An evening with new versions of choreographies that revolutionized dance in the 20th century.
The Canadian choreographer Marie Chouinard has a name of the “shaman of contemporary dance”. Her performances are inhabited with archaic and animalistic creatures, with grotesque and sexually loaded movements. This is valid also for the double-bill evening programme presenting her own interpretations of the revolutionary ballets Prelude to “The Afternoon of a Faun” and The Rite of Spring.
When he wrote the Afternoon of a Faun in 1876, the poet-symbolist Stéphane Mallarmé fulfilled a dream: to write poetry for the theatre. The poem’s musicality inspired Claude Debussy to compose Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun in 1894. In 1912, in Paris, Vaslav Nijinski created his first choreography for the avant-garde company “Ballet Russ” in Paris based on Mallarmé’s poem. In it, he gave life – intense and sensual life – to his own raw and animalistic erotic nature, thereby abruptly breaking with classical tradition.
In her approach to this revolutionary Faun, Marie Chouinard chose to draw on the spirit of Nijinski’s creation. She studied photographs of his performance and in her choreography she kept the flat and horizontal profiles which, like the original choreography, recall ancient Egyptian frescoes and the bas-reliefs of Greek vases. On the stage, a faun is brought to life, as if coming from ancient times. In this solo work, the seven nymphs of Nijinski’s performance, are symbolized by seven beams of light.
The Rite of Spring with Igor Stravinsky’s music and Nijinski’s choreography from 1913 marked a turning point in the history of dance in the age of modernism. Marie Chouinard again finds an original impulse for new interpretation. Unlike previous choreographers working with Stravinsky’s piece, she constructed her Rite around solos, seeking to awaken in strong, clear movements the intimate mystery of each dancer. “There is no story in my Rite“, she explains, “no development, no cause and effect. Only synchronicity. It is as if I were dealing with the very moment after the instant life first appeared. The performance is the unfolding of that moment. I have the feeling that before that moment there was an extraordinary burst of light, a flash of lightning.”
In 1978, the Montreal choreographer Marie Chouinard presented her first dance work, Cristallisation, establishing her reputation as a highly original artist. This first piece was followed by thirty solos performed on international stages now regarded as landmarks in contemporary dance of the past 30 years. In 1990, she founded her own company. From then on, the COMPAGNIE performs all over the world. In 2007, the COMPAGNIE moved into its own building, Espace Marie Chouinard in Montreal.
Many of the COMPAGNIE’s pieces remain for a long time in its repertoire, such as The Rite Of Spring danced for more than 20 years already. Her pieces can also be found at the repertoire of different ballet companies all over the world.
Marie Chouinard is also an author, a set and lighting designer, a photographer and a film maker; her opus includes poems, multimedia pieces, photo installations, films and music videos.
Over the years, Marie Chouinard has developed her own dance technique, now taught by herself or her dancers during workshops or master classes.
In 2011, she created LES PRIX DE LA DANSE DE MONTRÉAL. Named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2007, Marie Chouinard has received several awards including the Bessie Award, the title of Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France, 2009) a. o. Her productions have been presented at leading international forums and venues such as the Venice Biennale, the ImPulsTanz Dance Festival (Vienna), Tanz im August (Berlin). Théâtre de la Ville (Paris) a.o.