Driven by a pressing need to dance, Louise Lecavalier attains the fullness of her art in a spirited solo that pulsates on the very margins of the intimate.
Driven by a vital impulse that always thrusts her back into the arena like a gladiator of the soul, Louise Lecavalier once again breathes new life into the primeval experience called dance. After the dazzling duets So Blue and Battleground, in this solo, she journeys through a magnificent odyssey in search of her own truth.
In turn reflective, obsessive, animal, and fluid, her hungering body seizes upon steps as if they were food for survival.With a nod to the four seasons and the cardinal points, she moves through the four stations of the piece, conquering her freedom within the far reaches of movement, between the bird and the elephant, the desire to soar yet also to remain anchored in the present. Giving shape to stories etched in her very flesh, each particle of her being expresses what is beyond words. In osmosis with the insistent drive of the music, a stunning Lecavalier attains the fullness of her art.
Produced by Fou glorieux
Choreographed and performed by Louise Lecavalier
Rehearsal Director and Artistic Assistant France Bruyère
Music Colin Stetson + Suuns and Jerusalem in My Heart + Teho Teardo and Blixa Bargeld
Original Music and Arrangements Antoine Berthiaume
Lighting Design Alain Lortie
Scenography Advisor Marc-André Coulombe
Costume Design Yso + Marilène Bastien
Technical Director and Production Manager François Marceau
Co-produced by Festival TransAmériques + tanzhaus nrw (Düsseldorf) + HELLERAU – European Centre for the Arts (Dresden) + Harbourfront Centre, Performing Arts (Toronto) + Usine C + Centre national des Arts (Ottawa) + SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs (Vancouver) + Diffusion Hector-Charland (L’Assomption and Repentigny)
Presented in association with Usine C
Written by Anne Viau
Translated by Neil Kroetsch
Premiered at tanzhaus nrw, Düsseldorf, on February 14, 2020
Louise Lecavalier (Montreal)
The muse for La La Human Steps for some 20 years, Louise Lecavalier marked the imagination of an era with her radiant presence and her extraordinary physical daring.
With mythical dance pieces and scintillating collaborations with artists such as David Bowie and Frank Zappa, her work with her accomplice Édouard Lock provoked a shock wave in the world of dance. After a dazzling career as a dancer, she founded her company Fou glorieux in 2006 to create new works. In solos and duets, she pursues physical and psychic research based on virtuosity, pushing beyond limits and taking risks in a quest for the absolute that has characterized her entire career, her ongoing attempts to pinpoint the « more than human in the human ».
After working with the choreographers Tedd Robinson, Benoît Lachambre, Crystal Pite, Nigel Charnock, Deborah Dunn and Fabien Prioville, in 2012 she created So Blue, her first full-length choreography, which was followed by Battleground in 2016. These two electrifying dances were presented at the FTA (an active supporter of her career over the past decade) and went on to international acclaim. She is once again exploring the cathartic power of dance in the solo Stations, sketching a portrait of the intimate. She has won several awards over the years, including the recent Government of Quebec’s Prix Denise-Pelletier and an honorary doctorate from UQAM in 2017, and was the subject of the documentary film Louise Lecavalier – In Motion (2018), directed by Raymond St-Jean and produced by Ciné Qua Non Média.
After performing in duets in your two previous pieces, why did you decide on the solo form for Stations? Can you describe the genesis of this piece?
I knew early on that it would be a solo. The movements and the dances were so personal that I knew I had to perform alone, that the solo form was inevitable.
I did not want to plunge another dancer into this project, as the work describes where I am at present. I am alone in spaces that are at once new and familiar, as though the knight has shed his armour, released at last from his metal shell.
I wanted to create a dance in one fell swoop but the piece emerged on its own, borne aloft by music, particularly that of the saxophonist Colin Stetson. Bit by bit, a meditative dance took shape and then a second more primal one, like a cry or a shout. That was followed by a third that, trapped at first in my arms, went on to become almost playful. And a fourth dance, initially wild and unrestrained, became a soaring, ethereal piece.
I decided to leave the dances as they were, each one independent of the others. I wanted to retain the essence of each one, and conceived of the performance as unfolding in stations, from one beacon to the next like the phases of a “trip”, a personal odyssey.
They represented places where I stopped, different phases of my life, aspects that are still very much a part of who I am. Each section has its own focus. Unlike So Blue and Battleground, in this piece I take the time to revel in each different ambience.
I now no longer know if these stations are really separate, or if they are simply markers retracing the ups and downs of my life.
I find the word “station” fascinating because it implies a stop, a pause, whereas I am someone in constant movement. I kept it to four stations so as to force myself to go into greater depth in each section. They serve as my points of reference. I am alone onstage – plunged into a maze with my frenzy.
In So Blue and Battleground and again here, the dramaturgy and the set are minimalist. Does that mean that the body, driven by the music, tells the entire tale?
I have a natural tendency to keep things to a minimum, to what I find accessible and open to dance: my body, my mental and physical energy, my heart that gets carried away – thousands of impressions and memories. My task is to be there, to be present, to make an effort, the physical and mental efforts required.
I believe that is enough, even if it might not look like much. Nonetheless it involves repeated effort, things must be done again one day after the next. It is very demanding, very intense. That is why I add virtually nothing else. I’m afraid it might be superfluous, not to mention the inherent pretension of performing alone onstage.
The modest white studio space where I work is an empty void that I find inspiring. I fill it with dance, music, ideas, images and sweat. That sunlit studio whose light changes with each hour, each day, each season is my working stage set, a surprising and at times divine and magical partner.
By comparison, the stage seems to me to be a real void. Most of the time it is cold and modern, imbued with a crushing inertia, and to fly in the face of that is a real challenge. I always doubt that I’ll be able to pull it off. It’s impossible without lighting, but when there is light and I’m able to find my place onstage, the lights following or illuminating me, that is my preferred stage set.
Does that substantial expenditure of physical energy lead to a form of catharsis, like the whirling dervishes that served as an inspiration for So Blue?
It all becomes very clear and simple when I push my body to extremes. At that point I am more or less free of thought and desire. It is my way of responding to the demands of life.
The natural drugs released by the body make me feel good even in moments of stress or pain. There is a gratifying aspect to dance, a daily purification, but I do not find that to be enough. I would like to be satisfied with those altered states, but I am no fakir or yogi. When I leave the studio or the stage seeking something else, I’m still dreaming. I like to dream, to reflect, to make up stories.
Everything always has to be redone. I’m constantly forging a path that leads to dance that responds to my search for the future, for what’s next. I’m reminded of something the philosopher Kierkegaard said: “It is not the path which is the difficulty; rather, it is the difficulty which is the path.” Everything requires effort, and effort is rewarded.
To quote Merce Cunningham: “Dance gives you nothing back… nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.”