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Dancers celebrate the experiences of love

If it is possible to sum up Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie’s Wednesday night performance at the Arden Theatre, it would be that love is central to our lives and it embraces us with equal amounts of joy and pain.

If it is possible to sum up Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie’s Wednesday night performance at the Arden Theatre, it would be that love is central to our lives and it embraces us with equal amounts of joy and pain.

Paradisum was an exquisite evening of three masterworks by Canada’s leading choreographer, James Kudelka, and the modern/contemporary dances reflected the formidable scope of his talent.

As former artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada, Kudelka refined the art of tackling psychologically challenging matter with emotional meaning. But most of all the compelling choreographies had an intimacy, a personal softness that drew the viewer in.

Striving to be more than a regionally based Montreal company, Coleman Lemieux’s debut at the Arden introduced a style and versatility that was magnetic and emotive.

The 10 barefooted dancers (Michael Sean Marye sustained an injury) combined superior athleticism with supple grace and elegance. Dancing with sculptural precision, their long lines, animated body language and fluid movements moved seamlessly through Kudelka’s flawless transitions.

The opening full-cast sequence, Fifteen Heterosexual Duets, was an effervescent piece that funnelled the dancers’ boundless energy into multiple lifts, jets and arabesques. Performing to Beethoven’s Sonata No. 9 in A, the dancers’ bodies moved like splashes of colour through a series of pas de deux that included couples throwing themselves at each other, women chasing men and men cradling women. There was even a lifeless puppet-like dancer completely controlled by her partner who drags her offstage by the hair. From the intimacy of love to the death knell of abuse, it was all there.

Kudelka’s second work, Soudain, l’hiver dernier, was a powerful, edgy male duet of a passerby in leather shoes befriending a lost man. The duo danced under dark lights with Gavin Bryer’s soundscape performing a repetitive loop of a homeless man singing, “Jesus’ blood never left me yet.”

Throughout the 15-minute sequence, Jones Henry and Luke Garwood pushed and pulled each other, often in a ritualistic fashion. They walked side-by-side, wrapped themselves around each other and turned themselves upside down. But always they danced in unison finding fresh ways to provide mutual support.

And finally Kudelka’s great masterpiece, Paradisum, was a searing look at coming to terms with the loss of a loved one. In the role of the woman who becomes weaker until an angel carries her away, the off-pointe Laurence Lemieux was at once elegant, strong and refined. And Michael Caldwell’s angel was a bold and persistent adversary.

Although there were certain fragments of sadness, the overall evening celebrated life and love in its many forms and the non-stop applause was a robust indication the audience is hoping for a repeat visit – soon.

Review

Paradisum<br />Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie<br />Wednesday, January 20<br />Arden Theatre


Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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