THE SATIE PROJECT choreography by Serge Bennathan, with pianist Eve Egoyan. Presented by Dancemakers at the Premiere Dance Theatre (207 Queen's Quay West). Opens Tuesday (October 8) and runs to October 19, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm. $21-$37.50. 416-973-4000.
French Composer Erik Satie hated choreographers. But that hasn't stopped Dancemakers' Serge Bennathan from creating a movement- and music-based work inspired by the guy.Bennathan's The Satie Project tries to capture the essence of the eccentric composer best known for his ballet Parade and his dreamy commercial- and soundtrack-friendly Gymnopedies.
"Satie didn't like dance to mime or exaggerate the music," says Bennathan. "He wanted the choreographer to create dance in silence, and then he would provide the music. Coincidentally, that's very much how I work."
The Satie Project came about because Bennathan was looking to work with Eve Egoyan, a pianist who specializes in contemporary works. When Egoyan added Satie to her repertoire, the choreographer was intrigued. He got even more interested after he began pouring through Satie's letters.
"When you discover the complexity of the man, you listen to his music differently," explains Bennathan.
"There's everything there: humour, depression, obsession. He was jailed because of something critical he wrote. He received a prestigious award not for his music but because he organized outings with children. He created his own church.
"My idea was not to do a piece on Satie, it was to do a piece with Satie."
Egoyan, raised on an island onstage, performs 21 short piano rarities, including Flabby Preludes (for a dog) and The Almond Chocolate Waltz.
"People will discover a Satie that they did not expect," says Bennathan.
The piece has already played in Ottawa and Vancouver, where Bennathan's movement was praised for its dreamy delicacy and fierce physicality. After Toronto, it travels to Europe.
If Satie were still alive -- he died in 1925 -- Bennathan thinks he would, above all, have fun at the show.
"Fun was an important notion for him. I think we'd go to a café afterwards, drink, discuss and laugh."