When Even "Hallelujah" Feels Revitalized
by Caitlin Murphy
[Ed: We ran this review during the initial run of the piece; it is back for a short run - November 19-22 - at Centaur Theatre in Montreal.]
On the heels of its triumph, Trad, the Centaur Theatre is offering another enigmatic and enchanting ‘import,’ this one from further afield. Dance Me to the End On / Off Love, a Granhøj Dans Production from Denmark, presents a surreal landscape of theatre, movement, and performance art, through the lens of some very familiar melodies and beloved lyrics – those of Montreal’s own, Leonard Cohen.
The musicality of the show is simply outstanding.
In program notes, director and choreographer, Palle Granhøj, explains his use of what he calls the obstruction technique, a rather Beckettian notion. Essentially, he is much more curious about what happens when movement is interfered with rather than permitted. Because Cohen’s songs so often take the form of prayers, a spiritual manifestation of obstruction, the two men are a good match. Repeatedly we are encouraged to see Cohen’s songs differently by not seeing them at all; we are plunged into darkness for minutes at a time, our focus forced solely onto the auditory experience. Even “Hallelujah,” arguably the most over-done of Cohen’s repertoire (even he’s requested a moratorium) felt re-vitalized through this technique.