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Author Topic:   Christine DeSmedt
posted October 07, 2001 11:42     Click Here to See the Profile for Marie   Click Here to Email Marie     Edit/Delete Message

Christine De Smedt [BELGIUM]
9 x 9
Usine C
Festival International de Nouvelle Danse

Creation : Alexandra Bachsetsis, Nuno Bizarro, Christine De Smedt, Mette Edvardsen, Eva Meyer-Keller, Ivana Muller, Tony Chong, Alain Francoeur, Marc Parent, Jean-Pierre Côté

Performed by: Isabelle Aguilera, Caroline Agnot, Karyne Archambeault, Marie-Lou Berger, Caroline Bergeron, Nadia Bertrand, Gael Bescond, Liliane Boucher, Anne-Marie Boucher, Mariève Boucher, Marc-André Casavant, Katlin Clipsham, Lucie Couillard, Patrick Coulombe, Amélie Dallaire, Maiza Dubé, Marie-Claude Gagné, Aurélie Gandit, Emilie Godreuil, Myia Goodridge, Rochelle Goodridge, Kélina Gotman, Étienne Gour, Niess Govine, Mael Iger, Emily Jocobinson, Emilie King, Karine Leborgue, Séverine Lombardo, Elena Martoglio, Miguel Medina, Emilie Morin, Georgia Palomino, Norah Paré, Audrey Portal, Éloise Raif, Lenneke Rasschackt, Manu Roque, Bartazin Roquel, Ariane Roy Lefrançois, Estelle Savasta, Marie-Ève St-Hilaire, Isabelle Tétrault, Catherine Thibeault-Denis, Eve Tremblay, Éloize Trudel, Ariane Verdy, Lorca Vincent

De Smedt's experimental 9 x 9 uses basic mathematic principles to move people around in space. In this case, close to sixty people. I chose to see this show on the closing night of the festival instead of the White Oak Project's PASTForward, a performance which explores the experimental works of the 1960's post-modernist choreographers of New York's Judson Church Group. This was partially due to scheduling, but also because I'm personally more interested in what's being tried out now in contemporary dance than watching a two and a half hour retrospective.

Like some of Yvonne Rainer's early works with the Judson Church Group, De Smedt uses non-dancers, as well as dancers, in this piece. Bodies are scattered throughout the darkened room that the audience must enter in order to get into the theatre, curled up like amoebas. They twist and untwist. There are so many of them it's hard not to step on them. Some people move quickly to their seats, others stop to watch the performers. When the audience is finally seated the performers move downstairs on to a hydraulic lift that brings them slowly up to the stage. They begin a series of simple patterns that move them, one by one, through the space, endlessly criss-crossing each other's paths. When the music is interrupted by a blurping computer noise (that sounds like a 60's sci-fi computer), they all pause to scream, syllable by syllable, slogans like, "SIZE-MA-TTERS!" and "JUST-DO-IT!" and then they abruptly go back to making their patterns and shapes in the space.

It's a deceptively simple piece with uncomplicated choreography that ends with a series of questions read over the PA, weeding the group down to one person, (everyone leave the stage who was: "not born in France," "does not play an instrument," etc., etc.). The beauty of it is that it demonstrates just how intoxicating watching a group of people moving can be and how dance can, and should be, enjoyed by everyone. It breaks down the barriers of size, age, gender and race. This piece has been performed in the past in various incarnations: by parents each holding an infant, people over the age of 80, etc. This time it was people between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five. In my opinion, the age group that needs to be turned on to what dance has to offer.

Christine De Smedt's experimental choreography is unlike some of the post-modernist work of the Judson Church Group because it not only asks the audience to re-evaluate what dance is, it allows them to enjoy the experience at the same time. There are no endurance tests in this piece. It was one of the hits of this year's festival because it left people feeling good. Something to ponder in an art form that often seems so desperate to bring people into the theatre.

[This message has been edited by Marie (edited October 07, 2001).]

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