Justin GionetIn Solitudes Solo, choreographer Daniel Léveillé features five performers who explore what it means to be alone.

DanceWorks had the opportunity to speak with company dancer Justin Gionet about the challenges and triumphs of performing in Solitudes Solo, and the path that took him from Toronto to Montreal.

DanceWorks:
Can you tell us about your early dance training in Toronto? Do you recall a significant experience while studying at Ryerson University in Toronto?

Justin:
Completing my degree at Ryerson University was really important to me. I entered the university with a background in ballet and competitive studio dance so the most valuable experiences were those that broadened my knowledge of what dance itself is, and can be. 

I remember we were asked to watch and critique various shows at Harbourfront Centre. One of the first shows I saw was Holy Body Tattoo’s Circa and it blew me out of the water (and that was just the first show I saw, in first year). Obviously, over four years, my concept of dance was completely redefined.

DanceWorks:
When did you move to Montreal? How did you meet Daniel Léveillé and become part of the company?

Justin:
I joined the company after a more-or-less random audition. I saw the audition notice posted on the internet and decided to give it a shot. I had no idea what I was getting in to. The company was looking for a replacement for a role in La Pudeur des Icebergs. There are a lot of jumps in the work, to say the least. During the audition, we were asked to “just jump as high as you can” and I remember thinking “I’ve got this job”. Jumps are a specialty of mine. It turns out that I also resembled the cast member that I would be replacing so I think that helped. I met Daniel at that audition and worked with the company for a season, before moving to Montreal in 2006.

DanceWorks:
Let’s talk about Solitudes Solo. What are some of the challenges when dancing the work? Do you have a favourite section?

Justin:
Solitudes Solo is by far, the most challenging work I have ever performed. Not only is it extremely technical, but we are also all alone out there on stage. In other works, we can rely on each other to help maintain interest and focus. During the solos, it is all on the individual. The challenge is to not lose the audience, for even a fraction of a second, despite the technical focus required for the movement itself. 

I have a couple of favourite sections of the piece, but I’ll choose just one here: Each solo has a small part Daniel refers to as a Rubik’s Cube. This is a series of rapid movements, usually turns, that all change focus. In a black box, with the lighting we use, it is a challenge. The upstage corners, in particular, are like staring into black holes. It is difficult to execute, but really satisfying if you can complete the movement.

DanceWorks:
Thank you, Justin. We are looking forward to the show (and the Rubik’s Cube phrase)!

DanceWorks presents Solitudes Solo on October 23 and 24, at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre. Purchase tickets to Daniel Léveillé Danse here.

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