BAS-RELIEFS choreographed by Ginette Laurin and Guillaume Bernardi, with Marie-Josée Chartier and Dan Wild. Presented by DanceWorks at the Enwave (231 Queens Quay West), tonight (Thursday, November 29) to Saturday (December 1). $17-$27. 416-973-4000. Rating: NNNNN
Dancer and choreographer Marie-Josée Chartier doesn't own a cellphone. That might not seem extraordinary, except for the fact that she's the hub of Bas-Reliefs, a massive show involving 11 artists from two cities and a half-dozen disciplines.
"People from the show wanted me to get one," she says. "I was burned years ago with a contract that I had to pay for eight months. Never again."
Besides, she continues, it's like cigarettes. You can always bum one from somebody else.
Those artists would be a pretty impressive group to have on speed dial. They include choreographers Ginette Laurin (from O Vertigo) and Guillaume Bernardi, designers Julie Fox and Jeremy Mimnagh and filmmaker Peter Mettler.
Not to mention dancer Dan Wild, who's performed in many of Chartier's own works but never, formally, onstage with her.
"I love the way Marie-Josée's mind works, the way her body works," says Wild, over a glass of water at an Indian restaurant a week before the show goes up in Toronto. (An earlier version was performed last year in Montreal.)
"Dan," adds Chartier, "is always in the moment. I felt I needed to work with someone who has depth, intensity and knowledge, someone I could really count on. I wanted to be comfortable experimenting and trying things out and possibly failing. I knew that he'd provide me with a safe place."
Bas-Reliefs is inspired by the work of artist Betty Goodwin, who has influenced two previous Chartier works.
"I was intrigued by how other artists would look into her work," she explains, "how a scenographer or videographer or choreographer would pull ideas from her. More than half the team was familiar with her work and really liked it. There's been a lot of Goodwinesque feeling and atmosphere in the creation process and in the colours and costumes."
Wild in particular mentions Goodwin's Nerve series.
"I love how she deals with the human form," he says. "It's so beautiful. You don't know if the bodies are falling or rising. It's a gorgeous palette to start from."
The hour-long work is a diptych of contrasting pieces.
"There are lots of twos," says Chartier. "Two composers, two choreographers, two videographers."
"And two dancers," adds Wild. "Only they're not separate duets."
"It's sort of like one duet spread out over two pieces," says Chartier. "Each world is quite different, one is more archetypal and mythical, and the other seems based in human memory."
"What's great about the process is that even after a couple of years, we're starting to discover new things about it as we further define emotions and gestures."
Additional Interview Audio Clips
On how to organize the research for the show: