Guelph Dance Festival 2013 Sneak Peek: Parts+Labour_Danse

In the weeks leading up to Guelph Dance Festival 2013, some of the amazing dance artists who will perform at the Festival will also share their vision with us here on the blog. These intimate, behind-the-scenes looks will bring us closer to the artistry, process, and experience of dance. We encourage you to not just read these amazing stories, but to ask questions or engage in conversation about dance in our comments section below. Welcome to our 15th anniversary year!
Choreographers David Albert-Toth and Emily Gualtieri join us today. Their company, Parts+Labour_Danse performs at our In the Park series on Thursday May 30, 7pm, and Saturday, June 1 and Sunday June 2, at noon, Exhibition Park. Pay-what-you-can (suggested donation: $15).
David and Emily:
“Realism (…) falls short of reality. It shrinks it, attenuates it, falsifies it; it does not take into account our basic truths and our fundamental obsessions: love, death, astonishment. It presents man in a reduced and estranged perspective. Truth is in our dreams, in the imagination.” – Eugene Ionesco

 In Mixed Company (Caroline Gravel, Milan Panet-Gigon, Jody Hegel, Andrew Turner). Photo by David Vilder. 
We had been working together for a few years prior to starting Parts+Labour_Danse. Despite coming from what some would call opposite ends of the spectrum – David comes from an urban dance background while Emily underwent extensive classical training – we quickly saw that within the sphere of contemporary dance, we spoke the same language, sought to express similar ideas, and aimed to create work of a similar nature. We had in fact long since abandoned the stylistic confines of our previous dance training in favour of a more liberated approach to movement creation, nurtured during our time at Concordia University’s contemporary dance department. Instead of putting contrasting dance styles on stage, we’ve always been more so inspired by the idea of using the different qualities of our past training to feed new and exciting ways of moving, and that this could allow us to focus more on what we chose to say with our movement.

In Mixed Company. Photo by David Vilder

Our new work, In Mixed Company, is our first full-length work under the Parts+Labour_Danse banner. Having long since been supported by the Guelph Dance team, we were keen on premiering an excerpt of our new work at this year’s festival. They have seen us grow over the last few years, and we thought it would be exciting to focus on the more physically driven aspects of our work thus far with a tailor-made piece for the park. We’re thrilled to be bringing our team of dancers and creative collaborators to Guelph Dance this year: Jody Hegel, Milan Panet-Gigon, Caroline Gravel, and Lael Stellick, who have brought a passionate investment and artistry to the work; we feel fortunate to have such a great team working with us on this project.
In developing the concepts that we’re exploring with In Mixed Company, we became very inspired by the works of Theatre of the Absurd playwright Eugene Ionesco and novelist Milan Kundera, who each explore the absurd nature of the contemporary human condition in unique, yet complimentary, ways. Ionesco’s approach is rash; he throws it in your face and you have to deal with it. His work is unsettling and jarring. It punctuates the emptiness of the fabricated lives we lead. The at-once tragic and subtle beauty doesn’t lie so much in the work itself but in the reflection that follows a reading or performance. Kundera, on the other hand, is more romantic in his approach. His stories twist and turn around each other in a dizzying, non-linear way, squeezing meaning out of each other as his novels progress. His characters are hopeless idealists trapped in a world working against them. He orchestrates situations that are at once starkly real, and cold, and yet in which there is poetry and beauty to be found. Dreams, transcendence, and love live side-by-side with totalitarian terror, death, and social paranoia.
Both of these authors are present in our work. For the excerpt we’ll be bringing to Guelph, Litost Lost, we wanted to focus less on emotional dissonance, and more so on the beautiful battle to overcome that hardship. What comes from spitting in the face of solitude, in viscerally and violently reaching out to form deep bonds with others, and in asserting yourself and your desires in a world that quite frankly doesn’t give a damn?

In Mixed Company. Photo by David Vilder.

Parts+Labour_Danse is a Montreal-based contemporary dance company founded in 2011 by co-artistic directors David Albert-Toth and Emily Gualtieri. The company’s mandate is to create engaging contemporary dance works that dive unapologetically into the rich moral complexities of the human condition, with physical dynamism anchored in genuine presence. Working with a unique theatricality and a movement vocabulary that viscerally fuses classical, urban, and contemporary movement approaches, the choreographic duo sees dance as a tool with which to deeply explore the rich intricacies of the human condition and as a way to move its audience. Their work has been presented throughout Quebec and Ontario, and in New York City.

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