Les Ballets de Montreal November 16, 2007
By Glen Creason
In one of the most original and thought provoking shows this season, Les Ballet de Montreal thrilled an enthusiastic, mixed age audience for an intense hour plus of jazz dance at the Performing Arts Center on Friday evening. The impeccably produced program was billed as a “messenger of an alternative…a rejuvenator of the soul and bringer of hope” which it certainly lived up to on this night. While dance may be the expression of the emotions with the corporeal body as its instrument, the Ballet de Montreal really put this concept into a wonderfully textured and colorful narrative. The show was refreshingly high-class in every aspect.
The first half of the show was entitled “Mapa,” choreographed by Rodrigo Pederneiras and the Brazilian influence showed especially in the second portion with its rhythmic patterns bouncing in between a samba-like beat. The costumes here, a sort of MC Escher in motion gave an air of fantasy to the movement. While the show is all about the individual expressions of certain dancers it is done in harmony with the entire troupe. The detail of the choreography is very textured and the motions so in sync, the overall effect becomes spellbinding. The subtle changing music-scapes composed by Marco Antonio Pena Araujo move from a lyrical electronica to an ethereal aria to the percolating folk sounds, inspiring the seemingly boundless energy of the talented young ensemble. While director Louis Robataille has gone to great pains to allow each dancer to express their own personal art, the crisp harmony of the members on stage is breathtaking. When the dancers sank to the stage at the conclusion the crowd reacted with ecstatic cheers of appreciation for the piece. The second half of the program offered a continuation of the energy and creativity of the program with “Les Chambre des Jacques,” choreographed by Aszure Barton. This half was the most engaging in my opinion as the entire ensemble participated in dances of the joys and struggles of day-to-day living. It may be that the opening French pop music gave extra inspiration because the dancing was electric for the next forty-five minutes, running the gamut of human emotion. Without a single word being spoken we could feel the dreamy possibility of romance, the dizzying feeling of being in love, the anger of rejection, a playful kind of unbridled public celebration, a secret slinking jealousy, the glow of continuing love, high-anxiety loneliness and most certainly an undeniable sensuality. Bodies moved in small orbits around each other while the sound climates changed like the myriad moods of the lovers and losers on the stage. Certainly the music offered an appropriate variety including the French folk of Quebecois poet Gilles Vignealt, classical great Antonio Vivaldi, the café sounds of Les Yeux Noirs, the Cracow Klezmer band and even Roberto Iglesias. Sometimes words won’t describe a feeling accurately and maybe this was one of those times when the bodies in motion told the tale much better than ink on the page.