By Rachel Woodward, March 1 2016 —
Quebécois contemporary artist Benoît Lachambre choreographed Snakeskins in 2012, when he was awarded the best choreography award at 2013’s Grand Prix de la danse de Montreal. He has since toured the show worldwide and will stop in Calgary at Theatre Junction GRAND to present the performance from March 2–5.
Theatre Junction artistic director Mark Lawes says the performance is exactly what the theatre looks for in a booking.
“Theatre Junction is known for doing more experimental, adventurous work, and I think the audience is used to coming in to something that is unexpected,” Lawes says. “It’s a kind of work that everyone can relate to. It’s about personal identity and transformation. These themes are universal.”
Lachambre’s choreography makes heavy use of somatic movement, a dance style where dancers focus on their own physical experience instead of the audience’s visuals.
“Somatic movement is really not working so much on the outward appearance of the moment, but the movement is really coming from an internal image or feeling,” Lawes says. “The entire piece is improvised within a very set structure.”
Snakeskins is described as a “fake” solo — Lachambre takes control of the stage while multi-instrumentalist Hahn Rowe composes music. Dancer Daniele Albanese joins them onstage.
Lachambre’s approach to movement in Snakeskins captures ideas of molding and shifting. Since much of the piece is improvised, he is able to move through those feelings in front of an audience.
“The structure of his body changes so that he is able to find a certain freedom in his spine as the piece progresses, so when he is finally free from the cords that are attached to his body, he can move in a way that he couldn’t move previously,” Lawes says.
Before each show, Lachambre can be found in the lobby of the theatre, putting on a show while preparing.
“There’s a very still, meditative warmup that he does prior to the performance, so the audience can see him prepare for this experience,” Lawes says. “It is very psychedelic and immersive, and it’s really working on this idea of meditation which is the true expression of freedom in the final gesture that he makes in this piece. It’s really quite beautiful.”
Snakeskins runs at Theatre Junction GRAND from March 2–5. Student tickets are $27. For more information on Snakeskins, visit theatrejunction.com.