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La La La Human Steps


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La La La Human Steps: A Montreal Dance Troupe Success Story
la la la human steps edouard lock dance troupe montreal contemporary avant garde

Above: image from La La La Human Steps' 1998 production, 'Salt'.

Photo courtesy of La La La Human Steps
Visual white noise. Unisex punk dance. Feral female power. Ballet noir.

Montreal's La La La Human Steps, the brainchild of company founder, choreographer and artistic director Édouard Lock, has been called a lot of names since its 1980 inception. La La La Human Steps has also attracted a lot of names, particularly in the music world, boasting collaborations with Iggy Pop, electro-industrial icons Skinny Puppy, Einstürzende Neubauten and the White Duke himself, David Bowie, who shortly thereafter borrowed Lock as artistic director for his 1990 Sound and Vision tour.

No surprise they rubbed shoulders with Lock and the Montreal troupe. La La La Human Steps is one of the few avant garde dance companies that's managed to successfully strike a balance between high art and mass appeal. Impressing industry peers with its perpetual reinventions, impossibly fast gesticulations, gender bends and the kind of pointe work even Russian prima ballerina and New Work collaborator Diana Vishneva reportedly found daunting, La La La also hooked in viewers who had arguably no interest in contemporary dance until they witnessed the company's heavy theatrics, acrobatic tumbles, dramatic push-pulls, stop-starts, aggressive pas de deux, juxtaposed video work and compelling soundtracks, leaving many as perplexed as awed by the La La La's characteristically frenetic pace.

"People are always saying, 'Why are you moving so fast and jumping?'" said Lock during a 1993 Los Angeles Times interview. "If the dancers are moving fast, you're not going to be able to measure ... but we're always measuring: beautiful-not beautiful, tall-short, fat-skinny. We go through this list as soon as we lay eyes on someone. Well, this inability to measure is interesting to me. So the dancers are moving all the time. If the audience wants to know what Louise Lecavalier looks like they have to buy a picture, because she's almost never at rest."

Or the audience will have to pass by La La La Humans Steps' 30th anniversary exhibit in Montreal and see Lock's longtime muse and collaborator for free. The retrospective features images of Lecavalier and other La La La dancers, in many cases captured by Édouard Lock himself. The exhibit also includes videos of previous works and audioclips of various La La La Human Steps soundtracks. Click here for a sneak peek.

The retrospective runs April 12 to May 8, 2011 at Place des Arts' Salle d'exposition in Montreal (map). Admission to the exhibit is free.

La La La Human Steps is also presenting the North American premiere of its latest creation, New Work at Place des Arts, from May 5 to May 7, 2011. More details.

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