UNTITLED choreography by Edouard Lock, presented by Canadian Stage and La La La Human Steps at the Bluma Appel (27 Front East). Opens tonight (Thursday, May 26) and runs to June 1, Thursday-Saturday and Monday-Tuesday 8 pm, matinee Wednesday 1:30 pm. $22-$99. 416-368-3110. See listing.
The man behind La La La Human Steps modestly jokes about the acclaimed company's 30-year milestone.
"It's not so much for geology, but it's pretty good for biology," says Edouard Lock before a performance in Ottawa. "For a rock it's a second, but for a living thing it's pretty good."
"Pretty good" is an understatement. In three decades, the charismatic Quebec choreographer and his troupe have changed the face of modern dance, giving it a sexy, edgy profile that attracts both dance lovers and those more likely to see a live band.
His latest untitled work has been touring Europe for the past few months to lots of buzz, and, talking to its articulate creator, you can see why.
Just as his last piece, Amjad, was a psychologically dark deconstruction of the Swan Lake story, the new work puts a different spin on two opera classics - Purcell's Dido And Aeneas and Gluck's Orfeo Ed Euridice.
"Both operas concern interesting myths, and they've been around for so long, they've been integrated culturally into our memories," says Lock. "I like working with memory. I like the idea of an audience coming into the theatre with a preconceived notion of what they're about to see and some personal attachments to the themes."
Not that the dance is going to be a recreation of either story. Composer Gavin Bryars has deconstructed the two scores to create something original.
"And the work deals with - how to put it? - a phase in the romantic cycle that isn't often addressed," Lock goes on. "It's not the beginning or ‘magic' phase, but the end, the ‘memory' phase. It's about dissolution."
Lock says he hopes his process has got a bit more streamlined over the years, but he still maintains certain ideas he had from the beginning.
"I don't believe dance is particularly good at narrative, and I don't think it should be simplified in order to create or carry a narrative," he says. "And even with all the third-party communications around, like the internet, there's nothing like two groups of strangers assembled in one room observing each other. Whatever happens in the room, you will utterly believe it. There's no artifice or amplification."
Many performing arts companies are allowing their works to be broadcast in movie theatres or captured in 3-D. Lock says he'd consider it for the company but knows it wouldn't be the same as the real thing.
"You can't really duplicate the theatrical experience," he says. "But you can try to create something new. The theatre remains the ultimate way of seeing a three-dimensional moving person. It's hard to duplicate it any other way than to sit in a seat and watch."
Lock's diplomatic enough not to single out any special memories from three decades of work, but he does mention collaborating with rock star Frank Zappa on the shows that went into Zappa's final Yellow Shark album.
"Working with Zappa just prior to his passing away was a special moment," he recalls. "We got to see a great artist close up as he was dealing with difficult problems and with his family around. That was a great project."