Jordana and I have been working together sporadically for several years. Our early studio research revealed that we share a history of sexualized violence and that we feel drawn to explore this reality in our work. What happens when we are faced with threat, violence or invasion? We became fascinated by the idea of resilience, transformation, heroism, but also dissociation and fanaticism. Through these ideas, the historical personage of Joan of Arc emerged. We explored her character as a theme to underlie the work. The story of this remarkable female figure provided a lens through which to reflect on our own experiences while connecting to several pertinent social issues such as women’s rights, rape culture, domestic violence, the legal system, war, religious fanaticism and mental illness. We played with several archetypes associated with her, such as the hero, the saint, the martyr, the warrior, the virgin, the witch, and the shepherd. We also included the idea of nunchakus and capoeira, two martial arts that arose from oppressive regimes. This initial process concluded with performances at the Dance Ontario WeekEnd. D’Arc, a fifteen-minute solo, premiered at the Fleck Dance Theatre last January as a commission of the Dance Ontario Creative Partnership Award.
I was quite happy with D’Arc overall, but felt that the final work was more traditional and “old-school modernist” than I originally intended. When we went back in the studio a few months later, my goal was to create entirely from eidetic imagery and physical tasks without ever choreographing or setting a step, something I have never quite done to this extent before. The process has progressed smoothly so far and I am curious to see if I will be able to remain faithful to my intention as I approach the Dance Matters performances. Still loosely inspired by the idea of Joan, edged is a structured improvisation which explores the liminal state between presence/absence, internal/external, performative/non-performative, and planned/unplanned. Blurring the lines between internal and external spaces, the work is somewhat structured around the pattern of the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth as a neural pathway leading to salvation and/or disappearance. Built by the layering of several contradictory tasks, its different sections challenge the concepts of free will, clarity, and identity. I am thrilled by our creative process and am looking forward to seeing the work come to fruition at Dance Matters.
Photo of Jordana Deveau by Kevin Konnyu. Choreographer: Louis Laberge-Côté