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Compagnie Virginie Brunelle

April 3, 2014
Photograph by Marie Philibert-Dubois

Photograph by Mathieu Doyon

Mathieu Doyon

Complexe des genres

Reviewed April 3, 2014

NAC Studio, Ottawa

(Repeat performances April 4 & 5, 8 p.m.)

Montreal has always produced unique choreographers, with daring voices that have much to say about their culture, their creativity and their relationships within and outside of dance. Virginie Brunelle, one of Montreal’s younger crop, has a very bold, brutally honest and inspiringly innovative voice that you cannot ignore if you are anywhere within shouting distance.

In Complexe des genres, she offers us a “poem,” she says, about “human beings engaged in a deeply personal search for happiness.” Her interpretation is an understatement.

The 65-minute work is certainly an audacious statement that strikes like a thunderbolt. It begins with three couples interlinked in such a way that men’s legs appear to be coming out of the backs of the women, the strange “double body” and its very sexually suggestive movements buried beneath a flurry of white tutus. Movements by the couples are often other worldly, or bestial, but mostly very affectionate and the whole generates a positive declaration of human interaction.

Certainly gender stereotypes are blatant: men guffaw, flex biceps, form tight fists; women giggle, chat and kiss. The choreography is sensual and sexual and full of wonder and shock. A kiss can so easily become a slap. A tender moment can become an intensely dispassionate one.

Overall, there is a play of flexibility versus rigidity. Brunelle juxtaposes macho with feminine, energy with exhaustion, movement with stillness, loud with soft. It’s a work that can be infinitely analyzed, but the deep connection between the dancers and the hope for love of humanity is unquestionable.

Complexe des genres is set to very recognizable classics of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Chopin, as well as Philip Glass, played at somewhat elevated levels in keeping with the loud physical play of bodies on stage.

Since Brunelle established her company less than five years ago, she has presented new works locally and in Europe. Her six dancers, three men and three women, are athletic, strong and intense. Some have been with her since the beginning. Others have performed with various Quebec dance companies. They work incredibly well as a team. The men are powerful as they effortlessly toss and carry and hold aloft the women. The strength of the women is admirable as they, too, carry the limp bodies of the men for extensive periods.

Towards the end, the dancers begin to throw paper airplanes at the back wall. It’s not long before the audience picks up the thread and one by one they begin to throw the paper missiles that have been placed on their seats before the work begins. There is, all at once, a magical moment when a mass of white paper is floating through the air in slow motion, lightly picking up the still air in the studio and floating faithfully towards the stage, where a male and a female dancer stand facing each other, with a deep connection between them. It’s a stunningly beautiful ending.

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From → Contemporary

One Comment
  1. This photo was not taken by Marie Philibert-Dubois. It was taken by me, Mathieu Doyon.
    Please check your sources and respect copyrights.

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