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The Dance Centre's Executive Director Mirna Zagar introduces Noam Gagnon’s This Crazy Show, which opens our Global Dance Connections series October 20-22:
It’s like a ray of sunshine each time Noam Gagnon enters our office: always with a smile, bursting with optimism even after a full day of rehearsing, about to run over to his Pilates studio to teach. Bursting with energy and yet so slight you’d think that a gust of wind would easily blow him away! However, he is incredibly strong, grounded, even when he dreams. This is Noam as I see him daily. I imagine this is what sustains him to endure the physically demanding challenges of his performing years, even after many injuries. This acclaimed dance artist has, over his career, helped push Canadian dance into the forefront of international stages, most famously as one half of The Holy Body Tattoo. In recent years his focus has been more on his own work and development of an equally successful artistic practice within his own company, Vision Impure.
Fantastical – yes; eccentric, perhaps; however I am not sure This Crazy Show is as crazy as it appears, and certainly not anything to fear. This work celebrates Noam as creator and performer, telling us a story that is part reality and part fiction, unfurling in a dreamlike world. Noam loves fantasy! His central theme and area of interest is the idea of transformation – to create a landscape where bodies, identity, gender are all shifting – a conversation that is very much alive at this time. A mysterious figure reminiscent of the legendary Leigh Bowery (cited by Noam as an influence in the work) appears sporadically to reinforce this idea. He is also evoking the childlike conviction that anything is possible, that you can be anything you want – even a superhero – surprising us with clips from the 1970s cult kids’ TV show The Bionic Woman.
Noam’s signature, well-known to the many who follow The Holy Body Tattoo, remains highly physical to the extreme, but also exposes the vulnerability behind his good-spirited nature. In this work, we are invited to invest ourselves into the piece in different ways – and it becomes more about what one experiences, sees and feels, and not simply what we look at. Though I can tell you looking at Noam perform is always a treat! We connect to the work on an emotional level and he reveals his most intimate desires and fears. Always courageous, Noam reveals his most vulnerable side: gender is irrelevant as he transforms from male to female to an otherness. There is an inherent, integral truth and humanity we will witness and cherish.
This is certainly one of the most theatrical shows we will host on our stage this season, with a wonderfully imaginative set design, a cluster of disco balls, an accordion player, and more! Noam’s sense of theatre, his architectural definition of the abstract and the highly defined design elements, stem I believe from his initial practice in the visual arts. In addition, for This Crazy Show he is working with a creative team which includes longtime collaborator and award-winning theatre director James Fagan Tait, and director Danielle Lecourtois, who has worked with Cirque de Soleil, amongst others.
My personal recommendation with this show is to open yourself up to be wowed and surprised: just relax, and be in the moment, and share Noam’s dream life, however crazy it may appear. It could very well be our own if we open up and allow our own bit of craziness to surface and we look it in the eye. This is a work that is larger than life, an homage to choices made and identities transformed, and an ode to survival.
The Dance Centre presents Noam Gagnon | Vision Impure in This Crazy Show
October 20-22, 2016 at 8pm at Scotiabank Dance Centre, Vancouver
Post-show artist talkback October 21
Photos by Michel Dozois
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