Reviewed by on    Dance, Professional Theatre  

The opening of New Work/ Nouvelle création by Edouard Locke  and his Montreal Company La La La Human Steps, offered a  most beautiful corporeal landsacpe that  showed us  the space of memory in those invisible moments between the  sudden blackouts and the emerging of shimmering  bodies touched with  shining highlights.  The chiaroscuro effect came alive in a way I had never seen it before.

Memories of Louise Lecavalier ? whose blond mass illuminated his earlier works and whose gravity defying movement seemed to have left its permanent mark on Locke’s choreography. Perhaps. She was his creation but she also inspired his work. An interchange of energy that produced something memorable… This performance is triggered by two huge photographic portraits of women that unfurl from the top of the stage.

A younger woman…and an older woman:  daughter and mother? The younger woman as she will be in the future? All form of relationship is possible  but the essential thing is that they do not communicate openly. They do not speak, they barely look at each other. The have discrete gestures, adjusting the collar of a shirt, touching their own hair, placing their hands in a comfortable position.

The "action" is all happinging within the times a timid smile betrays a warm thought, or a frozen eye suggests something disagreeable.  As the inner space of the mind  takes over, these  photos disappear. The mind becomes a  frantic dancing  female figure who arrives like a shot out of the dark, with almost dangerous rapidity, projected into a   series of duos, trios, quatuors, and solos with men and women.  Baroque-like music played by strings and various tones of saxaphones,  with percussion instruments  while the music remains quiet, discreet but maintaining a solid rhythm that speaks to the bodies that are flying away in front of us.

No one enters, no one leaves. The dancers just appear and disappear as the lights flash on and suddenly  turn off. These creatures come from somewhere that has no material source. Spots from various directions  capture these men and women in a cage of light.  Suddenly, the source  shifts and new spots  appear from another angle..  The whole stage seems to shift as  space is sliced up, and shattered by the shifting lights that  highlight portions of those  twisting, turning, flying bodies. . The arms flap like wings, the long lean legs on delicate points  stretch on and on and on as the female bodies seem to elongate under the control of the male hands that grab their waists, pull up their ankles, turn their arms.  There is a perfect grace to those female  movements, a taught masculinity in those male bodies,  and the competition is obvious. , The male figures at times share the movement, at time control the movement at time manipulate those dancing female forms that slide around them, and are ready to flow between their legs. .

As the eyes of those young and elderly women open up a  space of that which is no longer visible in their minds, these physical forms react like  sparks, fast shifting moments of light, like  elusive memories that defy permanence, moments that  can barely be  grasped  but that can also collide, shatter and dissolve into the shadows.

The music announces a change in tone. The dancers  become entwined in a dynamic of oppression and submission, of seduction and struggle, of agression and  tenderness, a  perverse logic of the tragedy of love that lingers as memory, that can only fade and flutter  away..with age. 

Locke has sculpted the bodies of his dancers with his choreography  and with his light because when the lights came  up at the end and they all came out to take a bow, I didn’t recognize the dancers. The stage effects had so completely transformed their bodies  that the direct  light  created a terrible shock. .

Locke is a magician who lives in another dimension and  who he draws his dancers into that other dimension with him. It is uncanny. He is uncanny, and so is his work.

Not to be missed.

New Work /Nouvelle création plays from May18 to 19 in Southam Hall at th National Art Centre, Ottawa.

Ottawa, Alvina Ruprecht

May 19, 2011