In this newest creation by Andrew Turner, the choreographer explores the seemingly stable “I” as a collection of odd, non-logical, truncated fictions. These fragmented strains of narrative percolate just beneath the surface of the self. Inhibited, but still twitchily at play in our very muscles and tissues, they eloquently trouble an otherwise cohesive identity. With a physicality at times surgingly fluid, at times deeply dis-coordinated; with a sense of humour both deliciously absurd and razor sharp; and with an unflinching curiosity about what’s happening right now in this moment, this dancer-choreographer seeks to probe the parts of us that show up, unannounced and uninvited, despite our best efforts.
The piece emerges from a series of practices (or procedures, or techniques) the choreographer has undertaken - each loosely triggered by Emily Wilson's fresh translation of Homer's Odyssey (2017), which has been (not exactly a source material but) a companion material. 18 P_R_A_C_T_I_C_E_S is an attempt to understand how new mnemonic informations inscribe themselves in our bodies, working their way to the deeper parts of us -- how they then bring forward or overwrite previously unexpressed tendencies within us.
All fairly "useless" in the narrow sense of the term, and ranging broadly in texture -- from double sword-spinning, to speaking backwards, to (yes) "oscillating" -- Andrew has called these practices "focused or at least disciplined procrastinations". They're attempts at getting out of the way: as the logics of these (sometimes invented, sometimes inherited) techniques unfold, multiply, and ultimately friction against one another, they allow a polyvocal piece to emerge: an object with its own complicated agency, its own desires, and its own set of questions it would like to ask.
| Creation and performance Andrew Turner | Dramaturgy Thea Patterson | Composition David Drury | Lighting Design Gaspard Philippe | Photo Credits: Nathalie Duhaime, Sandra Lynn Bélanger, Calope |
18 P_R_A_C_T_I_C_E_S (April 2018) - English subtitles
while_vague focuses on how refined attention to somatic sensation can foreground localised movement impuses and desires, existing below the threshold of functional or task-based embodiment. In our experience, a porosity appears between voluntary and involuntary movement, and the “I” becomes merely one of many voices informing the body’s behaviour. A subtle de-centering of the subjectivity of the mover, resulting in what I am tentatively calling a “polyvocal body”. The results of our research will be presented as a series of choreographic études, elaborating certain of the strategies we’ve employed.
Presented as partial requirement for my Master’s Thesis at Université du Québec à Montréal | Performer-collaborators Jessica Serli and Neil Sochasky | Dramaturg Thea Patterson | Research supervisors Armando Menicacci and Johanna Bienaise | Photo credit Alain Chevarier
A Standard of Measure, Except Not Really
Recently, the international prototype of the Kilogram (residing since 1889 in an airtight vault) was discovered to have mysteriously become lighter. The change represents a problem for measuring standards: the Kilogram is defined as “a unit of mass equal to the mass of the international prototype of the Kilogram”. Which means that this Kilogram prototype has (in theory) remained constant, while the rest of the world has (in theory) gotten heavier. A delightfully absurd situation, testifying to our need for constants in a stubbornly shifting world. Similarly, we see ourselves as stable identities, whereas we are also in constant flux.
This work for four dancers, offered with subtle humour, tracks the gentle shifts and juxtapositions at play in a performance setting. When in front of the audience, the performers are not exactly themselves, but not exactly not themselves either. They’re manifestation onstage is a strange admixture of authenticity and calculation - a fictive doubling - that Barthes called an ultraincarnation.
| Choreography Andrew Turner | Performer-collaborators Caroline Gravel, Simon-Xavier Lefebvre, Jessica Serli | Dramaturgy and Rehearsal Direction Thea Patterson and Jamie Wright | Composition David Drury | Lighting Design Karine Gauthier | Photo Credits Frédéric Chais, Nathalie Duhaime |
Speeds And Slownesses 1a
Commissioned by the Ottawa Dance Directive in co-production with the National Arts Centre-Centre National des Arts.
| Choreography Andrew Turner | Performer-collaborators Charles Cardin Bourbeau, Jasmine Inns, Marilou Lépine, Riley Simms | Composition David Drury | Artistic Director of ODD Yvonne Coutts Martignago |
Speeds and Slownesses 1A
Now I Got Worry
With this fiercely physical trio, Andrew Turner addresses the dual mechanisms of chance and inevitability, examining the degree to which they affect our everyday experience.
The present moment is a concrete, inarguable thing. However, the history behind each instant is so loaded with chance events and happenstance – from the beginning of time up until now – that this present moment (so taken for granted) is in fact an absurdly implausible thing. I am here, but the chances are way more likely that I be anywhere else – or even that I don’t exist at all.
But then: If we believe in an “order” to these accidents which have led up to the present, does that mean that this sentence has always been going to be written? Am I blindly adhering to a pre-written script in this, and everything I do? How then can I break free of this condition?
With blistering and uncompromising physicality, Andrew Turner, Simon-Xavier Lefebvre and Manuel Shink storm the stage. They tear into these questions whole-heartedly, though with a healthy absurdist candor. Sincere reflection merges with bizarro creation myths acted out in velcro and styrofoam, interweaved with Turner’s complexly choreographic vocabulary. The result is a boldly gratifying meditation on the constraints and opportunities offered by the present moment.
| Choreography Andrew Turner | Performer-collaborators Simon-Xavier Lefebvre and Manuel Shink | Dramaturg and Rehearsal Directors Hannah Dorozio and Gillian Rae-Fournier | Composition David Drury | Lighting Design Timothy Rodrigues | Photo Credits Frédéric Chais and Sandra Lynn Bélanger |
Duet For One Plus Digressions
Duet For One is presented as work missing a vital part: exactly one half of its cast. The creator/performer asks for the spectator’s cooperation in visualising the role of his absent partner. Nothing is hidden: the performance is reduced to its building blocks and the creative process, laid bare. The danced material itself, never faltering in its athleticism, exuberance and complexity, provides a rigorous and visceral through-line to the work. However, an ambiguity develops as to how to receive the work. The performer is going to great pains: He erratically interrupts his music to explain; he conducts a PowerPoint presentation from his laptop; he is being thrown across the stage by hands that are not there. Is this planned, or are we witnessing an embarrassing programming error? Is this the work of an artist with a deconstructed self-awareness, consciously altering his relationship with the public – or that of a blithe creator so wrapped up in his work that he presents it, absurdly, “as is”?
As the work progresses, it becomes clear that even seemingly spontaneous moments are fastidiously scripted, that the creator is playfully exploring the nature of his public’s assumptions and expectations. However, while dealing irreverently with its structures, the artist reconfirms at every step his commitment to this medium of dance, to its profound power and symmetry. Our expectations are what allow us to believe, what transform work into more than the sum of its parts, and the artist incorporates these expectations into the experience of the work. With surprising and refreshing results, he proposes the question – at every moment – “what is happening right now?”
| Choreography and Performance Andrew Turner | Performer-collaborator Milan Gervais | Composition David Drury | Lighting Design Timothy Rodrigues |