Par B.L. eux

July 2, 2008

Par B.L.eux

Benoît Lachambre & Louise Lecavalier: Is You Me

Festival TransAmériques, Montréal

May 23–26, 2008

By the end of this 75-minute, highly inventive duet created by Benoit Lachambre, Louise Lecavalier, and visual artist Laurent Goldring, the crowd was on its feet hollering, and the dance scene looked strangely new. In part, the excitement sprang from finely wrought choreography built on surprising turns in scale and imagery, and in part from movement vocabulary attuned to the gestural minutiae of everyday life. Set on a white stage with a raked slope, the dance begins when former La La La Human Steps star Lecavalier appears alongside two black flattened hoodies. She begins emulating a digital projection of a distorted, crouching body that appears to be rocking from side to side, arms outstretched. From then on, the dance plays copycat with unexamined daily gesture: the banal reach of the body getting dressed, the terrifying expression of the body getting angry. Movement shifts location like contagion, transmitted from dancer to dancer via contact or from live body to graphic representation, as Laurent Goldring’s line drawings—projected digitally over the playing area—responded to the shapes being made onstage. A particularly apt use of visual arts, Goldring’s contribution makes tangible the comparison of dance to geometry and architecture as simply lines in space.

    But the magic lay equally in the movement. At times Lachambre’s mere stance, back to the audience, feet planted, can create a riveting solo of rocking, popping, hunching, and lunging, like a club kid giving an anatomy lesson. Elsewhere, a sustained bit by Lecavalier, made of torqued body, clawing hands, acute angles, and twisted face—part Mary Wigman, part Deborah Hay— offers a fierce exploration of the grotesque. There is much play with illusion, as when Lecavalier and Lachambre join forces to make one elongated body; and with scale, as when the pair stretch up their hoodies, placing one hand in the hood, to add about two feet to their stature, and produce a stunning duet of hooked arms and stilted pace. The dance begs comparison to hip hop, the avant-garde, even extra-terrestrial life forms, but to go there would miss the point. Is You Me brings elegance to the fleeting, the virtuosic and the awkward.

(Photo: Louise Lecavalier, by Andre Cornellier, courtesy Par b.l. eux)