The title of the latest dance piece by Montreal-based choreographer Dominique Porte – Ulysse, nous et les sirènes – suggests recognizable and relatable themes: the universal trope of the individual’s journey, as well as the worldly temptations that he or she encounters therein. Porte, though, is reluctant to interpret the piece’s elements as direct translations of the Homeric plot. On the one hand, she conceded the universality of her inspiration. “We are all Ulysse [with] a desire to go somewhere else,” she says. But she described The Odyssey as functioning primarily as a “tangible reference” for her work, not a blueprint. This approach has allowed Porte to maintain the autonomy and originality of her chosen medium(s): using a mixed-media approach of lighting, song, and dance, Ulysse can palpably expand beyond the linguistic constraints that may otherwise inhibit written expressions.
The piece features four dancers – Marc Boivin, Heather Mah, Victoria May, and Porte – as well as two singers – Isabelle Ligot and Nadine Medawar, whose haunting lulls are eerily reminiscent of the sirens themselves. But whether the viewer conceives of the sirens as being the three female dancers or the two singers, the particular magic of this piece lies elsewhere – in the disorientating effect of the dancers’ movements as they vacillate suddenly between slow and quick chops, fluid and angular rotations, while consistently maintaining a fierce bodily control that speaks to each dancer’s intensive training and expertise. Just when the viewer expects that the dancers may collide into one another, each dancer swiftly veers in another direction; the rhythmic harmony is restored following each crescendo of frenetic sounds and gestures.
Ulysse, nous et les sirènes plays at La Cinquième Salle at Place Des Arts (175 Ste. Catherine O.) from February 3 to 6. For more information visit cinquiemesalle.com.