Marie Chouinard, «La femme sauvage du Quebec», long ginger coloured hair and a feline light in her eyes, will be the Venice Biennale’s director of dance for the next four years (2017- 2020).
She is the first canadian choreographer to hold the position. Previously, just Carolyn Carlson was appointed for the same long period of time. It was 1999, and actually the american dancer and choreographer invited Chouinard to be part of the first Biennale’s edition, with the anthology of her famous solos: «Les Solos 1978-1998», together with her working debut «Cristallisation», her masterpiece «S.T.A.B.» and «Après-midi d’un faune».
Saying in her press release after the appointment: «Do we have more than five senses? Yes of course.», she lets us forsee an opening to an unexpected and visceral universe in the next four years. After all, her choregraphic’s language, which is beyond the rules and decency, is a celebration of instincts and vital impulses.
Waiting to know something more about her Biennale’s programm, we partecipated to her last work staged in Bassano for OperaEstate Festival Veneto: «Hieronymus Bosch: The Garden of Earthly Delights».
The title just reveals what the work is focused on. This year is the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death, and Marie Chouinard was invited to create a work by the Jheronimus Bosch 5oo Foundation. The world premiere opened on last August the Theatrefestival Boulevard ‘s-Hertogenbosch, in Netherlands, the famous painter’s birthplace.
Carl Jung called him: «Master of the monstrous… discoverer of the unconscious».
Sharp humor, as cryptic as addictive, by highly subjective and suggestive style. Hieronymus Bosch with his masterpieces has the power almost to grasp onto the most inattentive and not interested gaze. The complexity, the minuzia of details, the allegories of his superlative visions always reveal more details and meaning at every look, like a neverending story. And his «The Garden of Earthly Delights» is a journey from the heavenly bless of Heaven to the worst grotesque tortures of Hell, passing through a voluptuous lust.
The Garden of Earthly Delights (central panel)
Marie Chouinard chose to stick completely to the triptych of the painter, dividing her choreography in three acts where each movement and gesture were absolutely close to the painting’s images projected on the back of the stage. A choice that could have risked to appear too aesthetic, but then instead fascinated us, amused and stunned us for the phantasmagoric developments and bold hyperbolically turns. To fill our eye first came the image of «The Garden of Delights» with the brightness of its colors. And the white painted dancer’s body, so bright and ethereal, made its emotional impact even greater. With a playful irony and a veiled sexuality, every dancer moved as if he was a magnifying glass over the painting, reproducing every single puzzle, from the most provocative position to the most acrobatic one. And we were as voyeurs spying throught a keyhole.
Hell (right panel)
Chouinard’s chrono-choreography seems to bring to life all the plasticity of the painting, I mean all the actions played by the painted figures before Bosch had fixed them on canvass. But if the first act was playfully delicate and sensual, the second was the chaos, a rave of bodies, sounds and objects. It was the Hell. Into a red light, the dance was just action that lost its mind. Only sounds from the bowel. Animality without an owner. And we ended up with wide open eyes, open mouth, without words.
Paradise (left panel)
Fortunately after the Hell we arrived in Paradise when Adam and Eve meet through the hand of God. We found peaceful color and the silence of the iconoghaphic sacrality of the gesture, that can be just dismantled, remounted and replicated. The three roles lose their subjectivity becoming interchangeable, and therefore universal. But this bliss is suddenly interrupted by a frantic dance, which reflects the brutal struggle for survival, depicted on the base of the wing panel. And it is from there that the dancers disappear, slipping into the fifth left, as if the painting would recall them to itself, to take back the centrality of the scene.
On the other hand Marie Chouinard wanted Bosch and his painting, from the very beginning, as the main protagonists of the show.
by Rita Borga
Credits Photos COMPAGNIE MARIE CHOUINARD Chorégraphie/Choreography : Marie Chouinard CMC_Bosch-4 | Photo : Sylvie-Ann Paré | Interprète/Dancer : Lucy M. May CMC_Bosch-106 | Photo : Sylvie-Ann Paré | Interprètes/Dancers : Leon Kupferschmid, Megan Walbaum, Scott McCabe, Lucy M. May, Carol Prieur, Valeria Galluccio, Sacha Ouellette-Deguire CMC_Bosch-196 | Photo : Sylvie-Ann Paré | Interprètes/Dancers : Carol Prieur, Morgane Le Tiec, Valeria Galluccio, Leon Kupferschmid, Sacha Ouellette-Deguire, Paige Culley, Megan Walbaum, Lucy M. May, Scott McCabe CMC_Bosch-275 | Photo : Sylvie-Ann Paré | Interprètes/Dancers : Valeria Galluccio, Sacha Ouellette-Deguire, Carol Prieur CMC_Bosch-387 | Photo : Sylvie-Ann Paré | Interprètes/Dancers : Scott McCabe, Sébastien Cossette-Masse, Morgane Le Tiec, Valeria Galluccio, Leon Kupferschmid, Lucy M. May, Paige Culley, Carol Prieur, Megan Walbaum DUCF0611 | Photo : Nicolas Ruel | Interprètes/Dancers : Paige Culley, Valeria Galluccio, Morgane Le Tiec, Megan Walbaum, Sébastien Cossette-Masse RUEL_0151 | Photo : Nicolas Ruel | Interprète/Dancer : Valeria Galluccio RUEL0821 | Photo : Nicolas Ruel | Interprètes/Dancers : Leon Kupferschmid, Carol Prieur, Morgane Le Tiec, Valeria Galluccio, Paige Culley, Sacha Ouellette-Deguire, Megan Walbaum, Scott McCabe, Lucy M. May, Sébastien Cossette-Masse RUEL1248 | Photo : Nicolas Ruel | Interprètes/Dancers : Morgane Le Tiec, Sacha Ouellette-Deguire, Carol Prieur, Leon Kupferschmid, Sébastien Cossette-Masse, Valeria Galluccio, Megan Walbaum