Sylvain Émard Danse

Since its foundation, Sylvain Émard Danse has continually evolved. During its first years, artistic director and choreographer Sylvain Émard’s created Ozone, Ozone, L'Imposture des Sens (1989), De l'Éden au Septentrion (1990) and Retour d'Exil (1991), all characterized by a strong theatrical aesthetic, which constituted a meeting of forms: silent theatre and the language of choreography. During this period, Émard was able to gradually lay the foundations of a dance that would become less tragic and more formal. In 1990, Sylvain Émard received the Jacqueline Lemieux Award of the Canada Council for the Arts.

The Quintet Terrains Vagues (1993) marked the beginning of a second cycle, where Émard’s dance became more formal. The set design composed of three tons of earth created a perfect fit between dance and its scenic environment. Warmly received at home and aborad, this production initiated a much wider dissemination of Sylvain Émard's repertoire.

In 1994, Sylvain Émard felt the need to return to the solo structure, choreographing and performing Des Siècles Avec Vous. He was inspired by portraits and self-portraits in paintings by Rembrandt and Francis Bacon. Émard made a definitive break from the theatrical references and created a dance based essentially on kinaesthesia. The show was publicly and critically acclaimed, and Sylvain Émard was nominated Dance Personality of the Year by the Montreal cultural weekly VOIR.

With Rumeurs (1996), a male quintet co-produced with the Canada Dance Festival, Sylvain Émard explored nature of the human soul under the theme of memory. Rumeurs was a great success: attendance was exceptionally high and critics were more than generous. Sylvain Émard Danse was awarded the Grand Prix du Conseil des Arts de la Communauté Urbaine de Montréal in 1996. The same year, he received the prestigious Jean A. Chalmers Award for the body of his work. This acknowledgement constitutes the highest distinction for dance in Canada, and represented a great achievement for the artist.

With the creation of Mensonge Variations (1998), a work for six dancers, Sylvain Émard wished to explore the formal nature of movement with a view to revealing meaning that had heretofore been hidden. This process resulted in a creation defying all logical description, imbued with a dreamlike quality. This piece clearly represents Émard's most formal and abstract approach to choreography to date. After a highly regarded world premiere in Montreal, the company began a Quebec tour and was invited to perform for the first time in Paris as part of Printemps du Québec en France.

In 2000, Sylvain Émard felt the need to return to the stage. This led to Te souvient-il?, a pas de deux co-created by Sylvain Émard and his long-time collaborator, choreographer Louise Bédard. The resulting work drew on experiments in set design by the artist Pierre Bruneau. This collaboration marked the beginning of a new creative cycle for Sylvain Emard, one in which the work of visual artists plays a central role in choreographic development. Acclaimed as a unique piece, reflecting the artistic maturity of both choreographers/dancers, Te souvient-il? was performed more than 50 times across Quebec, English-speaking Canada, Mexico and France.

Scènes d'intérieur, which premiered in October 2001, was the company's first international co-production, resulting from a collaboration between Sylvain Émard Danse, Montreal's Agora de la danse and Centre Culturel Aragon in France. The creative process was based on a documentary approach that drew inspiration from the dancers' life experiences. Video technology is an important scenic element in Scènes d'intérieur. The result is choreography in which relationships with others take centre stage. With Scènes d'intérieur, the company reached audiences across the province of Québec, where the work was enthusiastically received in nine cities. Critics praised it as a "master work," and this success crossed many borders.

In March 2004, Pluie launched the Climatology of bodies trilogy, followed by Temps de chien (2005) and Wave (2008). The underlying theme is climate as a metaphor for the impact of external elements on our lives. These three climatic works, respectively premiered at Usine C in Montreal and toured extensively on both sides of the Atlantic.

In May 2009, Sylvain Émard Danse unveiled Le Grand Continental – a hybrid piece combining line dancing and contemporary dance – during the Festival TransAmériques (FTA). Co-produced by the FTA, this unique show includes some sixty amateur dancers of varying ages in addition to four professionals, all of them performing outdoors on Émery Street in Montréal. Back by popular demand, this contagious spectacle was reprised in an even more ambitious version at the last Festival TransAmériques, in June 2010. Renamed Le Très Grand Continental, the show this time around over 125 amateur dancers.

In parallel, Sylvain Émard premiered his new piece Fragments - Volume I inspired by the notion of urgency at the Canada Dance Festival, in June 2010. The Volume I of this diptych features an exceptional cast: the reputed actress Monique Miller, the virtuoso dancers Manuel Roque, Laurence Ramsey and Catherine Viau. The second chapter of the project, Fragments - Volume II, is expected to premiere in 2012.

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