FTA festival transamériques 2024 Prophétique (on est déjà né.es)

Photo by Werner Strouven

Montreal dance and theatre stages will ignite with Festival TransAmériques 2024

Our highlights of North America’s largest performing arts festival, happening from May 22 to June 5.

Festival TransAmériques has been described as North America’s largest performing arts festival, and the 2024 edition’s lineup reflects that statement of grandeur.

From May 22 to June 5, 20 works of dance and theatre from here and abroad will be presented, bringing Montreal audiences the best in avant-garde, trope-smashing performance art. And festivalgoers under 30 can take advantage of some very affordable rates offered for many shows. 

Ahead of this 18th edition of the festival, Cult MTL sat down with Martine Dennewald, co-artistic director of the 2024 season alongside Jessie Mill, to discuss the highlights.

Prophétique (on est déja né.es)

Nadia Beugré’s piece features six trans performers hailing from Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

“It’s a super lively show that addresses the most intimate issues in these performers’ lives — political and emancipatory and liberatory issues,” says Dennewald. 

Set in a hair salon where the characters work, these larger-than-life personas vacillate between dancing with joy and condemning their oppression, crying out with humour and heartache. Incorporating voguing and traditional dance from Abidjan, the show is complete with its own onstage MC Kevin Kero, who will also be DJing at one of FTA’s famous parties.

“[It’s] a nice example of how many shows at FTA really touch something quite intimate about their performers’ lives or about current social issues,” says Dennewald. “The characters are super lively, irreverent, bold. And really beautiful to watch.”

At Monument-National’s Salle Ludger-Duvernay (1182 St-Laurent), May 28-30

كما روتها أمي – Du temps où ma mère racontait

Opening the festival is Du temps où ma mère racontait, a personal piece of theatre, song and dance by Ali Chahrour of Lebanon.

Recounting two true family stories, spoken in Arabic with English and French subtitles, Chahrour’s work puts motherly love in the spotlight. The audience watches on as one mother loses her son, and another saves her son. The result is a memory play that epitomizes despair and points towards hope — something desperately needed at a time of rising conflict in the Middle East, as the world watches the death toll in Gaza grow ever higher. The decision to open the festival with Du temps où ma mère racontait is inherently a statement.

“Obviously, the piece is rooted in a specific region of the world, and having that show at the beginning of the festival is important to us,” Dennewald says. “It’s really about love, and loss.”

At Monument-National Salle Ludger-Duvernay (1182 St-Laurent), May 22–24


Montreal-based choreographer Clara Furey’s work UNARMOURED will premiere at the festival, bringing to the stage four dancers including Furey herself in this exploration of free, unashamed, uninhibited sexuality.

“It’s going to be about ‘cosmic eroticism,’ those are the choreographer’s words,” says Dennewald. “An idea that maybe desire in our culture is very much linked to norms, behaviours, relationships, pornography even, and that there is this erotic force within us that goes so far beyond all of these classifications. Maybe dance, choreography, arts, is a way to sort of free up that energy.”

The piece features music composed by the choreographer’s brother Thomas Furey, better known by his artist name Twin Rising. 

At Usine C (1345, Lalonde), May 29 and 30


FTA festival transamériques weathering

In Weathering, all that remains of humanity are the 10 bodies balancing precariously on a turning platform mattress taking centre stage. Like a living sculpture, the performers cling onto each other and contort as if bracing against the inevitability of their end. 

American choreographer Faye Driscoll just won an Obie Award with this piece, a distinction which Dennewald says is further proof that it’s high time Driscoll’s work is introduced to Montreal audiences. 

“Faye works with their bodies,”  she says, “but also with sounds and scents and liquids, and even the breath of these performers in order to create her piece.”

Though it’s an open-ended performance that could be contextualized in many different ways, Dennewald highlights its roots in a period of global uncertainty.

“Whatever haunts us as humanity right now, maybe the climate crisis or this feeling of being at the edge of something, trembling at a threshold, whatever haunts us is really in there,” she says. “It’s really something — you’ll never see anything like it.”

At Usine C (1345 Lalonde), June 3–5

FTA Playgrounds

In addition to presenting dance and theatre that pushes boundaries and challenges conventions, FTA’s mission is also to create spaces for collaborative reflection and learning. That’s where the FTA Playgrounds come in: a program of discussions, panels and workshops, the largest of which being the yearly Decolonial Ecology Day.

“This is a whole day where we get Indigenous artists and thinkers, and some non-Indigenous as well, to think about the intersection of the climate crisis and the colonial state of the world, and how those are linked, what the devastating effects of that are,” Dennewald explains. 

This year’s focus is on forests, as they appear in many of the shows in the festival’s 18th edition. 

“A number of the subjects that these artists address are very present in the playground,” Dennewald says. “It’s a great opportunity for the audience to meet the artists to sort of have discussions with them and also walk up to them and ask their questions about their work.”

All in all, Dennewald hopes that festivalgoers feel a renewed sense of solidarity in fighting against injustice. 

“I hope they feel a sense that we’re in this together, and that together, we can really make a difference,” she says. 

“That’s what theatre is. We walk into the theatre as individual human beings and when we leave the theatre, we’ve made it together. And that’s how theatre federates people, brings people together. It’s one of the important missions of the festival.” ■

Montreal dance and theatre stages will ignite with Festival TransAmériques 2024

For more on the 2024 edition of Festival TransAmériques, please visit their website.

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