Shedding layers

Canadian choreographer Benoit Lachambre performs the sinuous ‘Snakeskins.’

By ORI J. LENKINSKI
June 10, 2015 08:57
2 minute read.
Benoit Lachambre Israel

Canadian choreographer Benoit Lachambre. (photo credit: CHRISTINE ROSEDIVITO)

When a snake molts, it does so by rubbing up against hard surfaces. The old layer detaches from the reptilian body and is effectively turned inside out as the new snake slithers forth. The action resembles the removal of a sock from a foot. This process, which includes the shedding of not just skin but ocular scales, allows the animal to move more freely, see better and live longer.

As he created his “fake solo” Snakeskins, Canadian choreographer Benoit Lachambre thought often and at length about the molting process.

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As one of the most compelling artists on the scene, Lachambre, 55, has shed skins many times over his long career.

Beginning in the 1970s, Lachambre has investigated movement and performances from many angles, trading one technique for another as the years passed. Three decades ago, the artist discovered release technique, which has remained a major element of his practice since.

His Montreal-based company Par B.L.eux was established in 1996. Since, Lachambre has created more than 15 works and has toured internationally.

In addition, he has gained recognition for his work as a teacher, giving workshops at schools and festivals around the globe. Lachambre is an avid collaborator, having worked with artists such as Meg Stuart, Boris Charmatz, Sasha Waltz and Louise Lecavalier. In 2013 he was awarded the Grand Prix de La Danse de Montreal for Snakeskins.

Next week, Par B.L.eux will present Snakeskins as part of the Israel Festival.

Invited by artistic director Itzik Giuli, Lachambre is one of three leading solo dance artists to take part in this year’s program.

The solo is in fact not a solo, as Lachambre is joined on stage by dancer Daniele Albanese and musician Hahn Rowe. This notion of the fake solo has been of great interest to Lachambre for the past 10 years. In addition to his co-performers, Lachambre is joined on stage by a large scaffolding-like structure and multiple black cords. His body is connected to the construction via a leathery vest at times, while at others he dangles in the air, suspended by the ropes.

Throughout the course of the piece, Lachambre moves through different physical and mental states, writhing, twitching, floating and hanging. Rowe serves as a witness, instigator and catalyst to Lachambre’s chaotic and internal struggle.

Lachambre is a charismatic and beguiling performer, at once completely calm and utterly unhinged.

Snakeskins provides the audience a raw glimpse of the artist in all his glory.

Snakeskins will be performed on June 11 at 10 p.m. and on June 12 at 4 p.m. at the Jerusalem Theater. For more information, visit www.israelfestival.org.


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