This year’s Danses Buissonnières sees a diverse program

Dance organisation Tangente’s annual event is underway this weekend

Alexandra Caron was one of the three artists chosen to feature their choreography in this year’s Danses Buissonnières. Courtesy Vanessa Fortin

Tangente kicks off its fall 2021 dance program this weekend with its annual event, Danses Buissonnières, featuring three unique choreographies from Jontae McCrory, Alexandra Caron and Aly Keita.

Danses Buissonnières is an opportunity for artists starting their careers as choreographers to put their work on stage and experience a professional setting. The annual event brings together unique dance creations, each between 10 and 15 minutes, presented one after the other for four nights. This year, 19 creators auditioned to be part of the event and McCrory, Caron and Keita were selected by a jury to be featured. 

The auditions took place during the pandemic which created unique challenges for the applicants, and the jury, since everything took place on Zoom. Nevertheless, for Sébastien Provencher, a member of this year’s jury, the event needed to happen since the pandemic has been a particularly challenging period for emerging artists. 

“[Danses Buissionières was important] to give them the chance to be on stage, to be seen [...] and to have the chance to present despite the difficult context,” he said.

The artists were selected based on their creation and on an interview process. Provencher explained the interview was a largely important part of the audition process.

“It’s almost fifty-fifty. The piece counts but also the artistic vision of the artist, how he sees the future, how he thinks about his piece on stage,” said Provencher.

Presented in the Green room, an intimate venue in the basement of the Wilder building, the show starts with McCrory’s work. Titled Godlin, the piece starts with geometric shapes created with tape on the floor and a video projected in the background. McCrory’s creation is described on Tangente’s website as “addressing social isolation, exposing the nature of human relationships and the oppression of peoples.”

Jontae McCrory is showcasing his choreographed piece titled ‘Godlin’ at this year’s Dances Buissonnières. Courtesy David Wong

Depending on the night, it is either McCrory himself who performs Godlin or the piece’s other performers Amara Barner or Matthew Quingley. The performer of the night interacts with prop manipulator Vincent Michaud in a layering of actions and images. This layering includes their movements, dancers in the background video, two bodies in a large photograph and their own reflection in a mirror. 

Caron follows with a 15 minute piece entitled Abyssale Solitude. This choreography was developed through meditation and dance practices during a week she spent alone in a barely furnished apartment. 

“There was a loneliness that was imposed on us throughout the year and that we experienced, and I asked myself what I could do with this loneliness.” — Alexandra Caron

“There was a loneliness that was imposed on us throughout the year and that we experienced, and I asked myself what I could do with this loneliness,” she said.

Caron did not expect to take this dance piece to the stage at first. “I never planned to actually choreograph. [...] For now I think I am a soloist before being a choreographer in the sense that my choreographic eye comes from internal sensations and profound knowledge of my body,” she said.

During her performance a window is projected on a screen behind her and on the floor. It takes on different shapes and spaces as the piece goes on. The work is accompanied by artist Mark Swan’s gong soundtrack titled ‘Venus Gong.’  Caron’s fluid and delicate upper body movements, combined with the instrument’s vibrations and the dark orange lighting, invites the public into the meditative experience of Abyssale Solitude.

Aly Keita used his West African roots to inspire his performance ‘Djata: Conversations du Manden.’ Courtesy David Wong

Following Caron’s performance is Keita’s multidisciplinary performance, Djata: Conversations du Manden, which closes the show. The artist was inspired by The Lion’s Awakening, a story derived from the oral tradition of the Mandingo Empire. Situated in West Africa, the Mandigo region is separated between Mali and Guinea. For Keita, whose roots are from Guinea, coming back to this history was a way of connecting with himself. 

The Lion's Awakening is the journey of Soundjata Keita who had the strength to overcome the handicap that prevented him from walking in order to create and govern the Mandingo empire.  

The story evokes different themes for Keita. “I was interested in the elements of vulnerabilities, of the highs and lows we can face in life, of the inner force and of affirmation. I could relate these elements to myself,” he said.

In this energetic piece, Keita is accompanied on stage by Ariane Benoit who sings and dances, as well as Trevor John Ferrier who plays a Mandingo traditional instrument called the sanza. The strength of Mandingo history is transmitted through Keita’s body as he performs movements influenced by circus, contemporary and African dance. 

The three choreographies are very different from one another as they are presented on stage for the first time for the audience to discover. Danses Buissonnières will be going on at Tangente from Sept. 11 to 14. Tickets are available online on their website.