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Oh, Canadance!

by The Concordian September 6, 2011

Photo by Valerie Sangin.

On Sept. 8, Les Escales Improbables de Montréal will join forces with Studio 303 to present Singulier Pluriel, an evening of diverse performances at gallery Darling Foundry.
Among the acts slated for the evening is Oh Canada, a universal mix of dance, text and music showcasing our country’s national identity, which will be presented by dance group The Choreographers.
In Oh Canada, The Choreographers set out to investigate the landscape that has shaped them through a unique blend of athleticism, humour, naiveté and vulnerability. In a marriage of national icons, historical figures, and personal reflections, they explore what it is to be Canadian, and question who they are and where they come from.
The Choreographers are four Montreal dance artists: Katie Ward, Thea Patterson, Peter Trosztmer and Audree Juteau. Between them, they have worked with numerous Montreal choreographers and companies, making their mark in the city’s dance community.
Patterson said that the group was inspired by Canada’s diversity, and the discomfort at discussing national identity.
“There is some interesting tension to look at there,” she said. “This performance is really directed towards those who are interested in the convergence of forms, where there is openness towards the possibility that anything can happen,” Patterson continued. “The performance is rough and the physicality is raw, it showcases the chaos of effort.”
The group began to work on this piece early in February. It was first presented in May at Studio 303, where the dancers as a group are the artists-in-residence. Patterson revealed that the diversity of the four performers, who are from different parts of Canada, was also mirrored in the creative process.
“There were some subtle differences in thinking during the creative process,” she said. “We worked parallel as a consensus, and it was a political statement on how we decided things as a nation. But we always developed each idea together as a group.”
The Choreographers developed Oh Canada further while in England this summer. Despite the fact that the piece served to display the national identity of Canadians, Patterson said they were not too worried on how British audiences would take to the piece.
“Although they may not know who certain historical figures such as Louis Riel are, it’s human and understandable,” she explained. “And they can recognize and laugh at some common Canadian stereotypes that are known universally.”
Patterson also shared the group’s enthusiasm for their performance space. “Our motivation for working at the Fonderie Darling was that it is such a huge space,” she said. “It served as a metaphor for the immensity of Canada.”
The music for the performance will be provided by Montreal artist Michael Feuerstack, better known as Snailhouse. Patterson indicated that the group has worked with Snailhouse before, and were exited to collaborate with him once more

for this piece.
“It is super easy to work with him,” said Patterson. “He comes in and develops ideas with us, and he always understands what we want.”

Oh Canada will be presented on Sept. 8 at 8 p.m. at the Darling Foundry, 745 Ottawa St., as part of the Singulier Pluriel evening at the Escales Improbables Festival of Montreal.  For more info on this event, or to check out the full schedule for the festival, visit www.escalesimprobables.com.

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