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Curious, generous, non-dancers

Dance artist Louis Laberge-Côté works with unlikely partners for his latest project

Porch View Dances sees Louis Laberge-Côté collaborating with families of non-dancers to create works in their homes, on their lawns and in the streets.

Louis Laberge-Côté doesn’t use iCal. The Quebec-born, Toronto-based dance artist prefers to track his time on paper, no small feat given the complexity of his schedule. In the last 18 months, he’s danced for Michael Greyeyes, Nova Bhattacharya, The Chimera Project and lemonTree creations, as well creating his own project, . . . et même après (with husband Michael Caldwell), which snagged him the Dora Award for Outstanding Choreography.

The next year will see him work on new projects with Allison Cummings, Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie and Forcier Stage Works, to name a few. Given his hectic agenda, you might think the summer would mean a little R&R. But Laberge-Côté seems incapable of sitting still for that long. This week will see him collaborate with Kaeja d’Dance on the second incarnation of Porch View Dances. The unlikely event pairs professional choreographers with families of non-dancers to create works in their homes, on their lawns and in the streets.

Laberge-Côté is used to collaborating with artists who’ve spent more than half their lives perfecting their pliés and touching up their tendus, so working with entirely untrained artists could seem a daunting task. But for him, it’s precisely their lack of training that makes his team interesting to work with.

“I really enjoy creating with non-dancers,” he says. “They’re curious, generous and sometimes more open than trained dancers. Because they don’t have the same kind of expectations or baggage when it comes to their bodies or movements, non-dancers are sometimes more able to focus on the big picture.”

Not only is the experience creatively fulfilling, Laberge-Côté sees it as a genuine opportunity to learn something.

“Working with people with no dance experience really forces you to think about dance in different ways,” he says. “You have to figure out how to express yourself clearly without using specialized or technical language. It also teaches you how to stay simple and how to get your choreographic ideas across without being able to rely on the physical prowess or technical expertise. I find it enlightening, inspiring and humbling.”