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Dance in Quebec: Collectivities in motion
In today's multicultural Quebec, the concept of identity is complex, delicate and changing. It is not defined by the linearity of relationships of blood or origin but by a belonging to a common land, one inhabited by the First Nations, before becoming home to the French who came for commercial exploitation, followed by the English who finished the process of colonisation. This land inhabits the imagination and is evoked by several choreographies. Through group movement, whereby time and space are given their fair share, the choreographers cast their artistic eyes on our ways of being together and negotiating our common spaces.
Several contemporary dances echo this pooling of territory and the identity quest that goes along with it. Group dances with shared rhythm, collective movements and carriers of a reinvented togetherness represent ephemeral microsocieties.
Nuit - Jean-Pierre Perreault
The theme of the group as a microsociety is one of Jean-Pierre Perreault's leitmotifs. In Nuit, we find often anonymous yet endearing beings which win their freedom at the expense of separation from the group. Duets, solos and ensembles are alternated to form a mosaic of the multiple individual aspirations within a collective. Time is collective, cadenced by the simplicity of the steps.
Fluide - Harold Rhéaume
According to sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, the 2000s are the years of "liquid modernity", whereby network connections have replaced the overly stable concept of structure. This fluidity, which enables connection as much as disconnection, is explored in the choreography of Rhéaume. The social metaphor returns the focus to the individual. It is not so much the place of the individual within the collective community that is explored, but rather society built as a flexible and mobile network between individuals.
Rapaillé - Frédérique-Annie Robitaille et Dominique Desrochers
With its very personal way of interlacing individual and collective destinies, Gaston Miron's L'Homme rapaillé is considered one of the most important Quebecois novels of the 20th century. Like any language, dance relies on orality to remain alive. By setting their jig to the verses of Miron, the urban folklore collective Zogma literally puts the issue of identity in movement. Incarnated in the rhythms and bodies, the texts acquire a new sensuality. By incorporating the rhythms of language, dance becomes living memory and unleashes its entire range of meanings.
Gravel Works - Fredéric Gravel
A series of small choreographic scenes woven together into a quilt. It also brings to mind photographs taken with a polaroid camera; snapshots which are not necessarily refined but which attest to slices of life that one might put together to make a memory album of our multiple identities. A "trashy" aesthetic but without any serious weight, a nonchalant, postmodern community.
Mozongi - Zab Maboungou
This powerful, deeply rooted group piece uses the technique of loketo, which allows the breath to travel through the body in order to generate a rhythmic and postural engagement in movement that gives new energy and dynamism to the weight of the body. This comfortable, shared relationship with weight underscores the expression of Mozongi, in which the group is experienced as a network of individual roots. Onstage, dancers from different origins reunited by the breathing of the drums make full use of the floor into which it anchors a communion between humans and territory.
Grand continental - Sylvain Émard
For Sylvain Émard, Grand continental is a means of getting back to basics and restoring a sense of collectivity by breaking down the barriers between formal and popular dance. By involving non-professionals in his festive choreographic gatherings, the boundary between audience and participants is blurred, and dance becomes a place for conviviality, shared identity and common territory. The two prior months of rehearsals have created a strong sense of belonging within the group.
In more depth
FEBVRE, Michèle, « L’Espace de la gravité », in PERREAULT, Jean-Pierre, Regard pluriel, Québec, Les Heures bleues, 2001.
GÉLINAS, Aline. Jean-Pierre Perreault Chorégraphe. Montréal, Les Herbes rouges, 1991. 109 p. (Les Herbes rouges/Essais).
MABOUNGOU, Zab. Heya. Danse ! historique, poétique et didactique de la danse africaine. Montréal : Éditions du CIDIHCA, 2005. 110 p.
TEMBECK, Iro, Danser à Montréal : germination d’une histoire chorégraphique. Montréal : Presses de l’Université du Québec, 1991. 335 p.
CHARTRAND, Pierre. La Gigue dans tous ses états [en ligne]. Disponible sur : http://www.bigico.ca/perspectives/perspective-pierre-chartrand-2013/
FEBVRE, Michèle. « Les paradoxes de la danse-théâtre », in La danse au défi, Montréal, Parachute, 1987.
Espaces chorégraphiques 2 [en ligne]. Globalia, dernière mise à jour, 2017.Disponible sur : http://www.fondation-jean-pierre-perreault.org/fr/
Toile-mémoire de la danse au Québec (1895-2000) [en ligne]. Pixel Circus, dernière mise à jour 2017. Disponible sur : http://www.quebecdanse.org/rqd/memoire
Author’s biography :
Lecturer in the Department of Dance at the Université du Québec à Montréal since 1984, Geneviève Dussault teaches movement analysis, body rhythm and the history of dance. She has a master's degree in dance from York University, Toronto (1991), which deals with the comparative analysis of Baratha-Natyam and Baroque dance. She is also certified in movement analysis by the Laban / Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies. 1996). She has worked as a choreographer-performer in contemporary and baroque dance and has performed in Canada and Europe with the support of the Quebec Council of Arts and Letters.
Selection of excerpts
Text and bibliography selection
Maison de la Danse
The « An overview of dance in Quebec : together in movement » Parcours was launched thanks to the support of General Secretariat of Ministries and Coordination of Cultural Policies for Innovation (SCPCI)