I like: Canada’s enfant terrible

Another performance I had the chance to see lately was Dave St.Pierre’s Libido, which was performed in the context of intransit 11 in Berlin. Admittedly it has been both – disturbing and thrilling – not just because of the nudity (I guess as coming from artistic performance, that is simply not the most overwhelming advancement anymore, though it might be different in dance), but because of how edgy and rough it partly works with cliches, but also finds its rhythm in movements and the images displayed.

Artificially overplayed scenes in splashing in ‘red color’ and ‘eating from the lover’ have been scenes in famous films and more subtly tried to fathom the proximity of ‘love and hate’. Other cliches are thrown in verbally ‘how to audition a dancer’ or any anal fantasy too blatantly, but at other moments rough cuts, like the rupture of the bodily exhibit and the sudden address to the audience, work pretty well and in my eyes prevent the piece of being just ‘pornographic’ as some have stated.

Most of the time the piece takes great credit form a courageous and direct approach towards the body, whether in showing scenes an audience which came to see a dance piece might not really have come to see, but cannot take their eyes off, as it addresses very primal, though ‘hidden’ instincts, somewhere between pleasure and disgust, or in addressing the audience directly in questioning for what they came to see – and perform some ‘classical’ dance figures in nudity.

It certainly is a piece which confronts extremes in a way interrogating whether bodily performance alone can really fulfill the desires embodies in human beings. While I at some points had problems with the interplay of music and performance (again the ‘artificial’ factor, though rarely) the final image of the bloody heir mask standing with shrouded shoulders underneath the lit-up chandelier on the messed up floor, was one of these imperfect ones I liked the most. Certainly a piece which has to be experienced.

Libido is the latest work by Dave St-Pierre. While this controversial artist once demanded “Un peu de tendresse, bordel de merde!” (“A bit of tenderness, damn it!”), the title of this performance suggests that it will go to new extremes.

The protagonist, armed to the teeth with knives and covered in blood, sits astride her stage partner. Consumed by lust, she begins to hack away at the naked man. The two of them struggle with yet desire one another at the same time. Violence and sex are the central elements of this performance, in which the Canadian choreographer assumes the role of puppeteer. Voyeurism itself becomes the topic, as St. Pierre addresses the provocative and problematic aspects of his performance during the performance itself, in front of and in collaboration with the audience. (via HKW / intransit11)

Libido is a co-production of Dance Works Rotterdam/André Gingras, Dave St-Pierre and Stichting Gingras.

A long and extensive article on St.Pierre and his work can be read at the Walrus Magzine website: Bare-Naked Soul: Montreal choreographer Dave St-Pierre pushes his dancers to their limits / video trailer

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