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  • Getting Lost and Found in “For Body and Light”

    Coming & Going, a collaboration between three contemporary dance graduates from Concordia and spoken-word artist and musician Ian Ferrier, presents For Body and Light. The interdisciplinary project combining contemporary dance and spoken word was featured at this year’s Wildside Theatre Festival in Montreal.

    For Body and Light was created when the members of Coming and Going were invited to participate in a creative residency located in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia. It was at the Bay of Fundy that the company witnessed the rising and the falling of the world’s highest tides, which inspired the theme of their show.

    “We were actually working in the water, on the beach, on the pier, out in the wind, so a lot of the movement was created in that site-specific environment. We really channel that in the performance, I think,” said dancer Linnea Gwiazda.

    The show featured nature’s elements manipulated by the performers, including rain boots filled with water, wind coming from the sides of the stage and a maneuverable light. The spontaneity and uncertainty of a live show with the addition of nature’s elements helped represent the feeling of being out of control, both literally and figuratively.

    “Feeling like you have no control over your environment is something that comes into this show with the movement of the light, the unpredictability of the water, with the sensation of the wind blowing; it’s all tied into being affected by the environment around you,” said Gwiadza.

    Both dancers agreed that their hunger for site-specific work, overlapping dance with other art forms and the collaboration with other artists comes from the training received at Concordia’s contemporary dance program.

    “We were very much encouraged to see what can happen when you do unexpected things and include different types of art and media into your work […] it just seemed natural to continue exploring in that way,” said Gwiazda.

    Since the show is multidisciplinary it has been included in theatre festivals, spoken-word festivals, and dance festivals. This cross-border access has allowed the company to open their minds to a new form of artistic communication using different mediums, including poetry, dance, spoken word and music.

    “There isn’t really one medium in the show that dominates more than the others […] This is a show that everyone can get something out of,” said choreographer and dancer Stephanie Morin-Robert.

    The show doesn’t focus on the plotline; it’s more about the soulful and reflective experience. The minimalist aspects of the show, both in the technical components and the small amount of performers involved, creates a breathy environment in which the audience becomes fully immersed.

    The company sets an emphasis on the need for creativity to be a collaborative, experimental process, in which all members contribute and inspire one another in different ways.

    “There isn’t a perfect recipe, we kind of go back and forth… it’s very loose and free,” said Morin-Robert.

    There is always room for the performers to try out new pieces and to work with pieces that continue to evolve. In this way, the show continues to be shaped and re-shape based on inspiration.

    For Body and Light has been shown across Canada and has featured a different local artist opening the show for them each night; not something typical of traditional dance shows. This strategy has allowed them to make connections with artists across the country and has given some variety to their performance routine.

    “For us backstage, hearing something different every night gives us a lot of energy and is inspiring,” said Gwiazda.

    “Every show feels different for us in that sense because you kind of remember the beginning of it in a different way every time, so it keeps us on our feet,” added Morin-Robert.

    The idea that the show is always a little bit different goes along with the company’s overall mandate of continual change and creative freedom.

    Keep a look out for For Body and Light featured in the Fringe festivals this coming July as well as a second show touring Canada this summer!

  • Believe it or not

    Friday the 12th. December 2014. We were driving around Montreal. It was snowing. A lot. Though it didn’t seem cold. But then I took out my phone from the right pocket of my dark blue jeans and entered the passcode and then reentered the passcode again – I missed one number – and then clicked on the weather app and it showed: -13C. It’s not that bad, I thought. It doesn’t feel that bad. Do you like snow? I asked. Mm…yes, mostly yes, but when I’m driving, then no. He laughed. And, you know, snow and traffic… it can get nasty, he said, Believe it or not. And then it’s a total… like…mm…what’s the word. Like chaos, I said. Yeah, yeah, chaos, he said. He laughed. He didn’t laugh, but rather chuckled. Almost like a child’s chuckle, I thought. But, he continued, When you’re at home, and you watch the snow fall behind the windows, then yes…it’s pretty amazing…believe it or not. Yes, I thought. I also thought: Doesn’t he notice what he says? or: Should I tell him that he adds that useless phrase at the end of each sentence? But then he said: We’re in Old Montreal now. I moved closer to the window, so as not to miss anything and then I lost myself. How European, I thought. I miss Europe. I miss the architecture – the gothic architecture. I miss those stone pavements; those footbridges; those serene rivers. And then we drove past Notre-Dame Basilica, and then I thought: How majestic and noble and melancholic. Here’s your gothic architecture, or even better: here’s your neo-gothic architecture. Here are your stone pavements. It’s a charming city, I said. Yes, he said, But it gets very cold… believe it or not. Cold, I thought. I’ve seen and felt coldness elsewhere. I had experienced those notorious Russian winters throughout my childhood. But here in Montreal this coldness might seem different. The ease of people; their readiness to assist; their nonjudgmental attitude; their civility – might warm those who can appreciate and notice. But there are winters that are severe; there are winters that are callous, and it’s not only because of the coldness itself, but also because of the insensitivity of those who surround you. Grim and dissatisfied and dispassionate, life-weary and distant. You can almost touch this apathy in the air. Indeed, Moscow does not believe in tears, especially in winters.

