An intimate look at PROPULSION, a Creation Laboratory with Édouard Lock and 16 artists.
1 ICONIC CANADIAN CREATOR,
7 INTERNATIONALLY IN DEMAND ARTISTS & MENTORS,
9 EMERGING MONTRÉAL ARTISTS,
3 ORGANISATIONS COMING TOGETHER TO SUPPORT THEM.
Video Édouard Lock
The pandemic has been devastating for the professional dance community, perhaps most profoundly for our freelance dancers and recent graduates. In the midst of a global crisis and pandemic, I asked myself: What, if anything, can I do to give them some leverage as our industry begins to reopen?
As an artist myself, the Théâtre Maisonneuve was always my favourite theatre — I performed there hundreds of times with Les Grands Ballets and also with La La La Human Steps. More recently, as a teacher and rehearsal director, I’ve been fortunate to return there with eight different companies. The théâtre is a sacred space for all artists, but this one had a profound impact on my career and my life. It provides an experience you cannot learn or teach in a studio. It houses magic.
This inspiring theatre has 1,453 red seats, a tiny red light on the bottom lip of the first balcony, and six red ‘Sortie’ signs helping the artists situate themselves by mapping out the circumference of the audience when the lights go down and the curtain goes up. Dancing on this vast stage with acoustics capable of infiltrating every cell of your being can be life changing.
DANSE DANSE & DIAGRAMME
When longtime collaborator and partner Danse Danse reached out with the possibility of a residency in this amazing theatre, it felt as though a gift had fallen from the sky. Adding to this the fortuitous timing and support of Diagramme, a solid foundation for Propulsion was established.
Now it was time for the cornerstone.
Édouard is an internationally recognised icon in the dance world. He had a profound, positive, and empowering impact on me at various stages of my career as a dancer and artist. His concepts, notions, and beliefs about our relationship with time, space, the public, conditioning, and refining your craft have inspired, challenged, and nourished me for decades.
Édouard has an uncanny ability to intuitively tap into the tool boxes of artists from a diversity of dance practices and vocabularies. He has a breathtaking ability to comprehend, empower, and highlight the individuality and complexity of each artist with a focused level of velocity and precision.
For once there was an advantage to Covid-19: he was in Montréal. And he accepted the invitation.
TYING IT ALL TOGETHER
I designed Propulsion to spark and foster mentoring, networking, research, creation, stage experience, work experience, CV building, and skill development as artists navigate together through daily training and the creative process of an internationally renowned choreographer in one of the largest theatres in Québec.
We brought together seven incredibly gifted and internationally established artists hailing from GöteborgsOperans Danskompani, Les Grands Ballets, Compagnie Marie Chouinard, Ballet Preljocaj, Les 7 Doigts de la main, RUBBERBAND, and Cirque du Soleil with nine recent and upcoming graduates from L’École de danse contemporaine de Montréal, L’École supérieure de ballet du Québec, and Arts Umbrella for a week of research exchange.
Observing this very special group of artists working together, such a diverse plethora of humans, cultures and backgrounds, was one of the most astonishing representations of real life I’ve ever seen on stage. They embody a dream I never knew I had.
What Edouard has pulled out of the artists, and what they in turn have pulled out of him, is simply beautiful. Every person involved in the project was challenged in one way or another. The process of each artist meeting, pushing through, or circumventing these challenges was powerful, honest and very human. It bonded the team together very quickly.
The harmony, communication, integrity, understanding, cooperation, and camaraderie that resulted precipitated growth each day. I hope it will continue to resonate and nourish everyone involved for a long time to come.
~ Lisa Davies | Artistic & General Director
This laboratory explored upper body gestural detail within choreographic structures took place in Théâtre Maisonneuve (Place des Arts) in Montréal in May of 2021.
FROM THE ARTISTS THEMSELVES
Asked about their experience with Propulsion.....
"I loved diving into the creative world of this renowned choreographer and above all, discovering ME through his ideas. It was both a wonderful encounter with Édouard, but also a new encounter with myself.
