This post is based on mostly on a memory. I watched this dance right at the beginning of the year. I remember, because it was near my birthday and for my birthday I purchased tickets to this dance festival and went to almost every show, enthusiastically knowing nearly nothing about each performance, feeling ignorant and special. This performance, La Chance by French choreographer, Loïc Touzé, premiered in 2009/2010 and it was by far my favourite piece of the entire festival. I came away dumbfounded and awed, wondering what just happened and looking at my body as though I’d never noticed it before.
Every now and then, watching dance does that to you. Someone else’s movements or their physicality gives you a new understanding and approach to your own body. You suddenly look at your ankles with such admiration that they are holding you up. Or whilst texting your friend to say you’ve just left the theatre and you’re on your way, you observe how your fingers can move in such a subtle and exquisite manner across the phone. I don’t know what it is about certain works but they reflect something, meaning and movement bounces off the choreography and on to you and for a while, your body itself is a finely choreographed moving structure.
La Chance did exactly this. I’m trying to remember the finer details so I can tell you exactly why this choreography is so brilliant. But minds are messy sponges that are unreliable at best. Watching extracts of the piece jogged my memory but I doubt the clip on Vimeo will convince you fully of the quality of this work. (Watch it anyway)
French choreographer, Loïc Touzé, asks the question “What must a performer do in order to dance, really dance?” In a short but nice interview with him (if you are French or understand French, check it out) he says something along the lines of being able to do a dance, whilst exiting or leaving behind the choreography; it is not so much an improvisation as a state of, I don’t know, I want to say ‘transcending’ choreography, without sounding completely ridiculous or pretentious. But the amazing thing about this work is that it is not completely ridiculous or pretentious. You may not believe me after watching the Vimeo clip but truly, in real life and on stage, it was a warm and friendly piece, full of vulnerability and humour. Also one falls wildly in love, or at least becomes besotted, with each performer on the stage.
The movement vocabulary is so strange and ethereal, with this comic edge that makes the whole thing genuine, I’m not sure how one arrives at creating movement like that. It can only be through endless workshops. The intensity and intentionality of each movement seems to be thrown away with this sort of disregard or silly approach, but this in no way undermines the quality of the movement. If anything the self-serious-nonsense accentuates the beauty and subtlety of motion.
Another thing that is unique about this work is the stage design. I’m not sure how it worked, the stage was large and black, a cavernous hole or endless infinity curve or something. It was like a large open mouth, dark and terrifying but the dancers would come right to the front, as though to comfort us. Moving in that crazy way, in the somewhat limited space, they transformed this gaping cave into a cozy and intimate nook. The depth of the stage made the whole thing feel like a dream. Particularly near the end, where (if I remember correctly) the dancers migrate right to the very back of the stage, disappearing but visible doing godknowswhat and making us miss them already.
I’m getting so lavish in my admiration for the piece that even I am starting get bored. If you ever come across this work, you know what I would suggest you do.