  • Montrealer Joseph Antaki Presents His First Feature Film at Image+Nation

    • Film still from My Guys courtesy of Image+Nation

    He started his career in film as an actor, where he gained a lot of support. “People always told me I had a lot of imagination,” Antaki said.

    Later, he contacted a friend who studied in film to help make a pilot of a feature, which he jokes was his master’s in filmmaking since it ended up taking three years.

    Antaki co-wrote the feature film Rouge Sang (The Storm Within) two years ago. The film had financing from the Société de développement des entreprises culturelles and a $3-million budget.

    His latest feature, My Guys, had a much smaller budget, which limited how much he was able to film. My Guys won Best First-Time Feature at Fort Worth’s Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival.

    “When you write the screenplay and you know the budget is $3 million, you write for the scenes you know you can film,” Antaki said. He did not want to make a bad movie, so he had to balance his act.

    My Guys is inspired by a novel of the same name that Antaki wrote. The novel was released in June at the same time as the limited release of the film in Montreal at Cinéma du Parc.

    Antaki grew up around “fag hags”—a term within the LGBTQ community used to describe women whose close friends are mostly queer men—throughout his life. He thought they were interesting people and wondered if a movie about them had ever been made in Montreal or Quebec. He saw the opportunity to make a “fag hag” the main character and jumped on it.

    The main character of the film, Georgette, was not inspired by anyone in particular. However, some of her experiences are based on those of one of his friends’.

    Antaki compares the roles of actor and director to night and day. “As a writer, director, producer, casting director, catering service, I had so many hats,” he said. “The biggest challenge was dealing with such a small budget and wanting to [maintain] quality—because of course you can do it on the cheap for nothing, but then it shows.”

    The movie was entirely shot in Montreal over two years. Montreal studio Peak Media, itself new to the film production industry, took care of post-production free of charge.

    Antaki says that once you produce your first film and show it in theatres, you are eligible for grants by Telefilm Canada. “Making movies is how I spend money and being an actor is how I make money,” he joked, adding that he must be a masochist to enjoy making movies.

  • Review of the Latest AC/DC Album: Rock Or Bust


    It’s not the first time that significant line-up changes have occurred in the band’s history, but that never stopped the biggest hard-rock band of all time from continuing to make platinum records.
    Right after the release of Highway To Hell in 1979, singer at that time Bon Scott died of alcohol poisoning. However replaced by Brian Johnson, current singer of AC/DC, they released Back In Black in 1980, a tribute to Scott that sold millions of copies worldwide, making it one of the most sold albums of all time.

    We can already expect that Rock Or Bust will be a tribute to Malcolm Young, founding member and guitarist of the band who currently suffers from dementia, which forced him to leave his bandmates.

    2014 has been a sad year for the music industry, with no platinum certification, but should we expect this album to revivify the sales of this dying field? Rest assured, we can rely on replacement rhythm guitarist Stevie Young, nephew of Angus and Malcolm, to keep the Young legacy steady as they go.

    “Play Ball” clearly confirms that the band still has its chemistry. A rock single worthy of their name, driven by the fresher-than-ever vocals of Johnson, reminding us of their 80’s records, Angus Young’s characteristic fingerpicking playing and Rudd’s steady-as-a-rock drum beats.

    Few would argue that AC/DC have put in very little effort to change their songwriting style. Nevertheless, one may consider this as one of their biggest strengths as many fans still admire their ability to sound the same since 1973, more than four decades after their formation. A characteristic sound that no other band has managed to come close to, even though the guitar riffs may be some of the simplest ever played in rock history. It is precisely this chemistry present in the Young fraternity that truly produces the sounds of stadium rock across the planet.

    The sweaty arena’s screaming fans can be heard from miles away in “Miss Adventure” just as in “Thunderstruck” from The Razor’s Edge. “Rock The Blues Away” comprises of chords reminiscent to their Blow Up Your Video era of the late 80s.

    It is fairly common to misbelieve that AC/DC members are Australian, due to their notoriety in Australia, but their music stems from Scottish roots, just as the Young brothers’ origins. In fact, their first ever single, “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)” prominently uses bagpipes played by Scott with a strong blues groove. It is sad to say that Rock Or Bust neither pays tribute to Scotland nor the blues.

    It is the lack of originality in musical structures and songwriting topics in this latest release that blinds AC/DC’s 40 years of legacy, lowering them to their relatively recent Australian musical siblings, Airbourne. Unfortunately, Rock Or Bust seems to fall on the commercial side of modern rock music with a short 35-minute long album of radio-edited, loudly-mixed tracks.

