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  • Photo du rédacteurYanik Comeau

Dance: Lara Kramer’s "Gorgeous Tongue": Self-serving drivel… until…

by Yanik Comeau (Comunik Média / ZoneCulture)

   Oji-Cree and Mennonite multidisciplinary artist and choreographer Lara Kramer seems to have a fusional if not incestuous relationship with Festival TransAmériques, having played it three times before with Windigo in 2018 and Them Voices (2021, 2022). The problem with fusional relationships is they often become complacent and blind.

   Under some pretext that any and every aboriginal artist should be supported sight unknown as reparation for all the injustices brought upon their ancestors for decades, shows are sometimes created based on a few keywords that shut everybody up which paves the way for boring, artistically un-original Emperor’s New Clothes situations.

   “Anchored in this world and orbiting a universe beyond, a lone performer unfolds memories on stage through rhythmic scores. For Gorgeous Tongue, Lara Kramer invites Nêhiyaw/Métis dance artist Jeanette Kotowich to embody stories, dreams, and songs that stem from Lara’s Anishinaabe lineage. Entering Kramer’s artistic constellation, Kotowich performs multiple movement sequences to embrace the past and usher in a new world. Gorgeous Tongue is a celebration of Indigenous transmission, transformation, and futurity.

   “Born out of two artists’ chemistry and kinship, this solo oscillates between the need for regulation and the discovery of a new appetite.”

   Sounds great, right? It really does. Unfortunately, there really aren’t any rhythmic scores, Lara Kramer didn’t actually give Jeanette Kotowich any stories, dreams or songs to embody and the artist spends more than half the show either not moving at all or (one of the few interesting metaphors in the show) trying to shed layers of fabric or clothing as would a snake in the wild. The show only gets interesting towards the end when – for a few seconds – Kotowich turns to the audience and fetches François Bouvier who turns out to be a guest artist but seemed like a random spectator with a talent for improv. But as quickly as Kotowich connects with Bouvier, as quickly she abandons him in the middle of the stage and goes about her tinkering with inanimate objects (maybe – another interesting metaphor? – trying to build/rebuild the life broken by the White Man, recreate from the ruins left behind), leaving this audience member with a thirst for more interaction between the two performing artists.

   Instead, throughout the whole performance, this audience member was left with the impression that (maybe?) this show was about a life left in shambles by social isolation and alcoholism leading to homelessness and the perpetual quest for survival, sexual abuse leading to a desperate pursuit of autoeroticism, and the need to somehow build something out of nothing, just to maintain one’s sanity. And this would all have been great if the choreographer had actually developed this and hadn’t decided to have the artist pretty much hide and turn away from the audience for most of the show.

In my opinion, this show is for the highly initiated. This is not a show that will help bring in new audiences to the contemporary dance world. This is the type of show that will have people who don't come to contemporary dance shows because "they are elitist and inaccessible" saying, "I rest my case".

   I guess you can’t hit a homerun every time you show up at the plate. I’ll just chalk this one up as a strike out and wait for Lara Kramer’s next at-bat.

Gorgeous Tongue

Produced by Lara Kramer Dance

Conceived, Created, Set and Sound Design by Lara Kramer 

Performed by Jeanette Kotowich

Guest artist: François Bouvier

Outside Eye: Peter James

Lighting Design and Technical Director: Joe Vignola

Knowledge Keeper: Ida Baptiste

Elder: Emerson Ninigishki’ing

Assistant Technical Director: Chloé Depommier

Co-produced by Festival TransAmériques + Centre de Création O Vertigo – CCOV

With the support from Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec

Creative Residencies: Centre de Création O Vertigo – CCOV + Compagnie Marie Chouinard + MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels)

Presented in association with Agora de la danse + Tangente

Festival TransAmériques at Agora de la danse Espace Orange

May 31st 9pm, June 1st 5pm, June 2nd 7pm, June 3rd 7pm (duration: 70 minutes no intermission)

Photos: Alex Côté


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