Culture  The movement is the message

In 1941, American Ballet Caravan, the fledgling dance company headed by soon-to-be-legendary choreographer George Balanchine, presented a work that sent shockwaves throughout the dance world. The ballet, called Concerto Barocco, had no plot. There were no characters, and the dancers wore plain costumes. The work was about two things – music and movement – and that had really never been done before in the 400-odd-year history of the form.

The dance world has come a long way since that moment in history. We’ve seen the rise of modern, contemporary, and avant-garde choreography; we’ve seen dances performed to silence instead of music, and dancers dancing without clothing or wearing jeans and sneakers and taking an abandoned lot or empty warehouse as their stage. But for whatever reason, when a new work is choreographed that is just about movement – that is really invested in celebrating and questioning movement – it still seems just a little bit revolutionary.

Such is the case with Danièle Desnoyers’s newest work, Dévorer le ciel. The established Montreal choreographer was given carte blanche by presenters Danse Danse to create a new work for their season. The result is a meditation both on movement and what motivates it. Desnoyers has always been a choreographer who really understands the way the body moves. The dancers in Dévorer le ciel make the most of this knowledge, allowing the audience to see the geography of each individual movement they make, from its root to its fulfillment. It’s a new way of watching dance, and, combined with the performers’ energy and sense of play, it makes for a uniquely entertaining experience.

Dévorer le ciel runs January 14 – 17 at Centre Pierre-Péladeau (300 De Maisonneuve E.). For more information visit dansedanse.net.