Nevertheless, several of her dancers are ballet-trained or have danced in ballet companies. How non-balletic is this dance that it requires balletic bodies to dance it? Even Chouinard herself feels obliged to list her ballet training in her biography/mini-curriculum vitae."
Having seen the show itself, I feel that my suspicions were completely justified. I think that it is very important to critically investigate those who claim that their work is "non-balletic".

Despite Chouinard's claims, Chorale as well as Etude #1 both contain movements which can only be properly described as balletic. For example: (repeated) grand battement, (repeated) leg-thrown-into-the-neck high kicks which only a ballet-dancer can make, repeated developes, (unisex) arabesques, the girls doing deep penches and backwards cambres with their backs. These are just a few of the movements that I recognized; those of you who are professionals would probably recognize a lot more.

The four male dancers all kicked 135 degree high legs, the six girls - except for one - were all visibly turned out and ballet-drilled. For example, when a girl did a passe, it wasn't just above the knee or halfway up the tight; the foot of the folded leg went all the way up and neared her crotch. Tell me that the girl who can aim her foot so high just isn't balletic, oh no sir, no ballet here! Etude #1 specifically, contains en pointe balancing, plus a minute-long Swanlake pastiche en demi pointe.

In short, I see ballet looming from every corner and nook. Yes, CMC is certainly more "extreme" in its use of non-balletic movements than, say, Nederlands Dans Theater, or maybe more tolerant towards such movements, or more versatile. CMC is certainly more unisex than any of the Cunnihamesque clones that everyone insist on reproducing. But non-balletic? No way. Considering the appropriation of non-Western dance and vocal music, this ballet is right there next to Jiri Kylian's ballets appropriating aboriginal dance, such as Stomping Ground.


Author:  maria_technosux [ Tue Aug 24, 2004 9:14 am ]
Post subject:  Marie Chouinard

Here is the extended review posted to alt.arts.ballet :

Compagnie Marie Chouinard, Chorale & Etude #1, Julidans Festival, 17 July 2004, Stadsschouwburg, Amsterdam


Author:  Azlan [ Mon Oct 31, 2005 7:26 am ]
Post subject: 

The company made an appearance in San Francisco last weekend but I couldn't find a review anywhere... Come to think of it, I'm not sure I was reminded about the performances until Lucy told me about it. Still, there was quite a sizeable audience.

The dancers were amazingly athletic -- what any choreographer would give for dancers with such stamina and beautiful feet -- but the choreography itself didn't leave much to the imagination. "24 Preludes by Chopin," which opened the program, was so full of literal cliches and repetition that by the halfway point I began to comfortably predict the gist of the rest of the work. I very rarely put hands to face in exasperation during a performance, out of respect, but I couldn't help it here. It got so predictable that I could tell what was coming up just by the first bars of each piece of music.

Sticking around through intermission, hoping that "Le Cri du Monde" would be more effective and offered more clues to the choreographer's talents, I was utterly disappointed. A few minutes into the work, an audience member whispered, "Oh, no. It's more of the same." And another said, "Well, at least it's five minutes shorter than the first one." That summed up the night and for once, I was not shy in publically exclaiming my frustration at the end of a show.

I'm still looking for an honest review of Chouinard's choreography.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Oct 31, 2005 8:55 am ]
Post subject: 

I saw the same programme about three years ago and found it interesting and distinctive, although a sharper contrast between the two works would have been better.

Does that make me dishonest, Azlan? It seems more likely that the critics who appreciate her work, plus myself, simply don't share your taste in modern dance.

Author:  mehunt [ Mon Oct 31, 2005 9:14 am ]
Post subject: 

Though many of the local critics attended that show, almost none of the major outlets chose to run a review of that show. I did include a mention of my thoughts about it in my column last Friday though, when I did a round up of some local dance events.

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