Dance in Kalamata

She won’t be there this year either: The explosive Canadian dancer Marie Chouinard, who impressed audiences here several years ago with «The Rite of Spring,» is currently preparing for the premiere of a new production in Montreal. Instead, one of the choreographer’s troupe members, Lucie Mongrain, has traveled to Greece, and, tonight, will launch this year’s Ninth International Kalamata Dance Festival, in the Peloponnese. The evening’s program will also feature a second performance, slightly later, at another venue, by Inbal Pinto. This year’s festival will focus on solo performances. Mongrain will set the festival in motion with Chouinard’s choreography «Etude No. 1» at Kalamata’s Municipal Cultural Center, and will perform it tomorrow too. Distant, tight-lipped and precise, Chouinard, who was interviewed over the phone by Kathimerini ahead of tonight’s opening night in Kalamata, seems to open up only when she feels that she is being understood. «I’m moved by pure beauty, intelligence. I’m interested in approaching substance. What do I look for in a dancer? Feeling, primarily,» remarked Chouinard from faraway Canada. Born in Quebec, the sensitive choreographer and dancer’s work stood out early on. Chouinard’s early endeavors – authentic, daring and original – depicted a style that was deeply organic and earthly. For 12 years, between 1978 and 1990, Chouinard occupied herself with solo choreography, and performed herself until 1998, when she decided to abandon the stage. The artist had established her own troupe long before this, in 1990. In her pursuit of truth and beauty, the choreographer draws from human fragility, as well as from the joy of life. Chouinard has received much recognition for her considerable and multifaceted contribution to dance. Accolades that have come her way include New York’s Bessie Award and Glasgow’s Paper Boat Award. At present, besides preparing her latest production, «Chorales,» a group choreography with music and movement, Chouinard is involved in the making of a film about dance and is also working on a revived version of «The Rite of Spring,» based on the music of Igor Stravinsky, with the backing of a symphonic orchestra. «I prefer to use the medium that suits each particular situation. Sometimes it’s solo, other times it’s group performance. Sometimes it’s not even choreography. It could be painting. It depends on the needs of the work and which tools you opt to use to present it,» commented Chouinard. «I don’t think that solo choreography has greater power than group choreography. The manner in which I work depends on each dancer’s personality,» she added. Commenting on her «Etude No. 1» to be performed in Kalamata, Chouinard remarked: «It’s a study of motion in space on a blue wooden floor. Lucie Mongrain, an exceptional dancer – who in her free time plays electric guitar with punk and rock bands – moves on stage wearing tap shoes. It’s a frenetic solo that examines the mystery of the body and takes the dancer’s capabilities to extremes. The sounds produced by her feet unite with Louis Dufort’s soundscape.» For Chouinard, needless to say, the link between sound and movement is an extremely important matter. «The first link that I establish is the sound of breath. With this piece [‘Etude No. 1’], it’s the first time I’m interested in the sound of feet! It’s a learning experience. Sound is linked very closely with dance and rhythm. That’s why it is important that the dancer has rhythm that is visible and distinct,» said Chouinard. «Musicality, for me, is to be able to follow the music as if it [movement] is a musical instrument added to the piece. That’s when you dance musically. The music is one instrument, and the dancer the other. It’s an adventure. You follow the music and you don’t follow it… You’re so close that you can create your own melody.»

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