So Blue: Review by Helen Shaw
There are some people who cannot forget Louise Lecavalier in 1985—even those of us who never saw her, those of us who glimpsed her in snippets on video, on scratchy VHS tapes seen years later. From 1981–1998, Lecavalier was the punk princess of La La La Human Steps, Édouard Lock’s aggressively exciting dance hybrid of rock sensibility and balletic precision. In Human Sex, Lecavalier, her blonde hair flying, would leap into the air, fling herself into the horizontal, then land with a gleeful crash, pinning her partners to the ground. She was a mad fairy with WWF moves; a pixie doing pile drivers.
Now the world has changed. Lock announced the end of La La La in June; Lecavalier has been making work for her Montreal-based company Fou Glorieux since 2006. The famous hair is short now, a fierce little shock that stands stiffly away from her grave, sweet face. And yet this week at New York Live Arts, time does seem to be standing still. In her 50s, Lecavalier can still channel electric current through her body so that our own senses tremble in sympathy, and her body is still a marvel of muscle and elasticity, a sharp blade that you feel—nervously—you should keep an eye on.
So Blue is a journey through altered states. For its first section, Lecavalier—tiny in a Yso-designed tracksuit—works alone. Persecuted by a pulsating electro-world score by Mercan Dede, she trembles like a frightened animal as she skitters across the space; she bursts into sudden voguing-inspired moves, sometimes while muttering weird imprecations at us under her breath. The repetitive shaking creates an impression of a mind beset by demons or drugs, unable to soothe itself; even the floor—cut by tape-and-marley geometries—judders. Whenever lighting designer Alaine Lortie floods the room with blue, it turns the white parallelograms into vivid lakes. Nothing seems stable. The stage is tweaking.
After this comes a longer sequence, a duet with Frédéric Tavernini, who dances at and with Lecavalier as though the pair has come to some demonic club. His hugeness and frowning concentration set off her increasing agitation—there are animal energies between them, which are sometimes erotic, sometimes silly. (At one point she perches on his back, and she looks just like a kitten riding on a Great Dane.)
Throughout So Blue Lecavalier astounds us with the things her body can do—and with the way her intensity manages to communicate itself to us. In a beautiful moment, one that makes a seam between the piece’s “acts,” Lecavalier presses into a headstand. Her shirt falls down over her face, obscuring her, and all her frantic movement stops. Her legs stretch up into the air and sway like seaweed at low tide. Time slows. What’s wonderful is how our senses follow her, drugged, still obeying whatever energies she summons into the room. For a long few minutes, the theater seemed to have taken a hit of something darker. But it was just Lecavalier, still potent after all these years.
New York Live Arts. Choreography by Louise Lecavalier. Created and performed by Lecavalier and Frédéric Tavernini. Running time: 70mins. No intermission.
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