with Mathieu Campeau, Justin Gionet, Ivana Milicevic / Esther Gaudette, Frédéric Boivin
When the body confesses. This is how Daniel Léveillé, one of the most pioneering and original protagonists of Quebecois dance, presents his trilogy – presented as an Italian premiere in Venice and for the first time in sequence – the result of an investigation lasting a decade. It is divided into three “tempos” with appealing titles: Amour, acide et noix (2001), La pudeur des icebergs (2004), Crépuscule des océans (2007).
It was with Amour, acide et noix that Léveillé radicalised his work, by literally removing from the dancer every “accessory of identity”, from costume to make-up and décor; but he also removed every form of expressiveness and aestheticism to present it in all its natural and austere nudity. In declarations made by the choreographer, the trilogy is “a descent into the archaic depths to expose the implacable dimension of the human condition”.
A constant in the choreographic writing of the trilogy is the economy of movement, comprising brief sequences repeated in a thousand sequences; the relationship between stasis and movement, which makes the dance advance through a series of “staccatos” and seems to snatch the gesture from immobility; the “rigorous” contrast between the lyricism of the music and the total absence of emotion amongst the interpreters.
To the notes of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Amour, acide et noix expresses the existential solitude and unsuppressible desire for contact. The four dancers – three men and a woman – come and go from the stage in military steps and in twos and threes are interpreters of a minimalist vocabulary formed of sudden movements isolated by long pauses, in which prevail the jumps that thrust the dancers upwards.“Out of these discrete elements”, writes the New York Times, “ Mr. Léveillé has truly created a dance that communicates the extraordinary effort required to simply live”.
Daniel Léveillé (Sainte-Rosalie - Québec, 1952) abandoned his architectural studies in 1977 to dedicate himself to dance, attending the lessons of Lawrence Gradusdella of the Entre-Six Dance Co. And of Martine Epoque of the Groupe Nouvelle Aire. Le Bas Rouge de Béatrice, with Louise Lecavalier, and Ocre are his first choreographies. Between 1978 and 1981, he was one of the dancers with Françoise Sulllivan –a choreographer who shuns fashions and ‘isms’– for her return to the stage. After 1981, he founded various groups, including O Vertigo, with Ginette Laurin, which was hailed in Europe too, and in 1991 created the company that today bears his name. At the same time, he began teaching at the Department of Dance at Quebec University in Montreal.
His early works in part reflect the theatrical vein that appeared in the 1980s. Voyerisme, L’étreinte, But I love you, Ecris-Moi n’importe quoi, Le sacre du printemps are some of his works from these years. Successively, the theme underpinning his works was that of emotion, how an emotion can give rise to movement. Which is why he makes use of jumps, shivering and yells, considering the repetition of movement his method of composition. Traces I, II, III, IV, V, VI (1988) represent his greatest results in this direction.
Since 2001, the naked body has become his preferred choreographic material. The body reveals a disturbing beauty and a strange fragility. This radical display of the body through few, clear and repeated movements accentuates his asceticism. These are the years of the trilogy presented here. Amour, acide et noix won the Dora Mavor Moore prize offered by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, and the Public Prize of the Croatian Movement & Dance Institute (2004). In 1982, Léveillé won the Jacqueline-Lemieux prize awarded by the Canada Council for the Arts.