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Fondation Jean-Pierre Perreault (Québec)
Choreographer : Jean Pierre Perreault

May 6, 7 & 8, 2004
Place des arts

Joe has all the elements of a cult piece, if such a thing can exist in contemporary dance. It can be compared to a film by Jarmush or Wenders, a Beatles album, a book by Kundera or an Andy Warhol print.”Voir, Quebec

“A timeless masterpiece...” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, United States

In a tribute to the late Jean-Pierre Perreault, Danse Danse presents his signature piece Joe, to be danced one last time by a cast of thirty-two, in accordance with Perreault’s last wishes. Audiences will thrill once again to the breathtaking work that has exerted a profound influence on contemporary dance at the international level. To mark its twentieth anniversary—and in honor of the Fondation Jean-Pierre Perreault—Joe will be staged across Quebec and Canada before going on international tour during the 2004-2005 season.

A monochromatic captive of society, Jean-Pierre Perreault’s Joe is a humble, exhausted man, whose surges of anger and flashes of lucidity are rapidly stifled beneath a blanket of conformity. Joe strives valiantly to escape the domination of the group, from pre-destination. “When I watch Joe today,” Jean-Pierre Perreault told Michael Crabb (Dance Connection, Canada) in 1994, “I can see my vision of society, my view of group behavior, of the way we live and survive in society clearly articulated.” In the same interview, he went on to add that for him “each Joe is different, none of them are anonymous. I always remind the dancers that no matter what happens to this or that individual, a flame still flickers within them; the soul can never be extinguished.”

Created in 1984, Joe was the first work presented by the Fondation Jean-Pierre Perreault. Performed without a soundtrack, Joe’s music consists entirely of the drumming footfalls of its dancers. Its audacity, power and genius make Joe “something unique... Through its movements, its robust style, and its aesthetic, it’s a gem of modern dance.” Hour, Quebec

As a choreographer, set designer and visual artist, Jean-Pierre Perreault has influenced and inspired an entire generation of choreographers and dancers. Introduced to the dance by an encounter with Jeanne Renaud, he began his formal training in 1967 with Ottawa’s Groupe de la Place Royale, which he went on to direct in close collaboration with Peter Boneham, for whom he created several pieces. In 1984 he founded his own company, the Fondation Jean-Pierre Perreault, to give full expression to his artistic vision.

Between 1969 and 1983, Jean-Pierre Perreault undertook a series of educational trips to Europe, Asia and Africa. In the course of his travels he deepened his interest in architecture, sacred art and on the influence of costume and social organization on the vocabulary of choreography and of the dance. His abiding curiosity also saw him study alongside artists from related disciplines, including Marcelle Ferron, Fernand Leduc, Gilles Tremblay and Serge Garant. These encounters reinforced his global approach to the creative process that, with him, always took shape through the medium of drawing.

In addition to his solid international reputation as a choreographer—in 1991, Sweden’s renowned Culbergbaletten commissioned him to create the work that was to inaugurate Stockholm’s Maison de la Danse—Perreault was invited to exhibit his drawings in New York, Antwerp, Quebec City, Montreal, Glasgow, Stockholm and Toronto. He was also featured in several publications and television programs. A filmed version of Joe, produced by Bernard Picard, was broadcast on Radio-Canada television, followed by L’Odyssée sonore, a film by Louis Ricard produced by Canada’s National Film Board.

Many young dancers profited from his talent and pedagogical skills during the eight years he taught in the Dance Faculty of the Université du Québec à Montréal.

In 1990 Jean-Pierre Perreault won the Jean A. Chalmers Award for choreography, followed in 1996 by the Jean A. Chalmers Award for excellence in choreography in recognition of his career accomplishments. Three years later, the Fondation Jean-Pierre Perreault was awarded the Grand Prix for artistic achievement by the Montreal Urban Community Arts Council for his piece L’exil-l’oubli. And, in November 2002, Perreault was awarded the Governor General of Canada’s medal of honor.

Author of more than fifty choreographic works, Jean-Pierre Perreault left behind him a rich and coherent repertoire. Joe may well be the most memorable, but few will ever forget L’exil-l’oubli, Les Années de pélerinage, Eironos and Cycle Adieux.

April 2003

Photos: Robert Etcheverry