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JOIN US FOR A POST SHOW CHAT:
Saturday August 17, 8:00 p.m.
with Emily Gualtieri, David Albert-Toth, Sashar Zarif and Karine Ledoyen
Facilitated by Louis Laberge-Côté*

Photo by David Cannon
Photo by David Cannon
GLORIOUS FRAGILITY (extract)

Danse K par K / Karine Ledoyen
Montréal, Quebec

Toronto Premiere

Content Warnings: Haze

Karine Ledoyen met with close to 20 professional dancers to collect their testimonies in the form of interviews. The interviews represented the gateway to this new creation. They became the narrative thread in resonance with the written and improvised dance performed by the dancers on stage. The relation between the recorded testimonies, the performative treatment of the video and the deployment of the dancers on stage organizes a plural dramaturgy. A game of comings and goings between reality and fiction that echoes far beyond dance.

Glorious Fragility is a success. The four dancers-performers are dazzling, sharing friendship, laughter and complicity, but also uncertainties and exhaustion. A psychological piece, Karine Ledoyen uses simplicity and poetry to treat dance in the most human way possible.

– Céline Stoquart, Sors-tu.ca

Choreographers: Karine Ledoyen, in collaboration with the interpreters

Dance Artists: Jason Martin, Simon Renaud

Design, manipulation and performative processing of video on stage: Andrée-Anne Giguère

Artistic Consultant and Repetiteur: Ginelle Chagnon

Sound Designer: Mathieu Doyon

Dramaturge: Katya Montaignac

Lighting designer: Martin Sirois

Costume Designer: Jennifer Pocobene

Broadcasting Agent: La Tribu, Suzie Larivée

Coproduction: La Rotonde, Centre chorégraphique de Québec

Residencies: Agora de la danse, Banff Center for Arts and Creativity, Maison de la culture Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, La Rotonde.

Acknowledgments to the dancers who participated in the interviews:
Anne Barry, AnneBruce Falconer, Annie-Claude Coutu Geoffroy, Catherine Martin, Daniel Soulieres, David Rose, Frédéric Marier, Isabelle Gagnon, Judith Lessard-Bérubé, Laura Pinsonneault-Craig, Luc Ouellette, Lucie Boissinot, Lucia Mongrain, Marilou Castonguay, Martine Lusignan, Michèle Febvre, Nancy Lavoie, Raphaëlle Perreault and Yves St-Pierre.

Karine’s Headshot by David Cannon

After completing her dance studies in Quebec City in 1999, Karine Ledoyen performed in France and Quebec. In 2005, she created her company, Danse K par K. In 2006 she received the François Samson award for her significant contribution to the development of contemporary dance in Quebec City. She initiated the Osez! concept presented on harbourside piers in Quebec and in Europe between 2002 and 2010, and again in 2017. Innovative and poetic, Karine Ledoyen’s creations inject vibrant and valued energy into the contemporary dance landscape. Karine Ledoyen is currently reflecting on her artistic practice as part of a master’s degree at Laval University.

Interview with Karine Ledoyen by Grace Wells-Smith
English to follow.

Grace Wells-Smith: I’m curious about the interviews you conducted for your piece.

Karine Ledoyen: J’ai fait 20 entrevues, j’ai entendu toutes sortes de choses des danseurs. Ce sont des danseurs professionnels qui ont quitté la scène et qui font maintenant autre chose. Chaque témoignage est unique, chaque chemin est unique, chaque façon de faire la transition est unique, il est impossible de généraliser tout ce que j’ai reçu comme dans les entrevues. J’ai reçu de très belles choses profondes qui font ressortir les forces de l’humain, de sa résilience, de son courage, de sa résistance, c’était des paroles qui m’ont touché parce que ce sont des gens qui ont le vécu de la danse, qui connaissent la danse dans leur corps, leurs peaux, leurs sensations mais qui ont aussi le recul. Ils sont capable de donner une valeur à la danse à travers l’ensemble de leur vie. J’ai plus l’habitude d’entendre les danseurs me parler, ceux qui font la danse mais ceux qui ne la font plus c’est autre chose, avoir un regard extérieur à la danse tout en ayant l’expérience de ce que sait que de vivre de ce métier, c’est très touchant parce que c’est un regard qui nous dit dans quoi nous sommes et que nous ne voyons pas parfois car nous sommes en train de la faire, nous n’avons pas le recul. C’était un exercice fort riche pour moi, j’ai beaucoup appris dans ce processus et bien sur par la suite c’est venu teinter le travail avec les danseurs actuels de la pièce qui eux n’ont pas quitté la danse. Nous avons beaucoup parlé en studio sur ces différents sujets qui sont traités dans le spectacle. Ce qui est beau c’est la diversité des points de vues, c’est la complexité, comme dit Michèle Febvre ( l’une des interprète que j’ai eu en entrevue) elle me disait : «on peut dire une chose et son contraire». C’est ça qui m’a touché. D’avoir accès à une multitude de points de vues et de façon de faire… Je trouvais l’humain beau dans toute sa fragilité et c’est ça que j’ai voulu mettre de l’avant.

