The many layers of Marie-Josée Chartier

Chartier Danse: STRIA

DanceWorks CoWorks Series Event

Enwave Theatre

Oct. 14-15, 2011 @ 8pm

To Order Tickets, Call: 416-973-4000

An interview by Lucy Rupert


Lucy Rupert: What is Stria about?

Marie-Josée Chartier: The work creates parallels between the stratas (or strias) existing in nature and its inherent layers of history (rock formations, for example) with layers formed in our bodies and created by our own histories.

Starting from my history, I unearthed many memories and stories. Throughout the work they surface and take on different forms of expression. It is about where I have been and where I am now; reflections on love, loss, nature, and the creative process, using different performing disciplines. Stria is about my last 30 years as a performer and the desire to bring to the stage my performance style as a dancer, vocalist, and theatrical performer.

LR: What do you hope audiences will experience from seeing Stria?

MJC: I can tell you what sources and inspirations I have worked from in order to create the work, but ultimately, the audience will make its own interpretation while experiencing the work in the theatre. I hope that they will connect some of what they see, hear and experience with some of their own moments in life; that they will be transported and moved.

LR: Your works often have very strong images, rooted in visual art – does Stria have any such roots or launching points?

MJC: Probably not nearly as much as other works. The strongest visual image for me in this work is the landscape of the Badlands — I was fortunate enough to hunt for dinosaur bones with paleontologists in the heart of the Badlands. It is a very moving and poetic terrain, one I connect with very deeply.

This landscape has been also an inspiration for the puppets, the set, the sound, the costume and the lighting, designed respectively by Mathieu Rene, Trevor Schwellnus, Thomas Ryder-Payne, Martha Cockshutt and Bonnie Beecher.

LR: How does your creative process or research differ between creating a solo and creating a group work?

MJC: My creative process seems to differ with every project I undertake. I need to find the proper process for the proper investigation. I use improvisation for the initial phases of creation, whether for solo or group, and from there I distill, eliminate and flesh out the elements that interest me.

With a solo, what is ultimately different is in the performance. Once I step on stage for a solo, it is actually quite liberating; it is my own and I can let myself go during the performance.

LR: As a “self-portrait”, what have the special challenges been in creating and/or rehearsing Stria?

MJC: It is a very long and lonely process. It has been a time of deep introspection dealing with so many facets of my life, personal and artistic. Because I suspected that this would also be very challenging, I worked closely with my director Ruth [Madoc-Jones] to guide me through this.

The greatest challenge was to find a form and structure that could communicate clearly what I wanted to share while investigating these different events in my life in a very unconventional way. It is a wild roller-coaster ride, as I transform at rapidly contrasting energies and with a wide emotional range.

This interview has been edited for content and length.


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