November 2005

Compagnie Marie Chouinard


November 3, 2005The Hummingbird CentreToronto
Marie Chouinard and the Post-Human Pirouette
by Stanley Fefferman
One-legged Joe danced around on his toe
Threw away his crutch and hollered “Let ‘er go”
-Jack Yellen- “Alabama Jubilee”,1915.
Marie Chouinard’s dancers did dance around on one toe, ‘en pointe’ with one foot bare, and on crutches, walkers, poles, parallel bars, on skateboards, dollies, and a bicycle seat on wheels. The evening was a triumph of post-human dance showing humans wedded to their prosthetic performance enhancing devices. Ms. Chouinard’s creativity and the dancer’s virtuosity was impeccable, unceasing, awesome, surprising, delightful, moving, thoughtful, philosophical, and somehow, perfectly natural.

As for the music they danced, there was Louis Dufort’s remix of voice tapes of Glenn Gould talking about Bach’s Goldberg Variations—Gould coming across sounding at various times like R2D2, 3CPO, and Darth Vader all on acid. Sometimes you could hear Gould playing his unabridged versions of Variations 5, 6 and 8, and sometimes there was Dufort’s remix or ‘variations’ of Bach’s Variations. But with Marie Chouinard herself looking after lighting, set design, and props, all elements integrated into a flawlessly tasteful spectacle.

When the dancers wore pumps on their hands they looked like a flock of flamingos. When they wore harnesses with strings attached that were pulled by other dancers, they were puppets. A dancer climbing supine on a frame of five parallel bars was musical notation.

The remix of bodies to incorporate metal poles, straps and wheels while working together performing repetitive sets of movements mimicked the stark beauty of the movements of machine parts on an assembly line. The mechanical parts provided a kind of structure which enhanced the fluidity of muscle and bone animated by oxygenated blood.

What does it all mean? It means if Marie Chouinard and her dancers can play with anything that comes into their world, so can the rest of us, if we want.

We welcome your comments and feedback
Stanley Fefferman
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