Dance is a universal language. Painters use paint, writers use words and dancers use their bodies as a medium of communication. Linda Marchand epitomizes the definition of a dancer. At the surprising height of just five foot one, the classically trained dancer continues to contribute to the world of dance.
Marchand is no dance rookie: she danced for Ballet Ouest de Montreal for many years, studied contemporary dance with a full scholarship at the North Carolina School of the Arts, and concentrated on the Graham Technique at the School of the Toronto Dance Theatre.
In 2000, she took over the direction of L’Academie de Danse Classique, a dance school in Lachine that Marchand now owns. “I wanted to present my choreography on a larger scale with a company of professional dancers,” said Marchand. “Following a great deal of encouragement from friends and colleagues, I thought “why not?'” This eagerness to more profoundly share and express her creativity and artistry led her to found La Compagnie de Danse Pourquoi Pas this past September. It is composed of nine female dancers, including Marchand.
Working with eight other women can be challenging, but for Marchand, it is an incredibly rewarding experience. The new dance company’s first show, Femmes, is made up of four pieces, including one with live music. “I fully respect and admire the marriage of multiple mediums, such as film into a dance piece, but the true challenge for me lies in the ability to derive meaning and emotion using only the human body,” explained Marchand.
Picture this: nine female dancers exploring two extremes, how pure, organic and sensual a woman can be, while also showing the darker, more controlling side of women. This was the scene of the rehearsal for Femmes. This interesting dynamic was refreshing, as there was a sense of unity and a collective flow amongst nine dancers with different backgrounds and styles.
“As a choreographer I’ve really enjoyed creating to music by my brother Keith, for my piece “Etiquette 101,'” said Marchand. “He will be playing live in the show, and this will be the first time we’ve collaborated.” Marchand spends a great deal of time selecting the music for a piece because she says that it deeply affects how her choreography will play out. She enjoys the concept of art being subjective and allowing the audience to interpret and internalize the piece however they want. There is no right or wrong answer. As long as you react to her pieces, Marchand is satisfied. This philosophy also applies to her dancers.
Rather than spelling out where she seeks inspiration or what the choreography is about, Marchand allows her dancers to find their own meanings in the piece and to connect with it in different ways.
One of the members of La Compagnie de Danse Pourquoi Pas is 21-year-old Concordia student Alessandra Giuliano. Giuliano began ballet when she was three, and has been dancing with Marchand since 1998. The women in the company are of all ages and all have different schedules. Kristine Doucet is a mother; Katia Lacelle is a freelance dancer and also teaches at L’Academie de Danse Classique. Both Julia Rossi and Sophie Breton are also freelance dancers, while member Michelle Mayo is a buyer for Aldo. Just like Giuliano, Suzanne de Bellefeuille, Rossi and Julia Lipari-Couture must also balance school with their love for dance. There is an obvious sense of admiration and respect for Marchand who, in addition to being a mentor and teacher to these eight girls, is a friend. This closeness and comfort amongst the members of Montreal’s newest dance company is also a positive quality that sets La Compagnie de Danse Pourquoi Pas apart.
La Compagnie de Danse Pourquoi Pas has allowed Marchand to bring her choreography to a new level, and she hopes that she can show the importance of dance as an art form.
Femmes comes to the D.B Clarke Theatre on Jan. 21at 8 p.m.