Home Arts The Simple Beauty of Gillis

The Simple Beauty of Gillis

by Archives March 4, 2008

If there is a common thread to the three works choreographed by Margie Gillis for M.Body.7, it is that of simple beauty. Whether there are one or nine dancers onstage, they always seem to quietly embrace life.The star choreographer opened the evening with her own solo, “Par un fil d’argent,” where an empty jacket hangs from the ceiling. As Gillis dances around it, she also tries to grab onto it or immerse herself in it, but each time she inevitably falls to the floor.
Eventually, she manages to put her hand in one sleeve and she puts her arm around her shoulder or caresses her face. The dangerous sentimentality in such gestures is balanced by the honesty in Gillis’ performance. Finally, she puts on the jacket, a gesture that could be read in multiple ways: as imagination’s ability to dream presence into being, as her presence dissolving itself into absence, as her fulfilling search for self.
Her creation for Holly Bright, “At the Hem of My Northern Coastal Clouds,” is even more daring in its simplicity. Bright wears a white skirt with hoops light enough to lift around her body, but heavy enough to give the dress its own distinct shape. She thrusts her hips, making the skirt swirl around her for minutes, to great hypnotic effect.
The group work, “ICI.” takes the qualities from the first two pieces and instills them in the community of women. Early on, Laurence Lemieux takes part of her dress off and proceeds to dance with great abandon. Similarly, all of the women let themselves go, dancing in all their silliness.
Lemieux takes it one step further and takes her entire dress off, running around the stage in her underwear, carefree. Even when all the dancers try to exercise their adult power over 11-year-old Sandrine Bissonnette-Robitaille, asking her to stand in different spots onstage, she refuses to let herself be told what to do and constantly escapes the hands of the elders to find her own light.
The highlight of the night was the encore. The music of Lupin and Bach gives way to k.d. lang’s “Simple” for 72-year-old Eleanor Duckworth to take the stage and gracefully dance, Gillis and seven other performers joining her. One by one they disappear, leaving Duckworth to encompass all women – a touching end to a near perfect evening.

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