GWS: Why were the interviews touching?

KL: J’ai aussi reçu des choses tristes, qui étaient difficile de nommer encore, j’ai eu des danseurs qui étaient dans la transition au moment de l’entrevue, c’était frais, c’était difficile pour eux, certains étaient dans l’oeil de la tempête émotive, j’ai pleuré après certaines entrevues. J’ai pleuré parce que j’avais l’impression de recevoir une vague de leur intimité, de leurs pensées les plus intimes et c’est comme si je me projetais aussi dans cette émotivité, j’étais en mode d’hyper empathie. Et quand je les écoute, ça me touche encore, parce que je me souviens de ce moment précis avec eux et d’avoir eu accès à ce moment de franchise et de vulnérablité. Je sais aussi que maintenant le temps à passé depuis ces entrevues ils sont dans de nouvelles aventures et que la vie continue!

Pour le spectacle c’est ce qui m’a nourrit… on entend des extraits dans le spectacle de ces entrevues.

Dans le spectacle j’ai gardé un signe éditoriale autour des entrevues où les danseurs me disaient pourquoi ils aimaient tant la danse, les moments décrient de ce que c’était pour eux de danser, oui on parle des moments de rupture ou transition ( tout dépend de chacun) mais tout ceci réunit ensemble j’avais envie de célébrer la danse à travers ce spectacle et faire le good bye party de l’une des danseuses en entrevue qui disait qu’elle aurait souhaité un petit quelque chose de spéciale lorsqu’elle avait quitté la danse. C’est ce qui m’a allumé dans la création de ce spectacle. Je suis partie de cette idée de la célébration plus que du désarroi.

Photo by Guzzo Desforges
Photo by Guzzo Desforges
La vie attend

Parts+Labour_Danse (David Albert-Toth & Emily Gualtieri)
Montréal, Quebec

Toronto Premiere

Content Warnings: Profanity, haze, gunshots, loud music.

Evoking political philosopher Thomas Hobbes’ reasoning that human nature consists of little more than the vacillation between our desire for power and the power of fear, LA VIE ATTEND explores secrets and strategy in a group of performers. They are teammates, instigators and witnesses.

An illusory work that itself vacillates between dance and theatre, LA VIE ATTEND transposes Hobbes’ social contract theory to the theatre, and thus to the contract into which the contemporary audience member and the interpreter enter together, hope and fear in hand.

Choreographers David Albert-Toth and Emily Gualtieri of Parts+Labour_Danse open the season with panache. From power, to fear, through waiting and silence, the viewer is lulled into a succession of choreographic, theatrical and architectural paintings, alternating between laughter, interrogation and hypnosis.

– Mélanie Boisliveau, DF DANSE

Choreographers/Chorégraphes: David Albert-Toth, Emily Gualtieri

Dancer-collaborators/Danseurs et collaborateurs à la création: Joe Danny Aurélien, Marc Boivin, Simon-Xavier Lefebvre, Milan Panet-Gigon, Nicolas Patry

Dance Artists/Interprètes sur scène: David Albert-Toth, Joe Danny Aurélien, Simon-Xavier Lefebvre, Milan Panet-Gigon, Nicolas Patry

Music/Danseurs-collaborateurs Musique: David Drury

Lighting designer/Concepteur d’éclairages: Paul Chambers

Costumes: Angela Rassenti

Outside eyes/Regards extérieurs: Ginelle Chagnon, Étienne Lepage, Jamie Wright

Partners/Partenaires: Danse-Cité, Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ), Conseil des Arts du Canada / Canada Council for the Arts, Circuit-est centre chorégraphique, CCOV (Centre de création O Vertigo)

David and Emily’s headshots by Guzzo Desforges

Montréal-based PARTS+LABOUR_DANSE explores the absurdist conflicts of the human experience with physically charged work that charms and challenges. With co-creation and shared authorship at the core of their relationship, David Albert-Toth and Emily Gualtieri approach the creation of their works with curiosity, persistence, and a theatrical sensibility, prying open the more intricately folded corners of our humanity. The company has produced and toured its works throughout Canada since 2011, including The Calculated Risk Project (2011), In Mixed Company (2013), La chute (2013), Re:Pairing (2015), and La vie attend (2017). It is currently involved in several new creations that will premiere over the next two years.