    The second single “Rock or Bust” that leaked on the web earlier than expected, opens the album with a modern mix, closer to the feel of Black Ice, their previous release from 2008. “Dogs of War” is just a “War Machine” twin in need of mixing effects to compete against its older Black Ice brother.

    Incontestably, Angus Young still has the guitar chops for his burning solos, but this release invokes too much rock and not enough blues. The power riffs become overwhelming at last, while Angus merely doubles Stevie in useless layers. Lacking bluesy licks which add nuances and depth to the songs, it’s as if Angus had to fill the spot for both Malcolm and Stevie due to a lack of confidence in the latter fulfilling his duties.

    Nonetheless, if Rock Or Bust ends up being their last effort, I salute them for their perseverance. For those about to rock, we salute you.

  • The Unbreakable Allure of Emmure

    • Photo from Wikimedia Commons

    Hailing from Queens, NY, Emmure’s music is as filthy, bitter, cold and ragingly violent like their city. A mark of their music is the infusion of urban elements such as brief sparks of rap (which came to peak in their 3rd album Felony) or unexpected record scratching in a breakdown. Vocalist Frankie Palmeri embodies the band’s look and sound: on their latest album cover, Eternal Enemies, Palmeri is pictured with a bandana wrapped over his mouth like a straight-up gangbanger.

    Heading into Club Soda, a St. Laurent venue that appeared to me like a more modern clone of Metropolis just down the street, I didn’t know what to expect. For one, I was very interested that Emmure was co-headlining a tour with The Acacia Strain, a metalcore band from Massachusetts that Emmure has famously had a rivalry with since the late 2000’s. The marketing for this tour cashed in on this, too—the tour was titled “Emmure Vs. The Acacia Strain,” with the posters featuring Palmeri and The Acacia Strain’s vocalist Vincent Bennett facing off Mortal Kombat-style.

    But seeing the show featuring both former feuding bands was not meant to be: on the day of the show, The Acacia Strain’s tour van was hit by a drunk driver. No one was injured, but their ride was smashed and could not make the journey to Canada.

    I arrived at Club Soda to catch the end of Fit For a King’s set, a Christian metal band from Texas. Over 500 people filled the fizzy-drink venue—I knew from my coat check number being 498. The crowd was a sea of modified bodies: stretched earlobes and tattoos aplenty (myself included), facial piercings and dyed hair galore.

    As the lights dimmed for Emmure, a comically large 20’ by 20’ void opened in the centre of the mass of showgoers—whether the more brutish hardcore kids forced open the gap or whether the moshpit materialized by its own accord, the crowd simply respecting its power and making room for it, I wasn’t sure. Emmure’s introductory song while they lurked offstage was the horrible “Bring a Gun to School” instrumental. It was mostly drowned out by the crowd’s cheers, thank God.

    *Emmure “Nemesis” *

    The opening song as they stormed the stage was the new single “Nemesis” off their latest album, a bouncy breakdown-fest of a song about them “not giving a fuck what people think.” The massive moshpit raged like a battlefield, while I forced my way to the front to be directly before the stage, the crowd-surfing danger zone. Right away, kids were scrambling to hop on stage, scream lyrics with Palmeri, then toss themselves onto the unsuspecting heads of their fellow showgoers. If a moshpit is a battlefield, then the compressed crowd at the stage are the front lines. You gotta watch your ass.

    No matter what people think of Emmure’s sound or overall image, you gotta give Palmeri credit for being a damn good frontman. Most metal vocalists tend to overdo it—there’s only so many times you can pace back and forth onstage and throw your head back in reckless abandon with the mic. Palmeri’s style was totally subtle: standing still onstage and letting his legitimately frightening eyes do the heavy lifting. In “Drug Dealer Friend,” there’s a brief electronic bridge, and Palmeri actually did a brief pop-and-lock with his hands, which drove some girls beside me wild.

    The guy-to-girl ratio around me at the front was actually surprising and refreshing. Who would have thought the front lines at an Emmure show would metaphorically pass the Bechdel Test? I couldn’t help be feel proud of the hardcore scene when I saw girls throwing elbows and shoving hard to the murderous “Bars In Astoria.”

    Emmure’s set raged on for a full hour, playing songs from every album of theirs, including fan-favourites “I Thought You Met Telly and Turned Me Into Casper” and “Solar Flare Homicide.” Their finale was the somber anthem “MDMA,” but of course, after a few minutes of chanting “Em-mure! Em-mure!” they took the stage once more for the song that catapulted them into being a household hardcore name: “When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong” (referencing the Dave Chappelle skit of the same name).

    *Emmure “When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong” *

    I went home drenched in sweat with a sore neck and a seriously raspy voice, signs of a successful hardcore show experience.

    Find more hardcore shows in Montreal by Extensive Enterprise here.