Pure Vision: An Interview with Noam Gagnon

Photo by Chris Randle

Pure Vision: An Interview with Noam Gagnon

On his upcoming DanceWorks Mainstage show The Vision Impure

Enwave Theatre, November 6 & 7, 2009

Interview conducted by Lucy Rupert

What does “The Vision Impure” mean to you?

I love this quote:

Neither the sun nor death can be looked at steadily

– François, Duc de la Rochefoucauld, Maxim 26

I think that says it all somehow.

Thematically “The Vision Impure” lays bare the intricacy of human relationships and the dynamic tension that moves us. Movement-wise, my interest during these processes was to allow different physical points of views to emerge, and to develop and expand myself emotionally through an even fuller physicality – to develop different textural qualities of movement.

What are the names of each of the solos and could you say a little about their inspiration?

My self-choreographed work:

Gone: Remembering where you came from.

Unfold me: Is about mending and gathering pieces.

A few: It’s about letting go. Transcending what is left.

Choreographed by Nigel Charnock:

When that I was:

“My mother, my father, my lover, my knees, my heart, my sweet sweat, my green tea, my addiction, my desire for your desire for my desire – all of this and more is in ‘When That I Was’.

It’s a nightmare joke told by a schizophrenic.

It’s a love story to make your feet cry.

It’s the magic of madness.

It’s the lie that tells the truth.

It’s nasty, naughty and naked.

It’s a good whore and a bad cop.

It puts the art in tart.”

– Nigel Charnock

Choreographed by Daniel Léveillé:

Untitled No 1:

Complexity done up in simplicity. In Daniel’s works there is no place to hide. You are truly being exposed.

How did you choose the choreographers involved in this project?

I have been fascinated with Nigel’s works for years and I am a big fan of his; he also makes me laugh, which is crucial in all of my relationships. So when an opportunity came up to work with him, I had to pursue it. It’s a dream come true!

I have known Daniel Léveillé for years and it was a truly a pleasure to work with him finally. We could not be more opposite, but, as they say, opposites attract!

What made you want to do a solo show?

After 20 years of dancing in a duet partnership, sharing the stage with Dana [Gingras, co-artistic director with Noam of Vancouver’s Holy Body Tattoo since the company’s founding in 1993], I felt I needed to reconnect with myself. I created new works and started the journey of assembling a physical vocabulary that expressed personal values/views that resonated with me.

Being choreographed on met the desire to be literally in different shoes. Working with Daniel Léveillé and Nigel Charnock filled that desire. It is such a luxury to be told what to do and not have to come up with any of the choreography. This does not mean that being a dancer is easier, but for me not having to create and dance and do both at the same time was incredible.

Photo by Chris Randle

Do you enjoy being “alone” on stage?

Yes, tremendously. It’s an incredible challenge. I love it! (Most of the time, hahaha!!)

Do other art forms or artists in different disciplines inspire you? If yes, who and why?

Right now I run two businesses, dance and Pilates, which keep me busy beyond my wildest imagination. I have done both for the last 20 years. My company Beyond Pilates is ready to grow to the same level as the other parts of my life. I am certainly not planning to trade one for the other any time soon. Teaching is an art, and through the Pilates Method I have found a lifelong source of inspiration.

Daily living, people, friends, collaborators, strangers, images, books, movies, architecture, magazines, music, anything and everything that I can absorb are a source of inspiration at the moment.

You’ve shown work across Canada; do you feel there is a difference in the reception or perception of dance or your work in particular in different regions or cities?

I am always hopeful that the work that I create will transcend beyond any cultural identity. It is certainly my aim.

What’s next for you after the DanceWorks performances?

This December I am starting to work on my next solo show called 10 things you’ll hate about me which will premiere in May 2010 in Vancouver. I am scheduled to collaborate on a series of short films and of course I will continue to teach at Beyond Pilates.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Happy, still in love, successful, healthy, teaching and creating work that is relevant.

Background about some of the collaborators on The Vision Impure
Kenneth Sherman

Film Direction and Editing

Kenneth’s recent film “Go-Go Boy (Prelude)” won numerous awards and in 2006 his dance film “Auto Erotica” was nominated from nearly 1000 films in The Best of Cannes competition. His current works investigate reproductive technologies and how commerce has found precedence in a heretofore-untouched process; a documentary on the world of pornography in a culture of ornamental celebrity; and a performing arts series.

Stefan Smulovitz

Music Composition, Sculpting and Performance

Stefan is a highly accomplished musician (viola & laptop) and an award-winning composer. His work as a programmer led to the development of custom software called Kenaxis, a major innovation in the use of the comptuer as a real-time instrument. His virtuosic command of Kenaxis has resulted in an international reputation for Stefan, who regularly performs with the world’s leading improvisers and receives commissions to compose for ensembles ranging from symphony orchestras to chamber orchestras and choirs.

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