After two years of postponements and cancellations, star dancer Guillaume Côté was finally able to present her piece Crypto at the Théâtre Maisonneuve last night. Dream-like universe and neoclassical gestures shape this danced fable that renews scenographically but remains classic in form.
Quebec dancer and choreographer Guillaume Côté was inspired by cryptozoology, the study of animals whose existence has not been proven, to build his work Crypto. We understand it very quickly thanks to the words in the background, taken from the story of the author Royce Vavrek, written at the request of Mr Côté. With its two elements, Crypto is then thought of as a very narrative work, with a clear red thread, worthy of a fable. A couple goes in search of a creature that man constantly dreams of that will solve all their problems. Once found, they try to tame it, in vain. Then the time will come to transform her into a more human being. The story makes us think very quickly of King Kong or Frankenstein’s monster. The choreographer then marvels at man’s need to control nature and outcome, sometimes fatally, as such behavior can have. We therefore follow the four main characters (the couple, the beast and the surgeon) in this fantastic tale, which does not reinvent the genre, but which is easy to follow. Take effect, Crypto does not seek to cover the clues or to elaborate on the subject. It’s only meant to tell a story while dancing.
On the set design side, there is nothing to complain about. The choreographer wanted to focus on innovation, and this has been done with the work of the Montreal company Mirari. Very elaborate lighting effects and realistic and immersive projections throw us into the dream and allow us to truly follow the story unfolding before our eyes. We discover an enchanted forest, a whirlwind of doors, a hidden city, the images parade and tell the story. The light also highlights the bodies that are drawn and shaped by the identity of the characters. The scene is cut into different sections to highlight a dominant, then a dominated. We recreate a realistic scene of operation, also thanks to these luminous effects, which bring the raw side of the moment, while sparkling and color details remain in poetry and fable.
The movement for the movement
The four performers of the play, Greta Hodgkinson, Natasha Poon Woo, Casia Vengoechera and Guillaume Côté herself, come and go in the scenes and wander with their specific gestures. Here, too, we want to highlight the interesting search for movements that, however, often flirt with the beautiful lines of classical ballet. An artistic choice that especially appeals to the general public, as technique and virtuosity are naturally at the meeting.
The couple, interpreted by Mr Côté and Mrs Hodgkinson, merge in their lines. The elevators are soft, unison moments, few in number, impeccable. With them we find the spirit of classical ballet, though mixed with more contemporary techniques, such as more pronounced angles at especially arm’s length or even more jerky gestures. Despite certain disagreements understood by bodily antitheses, we understand that the couple is one, that the two are a couple, and that love unites the harmony of their bodies.
Natasha Poon Woo, who plays the surgeon, and Casia Vengoechea, who plays the creature, both come to break neoclassicism even more. Yes, each with their signature reveals the highly structured, highly controlled steps and a danced vocabulary that enriches the piece. We follow their different emotions over their body states in an accurate theatrical interpretation. Ms. Vengoechea miraculously performs the animal character of the body and all these geometric possibilities, bordering on the distortion. Mrs. Poon Woo inspires with its military precision and its smooth release. A beautiful combination of devices that demonstrate genuine research work.
Overall, Crypto exudes a lot of gestures and varied movements, certainly grounded in history, but sometimes breathless. The bodies stop a little and dance a lot, for no apparent reason. But does the movement necessarily need meaning and can it not just be there to be there, to be loved for what it is and not what it is trying to represent?