'Danse Mutante' is a choreographic relay anchored in Montreal and conceived over three continents. An original duet, Cantique, was created by Mélanie Demers. Then, three choreographers, Ann Liv Young (New York), Kettly Noël (Bamako) and Ann Van den Broek (Antwerp/Rotterdam), each worked in succession with the performers (Riley Sims and Francis Ducharme) to produce their own version. Aside from a few parameters (only two performers, a limited creation period, length, etc.), each choreographer was given free rein to concoct her own mutation of the piece by remixing, reinventing, and distorting the last version handed to her. The project culminated in Montreal in the fall of 2019 with a marathon event. Since, then, it has been presented in Mexico City and promised to international touring (Germany, South Korea, France, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Spain…) if the pandemic hadn’t stopped the journey.
The lecture given by Mélanie Demers will focus on the project 'Danse Mutante' and the artistic challenges of collaborating in a world that celebrates individuality.
In this era of closing borders and growing migration, my intention with 'Danse Mutante' was to observe the voyage of ideas. It took two years to prepare this off-road project, organizing and grouping a multitude of people around the issues of permeability, solidarity, and the beautiful, cruel quest for oneness. We did not imagine in the planning stages just how deeply the mutations would upset and “provoke” us. From the gestation of ideas to the erosion of power and authority and the total loss of reference points, the very concepts of transformation and evolution have permeated this series of works’ core themes. Each of the artists involved here offers a particular slice of the wide spectrum of possible mutations. They are conceptual, aesthetic, rarely choreographic but intensely personal. I had imagined a simple group project, but instead I have seen dialoguing intimacies answer each other, contradict each other, and even demolish the premise for our being together. The Darwinian conception of evolution contains more than a bit of the idea of “every man for himself”, and 'Danse Mutante' is not exempt from that reality. However, it is also characterized by the immensely generous act of making an offering of one’s work. Of letting a public confession become the landscape, the hinterland of someone else. Marked by a certain kind of destiny, 'Danse Mutante' is without a doubt a lengthy reflexive suite of works on creation and its corollary, destruction. It is also an observation on the social and political contexts surrounding the creation of these works. From my home base of Montreal, passing through the hubbub of New York, all the way to the culture shock of Bamako and the orderliness of Rotterdam, in 'Danse Mutante' the clichés through which the world views us are put under the spotlight and taken apart in one fell swoop. As the creator and initiator of this project, I chose how, where, and when we would give battle. I had the advantage. Then, I lost control of things. And that has been for the best. However, in an age when public platforms are subjected to close scrutiny and the legitimacy of those privileged enough to occupy them is questioned, I owe it to myself to own my intuitions, to endorse different approaches, and to defend my choices and theirs.
I had an inkling that Ann Liv Young, Kettly Noël and Ann Van den Broek had something to say that would shake us to our foundations. And so, they have. Simultaneously stakes in a coffin and a fountain of youth, we didn’t get out of 'Danse Mutante' unscathed. And I hope you won’t either.”
- Mélanie Demers
A multidisciplinary artist, Mélanie Demers founded in Montreal her own dance company, MAYDAY, in 2007, exploring the powerful link between the poetical and the political.
'Les Angles Morts' (2006), 'Sense of Self' (2008), 'Junkyard/ Paradise' (2010) and 'Goodbye' (2012) have all been created from this perspective. With MAYDAY remix (2014), she deepened her engagement with cross-genre works and hybrid forms. Her fascination with the interplay between word and gesture crystallized with WOULD (2015), which won the CALQ Prize for best choreography. In 2016, Mélanie Demers began a new creation cycle with 'Animal Triste' and 'Icône Pop'; both works are touring internationally. In 2017, Mélanie Demers was invited to work as a guest choreographer at the 'Skånes Dansteater' in Malmö (Sweden) for the creation of 'Something About Wilderness'. Now that 'Danse Mutante' has hit the stage, she is focusing on her next project, 'The Goddam Milky Way', which will launch in 2021. To date, she choreographed over thirty works and was presented across Europe, America, Africa and Asia.