Interview with David Albert-Toth by Grace Wells-Smith

Grace Wells-Smith: Tell me a bit about the piece.

David Albert-Troth: Our last piece before that was called In Mixed Company, and were inspired by the theatre of the absurd and by certain authors like Kundera, certain authors from Eastern Europe and the theatre of the absurd and dealing with the way we are in society. So, In Mixed Company specifically made reference to the way men and women act when they’re in society together versus how they act when the opposite gender is present. And looking at the way we filter ourselves, essentially in society versus our private selves. And I think the interior and exterior self is a big through line in our work. How we are and when we are with ourselves and how we are when we are with other people and what that process is like. And after In Mixed Company, we kept researching a bit in that same line and started reading a bit more on social contract theory and started reading Hobbs. Hobbs was really the one who caught our main attention.

I think, for me anyway, the thing that really hit me at the core wasn’t so much this idea of political theory or Hobbs’ whole thought process. It was really more just his first postulate. His first thoughts, which I found incredibly harsh but true, which is that everything we do can be boiled down to an interplay between hope and fear … so that’s really what birthed this idea of La Vie Attend, which is a bit of a play on words. In French, La Vie Attend is how we would pronounce Leviathan, which is his work that deals with all of this. So, when we were thinking about hope and fear, we then put Hobbs away. Hobbes really just served to give us this premise of underneath all of our social interactions, we have hope and fear. And that’s basically it.

GWS: How did that begin your creative process?

DAT: We tried to create games. We tried to create competitions with each other. It’s also a cast of five men and that was a conscious decision that we made to look at strategy within a group of five men … we have men ranging from their twenties to their fifties. We wanted to create some sort of unification in one characteristic in order to amplify the diversity in another. We also thought that men are, like, f***ing d*cks throughout history. And if we’re going to look at this idea of an almost perverted obsession with strategy and with hope and fear, um, and maybe a warped relationship between the internal and external selves, we both thought that, for sure, we should be looking at this with men. How men play with each other, how men hide things from each other, how we keep secrets, our relationship to communication with other men.

GWS: How are the men in the piece responding to that idea?

DAT: They love it. I mean I think it’s kind of warped too because I think a lot of us men in dance were in dance because we don’t fit traditional molds for the masculine archetype. But we still have that within us. We are also dealing with cis men … Emily and I don’t work a lot on gender questions necessarily because we’re also a heterosexual couple. Those aren’t our questions to ask.

We feel there are other artists better suited to tackle those issues. So we try to work with what we know. But both Emily and I feel that we don’t quite fit into this traditional mold of what it means to be a man or a woman, even though we identify as cis.

Right off the bat, we are working with men who are very in tune with themselves, who are very questioning, who are sensitive and think about how they communicate and what their place is in the world. They’re very responsive to this kind of work and to this kind of questioning. They’ve all done work in the past, some more than others, that straddles dance and theatre so they’re also very comfortable taking on personas and investigating different cracks and corners of humanity, and they all really like to move. They like to use the body. So, it made for a really interesting cast of men. We have Marc Boivin, who unfortunately can’t be there with us in Toronto, I’ll be replacing him, who’s in his fifties, and we have another dancer in his twenties … The way Marc deals with this material at fifty-something is so much different than someone who’s in his twenties. He’s still asking some of the first questions of love and relationships and all of that. So they all challenge each other in a really healthy way.

GWS: So, what does that make the piece look like?

DAT: That’s a really good question. I think it makes the piece look striking and unstable. The piece isn’t a consistent piece. It doesn’t keep one tone throughout. This piece doesn’t work in a minimalist structure. It’s quite a maximalist. It feels like a mosaic. It feels like a mosaic between different registers, between the body and voice, between presence that feels more internally geared. Like all of them for each other and the audience is there to simply witness. At other times, the presence is geared solely to the audience and the fourth wall is broken and audience is addressed directly … The piece itself really waivers between moments of violence, moments of tenderness and these different registers between the performer and the audience. It’s meant to be a little destabilizing. It’s meant to leave us with a question, but also with a bit of a sweetness in the mouth.

