La jamais sombre
With Marc Parent as the architect of light, Michel F Côté as the designer of sound, and Catherine Tardif as the guardian of movement and the female body, La jamais sombre explores, between grace and fear, the ancient mysteries of chiaroscuro.
The life cycle of a solar eclipse. A breach opens onto a cosmic and ancient era. A woman moves into unfamiliar territory. Her wandering is fuelled by the desire to inhabit this imaginary land where conflicting borders converge. Is this the end or the beginning of a world?
La jamais sombre is the manifestation of the poetics of light. A scenic composition by three creators: the lighting designer Marc Parent as the light architect, the composer Michel F Côté as the soundscape developer, and the choreographer-performer Catherine Tardif as the guardian of movement and the female body.
They say that darkness gives way to a subtler, less utilitarian ways of looking and listening. Some states of consciousness are better achieved in the glow of candlelight rather than in broad daylight. Perhaps, in the depths of La jamais sombre, a new form of perception will emerge. Perhaps something different will be perceived. Oscillating between grace and fear, the ancient mysteries of the chiaroscuro are disclosed as we come to realize that what we see was, perhaps, watching us all along. Perhaps…
Produced by Et Marianne et Simon
Cocreated by Michel F Côté + Catherine Tardif + Marc Parent
Choreographed and performed by Catherine Tardif
Lighting Design Marc Parent
Sound and Music Design Michel F Côté
Costume and Make-up Angelo Barsetti
Artistic Advisors Nicolas Cantin + Marcelle Hudon
Additional music: Walter Schumann, musical track from the film The Night of the Hunter (excerpts) + Gil Slavin/Jean-Claude Cosson, Comme un oiseau qui s’envole, interpretation by Grace Jones + François Couperin, Les Barricades mystérieuses (excerpt) + Foodsoon, strike four (excerpt)
Co-produced by Festival TransAmériques
Creative residencies Circuit-Est centre chorégraphique + Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal
Presented in association with Agora de la danse + Tangente
Thanks to Flex Rigging + José Navas/Compagnie Flak + Pierre Laniel
Premiered at Festival TransAmériques, Montreal, on June 9, 2021
Written by Myriam Perraton-Lambert
Translated by Luba Markovskaia
Michel F Côté (Montreal) Et Marianne et Simon
There is a unique joy emanating from the creation of La jamais sombre, born out of the radiant friendship between three artists: Catherine Tardif, Michel F Côté, and Marc Parent. La jamais sombre is a scenic composition combining all three of their highly regarded artistic practices.
Multi-instrumentalist and composer Michel F Côté, over the past three decades, he has been deploying soundscapes that expand the very meaning of human life. Among other creations, he was the music director for Wajdi Mouawad’s memorable trilogy Littoral, Incendie, and Forêts (FTA, 2010).In 2010, Côté joined Tardif as co-artistic director of Et Marianne et Simon.
Marc Parent (Montreal)
Currently resident lighting designer for Les Grands Ballets, Marc Parent is constantly renewing his art at the local as well as the global level, each time with an acute awareness of the transformative and suggestive powers of luminous matter.
He has been a precious recurring collaborator in several of the company’s choreographic and performative events, such as Le Show Triste (2006) and Le Show Poche (FTA, 2009), two different realms unleashing the jubilation of exhilarating improvisations.
Catherine Tardif (Montreal) Et Marianne et Simon
Last but not least, Catherine Tardif’s compelling authenticity as an interpreter is matched only by the visionary nature of her choreographic work, which walks the fine line between the comical and the sublime.
In 2001, she founded the company Et Marianne et Simon, whose piece La jamais sombre marks its twentieth anniversary. Gesturing towards the audience, its key statement “It could happen to you” perfectly encompasses the works created by Et Marianne et Simon as opportunities for collective challenge and play, while simultaneously depicting the both troubling and touching dismay of humanity.
As long-time collaborators, you are beginning a creative process this time with a completely different approach. With a nod to one of your previous pieces, 6,3 évanouissements, I would like to ask you this: What sort of vertigo did La jamais sombre bring on?
Marc Parent: As a lighting designer, I’m used to arriving during a project’s creative process, which I usually join at the end, adding the final touches. In this case, it was the opposite. I found myself at the beginning, on a completely blank page. It was the most vertiginous exercise I’ve ever had to do. It was a pure lighting research project in which light is not only applied, but becomes the very source of the creative impulse. Each of us was responsible for one of the three fundamental components: light, movement and sound.
Michel F Côté: Yes, this time we formed a trio of equal co-creators, in a radical way. Each of us proposed an idea, alternately in solo, duo or trio. During the residency, I set myself the challenge of coming up with new music every morning. Usually, I prefer to observe what I will have to reinforce with my sounds before composing. But here, the vertigo I felt arose from the risk of presenting a closed work, music that is self-sufficient. I therefore had to force myself to propose bare frameworks, which contain lots of space and are conducive to dialogue, encounters, rehearsal.
Catherine Tardif: For me, the vertigo I felt was that of being back on stage, of being both choreographer and performer. It induced in me a feeling of the unknown, of discomfort—and excitement at the same time. Lately, I’ve come to realize that by losing my external point of view as a choreographer, I discover new ways of moving forward, and a mode of thinking that starts from the inside. This shift in perspective, from the outside to the inside, gives me a whole new overview of creation. It’s another way of seeing, a new way of entering into dialogue with the two other building blocks: sound and light.
How does your poetics of light unfold on the edge of darkness?
MP: My first intuition was to turn to the micro-event, that is to say a space where what happens in the light is very subtle, very gradual, where the chiaroscuro attracts the attention of the public in a special way, creates a unique vibration. This is what gave the project its initial impetus.
MFC: Yes, we wanted a certain minimalism that would allow us to enter a universe of subtleties in which minimal mutations blur our perceptions and transport us from one state to another without a clear transitional threshold. There is perhaps something metaphysical in this luminous quest, which is presented as a series of tableaux.
CT: I feel that La jamais sombre is a distillation of humanity in terms of attention and perception. At the threshold of the image, the longer you hold your gaze, the more your vision becomes blurred. And it’s the same thing with the sound. We are really in the grip of the sensations of listening and seeing, between the outer and the inner, between the visible and the invisible.
I perceive it as a game in which our perceptive reality reveals itself to be affective as well. What can a plunge into darkness reveal, and what can it teach us?
MP: Our gaze always compensates for the darkness. Even if there is nothing to see, we begin to perceive creatures, hallucinated shapes. The perceptive then coincides with the imaginative: childish fears can rise to the surface. The darkness can become a hiding place, a refuge too, an opportunity to open our eyes differently, to see differently.
CT: In this chiaroscuro, the body of a woman appears. It’s like she’s in a new country. Everything has to be relearned, remastered. The rhythm is the same for the public, who must also find new guideposts in the half-light. It plunges us into ourselves in a rather dizzying way. La jamais sombre gives the audience an opportunity to take a compassionate look at themselves.
MFC: We are diurnal beings and our relationship to the night, to the nocturnal, is one of fascination. The art of chiaroscuro goes back a long time. In places like the Chauvet Cave, our ancestors painted the walls where light didn’t reach, using a torch. This idea that art is born from light, but also from the shadows that a flame generates, was a source of inspiration for us.