Canadian choreographer Marie Chouinard’s work is cunning, ultra-stylized and visually stunning, imbued with a beautiful strangeness and ominous psycho-sexuality. She has garnered a following in Miami, thanks to Tigertail Productions, which presents her Compagnie Marie Chouinard for the third time this weekend at the Colony Theatre in Miami Beach.
The program features Chouinard’s newest work, Henri Michaux: Mouvements, inspired by a book of poetry and India-ink drawings by the Belgian poet and artist Henri Michaux.
“Michaux’s rare book was given to me as a gift 20 years ago, and I knew that one day I would use it for something,” Chouinard said in an interview from her office in Montreal. “I was connected to it immediately. It took 20 years for the choreographic sequence to emerge.”
Mouvements mirrors the battle between body and soul, inner and outer shell, portrayed in Michaux’s book. Dressed in black, the dancers recite his poetry and execute manic movements on a white floor, with projections of Michaux’s black and white drawings as a backdrop.
“I literally went page by page,” Chouinard says. “I transferred the 64 pages and even the cover of the book. I took the first drawing, looked at it and asked the dancer to express the shape of the drawing, so that that dancer would look like the drawing. Some of the drawings were more difficult, especially the ones with three heads and four arms.”
She also aimed to capture the author’s frenzied, cryptic energy. “Michaux created at a manic pace,” Chouinard said. “I wanted to capture his rhythm. I could imagine that when he was drawing he would make sounds. Mouth open in awe, silent or shouting.”
Chouinard treats her work as a form of play, using movement and sound, light and touch, gravity and kinetic energy. And she has fun doing it.
“It is the joy of creation,” she says. “Things that happen are like gifts. Sometimes it’s a mistake. Sometimes it’s a thing that happens by chance. Synchronicity. I’m playing with elements. Reorganizing things to create a new spirit, a new spell of life, a new potion. I’m playing.
“Sometimes creating for me is like a chess game. Sometimes you’re frustrated. How can I get out of this situation? Sometimes I play very seriously. It’s a very serious play, creation.”