Arts & Entertainment, Dance, Theatre

Festival TransAmériques 2021 reveals the human condition through performance

Founded in 1985 by Marie-Hélène Falcon and Jacques Vézina, the Festival TransAmériques (FTA) is an annual contemporary dance and theatre festival that brings artists from across the globe to Montreal to kick off the summer season. 

This year, dance and performance artists dusted off their costumes and laced up their pointe shoes for 26 performances that ran live from May 26 through June 12 at the Place des Arts. Ranging in artistic format and content, the performances explored the complexities of the human experience through dance, speech, and theatre. 

La Romance est pas morte by 2Fik!

La Romance est pas morte, 2Fik! or Romance ain’t dead, 2Fik!, followed the performance artist 2Fik’s examination of the absurdity and danger of online dating apps. Set in a colosseum-like structure lined with cardboard cutouts of countless fictional dating profiles, 2Fik chameleonically transformed himself into each one of them. Embodying each of the 100 characters he created for the project, 2Fik invited viewers to visit a fake dating website——to chat with his character while on the stage.

The set was a shuttered three-room faux-apartment: a bathroom, a kitchen, and a bedroom sat in the centre of the stage. Three screen panels hung on the audience-facing walls and linked to the fake dating website. The leftmost panel displayed a “hot-or-not” rating of the most upvoted characters on the app. The rightmost panel played a live-time list of all of the anonymous texts the audience sent him, while the central panel displayed the character 2Fik was playing. 

Whether straightening a wig or throwing on a leather jacket, 2Fik transformed into his characters, running the gamut of age, sexuality, gender, class, religion, and nationality. In a Deveare-like fashion, 2Fik demonstrated not only his own talent, but also his fluidity of these identities—and perhaps the triviality of such labels. Breathing life and nuance into each of his characters, 2Fik’s digital caricatures revealed the hypocrisy of dating-app users: A boomer trucker posts a picture of himself at a strip bar while his bio condemns the younger generation’s obscenity; a tech bro in his late 20s frequently quotes his mom; a recent divorcée of 40 features five of the same unflattering selfies on her profile. The performance ultimately revealed the falsity of digital personhood, the nonchalance with which we flatten human beings into sentences and photos, and the cruelty therein—fundamentally, the farce of online dating.

Stations by Louise Lecavalier

In Stations, Louise Lecavalier’s first solo dance performance, the music takes the reins. Opening in total darkness, the show began with a low rumble that eventually gave way to four rods of light on the corners of the stage. These created a metaphorical boxing ring in which Lecavalier danced at the mercy of the melody.

Moving through different parts of the performance, Lecavalier engaged in a ritualistic trance; when the music beat with an intense electronic throb, her body shook, her arms bobbing like a raggedy pierrot. When the rhythmical pulse of the electronica became a frenetic fast jazz, Lecavalier swung around erratically; her legs kicked and tugged one way, her arms jerked her another, her head wrenched upwards, downwards. When a slow ballad crooned, she moved as if through molasses, her head bent backwards while her arms crawled out from under it. In the end, a beam of white and the red-orange light singled out Lecavalier, who buried herself to the ground, crouching down, into a final, sweet beat of silence. 

Ultimately, the performance was able to communicate the universal human truth of instinctual, animal-like intelligence, and showed that what cannot be said through words, can often be said through movement. One could sense that the artist had gained control over the music, rather than vice versa. It seems, in the end, that she had won.


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