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A production of Theaterhaus Stuttgart
Virginie Brunelle, Beating is a production of Danse Danse funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter initiative

To paraphrase Jane Austen: It is still a truth universally acknowledged that women choreographers need to be at least twice as good and struggle twice as hard if they want to get to the top in the world of dance. It is thus high time for a programme that pays tribute to the „women of Dance“. And that's exactly what the four world premieres closing the season 2017/18 are set to achieve in different ways – with two pieces created by women choreographers and two pieces dedicated to two female dance icons. Because it is not only the grande dame from Wuppertal and Louise Lecavalier who should be seen as „grandes dames“. The acclaimed German dance director Helena Waldmann and Quebec-born Virginie Brunelle, choreographer and Artistic Director of her own Compagnie Virginie Brunelle, are every bit as important as they shape and change the world of dance with each of their works, continually and irrevocably...

Home advantage: Virginie Brunelle is from Quebec, the French speaking part of Canada that has traditionally produced a significant number of top women choreographers, most notably Marie Chouinard and Louise Lecavalier. The dance-friendly environment seems to have encouraged Virginie Brunelle to stand on her own two feet early on. In 2009, at just 26, she founded her own company and has been one of the key players of the young Canadian dance ever since. Her distinctive style is marked by three elements: the well-nigh acrobatic skills of her dancers, her strong, cinematic aesthetics as well as the innovative way she blends classical with contemporary movement vocabulary. Virginie Brunelle was delighted to be invited by her compatriot Eric Gauthier. For although Compagnie Virginie Brunelle frequently toured Europe, the assignment will now allow her to work with a European company for the first time. With her new piece Beating (working title), Brunelle goes on a poetic quest for authentic emotions, putting her protagonists to a fundamental test. Four male and four female dancers go through love and suffering, attraction and conflicts. For it is only by leaving behind the banality of everyday life, that you can listen to your own heart.

Through the cooperation with Helena Waldmann, Gauthier Dance will once again enter new ground as the Berlin-based dance director always connects movement with current sociopolitical issues. Disciplining and submission are recurrent themes of her work and are also dealt with in both her acclaimed last pieces. Made in Bangladesh centred on exploitation in the garment industry – and in the supposedly free world of dance. In Good Passports Bad Passports, a coproduction with the COLOURS festival 2017, she reinterpreted the wealth represented by a country into a tale of two ensembles: a contemporary dance company and a group of nouveau cirque acrobats. The two communities have different values and are separated by a human wall. Now Waldmann takes the next logical step forward: We Love Horses is about dressage. The domestication of horses and of people have more in common than is generally thought – and lead Helena Waldmann to the question: Does dancing mean liberation or does it finally confirm the disciplining of the self? If ballet is about mastering the body and re-casting natural into artificial movements – how does it differ from what we do? We keep ourselves in check, we rein ourselves in, and chomp at the bit. In short: We love horses.

The Grandes Dames quartet will be complete with a world premiere by Artistic Director Eric Gauthier. Heroine – Heldin pays tribute to a dancer and choreographer whom he already admired while he was still a student at the National Ballet School Toronto: Louise Lecavalier. The famous front woman of La La La Human Steps and head of her own company Fou glorieux appeared at the second COLOURS festival in summer 2017 with her choreography Battleground – an obsessive, shattering tour de force that left the audience exhausted by just watching it. For Gauthier, Louise Lecavalier embodies the pure energy of dance. An energy he put into words that will be recited in numerous languages: „Je suis la danse“ – „I am dance.“ But Heroine – Heldin is also a musical and biographical trip to the eighties. In addition to original music by Gauthier's „regular“ composer Stephan M. Boehme, one song will play a special role: the German version of David Bowie's Heroes – Helden. For the chorus describes what dance does to all those who have devoted themselves to this ephemeral, merciless genre: „We can be heroes, just for one day.“

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