Something that really resonated was I remember Edouard telling us that the movement is at our service and not the other way around. At that precise moment, this simple phrase reversed my approach to the work. The movement is there to enhance us and not to hinder us. "
~ Sara Harton | Mentor & Artist
"I was reminded of the joy of focusing on what truly interests us individually as artists. Seeing the gestural language that Édouard works with and has been developing for years was incredibly inspiring and solidified that our authentic creative interests are what lights and guides the path of creation. If we truly believe and follow those instincts and are curious about" them, every choice is the right one.
Édouard is such an icon in the dance world, it's always an honour and deep pleasure to work with someone who knows their craft so well and still gets inspired by others."
~ Dorotea Saykaly | Mentor & Artist
" It was truly a rare opportunity to have a window into the creative world of a renowned creator like Édouard Lock. It was very enriching to listen to Édouard talk about his vision, his choreographic work and especially the relationship of the dancer / artist to the public. It was an inspiring week, as much for my work as a performer on stage as well as a metteur en scène and artistic director.
I really enjoyed having a window into Edouard's creative process. Seeing how quickly he generates choreographic material as a first starting point. Then after it is learned and first embodied by the dancers how he reworks it (adding, cutting, modifying) with infinite precision. "
~ Samuel Tétreault | Mentor & Artist
"Working with a choreographer who has a super precise choreographic method, which at the same time belongs to and is created for each individual on the team, gives me hope that dance can belong to each individual body and that we can project who we are through an imposed movement."
~ Rony Joaquin Figueroa | Emerging Artist
"I really enjoyed working with a "master", and getting a glimpse into this complex and beautiful world. Édouard was amazing at sharing the depth of his process. I really enjoyed the research aspect, the limited time gave just enough pressure to force us to work very hard to grasp as much as possible but also made us understand the limits of what was truly accomplishable within the time frame. I really enjoyed seeing the desire to work, to achieve.
So many things Édouard said resonated. I don't want to quote him in fear of misquoting him. His notions of public vs performer - How to invite the eye of the public- how to engage the public in a dialogue. The role of the choreographer to be at the service of the dancer as the dancer is the one to carry the ideas to the public.
Just being invited to be a part of this project did something for me, as an aging artist there is some sort of fading that happens. This process made me realize that the embers may not be as flashy as the flames but they burn as hot. I felt like he saw me in a way I don't see myself. And this made me realize that I still possess a multitude of untapped possibilities for myself."
~ James Phillips | Mentor & Artist
"I really enjoyed working with various but precise details of the face, posture, hands and all the way to fingertips. It deepened the reason and the intentions behind all of these minute movements that we do on a daily basis.
I was able to forge deep bonds with other artists who inspire me greatly. I feel that we created a small community of artists filled with hope and determination and that made me feel supported.
The experience of working while on such a big stage was also one of the things that stood out to me most. We dance differently in a theatre, the use of our gaze is not the same, nor the sensation of the body in the space, the kinesphere is much greater.
I learned to persevere through the difficulties of learning choreographic phrases and especially with memorization: To accept that I am a dancer, but also human, and that I must give myself permission to make mistakes. To give myself the right to be."
~ Chanelle Allaire | Artiste Émergeant
"The group had incredible energy and there was a diversity among the dancers which made the experience unique. Everyone arrived with a different background, but everything was very harmonious, everyone had their place. I was able to learn a lot and make a lot of exchanges with dancers that I don't normally have the chance to meet in this way.
Édouard is a highly intelligent choreographer who has thought deeply about movement and how to most efficiently and effectively connect with audiences. His approach to movement and the gaze towards the audience gives dance a new meaning. It is not a performance or self-representation as in ballet, but rather a state of being present in the performance. Be in the present moment and perform the movements for yourself and invite the audience in."
~ Rose Trahan | Emerging Artist
"It happened a few times during the process, that I heard dancers apologize to Edward when they had a blank. Edward consistently replied, "Why are you apologizing? ". And that's when my reflexion about stress and the pressure to perform really subsided. It was the perfect opportunity to research and experiment, without having the stress of presenting this creation in front of an audience a few days later. Learning for the sake of learning, and simply to improve.
