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 of 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, animalistic 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 Station 1: Antoine Berthiaume (Body, original music), Station II: Colin Stetson (The Lure of the Mine), Station III: Suuns and Jerusalem in My Heart (In Touch), Stations IV: Antoine Berthiaume (Quiet + Station finale, original music) + Colin Stetson (To See More Light, excerpt) + Teho Teardo and Blixa Bargeld (Neressimo)
Musical Arrangements Antoine Berthiaume
Lighting Design Alain Lortie
Set Design Advisor Marc-André Coulombe
Costumes Yso + Marilène Bastien
Co-produced by Festival TransAmériques+ tanzhausnrw (Düsseldorf) + HELLERAU – European Centre for the Arts (Dresden) + Harbourfront Centre, Performing Arts (Toronto) + Usine C + National Arts Centre (Ottawa) + SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs (Vancouver) + Diffusion Hector-Charland (L’Assomption + Repentigny)
Creative Residencies Usine C + Circuit-Est centre chorégraphique
Presented by La Presse in association with Place des Arts
Team Fou glorieux
Administration Cyrille Commer
Coordination and Communications Anne Viau
Stage managers François Marceau, Martin Lepage
Booking Menno Plukker Theatre Agent
Booking Europe Anne-LiseGobin
Written by Anne Viau
Translated by Neil Kroetsch
Louise Lecavalier (Montreal) Fou glorieux
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 collaborating 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 Government of Quebec’s Prix Denise-Pelletier and an honorary doctorate from UQAM in 2017. She 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, and that was before the pandemic. It never crossed my mind to invite another dancer to plunge into a project that describes where I am at present, alone in spaces that are at once new and familiar, as though the knight of Battleground 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 finally the last dance, wild and unrestrained, that then 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, places where I had been, different phases of my life, states of mind that are still part and parcel of who I am. Each section has its own focus except this time, unlike So Blue and Battleground, here I take the time to revel in each different ambience.
I chose the title Stations because that word evokes both movement and stopping. It suggests moving toward a destination rather than simply wandering. I kept it to four stations to force myself to go into greater depth in each section. Now I no longer know if these stations are really separate, or if they are simply markers retracing the turmoil and confusion of my life – points of reference. Here I am alone onstage now, caught in the twists and turns of my life.
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 have always found to be accessible and open to dance: the body, mental and physical energy, my heart that gets carried away – thousands of impressions, memories, ideas. 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. It involves repeated effort, things to be done again and 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 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 and 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. The light locates me, pursues me and, by isolating me more and more, illuminates me. It heightens the challenge, rendering the performer stronger, but also more vulnerable. Lighting is my preferred décor and set design.
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 with a capital L. My approach reflects the motto of Karen Blixen – “I will answer” – taken from the family crest of her lover Denys Finch-Hatton.
There is joyous pleasure in dancing even when it hurts. It is 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. 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 the dance of tomorrow. I’m fond of a phrase of the philosopher Kierkegaard: “It is not the path which is the difficulty; it is the difficulty which is the path.” Effort is rewarded by effort itself. To quote Merce Cunningham: “Dance gives you nothing back… nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.”