Festival TransAmériques: Body Language

Posted on May 22nd, 2009 by .

When is crying a good thing? Because something incredibly beautiful just happened. Expect moving performances and unforgettable art moments at this year’s Festival TransAmériques, an event dedicated to experimental dance and theatre.
Read more for my suggestions and find out why you should go.
In the opening sequence of Hable con ella, a movie by Pedro Almodóvar, German dancer Pina Bausch executes a performance of her masterpiece, Café Müller. The movie’s main character immediately starts crying because he’s moved by what he sees. I always thought that this was the main purpose of artistic expression: to make you feel as though you were somewhere else, in a place where tears are beautiful because they simply mean that you’ve discovered something new and exciting that doesn’t resemble anything you’ve seen before.
On many occasions, the Festival TransAmériques, which runs from May 20 to June 6, has showcased works of art that changed my life in many ways. For more than twenty years, it was called the Festival de Théâtre des Amériques (Theatre Festival of the Americas), but when the program started to include dance performances and experimental art, the name was modified. Some of Québec’s most renowned artists, such as Robert Lepage, Marie Brassard and Wajdi Mouawad, have presented – and premiered – their works here, along with other artists from around the world who also found their second home in TransAmériques.

It’s perhaps North America’s answer to the Festival d’Avignon in France, one of the major, defining events in theatre in the world. Every year, challenging experiences take place in several locations around town.

You can see shows in many different languages, but the most significant one is physical. This year, I bought tickets without even knowing exactly what kind of shows I should expect. Among them are:

Körper, a disturbing and internationally acclaimed choreography from Sasha Waltz about the way we see and interact with the human body.

Singular Sensation, a challenging, heartbreaking experience from Yasmeen Godder, with five dancers creating crude movements to represent our urgent need to connect with the other.

Questo Buio Feroce, an Italian performance inspired by American writer Harold Brodkey, who died from AIDS in the 1990s.

Éonnagata, a work of art combining martial arts and classical dance from Russell Maliphant, Sylvie Guillem and Robert Lepage, with costumes designed by Alexander McQueen.

Transports exceptionnels, a free outdoor performance in Old Montréal, in which French artist Dominique Boivin dances with a mechanical shovel to the music of Maria Callas.

I can’t wait to see these shows, and be surprised or even shocked. And I’m expecting tears to surface, because then, I will know that something magical, unforgettable just happened.

For more info about the Festival TransAmériques, click here.

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