Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Dancing the zen rock star

Two new and exciting dance creations from Paul-André Fortier premier this weekend

Robin Poitras Credit: Robin Poitras

Paul-André Fortier, one of the country’s most-esteemed dance artists, artistic director of Montreal’s Fortier Danse Création, officer of the Order of Canada, and the 2012 recipient of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, returns to the capital this weekend for an intimate engagement at the historic Arts Court downtown. Presented by Series Dance 10 of the Ottawa Dance Directive, Ottawa audiences will have the pleasure of witnessing the unique talents of Fortier united with Robin Poitras of Regina, another performing artist celebrated across the country for more than three decades.

Fortier, now at the age of 65, brings Box, l’homme au carton, which began as a five-minute meditative solo conceived during a residency in Japan. He muses that the impetus for the creation of the piece was a desire to animate a simple and inanimate object and galvanize or interrogate the limits of his imagination. Since then, the solo has multiplied into a 25-minute exploration of patience, tenacity and possibility.

“It’s a subtle and quiet work in which our perception of time and space is meant to be completely altered,” Fortier says. “It is indeed very zen, and demands my utmost concentration, almost like walking along a tightrope in profound silence. The process and performances have been fantastic for me as an interpreter. For the spectator, I aim to open up a space in their imagination, a new kind of poetic realm, in which they could follow me on this journey.”

She, the second work on the program, also choreographed by Fortier, was commissioned by Robin Poitras and generously showcases the broad creative abilities of both performers and two divergent faces to Fortier’s work. While Box is unquestionably meditative and perhaps more visibly introverted, She complements it with a crazier sense or taste for the spectacular. On working with Poitras, Fortier articulates that “she is a magical interpreter, always generous and present, and a first-rate artist and performer.”

For her part, Poitras has been revered for traversing the formal worlds of dance and performance art. Anchored in physicality through choreography, her art involves the use of found or formed objects, texts, images, sound and other media. She co-founded New Dance Horizons in 1986, where she continues to act as artistic director. For She, Fortier has Poitras develop into “a rather odd character, between that of a rock star and a comic book figure . . . She is completely nuts, much to the great amusement and benefit of the audience.” Furthermore, She will dare to reinvent music through the peculiar use of a bedframe.

To close the evening, Fortier and Poitras will share the stage for an exclusive sneak-peek excerpt of a new creation-in-progress set to premiere in May 2014. When asked what he could reveal about the piece ahead of time, he offered only that so far they’ve created one hour of raw material that has yet to be refined, reworked and layered with levels of performance.