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July 31, 2014

Guillaume Côté and ProArteDanza

Lost in Motion, Body of Work, Dance Me to the End of Love, Giselle, Fractals: A Pattern of Chaos

Reviewed July 31, 2014

Big Top (Grand Chapiteau), Saint-Sauveur

Guillaume Côté, photograph by Matt Barnes

Guillaume Côté, photograph by Matt Barnes

This year’s edition of one of Canada’s leading summer dance events, the Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur (FASS), features the dynamic and rising-star choreographer Québecois Guillaume Côté. The principal dancer and choreographic associate of the National Ballet of Canada will take over the reins of FASS next year from Anik Bissonnette, who has guided the festival for the past 10 years. This year, Côté is hosting the two final evenings of the festival, which will feature a number of classical and contemporary dance performances by international ballet stars.

An important arts event that has been presenting local, national and international talent since 1992, FASS has become a cultural magnetic pole in the heart of the Laurentians.

The opening show of the festival is entirely Côté inspired. Starting with a film, shown on a screen above the stage in the new black interior of Saint Sauveur’s Grand Chapiteau, the million-view viral sensation Lost in Motion features Côté’s amazing physique and perfection of movement. The video combines some simple graphics and slow-motion effects that reflect Côté’s concept of transcending reality through the dance muse.

Body of Work follows, a new work choreographed by Côté and featuring Côté at his best: precise, disciplined, muscular and graceful. Riveting to watch, Côté dances amidst a semicircle of spotlights, naked from the waist up, so that his fluttering arm movements and his upper torso are emphasized. The well-recognized Allegretto second movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony keeps the mood classical and quick-paced.

Brand new on the stage is Côté’s Dance Me to the End of Love, a certain privilege to witness. A very unusual work, entirely inspired by the love poetry and songs of Leonard Cohen, Dance Me to the End of Love is performed by six artists of the National Ballet of Canada. The movement for this work is truly unique, playing on Cohen’s poetic perspective on love. It’s rhythmic, twisted, humorous and expressive to the extreme. The popular “Suzanne” and “Hallelujah” are among the musical choices.

In an excerpt of the quintessentially romantic classic ballet Giselle, Côté partners with Greta Hodgkinson, 18 years a principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada, for a pas de deux which highlights both dancers as specimens of perfection, presenting the hundreds of years old work as a beautiful and timeless piece of art.

ProArteDanza artists in Guillaume Côté's Fractals: A Pattern of Chaos, photograp by Dean Buscher

ProArteDanza artists in Guillaume Côté’s Fractals: A Pattern of Chaos, photograph by Dean Buscher

The opening night ends with a dark, shadowy, urbane work for seven dancers of ProArteDanza, a troupe of established former National Ballet of Canada dancers who fuse ballet with modern dance. Again choreographed by Côté, Fractals: A Pattern of Chaos is a frenzied, machinistic, expansive creation. Lighting, designed by Bonnie Beecher and adapted by Arun Srinivasan, is sharp and revealing.

Much of the work showcases Côté’s signature moves: the vibrating hands, hanging arms folded forward from the trunk and looped together at the hands, hands wrapped around the torso which faces away from the stage, arms winged out like birds – all of which emphasize the performers’ muscular backs – and the framing of one dancer’s head with the hands of another.

Coming up over the course of the festival, which goes on until August 9, the Martha Graham Dance Company will make its debut on a Quebec stage, while Compagnie Marie Chouinard will perform at FASS for the first time. Meanwhile, operatic stars Ailyn Pérez and Stephen Costello, the Appassionata Chamber Orchestra and the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir contribute to the musical portion.

The Desjardins Outdoor Stage is featuring tango, pop music, folk dance, Latin beats and improvisational dance.


From → Festival

One Comment
  1. Janice MacAulay permalink

    I had the privilege of attending this marvelous performance and look forward to going back next weekend for one of the international evenings. Thank you for the review. I encourage Ottawa dance lovers to plan to go to next year’s Festival in Saint-Sauveur, just 2 hours away from Ottawa. A lovely town with many good restaurants and lots of shopping, as well as some of the most thrilling performances you will ever see.

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