As one of the most architecturally astounding structures in Montreal, the Maison du Conseil des Arts housed a soirée flawless to its caliber. Contact was an exhilarating experience brought forth by the Young Leaders of the Ballets Jazz de Montreal. Set amidst a marbled Romanesque backdrop, guests were inevitably spellbound by the blissful locale, even before the first of three passion-driven performances.
Since 1972, the Ballets Jazz de Montreal has enlightened and inspired the artistic scene, ceaselessly challenging the boundaries of creativity and redefining the very essence of art. In 1998, the internationally ranked repertory company underwent a fresh revival as masterfully talented Louis Robitaille was appointed artistic director. A new sense of vivacity and exploration stemmed from his unique direction, his infatuation for the sublime is certainly evident in his work. When we questioned Robitaille apropos his selection for Contact, he replied, “tonight is all about a theatrical presence, energy and physicality…it withholds a sense of surprise, captivating the viewer and entangling them in the piece itself.” The first “pop” performance of the evening was entitled ‘Harry’, a contemporary masterpiece choreographed by the brilliant Barak Marshall. Louis Robitaille described the work as “a definite coup de Coeur; a form of raw visceral energy” – these words wholly encompass the essence of the piece.
As part of Ballets Jazz de Montreal’s 40th anniversary program, ‘The Nine Lives of Harry Fleischman’ is an Israeli-inspired piece, exploring inner and outer conflicts through hope and humour. An excerpt of the opus was presented during the exclusive cocktail prior to the formal function. Dancers abruptly rushed to the center of the hall to perform an enthralling composition, deeply rooted in cultural authenticity. Brett Taylor, one of the talented performers, advocated the originality of the presentation, stressing the added value of an up-close and intimate experience. The staged fragment captivated the viewers, rendering them entirely absorbed in the chef-d’oeuvre.
For the second act of the night, guests were welcomed into a minimalist space, where focus was set on precision and motion. The “sans-nom” avant-garde production choreographed by James Gregg showcased movement with a play on shadows. Following the unique experience, guests were presented with the final act of the evening in the main hall. A striking vocal performance by Mekele from the top balcony was enough to invoke goosebumps. The creative director of the evening, Andrew Ly from TRUSST, was spot-on when he prepared guests for “magic.” In the midst of Mekele’s performance, dancers appeared from every viewpoint of the balcony, with a presentation that seductively enveloped the spectators below. The provocative oeuvre concluded with a whimsical confetti downpour.
Although the Ballets Jazz de Montreal has upheld a sense of traditional charm, they have nevertheless grown to adopt an edgier and sexier contemporary appeal. The event coordinator for Contact, Véronique Thibault, gave us her insight, by explaining the driving force and inspiration behind the planning; she said, “The first edition was aimed to seduce the public and to lure them into the art form’s sensual charm…an ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ approach was definitely a muse.” Contact drew forth an art-driven crowd; the youthful evening was an amalgamation of artists, professionals, socialites and trendsetters. The inaugural affair was a definite success, offering a distinctly beautiful quality to ballet by focusing on sensuality and physical perfection. For more information, including the BJM event calendar, click here.