Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal sent a wave of chatter through the Canadian arts community upon purchasing the five-year exclusive rights to choreograph dance performances to the music of the late Leonard Cohen this year. Now 45 years old with over 2,000 performances under its belt, BJM seeks to provoke emotions through contemporary dance much as the renowned artist, poet, and songwriter Cohen did through his masterful lyrics and haunting baritone. The result of this friendly fusion of music and dance is an anticipated new production entitled Dance Me/Music of Leonard Cohen.
Audiences can expect Cohen’s most popular songs, like “Dance Me to the End of Love” and “Hallelujah,” to score while 14 dancers take the stage. A video conception work commissioned from Hub Studio’s Gonzalo Soldo and Thomas Payette serves to enrich the moody atmosphere further. Netherlands-based choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa customizes choreography to each individual dancer, while British-born Ihsan Rustem—the resident choreographer for NW Dance Project in Portland, Oregon—will guest choreograph, encouraging dancers to “experience” the music, rather than simply perform. Ochoa and Rustem will also collaborate with Andonis Foniadakis, ballet director of the Greek National Opera, who is known for the emotional intensity of his work.
Visually, costumes designed by Philippe Dubuc lean toward bohemian black, with pops of red and plenty of fedora hats, inspired by Cohen’s favourite accessory.
Dance Me/Music of Leonard Cohen takes the stage in Montreal December 5-9, Toronto for December 15, and Ottawa on Feb 23-24. More details, here.
Photos courtesy of BJM.
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