Sunday, May 6, 2012


The recent Danceworks presentation of the Bouchardanse program Histoire d’amour was a lyrical, at times interactive journey through the throes of romantic loyalty, joy, and frolicking misadventure. Costumes by Cheryl Lalonde gave the evening a crisp, slightly dusty, beautifully faded sense of a kind of  timeless nostalgia - suggesting a variety of periods and faintly reminding one of Fragonard’s classic series of paintings The Progress of Love. With performers swaddled and drenched in stylized romantic lines, and at the outset, a kind of charming all white clown like garment, a sense of divine decadence filled the space and flirted with the imagination.

 Sylvie Bouchard et Brendan Wyatt. 
Photo: Joseph Michael Photography 

The presence of Christian Laurin as a robust and powerful narrator, capable of almost bouffant-like movement and facial expression, transformed the piece into a thoroughly engaging evening of dance theatre. Moving from ancient Greece through the middle ages and ending in explorations of the early modern period and the romantic era, the choreographers created a seamless flow through ideas around Platonic love, same sex coupling, courtship, melancholy, madness and excess.

At one point Laurin’s narrator character had him interacting in a playful way with the audience as spectators were asked to scribble one word emotions associated with their first love. These amorous emissions were then gathered by a selection of “love bunnies” and then interpreted in movement to the delight of one and all. Sylive Bouchard’s exquisite capacity for a rhythmic and staccato like movement of the limbs gave this sequence a grand comic elegance, while Brendan Wyattt’s expressive agility and his ability to engage with Bouchard in an effortless form of gentle athleticism marked portions of the program with a kind of buoyant, and at times explosive, gracefulness. And there was a bit of tastefully shrouded nudity for both performers to indulge in, and that is always pleasant at the best of times.

Gorgeous projections  by Ayelen Liberona, and simple moving screens by Cheryl Lalonde, framed the playing space with a strong interactive quality that drew one into the layered format of dance, acting, and evocative music (Thomas Ryder Payne). Lindsay Zier-Vogel’s writing/text editing was at once playful and informative, with a hint of improvised narrative space for the performer to move in and out of.

Ultimately, the evening was a belated Valentine’s Day missive for anyone interested in the ongoing spectacle of love - and all of the madness that it entails.


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