FTA Les jolies choses

Photo by Julie Artacho

Catherine Gaudet’s dancers step up to power in Les jolies choses

“It’s a journey from something very naive and conformist to something very liberated and powerful,” says Gaudet, whose show is on this week at Festival TransAmériques.

“It’s hard for me to talk about a show before the premiere,” says choreographer Catherine Gaudet.

“Of course, the sense and the significance of it all show themselves in the piece itself, when it’s performed.

But for the sake of an interview about Les jolies choses, her show premiering this weekend at the Festival TransAmériques, she gave it a go.

“It’s a journey from something very naive and conformist to something very liberated and powerful,” she says. “The dancers come out of their shell through the piece, and that gives them power.”

Five dancers on the stage: Francis Ducharne, James Phillips, Caroline Gravel, Scott McCabe and Leïla Mailly.

“It started from a desire for complexity and rigid mathematics. We wanted to create complex and physical movements,” explains Gaudet, noting that the choreography is a collaborative process with the dancers.

Rapidly and in unison, using physically intensive movements and extreme execution, the dancers move like a machine “that swallows them up but that the dancers use to rise above.”

They move from something very open to something very right, which Gaudet described as a wheel turning in on itself, turning throughout the duration of the performance.

“They use this machine like a ritual to liberate themselves, and reach a higher state of being.”

Gaudet said that she doesn’t begin a choreography with a base idea propelling the piece forward. What the piece contends with reveals itself much later — maybe not even until they’re premiering it in front of an audience.

“It’s important for me to work with dancers that I’ve known for a long time. They know my style, my preoccupations, and my choreography is influenced by them and their personalities,” says Gaudet.

“I don’t need to do the whole explainer of what my work is all about, they know my intuitions, sometimes before I even do.”

An unexpected turn Les jolies choses takes, which explains its title, is subverting conventions of what is beautiful and conventional.

“We’ve been thinking about it like an ‘anti-cool’ piece. We’re playing the idea of bad taste, to play around with some conventions of dance and performance,” says Gaudet. “We wanted to do something that was really out there and original and cool, and it’s as if to get there, we took the opposite, uncool way. It kind of defies logic.”

“Will that show to the audience?” It’s up to them to decide. ■

Les jolies choses runs from May 28 until June 1. For more details and to buy tickets, please visit the FTA website.

For more Montreal arts coverage, please visit the Arts & Life section.