Exploring poetry of the body

Tara Bradbury
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Sursaut Dance Company tours province with ‘Boo!’ — a free-flowing series of choreographies aimed at a family audience

“Vivacity, sensitivity and ingenuity in worlds where the poetry of the body is at the fore,” is what Sherbrooke, Qué-based Sursaut Dance Company says about its production, “Boo!”
“A rendez-vous with the unexpected that will leave you smiling.”

A scene from the show “Boo!” by the Sursaut Dance Company. — Submitted image

Part of the ingenuity of Sursaut’s touring production, which comes to arts and culture centres in St. John’s and Gander this weekend, is its buffet-style, à la carte approach.

“Boo!” contains 11 separate choreographies, each with its own distinct movement style. Instead of running through them, beginning to end, artistic director Francine Châteauvert — keeping in mind the target audience and features of each individual theatre — chooses a few of the choreographies and composes an hour-long program.

“There’s no narrative,” explained Sursaut general manager Adam Dymburt. “None of our shows are set up as a story from beginning to end. The artistic director goes for feeling; trying to put people in the position where they are feeling. There is no plot; we’re not trying to get people to come out at the end of the event going, ‘Ahh, I get what life is about.”

That’s not to say there’s a lack of character depth — the performers in “Boo!” play distinct individuals, some of them clown-like and silly; not abstract nobodies.

There’s Penelope, sweet and polite on the outside, but bubbling with rebellion on the inside, and Charlotte and Cyril, who have a funny, but tender encounter. The characters will not only make families laugh, but carry them with them on their journey.

This is the fourth tour to this province for Sursaut, which was established in 1985 and has a goal of creating and producing family-oriented shows. The company started out with grown-up productions, but found them hard to tour.

Indeed, children seem to be particularly accepting to the non-traditional approach “Boo!” takes, Dymburt finds.

“Kids are used to switching from image to image. They go from one universe to another quite easily,” he said. “This is a bit different from zapping on an iPad or iPhone — they feel the liveness of it.”

With choreographies that flow, but are distinct, Dymburt hopes kids will develop a critical response towards art, learning it’s OK and natural to like some aspects and dislike others. He invites families to think about what parts of the show suit them and of what parts they aren’t fond.

“Boo!” is not the flashiest dance production — it’s not Disney on Ice, Dymburt said, chuckling — but it fills a gap for children that is often missing in contemporary family entertainment.

“We feel that we need poetry in our lives, too,” he explained. “We don’t always need to have big, blow-me-out-of-an-arena events. Kids need that kind of quiet art as well. Jumping out of your seat is not the only reaction; if you’re sitting there, really quiet, you can still have a profound feeling.”

The arts and culture centres have organized a special rate for “Boo!” in Gander (Friday) and St. John’s (Sunday): tickets are $10, taxes included, as an effort to entice families who might not normally take in a dance performance to see the show.

Tickets can be bought at each of the arts and culture centre box offices, or online at www.artsandculturecentre.com.



Twitter: @tara_bradbury

Organizations: Sursaut Dance Company

Geographic location: Gander

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