Compagnie Marie Chouinard [CANADA]
Le Cri du monde and 24 Préludes de Chopin Théâtre Maisonneuve, Place des Arts
Festival International de Nouvelle Danse
Choreography : Marie Chouinard Performed by : Simon Alari, Kirsten Andersen, Elijah Brown, Julio Cesar Hong, SandrineLafond, Carla Maruca, Lucie Mongrain, Luciane Pinto, Isabelle Poirier, Carole Prieur, James Viveiros <P>Music: Louis Dufort (Le Cri du monde), Frédéric Chopin (Les 24 préludes de Chopin)
Marie Chouinard has an innate gift for revealing the sacred and the profane through movement. I am always surprised that someone can choreograph such powerful and contemporary work in which the thrust of the movement comes from the upper body, using a high center which is typical of ballet. Particularly since much of the canon of modern choreography has been predicated on the works of the likes of Martha Graham who pioneered moving from the pelvis, using a low center (the contraction), to speak with a commanding, and often fierce, voice. And Chouinard's choreography sometimes moves to the floor but could never be considered floor-work or contact, an aspect of contemporary dance that delineates modern movement from the classical, suggesting a kind of intensity and force from putting ones full weight into the ground instead of moving up and away from it. Yet there is nothing weightless or insubstantial about her work.
In Chouinard's 24 Préludes de Chopin her dancers are presented as little savages, exuding irreverence with short black mowhawks attached to their heads. They wear see through black leotards and shorts with strategic strips of black tape placed across their chests and crotches. A barrage of flicking hands opens her piece, a mischievous dialogue with the music of Chopin.
Chouinard has a distinct style in which the dancers spin and move swiftly on demi-pointe, limbs bent and hands poking and proding like sharp beaks. High-speed jumps are sudden and sharp, with little or no preparation. Her work recalls Nijinksy at times in the two-dimensionality of some of the movements in profile. The faces that the performers make are trademark Chouinard, screwed up and twisted like lunatics or mouths and eyes wide open in an expression of fury.
Le Cri du monde is all about the latter, an enraged howl at the cosmos. It's a raw but articulate piece that shifts between solos, duets and group work. The musical score vibrates like the dancers on stage, pulsing as if it exists in a time without end. The climax is an apocalyptic moment, where the dancers release all of their energy into a deafening roar. It's a primal unleashing of physical tension and mental anguish.
In an art form that is rife with muddied intention, it is Chouinard's substantial choreographic facility that allows her to explore abstract subjects with such visceral clarity. Many choreographers excel at presenting movement that is beautiful or virtuousic, and others bring theatricality to contemporary dance, but few can do both with the skill of Marie Chouinard.