Sad news: Montreal choreographer Edouard Lock today announced that he is disbanding La La La La Human Steps, the company he founded 35-years ago, citing financial reasons. This is the company that put contemporary Canadian dance on the international map. Lock’s muse at the beginning was the powerhouse dance Louise Lecavalier who drew all eyes, including those of David Bowie and Frank Zappa who asked her to perform Lock’s kamikaze choreography as part of their stadium shows. In recent years, and since Lecavalier’s departure from the company 15 years ago, Lock has abandoned the horizontal barrel rolls of his early work for the vertical thrust of ballet. His experiments with pointe work helped push classical dance in a new, raw direction. So his announcement that the dance is now over is an enormous loss. I will write more later but in the meantime I resist the first review I wrote of Lock and La La La Human Steps to remember the fiery spark of creativity that was always there, right from the beginning:
Lock’s Human Sex succeeds with excess
21 September 1985
The Globe and Mail
This ain’t rock ‘n’ roll; this is genocide. -David Bowie
We are the spiritually tragic. -Edouard Lock
MONTREAL: At first glance, it might seem that David Bowie and Edouard Lock have much in common: one’s from England; the other from French-speaking Canada by way of Morocco. One is a celebrated rock star; the other a burgeoning choreographer. Yet, if you look closely, there are startling similarities. Both share a mad passion for the here and now; both have melded a diversity of disciplines into their own. Bowie, a former student of Lindsay Kemp injects pantomime and other forms of stylized theatre into his rock shows. Lock, once a film and literature major at Montreal’s Concordia University, envelops his peculiar brand of highly quizzical, idiosyncratic dance with arresting video images and quirky, Joycean text.
On Thursday night, Lock’s company, La La La, opened the first Montreal Festival International de Nouvelle danse with what is undoubtedly his most ambitious work to date, Human Sex. The spectacle (for that’s what it truly was) took place at the Spectrum Theatre on St. Catherine Street. A former movie-house, the Spectrum is currently operating as a licenced club that features live music shows.
It is an appropriate venue for Human Sex, because essentially the piece is dance that has been formulated and packaged like a rock video. The gesturing is fast, slick, spontaneous and mean. And so are the dancers. Louise Lecavalier is a white-blonde, mustachioed time- bomb that explodes every time she tumbles madly into the arms of her ruddy-haired, eye- shadowed partner, Marc Beland. Together, Lecavalier and Beland act out Lock’s central thesis: that “being a boy or a girl is a matter of condition and wistful expectation.” They do so by sharing roles of dominance and submission.
These exchanges of power are what Human Sex is essentially all about. It’s expressed through the manic physical exertion of the dancers and the ear-shattering squeals of an electric guitar.
The point of Lock’s 70-minute exercise is to show how power can ultimately equalize itself. Toward the end, Lock illustrates this by having his entire cast, including musician and vocalist Randall Kay and dancers Carole Courtois and Claude Godin, get together for a quirky ensemble number that is basically devoid of tension.
While Lock may have succeeded in communicating his central idea by way of hard-core dance and technology, he has nonetheless failed to exert his power principle over his own material. Human Sex, which had its premiere last spring in Vancouver, is still in need of some sharper editing. By the halfway mark, the novelty of the piece begins to wear off. Moreover, because Lock uses a limited dance vocabulary, the work looks repetitive in places.
Perhaps Lock himself was aware of this problem, for he suddenly adds a plethora of visual trickery to the already meaty dance. But he goes too far with the result that Human Sex comes to wallow in its own splendid excess.