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July 7, 2017
Dance Machine_credit_Yvonne Chew

Lee Su-Feh of Vancouver presents an immersive dance project called Dance Machine July 12-15

Marie Chouinard, a unique Canadian artist based in Montreal, brings her recent dance work, Hieronymous Bosch: The Garden of Earthly Delights, to the Canada Dance Festival next week.

Inspired by Bosch, the sixteenth century Dutch painter known for his fantastic imagery and macabre landscapes, Chouinard has created her own masterpiece.

Her three-act Hieronymus Bosch: The Garden of Earthly Delights is part of a special segment of the Canada Dance Festival called Scene Makers, which focuses on provocative Canadian genre-blurring artists who aren’t afraid to push the boundaries and break the rules.

chouinard garden of earthly delights photographer Nicolas Ruel

Valeria Galluccio in Marie Chouinard’s Garden of Earthly Delights, photograph by Nicolas Ruel

Chouinard presents her work at the Babs Asper Theatre on Elgin Street, on Friday, July 14 at 8 p.m. Later in the evening, there will be a party in the NAC Canal Lobby called Scene-O-Rama, free to the public, featuring various performances and arts installations.

During an interview from her hometown of Montreal, Chouinard said, “The aim of an artist is to step into the unknown landscape, to go where no one has gone before. The aim is to offer some food for the soul.”

Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights, which has been restored and now hangs in Madrid’s Museo del Prado, is the best known of his surviving works. A triptych painted in oil on oak panels, the middle square features naked men and women frolicking in a surreal landscape of strange birds and beasts and enormous sized fruits. The flanking panels represent the Garden of Eden and a hellish depiction of torment.


Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights”

Chouinard said that she saw the actual painting in Madrid only a few days before her Garden of Earthly Delights premiered in Bosch’s birthplace of Den Bosch in Holland last August.

In the meantime, she had the image printed onto an immense canvas to study and analyze every detail of the intricate artwork.

The opportunity for her to create the dance work on her company of 10 dancers arrived suddenly when Ad’s-Gravesande, head of the Jheronimus Bosch 500 Foundation, which is commemorating the 500th anniversary of the painter’s death, contacted Chouinard and asked her to create a dance based on the artist.

“My company was performing in Prague at the time,” recalls Chouinard. “We met for 15 minutes and I said ‘Yes.’”

Chouinard worked with her dancers over an 18- to 24-month period, with many interruptions as the company toured.

“But I like to create with interruptions,” she explained. “You can step out of the work and come back to it. When you go back, it gives you a new momentum.”

Critics in Europe and in Toronto have called Chouinard’s Garden of Earthly Delights a work of “raw gusto” that brings the Bosch triptych to life, that it is magnificent, bold, delightful, provocative and “beautifully unsettling.”

Chouinard believes the work will take the audience into another dimension where they have never been before.

“It is a profound experience for the audience. Art can be an aesthetic experience, a spiritual experience, an emotional experience that affects you on intellectual, physical and philosophical levels, and this is what I hope to give to the audience, and I want to do this because I love when I am experiencing masterpieces in painting or music or sculpture. It’s like an encounter. It’s like coming back home.”

The Canada Dance Festival has been offering Canadians a snapshot of dance history in the making since 1987. This year’s event, which swung into action July 2, continues through July 16. In partnership with Canada Scene, the dance festival is showcasing contemporary dance works in out-of-the-ordinary venues. Bringing the medium to the community, dancers are performing in various venues across the city.

Lots of free shows – some examples:

From Quebec, Fortier Danse-Création presents dance artist Naishi Wang performing 30-minute site-specific solos every night at 10 p.m. at various outdoor venues through the city, rain or shine.


Roger Sinha brings his Bollywood style flash mob dance to Ottawa, photograph by Kevin Calixte

This Saturday and Sunday, July 8 & 9, at 2 p.m., Sinha Danse of Montreal presents a bit of Bollywood magic outside at the National Gallery, with a 25-minute flash mob project that has amateur volunteers from the Ottawa-Gatineau region working with professional dancers in an intergenerational and intercultural creation called OttaW(olly)Wood.

Vancouver’s renowned choreographer Lee Su-Feh has conceived an immersive dance project called Dance Machine, that has artists and audience members alike entering a kinetic bamboo sculpture to create a unique experience from multiple perspectives. At the National Arts Centre salon at various times from July 12 through 15.

Newfoundlander Anne Troake presents a 3-D film, OutSideIn, which meditates on the human body and its relationship to the natural world. Shot in the woods, the 40-minute film reveals a sublime and disquieting new universe. Canadian Museum of Nature, July 15 at 4 p.m. (includes pre-show chat) and July 16 at 4:30 p.m.

For a full schedule and details about performances, visit



From → Festival

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