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la Biennale di Venezia
Main Visual Sezione Danza EN (new)

Dance

Compagnie Marie Chouinard (Quebec)

28 - 29 May, 9 p.m.
Teatro Toniolo
Le nombre d’or (LIVE) (2010, 80’) [European premiere]
concept and choreography Marie Chouinard
original music by Louis Dufort
stage sets Guillaume Lord, Marie Chouinard
lighting Alexis Bowles
costumes Vandal
with Mark Eden-Towle, Eve Garnier, Benjamin Kamino, Leon Kupferschmid, Lucy M. May, Lightinge Mongrain, Mariusz Ostrowski, Carol Prieur, Gérard Reyes, Dorotea Saykaly, James Viveiros
produced by Compagnie Marie Chouinard
in coproduction with The National Arts Center (Ottawa), The Place des Arts (Montréal), Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad
with the support of ImPulsTanz (Vienna)

There is great anticipation for Marie Chouinard, a fundamental name in Quebecois dance and a leading figure in contemporary dance worldwide, much loved by the Biennale’s public. This artist, who for every work creates a universe of inventions and solutions that are always new, is returning to Venice with a diptych: the group show, Le nombre d’or (Live), which has just had its debut in Vancouver on March 13, and – a real surprise – a solo that marks the return of Chouinard herself to the stage after 20 years: Gloire du matin.
 
Marie Chouinard first came to the Biennale on the invitation of Carolyn Carlson in October 1999 with an anthology of solo pieces that made her famous, Les Solos 1978-1998, the result of her complex and avant-garde development before the foundation in 1990 of the group bearing her name. Her debut work, Cristallisation, is a part of Les Solos, a dazzling celebration of the poetry of instincts and vital impulses, and with it Chouinard immediately established a name for herself for the originality of her expressive research. Other pieces in Les Solos are her 1986 S.T.A.B., considered her masterpiece, in which she dances the transformation into woman of a creature rocked by instinctive movements, and the provocative all-female Après-midi d’un Faune of 1987. All works that confirm her inclination to explore new paths of choreography, but also of artistic performance and conceptual creation.
 
Two years later, and again on invitation from the Biennale, Marie Chouinard brought two group works created for her company: Les 24 Préludes de Chopin – in which she tackles the structure of classical music – and Le Cri du Monde, which emerges from her observation of the architecture of the body – explored in terms of tensions – a work that provokes a strong emotive impact amongst the public. And again in 2005, invited by Ismael Ivo for the 3rd Dance Festival, Chouinard presented Body_Remix/Goldberg _Variations, a “spectroscope” of gesture in which the artificial limbs of the body – crutches, cords, harnesses – liberated the movements of the dancers or, in hindering them, reinvented them.
 
Le nombre d’or (Live) alludes in the title to the golden ratio, that “divine proportion” used in the Renaissance to discern beauty and harmony in various works, and used by artists in the past to assure these features in their buildings, sculptures, paintings and music. A measure of ratio and proportion, the golden number became an aesthetic ratio, a model of beauty valid for all the arts, to which were attributed philosophical meanings, to the point of establishing a presumed superiority and stimulating the curiosity of artists throughout the ages. “In nature too”, states Chouinard, “it is possible very often to find this proportion; for instance in the petals of flowers or something like that… or in the spirals of a shell. It is a number that is strangely omnipresent, and bizarre things happen when you start to play with it, because it is as though an infinite variety of artifices and inventions were to open using this number”. Composer Louis Dufort also makes explicit use of this number to compose the music for the performance. If the results of the golden number are operative in nature too, and hence also in humans, then Chouinard’s object of research here is again the body and its secret intelligence, which she translates with a refined yet primitive lexicon. The performance introduces to the stage a humanity at the threshold of a new world: “Le nombre d’or (Live) starts with a birth. Under bright movable lights, two dancers emerged from silky cocoons. They're humans but different from the rest of us: they all have blond spiky hair and wear individualized golden body-hugging clothing, several with varying lengths of fringes like on cowboy pants. Some wore dark black eyeglass frames which made them look nerdy - and very hot. While innocent and childlike at times, these new humans could also be childish and bratty. When they have sex, they rut like animals. Chouinard has a knack of portraying eroticism in such a visceral way it takes your breath away. … At the end, the dancers all came out on stage wearing nothing but enlarged pictures of baby faces over their own faces. Culture scene suspect they were baby images of the dancers themselves but we can't be sure. The contrast between the innocent-looking baby faces atop naked dancer's bodies was extraordinary: it was both humorous and erotic.
(Kevin Griffin, “The Vancouver Sun”)