La Otra Orilla

January 29, 2016  


Élie Castiel

The name of the Montréal dance company led by dancer/choreographer Myriam Allard is Spanish for “the other shore.” It’s rather a beautiful image that speaks to another way of thinking about movement, as a means to deconstruct it. To evolve, to be of one’s own time, to avoid getting stuck in an awkward, unhealthy sentimentality towards art, to be always gestating. Everything is to be started anew, but differently, instinctively, almost as if it were the natural course—this is what Allard, at the height of her game, conveys.

In the case of flamenco, an ancestral almost pagan dance, in which ritual has been lost in the mists of time, purists might find the very act of transforming it indecent, and the artist responsible a heretic.

But Moi et les autres, a work of incredible originality about the solitude of beings and about connecting with the other, or conversely rejecting them, lends those Gypsy steps a troubling, truthful narrative close to our reality. As a sociologist/choreographer, Myriam Allard arouses our senses. Pleasure rubs shoulders with intellectual reflection, the rhythm of the zapateado is at once fevered and soulful.

The body thus becomes an erotic and infernal mechanical object prepared to commit every excess precisely because it possesses a soul. It fills the stage, as if this were a widescreen film. Horizontality reaches unheard-of levels of perfection. The tableaux are impeccably constructed, following one after another and never the same. The metamorphosis occurs not just in terms of dance, but continues through stage direction that is as superb as it is astute.

Magnificently orchestrated, the show is founded on an inexorable logic bringing together dance, story and movement. This is what Allard proposes here. We get the impression that, as with sociopolitical issues, diverse artistic disciplines converge, eliciting a new understanding of the nature of the art of performing.

From time to time, surely out of respect for the sources of her inspiration, the choreographer subtly incorporates some traditional steps (not to mention the red shoes and red abanico/abanillo, or fan), which we recognize with a certain nostalgia, and a smile. Like in the good old days. And just like that the present is back, firmly reasserting itself.

Moi et les autres is not a title selected at random. It’s the result of a profound analysis of the performers’ art, a questioning of uncommon intellectual and moral rigour. Above all, this is a show that offers a rich feast for the eyes and ears.

MOI ET LES AUTRES | Choreography/Stage direction: Myriam Allard, Hedi Graja –On stage: Myriam Allard (dance), Hedi Graja (vocals), Miguel Medina (percussions), Caroline Planté (guitar) – Musical arrangements: Caroline Planté – Double bass: Mathieu Désy –Stage design: Hedi Graja – Lighting: Étienne Boucher – Costumes: Marianne Thériault –Technical direction: Philippe Pelletier – ExcerptReveries of a Solitary Walker by Jean-Jacques Rousseau – Production: La Otra Orilla, Centennial Theatre, Danse Danse | Length: 70 min. (no intermission) – Until February 6, 2016 / 8 p.m. – Place des Arts (5e Salle).