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Le Sacre du Printemps.

For several years now, dancer-choreographer Paul-Andre Fortier has been exploring the core of truth. Bras de Plomb ("Arms of Lead") is a reverent metaphor for human destiny, the result of Fortier's continued collaboration with one of Canada's best-known visual artists, Betty Goodwin.

As one might expect, this is a dance about arms. The inspiration came from Goodwin, who conceived a spare environment of metal geometric shapes in which to encase them. Fortier's arms achieve such importance that they almost eclipse the rest of his body. In the first of four solos they twine freely above his head, undulating as if bone and muscle were vines. Bare and sensuous, they float softly, wavering in a curiously disconnected way above the dancer's darkly clad body.

In the second the arms are pinned to his sides with enormous silver clips like staples. The result is pathetic: a hopeless Petrouchka, a bird with clipped wings, a creature poignantly limited. In the third solo the arms are encased in heavy sleeves of lead. This is imprisonment of a different kind, and Fortier explores possible escapes--like smashing or bending the sleeves. Finally, the arms are gilded, becoming symbols of strength as the dancer strikes martial-arts positions. Power, he seems to be saying, is closer than arm's length.

Fortier's own length lies not in what he does but in how he does it. With the help of talents like Goodwin and lighting designer Jean-Philippe Trepanier, he creates a soft, introspective magic with a beauty that transcends urban life.

For her second group work, former soloist Marie Chouinard fell, like so many before her, under the spell of Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps ("The Rite of Spring"). And, if her reach slightly exceeded her grasp, the challenge was north the effort. After all, risk is what new dance is all about. And Chouinard exults in exploration.

Her company of seven superb dancers achieved moments of stunning mystery, reflecting the driving score in jerks and twisty contractions that redefine the human body.

In program notes the choreograher explained her synchronic vision, one that is devoid of cause and effect, evolution, or progression: "It is as though I opened a door and witnessed life in the very second following its creation from matter."

This moment of consecration of life is first bathed in blue light. Creatures crawl slowly among horns growing out of the ground. Sandpaper sound effects by Rober Racine and silences cocoon this prologue to Sacre.

When the Stravinsky frenzy is unleashed it drives dancers into solos in which angular thrusts and contractions ricochet up and down their bodies from the tips of their hair to their toenails. The dance is more a series of virtuoso solos than anything else. Ultimately, the sections begin to look too similar. There are moments of confusion. There seem to be references to a sacrificial virgin, despite Chouinard's stated vision. By the second part, spotlights following each dancer become so animated that they achieve a kind of show of their own that upstages the performers.

By choosing to mate with Stravinsky, Chouinard has turned her back on the remarkable vocalizations that have become her trademark, allowing the score to drive the dance. Importantly, her dancers are a fascinating force, perfectly executing her extraordinary jagged movement as a unit. Racine's gritty sound effects are ideal, but not enough, while Stravinsky is simply too much. The lesson here might be that Stravinsky, like time, waits for no choreographer.
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Title Annotation:Theatre Maisonneuve, Montreal, Canada
Author:Howe-Beck, Linde
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Dance Review
Date:Jan 1, 1994
Previous Article:Bras de Plomb.
Next Article:Carmina Burana.

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