Northrop Staff Picks Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal

Oct 09, 2014

The performance I am most looking forward to this season is Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal (BJM), at Northrop on October 24. This performance will captivate you with BJM’s infectious energy thanks to their theatricality, humor, sensuality, and sleek technique. This may be the sneaky underrated event of the season – it’s a company we haven’t seen before, and it’s a repertoire evening – but let me tell you, people who miss this are going to regret it once they hear from all those who went.

This is a company of extremely versatile and strong dancers that are not just comfortable with different forms of dance; they revel in it. Adding to that diversity of dance is the fact that BJM is a repertoire company. This means they commission new works for the company in addition to performing existing repertoire. Because of this, they are able to perform some of the most exciting and newest work around, from international roster of choreographers. The three pieces in their repertoire for Northrop show just how versatile they are with both dance vocabulary and choreography styles.

Harry (Choreographed by Barak Marshall)
was one such work created expressly with and for BJM. This is a whirling romp of a piece, and uses voice and gestures to really get the dancers out of their comfort zone. One review likened Barak Marshall’s world on stage as a “delicate yet boisterous universe where each movement is of a rare intensity.” For more information about the piece, including photos and video visit this page on the company’s site. Human relationships (and their vulnerability, conflicts, and resolutions) are on center stage in this piece, centering around the main character, Harry. Harry’s character gives the piece a center, and a narrative for us as the viewer to attach ourselves to. You won't be disappointed.

Closer (Choreographed by Benjamin Millipied)
wasn’t created for BJM specifically, but it was originally created for one of BJM’s now-dancers, Céline Cassone. It’s a sensual duet that puts love and beauty front and center. It’s belying simplicity (just two dancers, plain white clothing, sparse set) gives way to an emotional intensity thanks to the delicious choreography. The dancers move with fluid precision through complicated and breathtaking partner work. You’ll want to keep sipping from this cup of beauty.

Night Box (Choreographed by Wen Wei Wang)
This humming, sleek piece by Wen Wei Wang is a polished, futuristic look at Montréal’s night life (more info on their website here, including a behind the scenes look at the making of the piece). It’s sexy, sweaty, and Wang’s choreography keeps the dancers on their toes, giving the piece energy to spare. The choreography combines street dance with contemporary ballet, and a combination of sequencing such as duets, group work, and solos. The blinking of lights from a city night is a theme echoed throughout with the rhythms and set/lighting design. Hold on to your seat, lest you be swept away with this piece’s insatiable appetite for a city’s night life.

I hope to see you there, and that you’ll be as captivated by the energy and versatility of this international company as I am!


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