Louise Lecavalier, So Blue

Posted: July 27th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Performance | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Louise Lecavalier, So Blue

Louise Lecavalier, So Blue, Queen Elizabeth Hall, July 2

Louise Lecavalier in So Blue (photo: André Cornellier)

Louise Lecavalier in So Blue (photo: André Cornellier)

Louise Lecavalier is perhaps best known as the muse of Édouard Lock in the formative years of LALALA Human Steps. She has danced with David Bowie and Frank Zappa, and many choreographers — including the late Nigel Charnock — have created works for her, but I have never until this evening seen her in work she has created on herself. After a lifetime of assimilating the vocabulary of other choreographers she is now free to explore her own movement. As she writes in the program notes, ‘I wanted to allow the body to say everything it wants to say or can surprise itself by revealing, without censoring it, so that out of this profusion of spontaneous movements, something true and beyond our control emerges, something that exposes some of the meanderings, states of confusion, excesses and contradictions we’re made of — both the darkness that inhabits us and the unbearable lightness of being and of the soul.’

While there are inevitably traits of previous choreographers in her movement (as she candidly says in her post-show talk, she worked so hard to master the details of everything anyone asked her to do that the movement became as much hers as anyone else’s), it is refreshing to see her in her own right as if she has returned after fourty years of performing to say with all humility, this is the real me. With her blond hair cut short on one side, a touch of Bowie in her elegant, sharp features, she comes across as someone who has both demons to exorcise and serenity to enjoy.

There are three stages in So Blue, and it is hard not to associate these stages with those in Lecavalier’s own life. The first section — the longest of the three — is Lecavalier alone on stage, her gestures expressive in all dimensions, frenetic at times and at peace at others, doing exactly what she sets out to do in a blend of trance-like sorcery and sheer physical prowess. There is an electric fan on one side of the stage to cool her down and blow her out again into this intricate writing of her images. A partner (Frédéric Tavernini) appears in the second section and prematurely disappears — because of the wing setup at the Queen Elizabeth Hall he seems to climb down into the ground — and there are sounds of children in the score (Lecavalier’s twin girls are in the audience) that bring out the gamine in her. In the third section the partner re-emerges from the ground and remains till the end. Tavernini is a perfect foil for Lecavalier, a gruff bear of a man with his own scars but with the gentleness of one who cares intensely about his partner. He moves smoothly, and with arms like broad wings he can wrap Lecavalier within his body — for her a haven as much as a battle ground, a solid base to which she can cling for safety and from which she can launch herself with her voracious appetite for corporeal expression. Tavernini exhausts himself in trying to restrain her, to manipulate her into submission but Lecavalier is not one to submit: having shed her former selves to reveal her true self in So Blue she has found a new freedom in all its stunning fragility and strength. By the time the darkness consumes the stage there is no sense of ending and when Lecavalier returns for the post show talk there is a seamless continuity between herself and her onstage persona.

Mercan Dede’s score, culled from his CD Breath, and Alain Lortie’s lighting both underpin and frame Lecavalier’s choreography beautifully, giving rise to a sense that So Blue is a process of imprinting one interpretive layer upon another to produce not just a colour, but an intense colour.