Les Cheminements de l’influence (Pathways of Influence), Laurence Lemieux’s new solo dance work, opened the recently competed Citadel centre for contemporary dance and filled the space with a lively, at times austere elegance and vigor that brought aspects of Quebec politics to the forefront.
As a tribute to Lemieux’s father Vincent, an eminent political scientist and sociologist, the work utilizes a variety of spoken recordings ranging from the 1984 NHL playoffs to Quebec Politician Camil Samson’s 1970 “rant” regarding the state of what he considered to be a deplorable provincial tax system.
The overall sixty-minute program, frequently punctuated with evocative piano compositions by Gordon Monahan, is a series of lyrical and gestural images that respond to the music and the recordings with great precision and focus.
Lemieux enters the space in simple elegant streetwear, quickly reveals a red and black checked shirt, and then, over the course of the hour she gradually removes upper layers of her costume in order to complete a mesmerizing tour de force ranging from athletic balletic movement to a painstaking gestural treatment of the edge of the playing area as she carefully treads, in single steps, at times a stylized crawl, delineating a kind of territorial circumference for the spoken narrative and accompanying movement.
Lemieux’s powerful presence never falters, and there are gorgeous visual moments, due to the combination of stark, cool evocative lighting by Gabriel Cropley, the simple costuming, and the Hockey recordings. At times one might be reminded of the direct playful forms inhabiting the open compositional field of a William Kurelek painting. Lemieux empowers and politicizes the playful as she presents these sharply delineated forms through her lone dancing body in a way that subtly transforms all of the elements of her choreography into a beautifully layered dance narrative as homage to her father’s detailed and painstaking work.
Lemieux has cited Vincent Lemieux’s constant support of her work as an artist. When she says that he once “quoted a French mathematician who said that the master of dance surpasses the master of thought, because the dancer needs full control of the mind and body, while the thinker only needs the mind” (NOW article, Feb 9-15, 2012) she reveals her own commitment to the complex ideologies that frequently influence her art. She has been quoted in an interview as saying that she “can’t dance sociology or political science.” (NOW) However, her current work, being premiered in a building situated on the edge of a massive revitalization plan for Toronto’s Regent Park area, seems to do just that as she assembles a multi-media sound and visual landscape that allows audiences to listen, learn, and observe the delicate, complex movement of body and mind as they inhabit a variety of complex ideologies, at times political, at times sociological, and always punctuated by gorgeous sound and movement.
Les Cheminements de l’influence (Pathways of Influence) runs at the Citadel
304 Parliament Street, until February 25th