Montreal excels at the art of performance – theatre, dance, music, circus and everything in between, whether it be on a stage or in a street – and also fittingly revels in performance that challenges conventions, plenty of which can be seen at this year’s Festival TransAmériques, including a show that literally goes to the dogs…
Now in its seventh edition, Festival TransAmériques , May 22 to June 8, has made a name for itself by featuring Canadian and international performances that challenge conventions of theatre and dance, altering our perspective on what performance is and how it can affect us. This year’s festival features 22 shows full of radical hope and insight into the state of our world. Six international new works debut at the FTA, long-awaited well-known artists make their mark on Montreal, and crowds will gather around three free outdoor events, namely Dachshund UN, Australian artist Bennett Miller’s replica of the United Nations in Geneva, populated by 47 dachshunds (with the permission of local owners, of course), outside at Place des Festivals, May 24-26.
Opening the festival is Berlin-based Schaubühne theatre company director Thomas Ostermeier, who comes to Montreal for the first time, with his interpretation of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, a story of power and manipulation, the choice between morals and money, and having a dissenting voice among the status quo. Political motivations again rear their heads as Italian company Motus (Daniela Nicolò Motus Rimini with Enrico Casagrande) performs the world premiere of Nella Tempesta, Melbourne’s Back to Back Theatre sees a Hindu deity travel to Nazi Germany in Ganesh Versus The Third Reich, Canadian choreographer Ame Henderson’s What We Are Saying is inspired by the Occupy movement, and Winners & Losers, from Vancouver’s Theatre Replacement, stages a game-like confrontation of personal-meets-political values.
Also in Montreal for the first time is South African choreographer Robyn Orlin, with her multi-dancer show Beauty Remained for Just a Moment Then Returned Gently to Her Starting Position…, a colourful, humorous quest for beauty, performed in extravagant, 100%-recycled costumes. New Zealand choreographer Lemi Ponifasio makes profound connections between earth, sky and humanity in Birds with Skymirrors. French New Wave dancer-choreographer Boris Charmatz leads 24 dancers in Levée Des Conflits, and Swedish artist Markus Öhrn captivates and disturbs with Conte d’amour.
Some of Montreal’s most talented artists bring new dane shows to the FTA this year too: famed Montreal choreographer Marie Chouinard’s In Museum in the galleries of the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, performance artist and dancer Dana Michel plays with stereotypes of black culture in Yellow Towel, Marie Brassard’s poetic, musical performance Trieste, dancer-choreograper Louise Lecavalier’s So Blue, Frédérick Gravel and Étienne Lepage’s Ainsi Parlait, Ginette Laurin’s Khaos, and more. Also outdoors, beginning in front of the Grande Bibliothèque, see 13 “urban personas” with bells ringing, traverse the Quartier des Spectacles in Robin Poitras’ Bells 13, May 30-June 1. Along with live performances, the festival features film screenings, parties, dance nights and a number of special events for artists and audience to interact, imagine even more kinds of performance, and, as always, have fun.