To the depths of the unconscious with Peggy Baker

Jusqu’aux tréfonds de l’inconscient avec Peggy Baker

Photo: Jeremy Mimnagh
Related to the darkness, the themes of grief, cruelty and chaos run through the room “Who We Are in the Dark”.

A Figure of reference of modern dance in Canada, Peggy Baker has been asking for several decades, the dialogue between body-instrument to the front of the stage. But while the music occupies a place of choice in his work, it is above all through the words that the creator is a gateway to creation. Born of the artistic alchemy that binds the choreographer experienced in the musician of the rock scene, alternative, Sarah Neufeld, Who We Are in the Dark is no exception to this process. The piece for seven dancers and has found its point of origin in a text composed by the violinist member of the band Arcade Fire.

“Three years ago, I approached Sarah on the occasion of my last stage performance,” explains the dancer sexagenarian. As throughout my solo career, I mostly worked with composers of classical music, I wanted to do something completely different for my return to the stage. The idea came to me to work with a person younger end of the rock scene. “

I did not want to undertake the creation by the music. As a point of entry, instead I use text: poems, prose, philosophy, and even, in this case, psychology.

— Peggy Baker

This first collaboration in 2015 on the solo Fractured Black has allowed the musician to tame the game and the composition for the dance. Fascinated by the lyrics written by Sarah Neufeld, touching the darkness and the identity of the beings, the choreographer has wanted to dig this pattern in a room-scale. “I don’t want to undertake the creation by the music. As a point of entry, instead I use text : poems, prose, philosophy, and even, in this case, psychology. So I have collected a variety of quotations from different authors who are interested in the subject of the darkness, and then I used the words as the basis of the choreographic material working with their meanings and their sounds, but also by association. “

After Peggy Baker had found a choreographic structure solid with its dancers, the violinist is input in the creative process in the studio with drummer Jeremy Gara. The presence of the two musicians on stage implies a special relationship to the dancers : “They are not characters in this choreography and do not interact directly with the dancers, but their performance is part of the whole. Everyone works to a high level of execution in the form. Sarah, particularly, between sometimes in the space of the dancers, watching them closely and reading their body throughout the performance. “

Between grief and light

Related to the darkness, the themes of grief, cruelty and chaos to cross the room. As a counterpoint, the artist has focused also on ” intimacy, contemplation, the secrecy, the confusion, the perplexity, and the unconscious “. “There is also the idea of the universe as a cataclysmic event, emerging from the darkness. Also, the fact that each of us comes into the world from the darkness of the womb of our mothers. This is not only the absolute black. I went back to a dimming of the darkness, focussing especially on the dream and the unconscious. “

This research developed over three and a half years and results in a piece of dense, very written, and whose sub-text allows the connection of the different elements with fluidity.

The music and the dance also adds a significant amount of visual arts, because, for her design, Ms. Baker has built the canvases suspended from montreal-based artist, John Heward, one of his long-time friends passed away last November : “I had the chance to meet John in the 1980s through the choreographer Linda Rabin. I have always been very sensitive to his work, because there is something very physical and very raw in his works. He was working with large pieces of canvas deteriorated and the coating of fiber glass, and intervened on these surfaces very unusual of an immediate way to large brush strokes with gestures very loose. It was suspending the canvas, swiveled it around, connected it and sometimes even damaged. Left free in space, without frames, you can see how the gravity plays on these paintings. “

The canvas, carefully chosen with John Heward in his lifetime, and appropriate to the scale of the scene, to represent the choreographer in the climax of the dance a visual point of view : “I find these works to be both mysterious and tragic. I see them as the ghosts of a painting. They have a physical life alone and come and interrupt what is going on in the space so that the dancers have the choice of taking either next to them or even tear them apart. “

Peggy Baker, the committee deeply regrets that the visual artist has not been able to see the culmination of her room prior to her death and feels very privileged to be able to bring his work to a theatre : “To this creation, he has given me all her trust and I take that trust absolutely to heart. We dedicate this entire piece to her memory, ” she concludes.

Who We Are in the Dark

Choreography : Peggy Baker. With Sarah Fregeau, Mairi Greig, Kate Holden, Benjamin Kamino, Sahara Morimoto, David Norsworthy, Jarrett Siddall. Live music : Sarah Neufeld and Jeremy Gara. Presented by Danse Danse. At the théâtre Maisonneuve of Place des Arts from February 27 to march 2.