Thursday, October 9, 2014

Review: (Montreal / Dance) Hors Je

(photo by Ben Philippi)
Never Alone
by Chad Dembski, Editor-Dance

Hors Je is a duet.  A duet with the audience, a duet with video projection and a duet with a vast collection of dancers, both professional and non-professional. These duets take many forms over the evening, all inspired from a choreographic phrase that Dominique Porte gave them. Since there are almost 30 diverse collaborators the results vary quite a bit from each other and yield a lot of interesting results. A highly experienced dancer, Dominique Porte carefully considers each interpretation and finds a way to connect back to each one. She does this while also staying connected to the audience and speaking to us directly about her process, both past and present. 

Dance research on stage has become more and more popular in contemporary dance as artists look for the new. Once the reliance on repeating choreography was let go it allowed a flood of new ideas that are still being experimented with. There is of course an inherent risk in this type of work, where a show is as much a rehearsal as a finished product. I found it both inspiring to see this type of risk taking happening but also frustrating at times as there were numerous breaks to speak. I kept waiting for a momentum to take over the piece but it remained fragmented and intellectual throughout the evening. Still the charisma and confidence of Dominique Porte was infectious and she constantly was able to keep my attention. There was a venerability to opening her process of this piece that was extremely admirable. From video segments with her outside eye and video director, to her explanations of a lot of collaborators' movements and ways of being I felt involved in the creation in some small way. She had a fantastic command of bringing the audience with her on her journey, which felt personal and  contemporary. 

I think this piece would appeal to any dancers in school or who have been working for quite a few years and want to see something original and different. It displays a great example of how experimentation can be crowd pleasing and easy to follow and not alienate its audience. It should also be commended that the use of video in the piece was extremely strong, obviously thought out since the beginning. Too often video feels jammed into a piece, put there because it looks cool or is contemporary but in this case it was an essential part of the performance. I look forward to this Fall and the exciting programming happening at Agora de la Danse where they have a wild assortment of artists on tap for the rest of the year. 

October 8 - 10

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