Montreal's Daniel Leveille Danse Makes Exciting Portland Debut at Leftbank Annex
When: Wednesday – Sunday, December 2-6, 8pm. Sun 2pm Matinee—6 SHOWSWhere: Leftbank Annex, 101 N. Weidler, Portland OregonSponsors: Leftbank Annex and Willamette Week
Tickets: Adults $26, Students $16 plus service fee. Order online at www.whitebird.org or through Ticketmaster outlets, 1-800-745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com. Visit www.whitebird.org for the latest information.
"The purity of these unadorned actions takes my breath away."
–Deborah Jowitt, The Village Voice
White Bird is thrilled to begin its second and final season of White Bird Uncaged with six performances by Montreal-based Daniel Léveillé Danse at the new Leftbank Annex. Admired by international critics for his powerful and provocative expressionism, Léveillé uses nude dancers to explore the unadorned purity of bodies in motion. The 8-member company will make its Portland debut with Léveillé’s acclaimed work from 2007, Crépuscules des océans (Twilight of the Oceans), that demonstrates how Léveillé’s imposing dancers expose the effort and frailty of the human body as it brings motion to life. Danielle Léveillé Danse will launch the brand-new performance space Leftbank Annex in the Rose Quarter. Leftbank Annex (101 N. Weidler) belongs to the Leftbank Project, housed in the iconic Hazlewood building on 240 N. Broadway, built in 1923 by Portland architect A.E. Doyle, which is now home to a diverse array of creative organizations.
Since 2001, the naked body has become Daniel Léveillé’s material of choice and perhaps even the major theme of his work. Crépuscules des océans (Twilight of the Oceans), set to Beethoven’s piano sonatas, is the third critically acclaimed work by Léveillé in which the naked body plays a prominent role. According to the choreographer, "Crépuscules des oceans is an allegory on the ocean at once powerful and unfathomable. A tide of human bodies stirred by opposite currents is set in motion, engaged but watchful, focused on avoiding error, by turns resistant, ambitious and obsessive." As in Léveillé’s Amour, Acide et Noix (2001) and La Pudeur des icebergs (2004), the body is exposed as an almost clinical object, grimly conspicuous and white, virile and vertical yet softly trembling with inner organic turmoil. Following the same paths, repeating the same leaps, the same subdued moves in clean straight lines, its orifices and palpitations exposed, the body reveals its strange, unsettling fragility. Léveillé avoids sensationalism and voyeuristic temptation by accentuating the physical strength and forcefulness of his dancers within a strictly defined spatial composition.
In 1977, Daniel Léveillé abandoned his architecture studies in Montreal to begin dance training with Lawrence Gradus at the Entre-Six Dance Company, and with Martine Époque at Nouvelle Aire. He danced briefly for the GNA (1979-1980), but his interest was in creation, and he choreographed his first piece for the Choréchange, Le Bas Rouge de Beatrice, with Louise Lecavalier and OCRE (1978). In 1981, he founded his own company, Daniel Léveillé Chorégraphe Indépendent. The name was changed briefly to La Compagnie Léveillé-Laurin in 1984, then later that year to O Vertigo when Ginette Laurin became Artistic Director. Before founding Daniel Léveillé Danse in 1991, Daniel Léveillé worked as an independent choreographer, creating personal projects as well as works commissioned by other companies and artists across Canada, including Montréal Danse, Fortier Danse Creation, and Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers.
In 1988 he joined the faculty of the Université du Québec à Montreal Dance Department, teaching composition and creating choreography for his students including L’Exil ou La Mort (1991) and Utopie (1997). These pieces were later produced professionally, most notably at the Festival International du Nouvelle Danse (FIND). Léveillé’s first works were short, intense, and raw, reflecting the powerful theatrical trend of the early 80s. This period of dense, grueling subject matter and narrative drama was followed by a time of reflection during which Léveillé began to explore "how motion moves" and started to elicit spasms, jolts, shivers and screams from his dancers, using repetition of movement as a method of composition. Over the past 25 years, Daniel Léveillé has created some twenty works and was honored by the Canada Council for the Arts with the prestigious Jacqueline-Lemieux Award.
White Bird Uncaged was launched in 2008-09 as the new name of the White Bird/PSU Dance Series. Because Lincoln Hall, the home of the PSU series, is closed for two years due to deferred maintenance and seismic upgrading, White Bird decided to move out into the Portland community and invite four dance companies in each of the two seasons (2008-09 and 2009-10) to perform in four different venues in four different Portland neighborhoods. Although the Uncaged series will end this season, it is possible that White Bird will continue with individual Uncaged events in future seasons.
White Bird Uncaged 2009-10 is generously supported by the Meyer Memorial Trust, the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, the Collins Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. White Bird’s 12th season (2009-10) is also supported by the Regional Arts & Culture Council and Work for Art, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Cultural Trust, The Kinsman Foundation,The Jaffe Foundation, Bank of America Foundation, Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) and U.S. Bancorp Foundation.