(watch a video excerpt)
The latest work from Système D/Dominique Porte reunites Dominique with the founder and conductor of the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal (ECM), Véronique Lacroix. The two collaborated in 2003 on an homage to John Cage, which was hailed as a great success. Exit was presented in January 2006 at l’Agora de la danse (Montreal) and featured the dancers Bernard Martin, Jean-François Déziel, Sara Hanley and Dominique Porte, as well as two musicians from the ECM (piano and percussion).
Dominique Porte was eager for another chance to collaborate with Véronique Lacroix on a project that involves musicians on the stage with the dancers; an opportunity to create an entirely new choreographic work set to contemporary music. The women chose carefully works by Canadian composers James Harley, Nicolas Gilbert, Michael Oesterle and Howard Bachaw, deciding upon short pieces (12-16 minutes each) that are powerfully evocative, imaginative, and dynamic. The musical structure of the selected works is rhythmic and clear-cut, and suits the fragmented construction of the choreography, a series of solos, duos, trios and quartets. The combination of piano and percussion adds to the uniqueness of the works, leaving room for silence and allowing the dance to unfold in its own right, in a spirit of experimentation and openness.
The choreographer has chosen to change the disposition of the Studio at l’Agora and seat the audience on three sides of the performance space, to create a greater climate of intimacy. The rows of empty seats will be the only set element for the work, turning the audience’s perspective around and providing the performers with a new space for experimentation in addition to the stage. The perspectives on the piece, for the audience as well as the performers, are thus multiplied. To play with perspective is to explore what brings together and what pushes apart; to explore as well the emotions that well up when faced with emptiness, for example the vast wall covered with empty seats. By leaving this area to the dancers, the audience can identify directly with an element of the set design. The architecture of the body is infused with emotion, as is the physical space the body inhabits.
Questioning the presence, the gaze and the role of the onlooker – either on stage or as a member of the audience – as well as that of the performer, Dominique Porte explores the role of the body and the message it conveys, regardless of whether or not that body is “dancing.” How and to what extent are we present, by being interior or exterior, by being active or passive, present or absent? How does the body translate a state of being, an emotion?
In Exit, if the fundamental elements of twists and fluidity present a contrast to the tension of the bodies, it is because music and space are considered to be elements of the piece in their own right, alive and interactive. The architecture of the sound and space around the body is a generator of emotion as well, and influences the audience’s perception as well as that of the performers. With this new work, Dominique Porte deepens her reflections on the body, the idea of being on stage and in time, disintegration, the way we relate to others, and the limits of the human condition.
Production : Système D | Dominique Porte
Agora de la danse (Montréal), Ensemble contemporain de Montréal, direction artistique Véronique Lacroix
Dates: January 18-21 and 26-28, 2006, 8:00 p.m.
Le Studio at l’Agora de la danse, 840 Cherrier St., Montreal
Choreography : Dominique Porte
Musical Direction : Véronique Lacroix
Set design and video : Jonathan Inksetter
Artistic Advisor and Rehearsal Director : Christine Charles
Composers : James Harley, Nicolas Gilbert, Michael Oesterle, Howard Bachaw
Dancers : Jean-François Déziel, Sara Hanley, Bernard Martin, Dominique Porte
Musicians : Philip Hornsey, percussion, Pamela Reimer, piano
Photo : René Foley
This project was made possible with the financial support of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the Canada
Council for the Arts, and the Conseil des Arts de Montréal.