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FESTIVAL DES ARTS DE SAINT-SAUVEUR

August 5, 2015

Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie

Looking for Elvis, The Man in Black

Reviewed August 5, 2015

Big Top (Grand Chapiteau), Saint-Sauveur

What’s exciting about the Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur is those unexpected gems that emerge onto the Big Top stage.

Coleman Lemieux dancers perform The Man in Black, Photograph by John Lauener

Coleman Lemieux dancers perform The Man in Black, Photograph by John Lauener

This year, I am smitten by James Kudelka’s little nugget of gold, The Man in Black, accompanied by – you guessed it – the music of Johnny Cash.

A perfect selection of some half dozen covers by this prolific folk star’s repertoire  sets the mood for the work so dynamically performed by Luke Garwood, Tyler Gledhill, Daniel McArthur and Erin Poole of Bill Coleman and Laurence Lemieux’s contemporary dance troupe, which was founded in Quebec 15 years ago.

The energetic quartet are tight, spirited by the often dark songs and driven by the rhythm, presenting the ideal pace for the consistent Johnny Cash beat. Sporting a cowboy look, the dancers reflect the feeling of the toe-tapping, thigh-slapping songs, weaving in and out of each other’s space, often moving as one entity.

Sadly, some of the audience missed this little jewel of Kudelka’s, as it was the second work presented on the billing, following the uninspiring Looking for Elvis, created by choreographer Laurence Lemieux after visiting Graceland a few years ago and reading a biography of Elvis Presley.

The same four dancers in The Man in Black performed this confusing work, along with three other dancers. Undoubtedly the company’s artists are stunning, but this slow-motion piece, accompanied by fuzzy old interviews with Presley, is tedious for the most part. There are tiny moments of inspiration, such as a group of dancers dressing one of the men, who then performs a kind of Elvis knock-off, and the final movement, which seems to pick up the earlier incoherence and make something of it.

STILL TO COME: The third edition of The International Stars of Ballet on AUGUST 7 and 8 features artists from the New York City Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada, Bryan Arias of Kidd Pivot and others presenting classical, neo-classical and contemporary solos and pas de deux.

Free shows are still going on at the outdoor Desjardins stage this weekend, and festival artistic director Guillaume Côté presents a master class for pre-professional and professional ballet dancers ages 13 and older on Saturday morning.

Visit www.FASS.ca for more information.

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