Photo by Sashar Zarif
Photo by Sashar Zarif
Kismet: Opposing Destiny

Sashar Zarif
Thornhill, Ontario

World Premiere

Content Warnings: Haze

This all male quartet of sound and movement is a ritual that explores the choice between accepting fate or creating destiny.This dance work is in the contemporary style of Maugham that is informed by the Sufi and Shamanic transformation ritual.

Attesting to the sacredness of stage with the witnessing audience the performers embody the space and time in raptures of interrupted stillness and silence.

“Forfeit the call of stillness with glides of movement.
Claim serenity in the midst of passing and possessing.
This journey of outlandish fragmented assumption is
refreshing in its uncertainty, offering the possibilities of magic.”

Zarif managed to take even those inexpert in his cultural heritage on a journey of discovery; spiritual and transcendent.

– Michael Crabb, Dance International

Choreographer/Composer/Dance Artist: Sashar Zarif

Dance Artists: Mateo Galindo Torres, Luke Garwood, Yiming Cai, Sebastian Oreamuno

Lighting Designer: Arun Srinivasan

Costume Designer: Sashar Zarif

Sashar’s Headshot by Sashar Zarif

Sashar Zarif is a multi-disciplinary artist, educator and researcher whose practice invites a convergence of creative and cultural perspectives, steeped in traditional, ritualistic, and contemporary dance and music of Western/Central Asia. He has toured in over 36 countries promoting cultural dialogue through fieldwork, residencies, performances, and creative collaborations. Zarif holds a Master of Dance Degree from York University, where he also directed courses in dance and performance studies from 2004 to 2012. He has been awarded the title of Master of Dance, as an honorary faculty member of Uzbekistan State Institute of Choreography. In 2012, Zarif received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Interview with Sashar Zarif by Grace Wells-Smith

Grace Wells-Smith: Where does the title come from?

Sashar Zarif: It comes from my recent research and works comparing choreography and improvisation. My work focusing on rituals has made me wonder about pure improvisation, structured improvisation and composed or choreographed experiences with story-telling, music and dance. The concept of destiny and kismet parallels this concept.

GWS: What interests you about fate and destiny?

SZ: Fate, as far as I understand, portraits a pre-determined reality. Of course, in many doctrines they might argue that, but as far as the functionality of it among the human is, is to believe in the pre-determined reality. This way of looking at it will take the “responsibility” off our shoulders.

On the other hand, destiny is there to be made. We make our destiny, so we are responsible for every choice we make in regard to the outcome. Karma you might want to say.

I do believe in both concepts if fate would refer to the probability of random things to happen, and density is the play.

This all male quartet of sound and movement is a ritual that explores the choice between accepting fate or creating destiny. This dance work is in the contemporary style of Maugham that is informed by the Sufi and Shamanic transformation ritual.

Attesting to the sacredness of stage with the witnessing audience the performers embody the space and time in raptures of interrupted stillness and silence.

GWS: Can you tell me about the style of Maugham?

SZ: Mugham today is referred to as a sibling of the astern modal musical practice, an ancient art form adopted by different cultures spanning from North Africa to North East Asia and Northern India. Historically, Mugham was, in its essence, the expression and realization practice of Sufi school of thought that integrated the trio of arts consisting of poetry, music and dance.

Mugham produced poetry to convey thought. It used music to internalize it emotionally, and employed dance to manifest it. Throughout time, however, this compact trio slowly eroded into its constituent parts. It no longer functioned as a collective. Mugham lost its cohesion, but loosely maintained its ties. Poetry continued to evolve on its own, developing new techniques and methods. Music grew separately but made passing references to the poetry.

And as for dance, it practically disappeared. Dance remained little more than a mirage in Sufi practices that employed Mugham or in some traditional folk dances that tried to resurrect it in symbolic gestures rather than in genuine movements. I aimed to reconstruct this lost classical dance tradition by reintroducing dance into the poetic and musical practices of Mugham and tying it to its philosophical foundation.

Mugham inhabits deep inside the earth, and far into the endless universe. Mughamists express and embody life by walking on the vulnerable edge of emotions. Stemming from Sufi literature and poetry, musical structure, calligraphy, folk and ritualistic movements, I developed the

“Dance of Mugham” form. The elements of its integration were of thought (poetry), rhythm (nature), feeling and sensing (music), and practice/action (dance).

