Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: (Montreal / Dance) Le Délire Domestique

The everyday spectacular
by Chad Dembski, Editor, Dance

Le Délire Domestique is the latest creation by choreographer Deborah Dunn featuring seven solo dances focusing on daily domestic life. Based on rituals of cleaning, making food, and taking care of animals the seven dancers each take their own stab at the proposition. With a strong sense of how women are still forced into these roles of housekeeper even when also attempting to pursue careers. We all may say it’s a new world where men or women can take care of the home but there is still an automatic assumption that home duties fall to women.  

A brand new shiny fridge sits open on right side of stage, a solitary woman staring at it from across the stage.  This fridge would be the central element to the piece offering up many surprises and providing a thread to tie together the various creations. The first piece, Cake, is a pleasant exploration of the making the dessert most associated with parties and celebrations. This piece seemed to act as an introduction for the whole evening where at least one section of each piece has moments with or for the audience. This audience interaction instantly connected us with the performers who tended to otherwise be stuck in a private world only they understood.  

When Delia Brett appeared in the downstage corner of the stage I became excited for the various possibilities how seven solos could possibly be tied together. Each solo bleeds into the next, each time with a different take on how one piece can fade out and another can begin its life. Music and sound also played a massive role in creating new worlds and emotions in an otherwise usually minimally adorned mise en scène. France based musician Colleen and live music artist Lukas Pearse provided music that ranged from gorgeous and melodic to multi-layered feedback from a single source. The recordings of a child talking in conversation and animals also provided great layers of meaning to the domestic experience.  

In my opinion it was the choreography that was the least ambitious aspect of the production, at times thrilling but mostly too interested in the mundane. The great challenge of solo creation is the lack of dynamic that comes automatically with groups of two or more. Here the relationships are based in audience relation and with some objects in the space. Still there are always standouts in mixed programs and some pieces here stand out. 

Strawberries with Audrée Juteau and Jumbalaya with Dean Makarenko are two electric pieces that were constantly engaging. They both showcased a fantastic balance of humour and horror that were perfectly placed in the middle, almost as anchor for the entire evening. Still by the final slow piece and clocking in at one hour and 30 minutes it was hard to sustain attention for the duration of the piece. I sensed that choreographer Deborah Dunn and her collaborators worked extremely well together, yet possibly too well, editing on a few pieces was badly needed. 

Challenging  an audience is never a bad thing and the wonderfully creepy exploration of domestic life reminded me at times of David Lynch or The Corrections. There is a maturity and confidence in the work that is impossible to ignore and I hope audiences go more with their curiosities than criticisms on Le Délire Domestique. 

October 22 - 25

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