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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Sep 16, 2005 7:12 am ]


Photo: Jacques Grenier

La Pudeur Des Icebergs (UK Premiere)

Tue 1 & Wed 2 November, 8pm
The Place: Robin Howard Dance Theatre
020 7387 0031
Tickets £5 - £15
Meet the Artist: Tue 1 with Daniel Léveillé. Free to ticket holders after the performance

The third in a trilogy of dance performances (Utopie, 1997, and Amour, acide et noix, 2001) La pudeur des icebergs (The Modesty of Icebergs) continues Daniel Léveillé's expression of the power of the unclothed human physique. The encounter with the body is absolute. It's primitive. Through dance, the body is brought to the very threshold of language.

The piece is set to a subtle soundscape of Chopin's Preludes Op. 28.

La pudeur des icebergs is danced nude.

‘...[La pudeur des icebergs] is a lesson about ourselves. Its experience is unforgettable. And its possibilities infinite.’
Dance International Magazine

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Nov 06, 2005 4:03 am ]
Post subject: 

La Pudeur Des Icebergs
Canadian nudity causes a polite stampede at the Place. By Luke Jennings for The Observer

Nothing whatsoever was concealed in Daniel Leveille's La Pudeur Des Icebergs at the Place. Leveille's company comes from Montreal and in this piece his six dancers - five men and a woman - are naked.

click for more

Author:  Guest [ Sun Nov 06, 2005 4:43 pm ]
Post subject: 

La pudeur des icebergs, Daniel Léveillé’s, the modesty of icebergs is an experience and an evocation that poses several questions and allows many choices. With the North Atlantic or Antarctic oceans the landscape, icebergs have an allure that trigger many responses and meanings. To gaze at an iceberg sitting in its surroundings the mind’s eye contemplates shape, density and setting. Six naked bodies, five male and one female static and moving in the black box space of The Robin Howard Dance Theatre with rigging the sky, black vinyl, the ground and stark lighting by Marc Parent, a different landscape and intention is offered. The result is a different kind of gaze accompanied by different types of responses.

The work begins with a slow fade of house lights to a slow brightening on stage. As the lights raise three men are standing in the space. Their posture seemingly neuter with faces seemingly blank staring out. The three male dancers jump in parallel and turned out positions most times their landings inevitable, stoic-like thuds into the floor that erupt audibly over powering the low playing recording of Frederic Chopin’s Preludes op.28. The men are then positioned upstage just off the audiences’ right. There is a gaze between the dancers and audience. As the work progresses there is also a gaze that positioned dancers do that is directed to other dancers as they move or stand in solo, duet or trio arrangements. It is what is not proposed by gestures that coupled with the dancers’ nudity characterizes gaze. As performative actions, it is what is sensed beneath the surface of white skin that attributes alternative qualities to the dancers’ moves. The dancers are essentially nudes performing well etched vignettes composed of gestures; static postures or movements on a stationary leg or soaring into the air or walking or rolling along the ground. The postures and movement vocabulary though have underlying re-presentations and significances that stripe away the chance for any gaze to linger on the surface of the dancers’ naked bodies.

One dancer leaves the trio and walks downstage centre and does a simple sequence rising on the toes, lunges and contracted squats then one of several postures that is repeated throughout the work by all, the Tae Kwon Do roundhouse kick. In a vocabulary that is minimalist and just shy of the postures seen in most marital art practices, the Tae Kwon Do roundhouse kick seems in this dance work to be a significant, ambivalent gesture. The roundhouse kick in this work illustrates a prowess in balance because of its body design, one straight supporting leg and the other leg extended above the torso with both hands held in a boxing position of readiness. This sense of stability is coupled with a sense of tenacity. It takes a lot of endurance to sustain this position for the length of time demonstrated in this work. This gesture was also a position of vulnerability. Sustained at times facing the audience, leg raised and arms at the ready, this gesture exposed male and female genitalia and was a statement of defense not virility. Printed in the program is a quote from George Leroux of Spirale Magazine: in order to truly experience – or encounter – this dance performance one cannot be caught up in the process of deciphering multi-layered meanings. That is one strategy to take but that which is not stated textually is sensed viscerally and emotively. Nudity, the roundhouse gesture and other sequences of events within the work offer several meanings that beg for deeper contemplation.

Nudity is the costume and the movement vocabulary sparse, striped done to essentials but not without a sense of context. The roundhouse eliminates any chance of the work being without context or considered archaic or primitive. The majority of the movements are done minus transitions with little or no indication of the required force needed to accomplish the moves. Jumps from standing positions unto another’s arms or to sit on the other’s shoulders are done repeatedly with no masking of the exhaustion resulting from the lifting. Progressions where the supporter carries and drops the person to return to a starting place to repeat the sequence several times have a sensed meaning especially when the only woman does this with the men; visible and audible evidence of the challenge she sustains meeting force with force and carrying the man offers many meanings. There is certainly a huge amount of physical and emotional inferences running within gestures for this woman to jump on a man’s shoulders or for the woman to hurl a running man several feet across the stage. Spatial arrangements like a solo figure moving while the others watch or dancers standing next to each other or spaced across the space on a diagonal also, through visual association, stir meaning. Most gestures are static reified lines that can easily be read as simplistic steps or filled by the spectator with meaning. Given silences between sections of Chopin and sequences of moving or static gestures the spectator has this option. This is the power of performance where spectator and dancer meet in the mind’s eye; a seemingly timeless void that will conjure an apparition of the work that suits the spectator’s experience and not necessarily the intentions sought by dancer or choreographer.

One wonders at the significance of one dancer raising on relevé and caressing his nipples, hand gestures cupping the heart, or scratching skin while others look on. This dancers’ gaze is also done while a solo figure takes the roundhouse pose. Buttock displacement while facing upstage becomes a moment of contact between the dancers. Man touching another man on the buttock does not have the same resonance as when a woman touches a man or a man touches a woman. This designed way to connect starts a sequence of reactions containing both movement and gesticular activity that finishes with the roundhouse gesture. With one dancer holding onto the arm of the other is this pose one of balance and sculpture or venerability? This is another moment for the spectator to render several meanings.

The work a series of vignettes, presenting fodder for the mind’s eye to contemplate was enlivened when the dancers one by one lay on the floor and piled on each other. To lay naked on someone else requires a great deal of trust. The care with which each person laid was evidence of their open ness as individuals; their close ness as a community making the spectator’s encounter with this honest enactment of intimacy multifarious. As the lights changed hues the pile of bodies exposed as a mound of legs, arms, heads of hair and cleavage that could achieve an allure similar to that experienced if looking at an iceberg if a spectator so chose; it could also remind one of carnage. The last tableau with one male dancer sitting on the floor with his chin on the knee of another who is posed in 2nd position offers other contemplations the least that this image is a reified design of one body juxtaposed to another or maybe if filled with an emotive sense, one desiring something from another.

The work finished the dancers took their bows with their clothes on. This choice probably because the theatrical magic conjured during the event when the dancers were nudes would not have been sustainable when dancers faced audience members. Aptly though this encounter with the dancers in street clothes simply left the audience with nothing but the imagery caught in the mind and the senses felt in the dark when as voyeur each one could choose to see bodies or glaciers.

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