Dance of Mugham is a style of performance in which integrated solo works can exist (incorporating dance, music and poetry) or in collaboration with singers and musicians. It also emphasizes more intangible elements that are between the conscious and the unconscious mind.

Dance of Mugham is simultaneously a revived historical art and an evolving contemporary form.

With over twelve years of research and reconstruction, my goal was and is to reinstate the nearly lost element of dance back into the ancient form of Mugham. The word Mugham is drawn from the Arabic word Maqam meaning “place.” I have called it the “Dance of Mugham” because it is where the physical and the sensual senses do not overshadow the spirit and/or its echoes – human moods.

I have developed a base syntax, vocabulary and structure out of which to work in Dance of Mugham. Using this material, I can both co-exist and function in the Dance of Mugham through sequences of movements that embody the content in a specific context.

My process is to bring further depth and understanding into my performance practice. The personal and body memories invested in me, from life and the lives of my forbears, have given birth to guidelines for performance in which this physical practice and the sensual senses do not over shadow the spirit and its echoes in the human mood. As the dance form continually evolves, I work towards the goal of breaking down barriers through greater cross-cultural understanding.

Use a small part of yourself and your energy on life and the bigger part on your spiritual development. Beyond our physicality and our five senses, our spirit can be accessed through a generous study of our ongoing process of experience. Where the word “performing” is usually applied to it, Dance of Mugham can be more accurately described as “experience.”

The educational part of this dance is mainly oral through memories and stories. There is a need to personally connect to memories and/or experiences in the story/the content. Even the technique is thought through using examples from daily life.

My practice looks into memory in order to transform the idea of the time into a continuum rather than a dimensional concept, which results into the concepts of past, present and future. By approaching the concept of time as a continuum one will not stuck in the past or preoccupied by the present or lost in the future.

It is essential to approach memory as a wrapped gift, acknowledge the wrapping, absorb the box and/or the exterior, but enjoy and use the content the essence.

As much as I might resist the concept of a nomadic existence, life itself is a nomadic process. If one believes in the concept of reincarnation or even in the scientific concept of composition and decomposition, this very process has a nomadic nature and is nomadic. Problems occur when this nomadic process is interrupted. When a tradition is intact or when a tradition is ignored in both cases the nomadic nature of it is interrupted.

Life has to be like a running river always flowing always in motion, moving forward.

Here I would like to share with you one of my poems:

human dancing

the peace i am searching for is in me, i know

it’s closer to me than i think, i know

the flesh i have taken for granted is full of stories

stories that could only merely echo in words

could only reflect a trace in images

could only trigger emotions

the mind

this sight

my forbidden emotions in forgotten commotion

are shadowing my stories, the tales with no past and future

the epic of now, right in every pulse

and yet the only audience is my breath

ears has been anticipating for the wind to bring us the news

the same way that we have been raising our arms to the sky to find god

lost as ever, we keep the hope and look at the endless universe out there

and keep missing the limitless multiverse within us

we need to listen to our breath

GWS: Why is the cast all male?

SZ: Why not? Historically, in many places the profession of a dancer for male was controversial and challenging. Of course, at the same time for a woman it also was not an acceptable social status.

So, I am sensitive to all that, to the history of woman in dance and the history of man in dance with all their challenges. Of course, I acknowledge the challenges and benefits that humans face in life based on the different conditions that we have been born into and living in but at the same time, I believe unless and until we humans stop categorizing, prioritizing and exorcizing different elements and members of this world we live in, including humans and their condition, we will be suffering from social dysfunctionalities from one end or the other. Hope this make sense to you.

For many years I worked in Manila with a female cast, and few years ago I decided to experience the all-male cast. This work is a continuation of that phase. However, since last year I have brought both experiences together in studio and for the upcoming year I will have a cast of humans dancing.

*About the Moderator:

Louis Laberge-Côté is a Toronto-based dancer, choreographer, teacher, and rehearsal director. An acclaimed performer, he has danced nationally and internationally with over thirty companies and has been a full-time member of Toronto Dance Theatre (1999-2007) and the Kevin O’Day Ballett Nationaltheater Mannheim (2009-2011). His work has garnered him a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Choreography, as well as ten other individual and ensemble nominations for Performance or Choreography. He has been recently appointed Assistant Professor of Dance at Ryerson University and holds an MFA in Creative Practice from the University of Plymouth (UK).

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