So I understood, early on in the process, that to be satisfied with the work we were experiencing with Edouard, we had to actually let go, and not be so hard on ourselves. Because it's when we disconnect from our senses, and lost in our feelings of comparing ourselves to others and put unnecessary pressure on ourselves that we fail to perform at the peak of our abilities. I will keep this reflection with me, and know that it will be useful for other projects in the future."
~ Sarah-Maude Laliberté | Emerging Artist
"Édouard pointed out to a performer that leaning too much towards the other is putting yourself in a position of vulnerability. This was revealing to me, especially in a context where the presence of a dance icon can tempt oneself to be forgotten."
~ Aurélie Ann Figaro | Emerging Artist
"To witness how other artists in the room were going through this process was VERY nourishing to me, because everyone was out of their comfort zone."
~ Paco Ziel | Artist & Mentor
"I learned how important it is to stop, to take a break to just watch and absorb everything that's going on around us. It's easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of life and go through many important moments almost without realizing it. For five days, time stood still and I focused solely on the choreographic work of Edouard Lock. I learned so much just by watching his way of working and watching the work of the dancers who were part of Propulsion whether they were the young graduates or the established artists. I come away from this experience with tremendous gratitude and optimism for what the future will bring me.
I loved watching the artists around me. Everyone has their own method of learning and everyone has their own gestures and quirks. It just goes to show how unique we are in our own way and it gave me confidence in myself and in my differences. Throughout the week, I felt as though I discovered myself and it was such a pleasure that I now want to continue to have this mentality and this open-mindedness in all the other facets of my career and life."
~ Élodie Scholtes Labrecque | Emerging Artist
"The process was very enriching and exciting. I really enjoyed diving into the richness of the material and specificity of Edouard's work. I also really enjoyed getting to dance with such a diverse group of artists, both new and familiar faces. It was a really special dynamic in the room. "
~ Hannah-Jane Clutchey | Emerging Artist
"Something that Édouard mentioned multiple times was that we need to let the audience come to us instead of us always performing for them. In my training I was often told to perform for the audience and give them our performance. When I switched to dancing to bring the audience, the intention behind the movement was different and allowed a new movement quality to emerge."
~ Isabelle Sue Pilette | Emerging Artist
"In this moment full of uncertainty, I left Propulsion refreshed and motivated to keep working and attaining my next goals. I feel compelled to explore further states of focus and attention, as well as complexity in movement."
~ Diana Leon | Artist & Mentor
"Propulsion has certainly had a profound impact on me artistically and professionally. It has allowed me to rediscover my love for the theatre. Additionally, having the chance to observe each artist's exchange and interpretations in their own unique way was fascinating to witness."
~ Elljay Timmangen | Emerging Artist
" It really resonated when Edouard mentioned that we don’t need to perform for the audience. The mere things that we do should draw them in. That our dance is almost like a secret conversation and we are letting them in.
I also absolutely loved when Édouard had us play with different qualities of movement; thus, different emotions. It left me wanting more."
Partners : Danse à la Carte, Danse Danse & Diagramme - Gestion culturelle
Artistic & General Director of DAC : Lisa Davies
Choreographer & Film : Édouard Lock
Music : Ólafur Arnalds
Camera : Kunal Ranchod
Artists & Mentors : Véronique Giasson, Sara Harton, Diana Leon, James Philips, Dorotea Saykaly, Samuel Tétreault, Paco Ziel
Emerging Artists :
Graduates of École de danse contemporaine de Montréal : Chanelle Allaire (2019), Aurélie Ann Figaro (2022), Rony Joaquin Figueroa (2022), Isabelle Sue Pilette (2022)
Graduates of École supérieure de ballet du Québec : Sarah-Maude Laliberté (2017) Élodie Scholtes Labrecque (2018), Elljay Timmangen (2017) and Rose Trahan (2018)
Graduate of Arts Umbrella : Hannah-Jane Clutchey (2019)
Technical Director : Hervé Holdrinet
Assistant to the director & artist : Stephania Suarez
Rehearsal director : Giuseppe Canale
Guest teacher : Sarah Gibson