Saturday, October 24, 2015


Solitudes solo                                        


five raw sentences, one pure thought

“A choreography is literally built upon the dancer’s backs, their shoulders, abdominals, quadriceps, knees, and with their souls, moods, temperament, doubts, intelligence, courage, and generosity.”
Daniel Levéillé  - upon receiving the Prix du CALQ (Conseil des arts et des letters du Québec, 2012/13)

Opening with a robust bout of very physical dance, Daniel Levéillés' Solitudes solo, as part of the Danceworks 2015/16 Mainstage Series, is overwhelmingly true to an elegant sense of complex form following varied repetitive - yet intricately varied - function. Five dancers present a series of broad powerful dance phrases that feature the body as punctuating receptacle for individual prowess and corporeal beauty. Bach’s sonatas and partitas for solo violin embrace the singlehanded virtuosity of the choreography and the execution. Twenty minutes into the sixty-minute program and one may begin to long for something a little less committed to one consistent thread of muscularity and half-naked, firmly planted limbs and follicles moving majestically through a variety of truly impressive arms, legs, torsos, heads, and mid sections that possess the uncanny ability to weave in and out of themselves and create, at times, puppet-like fluidity that has a moving sculptural quality about it. And this may very well be the point of Solitudes solo as run-on sentences are broken by the commas and exclamation marks of new bodies - until all of the bodies appear together and reveal the continuity and complexity of five syntactical figures as one beautiful paragraph.

In the opening solo legs become the pivotal body part that plants each new gesture finely within the expansive, sharply defined square playing space. Each dancer replays this fascination with our walking parts as simple underwear like costumes reveal the body as a mutli-faceted landscape of bump and crevasse, sinew and complex syncopated wordsong. The music/grammar metaphor may provide a way of seeing each solo as a version of the phrase that comes before. One female dancer (Esther Gaudette), among four men, breaks that syntax with a varied form and reveals the complexity of repetition and limb obsessed phrasing as a way into the solo as a subtly diverse component of the overall ensemble. Dancers strategically enter the space as their disconnected counterpart leaves, gracefully and emphatically taking the stage and replacing one singular sensation with another – not so unlike the body that came before and yet a refreshing look at a similar form of flowing, finely crafted flesh as movement.
Diversity takes a subtly driven back seat until one sinewy body appears in bright white underwear, running the risk of becoming a moving Calvin Klein tableau of cloroxed proportions. And yet the agility and elongated limbs, contrasting the stockier bodies that comprise half of the ensemble, further explicates the narrative of this beautiful assemblage of ensemble inflected, repetitive, and glorious solitude.   

Very near the end the recognizable and uniquely beautiful version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel  Kamakawiwo’ole inserts a surprising contrast to the classical score comprising most of the program, and ends Solitudes solo with a faint, almost ringtone version of the iconic song as it gently flows in and out of the final moments. Almost disappearing at times, these beautiful vocal and ukulele infused strains give Solitudes solo an ironic and insightful quality that both puzzles and amuses, entertains and enlivens – working its way into our hearts like the seeringly beautiful run-on sentences of Bach’s brilliant, soothing, and direct violin solos that have come before.

The same body that begins the program ends the program – in a sense quoting all the preceding phrases - punctuating them with yet another version of the same virtuosic rhythm and melodic musicality of the forever gesticulating verbal muscularity of the boldly silent body…………………………………………………………  


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