To say that Danses Buissonières, Espace Tangente’s juried show of new work by emerging choreographers, is eccentric would be a profound understatement. The collection of works dares to disregard the mainstream; it is an exhilarating, controversial, and titillating performance, brimming with idiosyncratic quirks and powerfully moving, jaw-dropping scenarios. The audience at the show’s premiere on October 1 was clearly hungry for cutting-edge dance; they undoubtedly got what they wanted, yet left hungry for more.
Danses Buissonières’ unique, offbeat character is the outcome of the method that underlies its madness. Dena Davida, artistic director of Espace Tangente, says that the aim of the show is “ to create a space for experimentation….we are looking at work that is experimental, innovative, and pushes boundaries.” Six choreographers, selected by a peer-juried competition, comprise the creative team behind Danses Buisonnières. All of them are fresh out of school and eager to convey their unique views through dance. The works these choreographers presented during Danses Buissonières were stunning, individually and collectively. They were vastly different from one another in tone, and invited a range of responses from the audience, from shock to uncontrollable laughter.
Three radically different works were the highlights of the evening. The first of these was choreographed by Barthelemy Glumineau, and was titled Les bras, les yeux (“Arms, Eyes”). The piece began with the abstract movements of a hand emerging from offstage; it then focused in on Glumineau, dressed as a waiter, who exited a restaurant to find an adorable and hungry golden retriever outside. Although they are different species, dog and dancer delivered the same central message through their movements: that awe and servitude are life’s spiritual forces. The dog, silently whimpering for food, and Glumineau, placing elastics over his face, both portrayed images of suffering. The result was incredible.
In contrast to this and other esoteric pieces was a refreshingly humorous, lighthearted dance entitled Un Colon Irritable (“An Irritable Colon”). The dancers moved in fits and spurts, allowing the audience to travel down a torturous path of gastric problems. As dancers convulsed, audience members roared and bellowed; hysteria filled the room. This was an enlightening surprise, which proved that even contemporary dance – often seen as uniformly deep and highly symbolic – can provide an amusing perspective on natural human conditions.
The final piece presented was indisputably controversial. A modern interpretation of the birth of Jesus, the dance was stimulating, sexy, and tantalizing. Covered solely by large wooden crosses, three dancers exposed body parts while partaking in an overt threesome onstage. Covered in hay and drenched with water, one could use words other than “dance” to describe the piece. The dancers’ final pose replicates the traditional image of Mary after giving birth to Christ, a scene that would be remembered long after the curtain fell.
There were other highlights at Danses Buissonières. There were solos and duets marked by primal physicality; the sharp and edgy movements of dancers attached to an invisible remote control, put on pause, rewind, and fast forward; or Dorothy’s tumultuous journey through Oz to the soundtrack of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.”
Danses Buisonnières is inarguably a production ahead of its time. Its highly imaginative perspectives, raw and sincere expression of the human condition, and its rejection of predictability and conformity make for a production that touches on truth and spirit.
*Danses Buissonières runs October 8, 9, and 10 at 7:30 p.m. and October 11 at 4 p.m. at Espace Tangente (840 Cherrier). *