The sound body

Montreal-based choreographer Danièle Desnoyers presents her famed work ‘Duos Pour Corps et Instruments’ at Suzanne Dellal’s CanaDanse festival.

‘Duos Pour Corps et Instruments’ (photo credit: LUC SENECAL)
‘Duos Pour Corps et Instruments’
(photo credit: LUC SENECAL)
Though she has never visited Tel Aviv, Montreal-based choreographer Danièle Desnoyers has a sense that the local dance community bears many similarities to that of her home town. “Both are extremely physical, and our work is based on movement. Canadian and Israeli dance have the same passion about movement and bodywork, about the way to train the body, to make it bolder, to make it speak louder,” she said in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post.
This month, Desnoyers will have the opportunity to test her theory up close, when she presents her work Duos Pour Corps et Instruments, Un [Re]Creation (Duets for Body and Instruments, A [Re]Creation). This will be Desnoyers’s first trip to Israel and first time showing her work in the country.
The piece will be shown as part of the Suzanne Dellal Center’s CanaDanse, a week-long spotlight on Canadian dance. The festival will begin with the Ballet BC from Vancouver presenting a three-part program by Crystal Pite, Medhi Walerski and Emily Molnar and will continue with independent choreographer Shay Kuebler’s Telemetry. Desnoyers’s company, Le Carré des Lombes, will close with four performances.
Desnoyers is a veteran choreographer, having begun her creative journey in the 1980s while pursuing a degree at the University of Quebec in Montreal. In 1989, she founded Le Carré des Lombes as a vehicle through which she could experiment with the intersections of dance, theater, visual art and sound. Her repertoire includes, among others, Discordantia, Play it Again!, Là où je vis and Dévorer le Ciel. In 2003, Desnoyers created Duos Pour Corps et Instrument during a residency at the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montreal. The piece would mark the second collaboration between Desnoyers and sound designer Nancy Tobin.
The process revolved around body and sound and how one can influence, animate or even create the other. “We had such an exceptional environment to create at the museum,” Desnoyers said.
“At this moment, sound design was very connected with visual art. I had just done a work with Nancy Tobin, I asked her to integrate sound and body on stage with a strong connection. I decided to use the black box of the museum with the audience sitting all around the stage and create three sound stations that would be connected each with one dancer.
“SO THE dancers are producing the sound material that you will hear during the show. Nancy proposed that we work with feedback, that sound we are always trying to avoid in electric music. So, I started to work with feedback as material. And I realized we needed to move very carefully with that.
“It was important that we work very slowly and with delicacy. Rock & roll works with feedback in a kind of violent way. In order to have the sound we wanted, we had to be very delicate. Suddenly we realized that the sound was an image, it was as if the sound was going into the blood, like the body was making the sound. The three women develop a complicity between them but also a certain triumvirate- a triangle. The title relates to the fact that the body is creating a duet with its own instrument.”
For her cast, Desnoyers went out on a limb and approached three pillars of contemporary dance in Montreal at the time: Sophie Corriveau, AnneBruce Falconer and Sioned Watkins. 
“I chose three people who influenced me the most at the time, my muses. It was my first goal to invite three strong dancers, characters, strong personalities who influenced my work,” she explained. Tobin outfitted each of the three women with a station that includes a speaker/microphone, which was attached to one leg, a distortion pedal, a pitch pedal and an amplifier.
The combination of these elements created a brilliantly cacophonous performance experience, which became a signpost for the company, traveling extensively for more than a decade. Ten years later, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of her company, Desnoyers decided to re-stage the work using new dancers.
“When I recreated it 10 years after, I decided to do the same process,” she said. “I asked myself, ‘Who today are the main artists who influence my work?’”
The current cast is once again comprised of three of Montreal’s influential female voices: Karina Champoux, Clara Furey and Anne Theriault. “You will discover three really strong dancers, albeit a new generation but I tried to keep the character of the piece in the casting. These people are my muses for the work and for the company.”
Daniele Desnoyers and Le Carre des Lombes will present Duos Pour Corps et Instrument, Une [Re]Creation on January 16 and 17. For more information, visit suzannedellal.org.il.