The different ages of man merge as one, in step with the times or not. At age 70, the choreographer Paul-André Fortier fills the entire stage, incarnating with brio the burden of the ageing body.
In this ultimate work by Fortier Danse-Création he is immortal, affected and shaped by a procession of pernicious muses, collaborators born long after his birth. Founded in 1981, the company is taking its final bow, passing on to younger generations his impressive dance heritage.
Solo 70 is the ordeal of a solitary traveller keen to be destabilized by new idols, other temptations. To dance, to dance again and as before, obstinately, but to the punk guitar of Jackie Gallant, the visual interventions of Marc Séguin and the confessions of the writer Étienne Lepage, whispered or shouted by the fiery Étienne Pilon. An unsettling solo work that includes the presence of agents provocateurs and crazed companions. I will dance alone, yet you will invade me.
Produced by Fortier Danse-Création
Directed by Paul-André Fortier + Étienne Lepage
Choreographed by Paul-André Fortier
Written by Étienne Lepage
Performed by Paul-André Fortier + Étienne Pilon
Music Jackie Gallant
Lighting Design Jock Munro
Set Design Marc Séguin
Costume Design Denis Lavoie
Video HUB Studio — Thomas Payette + Hugues Caillère
Sound Jean-François Gagnon
Choreographer Assistant and Rehearsal Director Ginelle Chagnon
Technical Director Karyne Doucet-Larouche
This work is dedicated to Gilles Savary and to the members of the Board of directors of Fortier Danse-Création Robert L. Archambault + Louise Déry + Michèle Febvre + Danielle Gervais + Patrick Masbourian
Co-produced by Festival TransAmériques + Théâtre National de Chaillot (Paris) + CanDance (Toronto) + Centre national des Arts du Canada (Ottawa) + Agora de la danse + Dancing on the Edge (Vancouver)
Presented in association with Agora de la danse + Tangente
Premiered at Théâtre National de Chaillot, Paris, on May 23, 2018
Paul-André Fortier + Étienne Lepage (Montreal) Fortier Danse-Création
A dancer, choreographer and teacher, Paul-André Fortier plays a major role in Quebec contemporary dance.
Over a 40-year career he has created some fifty works characterized by audacity, singularity and a creative, productive openness to other disciplines. In that respect, his collaborations with Betty Goodwin, Rober Racine and Robert Morin on Cabane (FTA, 2008) are significant. His pieces Solo 30×30 (2006) and 15 X LA NUIT (2014) are a reflection of that same taste for a challenge, testing the dancer’s endurance to bad weather, raising art to the level of asceticism. His remarkable career has been rewarded with several distinctions, notably the 2012 Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for lifetime achievement. For Solo 70, the choreographer has once again opted for a surprising commingling, blending his refined aesthetics with strong voices from music, theatre and the visual arts, working for example with Marc Séguin, a talented painter open to all art forms. This final work created under the auspices of Fortier Danse-Création reveals the grandeur of an artist, very much at ease with his rebelliousness and his freedom.
Étienne Lepage quickly made a name for himself on the theatre scene with his impetuous vigour and the intensity of his writing. A 2007 graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada (2007), he made a strong impression with his 2009 play Rouge gueule. A multi-talented artist, he surprises with the diversity of his projects, whether L’enclos de l’éléphant (FTA, 2011) or more recently his adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot for the TNM (2018). After creating two works in collaboration with the choreographer Frédérick Gravel, Ainsi parlait… (FTA, 2013) and Logique du pire (FTA, 2016), his artistic universe is now being challenged by that of Paul-André Fortier in Solo 70.
You have chosen collaborators so that they challenge you, disturb you. Rather than acting as muses, they are agents provocateurs. How do you approach working with these artists?
Paul-André Fortier: When I first approached these artists, I wasn’t sure that they would accept. I didn’t even know if they were familiar with my work. I was very touched that people of their generation wanted to work with someone my age. I am often attracted by differences, indeed by opposites, and in that sense a confrontation of generations seemed to me to be extremely stimulating, each being open to the other.
I found it exciting. We have enjoyed this adventure, and creating this piece together has been quite delightful on a daily basis. It will leave its mark on all of us. Even though all of us collaborate and contribute to the creative process, it is not a collective creation. After a few weeks of work I asked Étienne Lepage to be the co-writer of the show, whereas originally he was to write the entire show. I remain very much at the helm of this piece.
Étienne Lepage: That being said, Paul-André had the delicacy to invite us to take part in a project that was still at that point open-ended, which I admire.
He never made the unilateral decision that he was going to do a very specific thing. On the contrary, right from the beginning he wanted to be in a position where he was off-kilter. He is very receptive to all sorts of proposals. And when one of them creates discordance, his reaction is to say, “Let’s see where this goes.”
The title of the piece seems to refer only to Paul-André Fortier. How do you explain that title when there were many collaborators involved in creating the work and also in performing it onstage?
É. L.: Solo 70 is really a good title, but not for the reasons that initially come to mind. This is a non-narrative piece that focuses on the intention of the character onstage. It is not on a demonstration by a choreographer aged 70, with all his baggage and his references. It is not an explanation or an exposition of Paul-André Fortier, for the piece is not at all about him.
It is the story of an immortal character who evokes time and endurance. The characters onstage with him serve to highlight his singularity, to show who he is by contrast. They do not, however, talk about him nor do they talk to him. There are times when the spectator finds him of interest, at other times not. Sometimes the other characters provoke him or try to engage in direct contact with him. Their role is to simply point out that this character in motion is doing his own particular thing.
This work marks the end of a cycle; indeed it is the last piece that your company will produce and present. You have stated, however, that it is by no means a retrospective nor a last will and testament. Nonetheless, you are stepping onstage with 40 years of experience, a rare thing in dance. What is it like to dance at age 70?
P.-A. F.: – Dancing at age 70 is a challenge for the dancer’s body, a challenge for both the dancer and the choreographer. I have no doubt that the ageing body is eminently poetic and that it can generate an emotional response among spectators of all ages. The ageing body is also a body undergoing change, which requires constant adjustments and adaptations for both dancer and choreographer. Sometimes the body refuses to obey. Every day I negotiate with a body that rebels.
I dance because I believe in dance. I know that my dance will find an echo in the imagination of the spectators I am trying to reach. I am trying to stimulate their imagination. I also have a profound desire to touch, to move an audience.
“Paul-André Fortier is a true national treasure.”
Matt Hanson, Broadwayworld.com, 2015-07-07, à propos de Misfits Blues
“At 67 years old, and more than 50 works into his career, prolific Montreal choreographer and dancer Paul-André Fortier is making some of his most fearless creations.”
Janet Smith, Georgia Straight, 2015-07-02, à propos de Misfits Blues
Sarah Higgins, PRISM International, 2015-07-08, à propos de Misfits Blues