Waacking, locking and popping: just some of the dance forms explored
If you are not familiar with what is currently happening in the contemporary dance world but are willing to find out, “Phase 1” and “Myocarditis” are two shows that sum up well the direction which contemporary dance has taken as of late. Currently performed at the Monument National, these two choreographies are hosted by Tangente, a Montreal-based organization founded in 1980 that works in supporting and promoting contemporary dance.
The new choreographies brought to us this fall were created by emerging artists who blend different styles together, which is done to illustrate the fact that dance as an artform is in constant mutation.
“Phase 1” is a choreography created by Axelle Munezero and Martine Bruneau, a duo of choreographers who, aside from working independently, sometimes collaborate under the name Forêt Noire. Bruneau is also one of the performers, along with Valérie Chartier, Saxon Fraser, Marie-Reine Kabash and Jean-Benoît Labrecque.
When asked about the particular dance style in “Phase 1” after the show, the duo explained that their goal was to reinvent “waacking.”
Waacking was a popular dance in the ‘70s and was mostly performed in LGBT clubs to the beat of disco music. Its recognizable feature is the graceful and fluid use of shoulders and arms. This dance is about embracing your own body and showing self-confidence in a glamorous way.
Forêt Noire decided to use the same moves while taking out the “glamorous” aspect, in order to give room for more interpretation. Although there is no narrative, strictly speaking, the choreographers explain that the dramatic quality is in the dance moves, used to illustrate the different emotional states that the dancers experience.
The duo also decided to modernize waacking by choosing electronic music and by incorporating moves from other dances in order to create a mechanical and cosmic atmosphere.
“Myocarditis,” choreographed by Handy “Monstapop” Yacinthe and performed by Daniel Chung-Wook Jun, Anthony “FreakwenC” Calma-Burke, Mecdy “Venom” Jean-Pierre, Ellie-Anne “Rawss” Ross and Yacinthe himself, is a show combining breakdance, locking, popping, freestyle and other improvised dynamic, twitchy moves particular to street dance.
Street dance is usually performed in what are called “street dance battles.” These are performances in informal settings that allow dancers to compete with improvised choreographies.
If not for the typical street dance moves, “Myocarditis” would be associated with contemporary dance because its choreography is the result of intense research, the setting being prepared beforehand, the show lasting 40 minutes (much longer than a street dance performance) and, finally, it being presented on a stage.
As he explained in an interview with the curator of Tangente, Dena Davida, Monstapop is reluctant to call his work “contemporary dance art” because his choreography’s “core, essence, inspiration and creative articulation is based solely on a street dance mindset.” The choreographer therefore addresses the issue of how thin the boundaries are from one dance style to another.
In a meeting with the public after the show, dancers talked about how performing on a stage is different from street dance battles, as it allows them to express their feelings rather than just show off their technique, which is usually expected in battles.
“Myocarditis” is all about expressing feelings such as the turmoil of love, fear and loneliness, which are conveyed well by the choreography. However, the darkness and intensity of the performance are created by the setup of the stage. A clever use of lighting creates impressive special effects, giving performers tools that are essential for the choreography.
“Phase 1” and “Myocarditis” are performances that give a pretty clear idea of what modern dance is and how, by mixing different styles or techniques, it creates a wider range of possibilities for dancers and choreographers to express themselves.
If you weren’t able to catch this show, Tangente is presenting five new choreographies from Oct. 1 to Oct. 4 at Monument National.