LES BALLETS JAZZ DE MONTRÉAL (Dance Affiliates): Daring, dazzling dancers take your breath away

Duet from BJMs Rouge. Photo credit: Joseph Chaleb.

Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal (BJM) is back in Philadelphia as the fourth program of the NextMove series at the Prince Theater.  Founded in 1972, BJM has been internationally recognized for its artistry, technically virtuosic dancers, and stellar repertoire.

The first dance of its program, Rouge, has as its theme native people. Performing to traditional Amerindian music and original music by the brothers Grand, the dancers carry the viewer away with a spectacular epic of native culture and history. The piece uses strong, heavy stomping characteristic of the folk dances of agricultural tribes. The dancers also show magnificent ballet jeté and lifts (thought to have originated with the folk dances of equestrian people). The dancers are energetic and defined through those opposed movements, drawing the viewers into the raw and intense world of native peoples.

The second dance, Mono Lisa, is a duet dance by the company’s principals, Céline Cassone and Mark Francis Caserta (a graduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia). Through the music, featuring sounds of a typewriter, it explores a modern couple filled with sensuality and fiery dynamics. Truly gifted dancers can move so fluidly that they give the impression of being effortless. This betrays how seemingly inhuman and insanely difficult what they are doing really is. What you’re left with is the emotion and story beyond the movements. The two virtuosos reach heights that any dancers would hope to achieve in their dancing career. They elegantly maneuver through some of the most difficult choreography and manage to stay cool and coquettish.

The last piece, Kosmos, is yet another frenzied and complicated dance. Here the theme is the frenetic pace of modern life, set to drum music by Julien Tarride. The dancers move blazingly fast with phenomenal techniques. Thirty-five minutes of non-stop exhilaration leave one completely speechless and numb.

BJM is a top class dance company. Their dancers will change your view of what the art-form is all about.

[The Prince Theater, 1412 Chestnut Street] January 13-17, 2016danceaffiliates.org. See bjmdanse.ca for upcoming dates in Canada and New York City.

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