Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Jean-Pierre Perreault

Seeing as how writing about artists just out of the blue like this, in this kind of forum, can be tricky in terms of what I can post and what I can not, I will use this space to link to credited sites about the company and share my own experiences with these artists, whether it be as a collaborator, audience member or a genuine "fan". Forgive me if this feels unbalanced or disorganized.


So, I work for a Dance company. I am a freelance artist, but also I have a semi-regular gig with a company. Right now we are in the midst of creating a new show that will premiere very soon. We are creating this show at a Choreographic Centre known as Circuit-Est. Circuit-Est has their creation space and rehearsal studios inside a building that has a place in Canadian Contemporary Dance History. The Ediface Jean-Pierre Perreault. The following is taken from the Circuit-Est Website;

The Édifice Jean-Pierre-Perreault

The Anglican Church of Saint-Thomas, built in 1907 and closed in 1949, was used for a few years by a theatre company, Les Compagnons de Saint-Laurent, till it was reverted to its religious vocation in 1953. The Fondation Jean-Pierre Perreault purchased the church in the mid-1990s and transformed it into a choreographic space.

A few years later, the foundation just managed to avoid bankruptcy and the choreographic centre had to be closed in november 2004. It was only in January 2008 that Circuit-Est centre chorégraphique moved into the Édifice Jean-Pierre-Perreault, which also houses the Jeanne-Renaud and Peter-Boneham studios, its administrative offices, and those of six of its members and of the Fondation Jean-Pierre Perreault.

This building is the home of the Fondation Jean-Pierre Perreault. This post is about that Company, and how seeing Jean-Pierre Perreault's work helped shape my mind as a lighting designer while I was learning about myself as a choreographer.

La Fondation Jean-Pierre Perreault.

In my first year of university, I found myself in Montreal experiencing dance in ways I never had before. I was 20 years old, and had been dancing since I was 8. In those years leading up to university, I had only been exposed to two Canadian dance companies; La La Human Steps and the Danny Grossman Dance Company. Being in Montreal opened me up to so many new dance experiences, most of them rubbing me the wrong way, or polarizing me. But, in early 2002 I saw a production in the very building I'm working in right now that made something click inside my head. The FJPP performance of Nuit changed the way I looked at Contemporary Dance. The last time I had seen a performance by a company that made me aware of my need to be involved in this art form was in September 1995, when I saw a performance of "Revelations" by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Toronto. (Google that company / show)
But, this night in 2002, I saw things on stage that I never thought I would like. I guess after studying dance so intensely at school the months prior to watching the show, I realized I was rediscovering why I had moved away to study dance.

I was watching something that was affecting me in ways that dance never had before. And at this point in my life, I had been dancing for twelve years. It was happening in the way the dancers moved on-stage, they way they used their voices with out actually speaking, the set and how the stage looked as though it went on forever, and then there was the lighting. I felt as though I was watching a massive gathering of people outside, at night in a city square after a rainstorm.

I was drawn to the staging and the world he had created through his choreography, set and lighting. It stimulated my mind, an had me thinking about ways to create a scene for my own choreography. How could I make a world for my work to exist in? Where are my choreographies taking place? What time of day is it? etc. etc.

When I was applying to study lighting design, I referred to the staging of JOE, Jean-Pierre Perreault's seminal work, in my entrance project. I enjoyed how he was able to totally immerse his dancers and audiences in a world. What I took away from watching his work was the idea that you were looking at human beings on stage and you were emotionally engaged in their lives for that moment on stage. I could be off base by saying that, but that was how I felt watching JOE (which I saw a film version of) and NUIT.

Often when I think about design or am working with a choreographer, I come back to the questions I was asking myself after seeing NUIT. To this day, it affects me, and being here, working on new dance creation, I can't help but feel a child-like excitement. Aside from that excitement, I feel blessed to be in this building.

Needless to say, this artist had a positive impact on me.

Sadly, in December 2002, Jean-Pierre Perreault, the founder and Choreographer of FJPP, passed away. I feel privileged to have seen at least one of his pieces while he was still alive. Without that show, I may not have become a lighting designer, I really believe that.

To learn more about the FJPP please click on the link above, and do some google research.

When I See You...

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