Sylvain Émard Danse of Quebec celebrates their 25th anniversary this year, with a Canadian tour of Sylvain Émard’s most recent work, “Ce n’est pas la fin du monde” (“It’s not the end of the world”). The work premiered a year ago at the Plateau d’Eysines in Bordeaux during the Danse Toujours biennial, and the company have twice since visited France to perform the piece.
The dance, performed by seven men, engages the theme of masculinity in a contemporary world, and yet it is also an abstract and ‘pure’ dance piece, and you can easily get lost in admiring the seasoned dancers twisting and plunging in the Émardsian way with finesse. The woman behind me audibly gasped as each figure and feat caught her eye. It’s a bit like watching the ocean, trying to anticipate where the next white crest will form; it has this mesmeric seduction, and depth you take for granted.
The ‘hits’ rose organically and equally amongst group figures, solos and partnered elements; strongest on the gasp-o-meter were probably those in paired segments, being the most tender, perhaps the most human. The point when platitudes like “It’s not the end of the world” might realistically be offered. I enjoyed the to-ing and fro-ing group dances, striding through triangular blue light, buckling into a roll, taking nothing off the pace.
The choreography is restless, rapid and directional, calling for lightening-quick pivots, tensionless spines and torsos. The dancers in the group are physically diverse, and the style plays up the modality of each. Neil Sochasky was a wonderful presence, marauding the space, hair flowing gloriously, a counterpoint to the mercurial Adam Barruch, and the crisp lightness of Dylan Crossman. The sense of individuality, they are dressed in casual, bright clothes, lends truth and complexity to the overarching themes of commonality and shared experience.
A raft of cardboard boxes dominates the space overhead, filtering the light into squares on the stage. The warehousey feel extends through the black, curtainless space, with rigging and lighting exposed. The dancers sit at the back of the stage when not dancing. An experimental score of interference occasionally feels a bit thin, and the choreography might have been condensed into a solid half hour, but as the work suggests, endurance is its own reward.