Fou Glorieux | Louise Lecavalier’s Mille batailles/Battleground runs at the National Arts Centre from January 15th to 16th. The show is a masterfully skillful, impressive performance with no shortage of physicality, artistry, and talent, well-deserving of its opening night standing ovation.
The show is choreographed by Louise Lecavalier and performed by herself and Robert Abubo. It is a duet, placed mostly within the confines of a lit square on the stage with a back wall. The performance is full of phenomenal pose work, erratic hand movements, and fast transitions around the stage. The high energy choreography and the frequent motion make for an engaging hour.
The show’s score, composed by Antoine Berthiaume, is well-suited to the performance. There are nine different vignettes of the show, accompanied by nine different pieces of the score. Berthiaume plays guitar live on stage and it so beautifully compliments the techno drums and deep bass of the recorded score. The music fluctuates between techno and funk (with a feeling reminiscent of a Thundercat bass line) and later has some operatic high notes.
The lighting design, though seemingly simple, is impeccably done. At times, the stage is well lit, with a checkerboard floor, reminiscent of an old diner or a chess board, and at other moments the stage is dark with a neon red rim along the square of the performance space. Because of the lighting design, there are a lot of interesting shadows, which I guarantee was intentional. The lighting is simple enough that it does not detract from the performance, but complex and precise enough to highlight the shadowy aspect of a battleground, and blurs the boundaries between the internal and external.
My favourite aspect of the show is the use of space; it is so peculiar and precise. The space is both confining and confounding. Though the movement is mostly confined to inside the square performance space, the performers occasionally walk the outer rim of the square, which seems to represent a conflict on the margins, or a desperate attempt to break the confines of the square, without losing its comfort. In the fifth section, there seems to be a clock ticking within the score, which has the dancers posing on each beat. The dance is truly impeccable for timing—the use of space and time has you really question existence and conflict and the ways in which internal conflict manifests as a very physical struggle.
The choreography pays such close attention to angles. The way that bodies are angular on stage, whether they are just moving their hands or are spinning in headstands against the wall, the lines are clean. Coupled with the bodily control of the two dancers, the angles are impressive and masterful. The close attention to detail in this show makes it one not to miss.
The show is quite conceptual, but allows for so many different interpretations. The title Mille batailles/Battleground can represent any number of conflicts or battles that take place on stage, whether they be personal, psychological or physical. I would definitely recommend this show even just for its interpretive value. There really is something to be said about a dance that allows you to let go of preconceived notions and one that doesn’t expect a particular interpretation.
Mille batailles/Battleground is being performed again by Fou Glorieux | Louise Lecavalier at the National Arts Centre (1 Elgin St) at 7:30pm on Thursday January 16, 2020. Tickets cost $31–71 online and at the box office. $15 Live Rush and half-price student tickets are also available.