Culture | Culture Brief: Dancing in the psych ward

When Montreal-based contemporary dance company O Vertigo first premiered La Chambre Blanche in 1992, the work was met with instant critical success and toured worldwide. Last year, choreographer Ginette Laurin, O Vertigo’s founder and Artistic Director, decided to bring the piece back, but first overhauled the original before bringing it to theatres and festivals across Europe. The revival was again immediately successful, and now the 2008 version of La Chambre Blanche is finally coming home to Montreal, with a three-week engagement at the Cinquieme Salle at Place des Arts, beginning tonight.

Centred on an exploration of violence and insanity, Laurin places her dancers in a frighteningly hemmed-in environment that evokes a psychiatric institution, and clothes them mainly in white undergarments, highlighting the sense of helplessness that she works to create through movement. The feeling of confinement is palpable as the dancers wrestle with their surroundings. The audience is quietly pulled in and exposed to the heightened emotional state that La Chambre Blanche powerfully generates. The subject matter is weighty, but also timely, and O Vertigo’s dancers treat it with pitch-perfect honesty.

La Chambre Blanche is at the Cinquieme Salle from February 12-28. For more information, visit