Fear and Greed
Frédérick Gravel in a solo: his outlandish vision of the world, his irony, his lengthy questions without answers, his singular style of movement, his guitar and his pop attitude.
Frédérick Gravel in a solo. His outlandish vision of the world, his irony, his lengthy questions without answers, his singular style of movement, his guitar, his pop attitude. A Festival regular usually surrounded by dancers, here he takes the stage by storm as only he can, portraying the twists and turns of his sardonic mind and the originality of his unique style. Jump in for the ride!
With the elegance of a panther and the candour of a man who can’t be fooled, the choreographer, dancer and musician pulls out all the stops. He has fun concocting a character, a sort of self-fascinated double, and is accompanied by veteran musicians under the direction of Philippe Brault. His artistic accomplice Étienne Lepage serves as dramaturge. As always, a common thread is his distinctive way of shattering any desire for comfort, for building a world without any certainty, without frank, candid debate. A firebrand.
Produced by DLD-Daniel Léveillé Danse
Directed and performed by Frédérick Gravel
Music created by Philippe Brault + Frédérick Gravel + José Major
Lighting Design Alexandre Pilon-Guay
Music Director Philippe Brault
Artistic Assistant and Dramaturgy Étienne Lepage
Artistic Assistant and Rehearsal Director Jamie Wright
Outside Eye Katya Montaignac
Co-produced by Festival TransAmériques + Regina A. Quick Centre for the Arts (Fairfield) + Muffatwerk (Munich) + Atelier de Paris / CDCN (Paris) + Montévidéo (Marseille) + Centre culturel de Notre-Dame-De-Grâce + Theater im Pumpenhaus (Münster) + Ceprodac / Centro de Producción de Danza Contemporánea (Mexico City)
Frédérick Gravel is a member of Circuit-Est centre chorégraphique
Written by Diane Jean
Translated by Neil Kroetsch
Presented in association with Usine C
Premiered at Festival TransAmériques, Montreal, on June 1, 2019
Frédérick Gravel (Montreal) DLD - Daniel Léveillé Danse
A choreographer, dancer, musician, singer and lighting designer, Frédérick Gravel’s work is intelligent, unruly, apparently casual and profoundly relevant.
One of the most prominent Quebec artists on the international scene, he defies traditions, reinventing performance by presenting entertaining artistic chaos. In 2004 he established the collective La 2e Porte à Gauche, and then the Grouped’ArtGravelArtGroup (GAG) of musicians and performers who collaborate on multiple projects. In 2009 the FTA presented Gravel Works, followed by Tout se pète la gueule, chérie in 2010. With the writer and director Étienne Lepage he created Ainsi parlait… in 2013 and Logique du pire in 2016, two works that portray bewildered thirty-somethings in wacky, awkward situations. He also wrote and performed, with Brianna Lombardo, the intimate two-hander This Duet That We’ve Already Done (so many times) in 2015. He returned to the FTA in 2018 with the grand choreographic concert Some Hope for the Bastards.
Regularly collaborating with artists from diverse disciplines, he created the choreography for Pierre Lapointe’s Mutantès (2008) and Amours, délices et orgues (2017). He has long been associated with the company Daniel Léveillé Danse, and was named its director in 2018.
Over the past few years at the FTA you presented shows co-created at times with Étienne Lepage, pieces that often combined dancers and actors. What was the motivation for creating a solo?
An apprenticeship, the desire to try something new, to not have a team dancing my ideas. I know that I have a lot of tools, know-how and stage experience. I knew from the start that this project would mean me going through fairly complex states, that it would make me doubt that I could make something that stands on its own, that would interest me and that others would find interesting, that would not be a demonstration of what I know how to do.
What I want to express is always being nuanced from one minute to the next, always evolving. I’ll soon be forty and am now a more experienced dancer. It took me all those years to accept the way I dance. I have a limited range of movements. I don’t have perfect technique, but I now accept how I dance. I don’t wonder what I should do as an artist, or what the choreography will look like if I do such or such a movement.
I arrive in the studio and simply ask what makes sense, here and now. What do I like? What is it about art and the human spirit that interests me? What motivates me? I had thought that over time creating new work would get easier, but I realize that it’s more and more complicated. The difference is that I can now start an artistic project knowing that it will be seen, whereas before I didn’t know where it would be performed.
You are a politically engaged artist, but for you the stage is not a venue for protest. How should the stage be used?
That’s a question I’ve been thinking about quite a lot, given the current state of affairs. The luxury of being an artist is to be able to take time to reflect, to ask why, to what purpose. That reflection and creation are moments of indulgence, yet at the same time imply huge responsibilities.
Reading extensively, listening, absorbing information and emotions… reflecting on the real significance of things, something that only a few people have the luxury to do. I sometimes feel the need to take social action, but the stage is not the place to do so. The piece presented is a symptom of a situation, but it does not denounce or explain. The work reveals the situation, so that perhaps we can see it in a different light.
I don’t present shows that make for head-on confrontation or denunciation of a situation. What I try to do is to find what can be saved or salvaged. But it is hard to grasp the effect that can have on the spectator, on the way of the world. Everything is constantly called into question.
You create a character onstage. What can he do that Frédérick Gravel cannot?
How to re-create myself onstage? I don’t want a better version of myself, but really to become someone else, someone who celebrates every moment, every gesture, who still has a deep sense of wonder, who has total awareness of what he is doing. I also want to speak directly about what is happening onstage in real time.
Six years after its début, we performed Tout se pète la gueule chérie in Vancouver on the night Trump was elected. Even though it was created in 2010, the piece was directly connected to what was happening that night. It was even more eloquent than at the time of its creation. I want to preserve a space, space where the choreographer is in direct contact with people.
I always ask myself the question: What are we doing in a performance venue, as a society and as an individual? The spectator is constantly imagining, comprehending, projecting. It’s fundamentally human, and that keeps me motivated as a choreographer. The dancer barrels through all sorts of events and is covered in sweat at the end, no doubt in another state of mind than at the beginning. I willingly put myself through that journey, which is not one of control but of abandon. That’s what interests me, what frightens me.
“These are vulnerable beings grappling with desire, fumbling toward ecstasy, and surrendering their bodies to the sound and the fury. Fittingly, Gravel builds everything to a mad, thrilling crescendo—like the best rock concert.”
Janet Smith, The Georgia Straight, 2018-01-17, about Some Hope for the Bastards
“With more humour, bravery, and weirdness than you can imagine, Gravel’s production won the audience over and received a full standing ovation.”
Prachi Kamble, Thevancouverartsreview.com, 2018-01, about Some Hope for the Bastards
“Some Hope for the Bastards explodes onstage, ramped up with the sound and fury of a full-tilt rock show.”
Philip Szporer, Thedancecurrent.com, 2017-06-13, about Some Hope for the Bastards
“Their delicate and rowdy union, enhanced by a matching musical support, speaks all the passion’s rage and fire. Just as sweet as it is rough, this creation is an incandescent beauty.”
Christophe Candoni, Toutelaculture.com, 2016-06-17, about This Duet That We’ve Already Done (so many times)