Like most professionals, highly skilled and experienced dancers can make their art appear so easy – it’s astounding to see something so beautiful yet so rigorous, and, truth be told, satisfying to see dancers sweat to challenging choreography. That’s my experience anyway, because challenging – in the most positive sense – is more often than not the operative word in Montreal dance…
Known for supporting innovative Quebec choreographers and bringing big names in dance to Montreal, promotion organization Danse Danse finds new ways to warm up winter every year. This January (January 20-21 and 25-28 at Cinquieme Salle), long-time Montrealer (by way of Venezuela), José Navas presents his newest work, Personae, a series of six pieces in which Navas embodies different aspects of himself – meditative, masculine, feminine, vulnerable, forceful, and many modes in between – resulting in an engrossing personal portrait of an artist – with wonderful musical choices to boot.
Danse Danse keeps January hot with the Akram Khan Company’s Vertical Road, January 25–28 at Place des Arts, another feast for the senses from the internationally acclaimed choreographer (whose collaborators include composer Steve Reich and actor Juliette Binoche), blending contemporary dance and Indian classical dance, kathak.
And, since March is still considered winter in Montreal, what better way to end the season than with The Batsheva Dance Company’s Hora, a green-tinged, minimalist yet complex piece by Ohad Naharin, with dancers moving to music from classical and contemporary masterpieces, from 2001: A Space Odyssey to Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. As a bonus, throughout the season, Danse Danse features talks and meetings with the artists before and after select performances.
And that’s all just one window into Montreal dance. Agora de la Danse, a hotbed of talent and an essential spawning ground for new artists, presents wonderful and strange creations from Mandala Sitù, Jean-Sébastien Lourdais, George Stamos, Ghislaine Doté, Van Grimde Corps Secrets, Les Imprudanses, Deborah Dunn and Crystal Pite throughout the winter season. Meanwhile, more challenges are in store from Tangente, with multi-media works, “idea-based dances” and more.
Contemporary dance company Montréal Danse celebrates its 25th Anniversary in early February with new creations by innovative local choreographers known for boundary pushing: Jean-Sébastien Lourdais’ Three Skins (February 1–3) and George Stamos’ Husk (February 8–10), at Agora de la Danse. The work of Montréal Danse extends beyond the stage, however, and into Montreal’s broader community: Dance Against Violence workshops provide expressive space and emotional support for women who have lived with domestic violence.
Also community-minded, Studio 303 continues to demystify dance, offering new perspectives on movement, performance and how our bodies travel alone and together in everyday life. In late February, performance space Usine C brings dancer-performer Lisbeth Gruwez’s Birth of Prey in from Belgium. And the Bouge d’ici festival, going strong in its third year, showcases a swath of young and emerging choreographers and dancers, to January 21 (cabaret night!). And, lest anyone forget, if you want to show off some of your own dance moves, outdoor electronic-music spectacular Igloofest continues until the end of January.