In 2002, Danse Danse welcomed Hélène Blackburn and her company Cas Public for their performance of Courage mon amour. Now they are back with the world premiere of Suites cruelles, an ambitious new work for 9 dancers and 2 pianists. Using body movements that combine the discipline of ballet with the surrender of contemporary dance, Hélène Blackburn draws us into a murky realm where pleasure and pain become one. Suites cruelles will be danced among others to the music of Ana Sokolovic, composer for Courage mon amour and recipient of the 2006 Prix Opus for composer of the year A show as far-reaching as the choreographer’s talent.
Suites cruelles marks the return of Hélène Blackburn to choreography for adults after three years devoted to producing and performing Barbe Bleue, a work for children, and Journal intime/Diary, aimed at young people. The enthusiastic response to the well-crafted shows led to performances across Quebec, France, the U.K., Italy and Spain over the last three years.
When Barbe Bleue was presented at the Bastille Opera House in Paris, Le Nouvel Observateur wrote: “Rarely has a dialogue between words and bodies been so fruitful. As staged by Hélène Blackburn, Perrault’s fairy tale takes on a new resonance. […] The six dancers switch from one language to another with disconcerting ease. Every nook and cranny of the text is explored, repeated and reinterpreted until it reveals all its secrets.” Le Figaroscope added: “The episodes are conveyed through lavish ballets, slide shows and soundscapes with dancers. […] A marvellous, rewarding piece.”
Journal intime/Diary, a work about love aimed at young people, premiered at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in winter 2006. The teens loved it and critics agreed; the show was an instant hit. “Nine dancers launch into a series of spirited duets and bittersweet tangos, almost violent in their fervour and intensity. […] Sometimes words, songs and video images of kisses compete joyfully with the movement. […] Journal intime is a wonderful bridge between Hélène Blackburn’s work for young audiences and her work for adults” (Le Devoir).
The excellent Journal intime/Diary was yet another testament to the choreographer’s talent and creativity, leading Danse Danse to commission a work for adults from Hélène Blackburn for its 2007-2008 season. Danse Danse commissions help support and nurture choreographers from Quebec and Canada. The company will also benefit from creative residencies with several Quebec dance presenters as part of the commission project.
In 1989, Hélène Blackburn founded a company that she christened Cas Public, a reflection of her firm beliefs about collective work and the artist’s role in society. Since then, Cas Public has built an international reputation with works that include Incarnation (1998), Suites furieuses (1995) and Bestiaire (1994). Always firmly rooted in the cultural reality of Quebec, Cas Public is active in introducing the public to today’s dance. With this in mind, Cas Public branched out into shows for young audiences in 2001 with Nous n’irons plus au bois, a show that has been performed over 300 times. Next came Barbe Bleue (2004), still on tour in Canada and Europe in 2007, then Journal intime/Diary, a work for teens coproduced with the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.
Cas Public, a company renowned for its performance dance, owes its reputation to its exceptionally well-crafted works and a constant presence on the national and international dance scenes.
Winner of the Canada Council’s Jacqueline Lemieux Prize (1990) and the Bonnie Bird North American Choreography Award (1999) from London’s prestigious Laban Centre, Hélène Blackburn began her choreographic career in 1983. Since then, she has created almost twenty works and made a name for herself on the Canadian and European contemporary dance scenes. Her physically demanding choreographies always have a major theatrical component.
Alongside choreographing for Cas Public, Hélène Blackburn is often invited to create works for other companies and dancers. Among the pieces she has choreographed in the last two years are Dance, Love, Sex and Other Little Details for Bare Bones, the resident company at the Birmingham-based DanceXchange, and Chase the Glowing Hours with Flying Feet for the Welsh national dance company Diversions, a work that was a hit at the British Dance Edition.
As an instructor Hélène Blackburn is in high demand, working as a teacher and choreographer at some of the best professional dance training centres in Canada and Europe, including Les Ateliers de danse moderne de Montréal (LADMMI), Concordia University, UQÀM, the École supérieure de danse du Québec, London’s Laban Centre and the Accademia di Danza in Venice.
Duration: to be determinated
Suites cruelles ou le diable est dans les détails
presented by Danse Danse)
Choreography: Hélène Blackburn, with the precious collaboration of the dancers
Rehearsal Director: Sophie Michaud
Dancers: Sarah Desrosiers, Roxane Duchesne-Roy, Sébastien Forgues, Claudine Hébert, Kyra Jean Green, Pierre Lecours, Susan Paulson, Bennyroyce Royon, Georges-Nicolas Tremblay - Gabrielle Cousineau (maternity leave)
Apprentices: Simon Ampleman, Roxanne Bouvrette
Pianists: Laurier Rajotte, Matthieu Fortin
Drums: Roxane Duchesne-Roy
Music for piano: Ana Sokolovic, Fugue pour gg, Danse 6, Toccata, Interlude fantomatique, Interlude bouche, Danse 4, Danse 3, Une journée d'automne, Étude, Malinconico
Musical direction of pianists for works by Ana Sokolovic: Véronique Lacroix
Music for drums: Mario Roy
Piano Improvisation: Laurier Rajotte, Floorburns
Songs: Der Tod und das Mädchen by Franz Schubert arranged by Laurier Rajotte, These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ written by Lee Hazlewood and sang by Nancy Sinatra. Suites Cruelles texts, chosen by Hélène Blackburn and the dancers are extracted from Frederic Nietzsche, Chantal Thomas, David Le Breton, Marquis de Sade and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch.
Slam: Louis-Dominique Lavigne
Light Design: Andréanne Deschênes
Sound Design: Samuel Thériault
Costumes: Annie Gélinas
Costums cutting: Marie-Andrée de Courval
Costums confection: Annie Gélinas et Marie-Andrée de Courval
Video: L E M M (Martin Lemieux)
Coiffure: Martin Morissette (Salon Lutèce)
Shoes: Luigi Luzio (Angelo Luzio)
1 Leda & St.Jacques | Dancers Suzan Paulson and Pierre Lecours, photo 2 Rolline Laporte