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“Physically intense choreography”

The monumental impact of being deaf is explored in Hélène Blackburn’s physically intense choreography for 9, performed by her company Cas Public with dancer Cai Glover taking a lead role.

Before the performance starts, Glover removes a hearing aid, without which he is, himself, deaf, and lays it on the smallest of the many small white chairs that litter the black-box staging. Deafness, it seems, is a failing of the smallest bone in the body, significant beyond its size.

The 9 in the title is Beethoven’s ninth symphony, which he famously directed in its first performance although he was already deaf and could not hear it. Here, Martin Tétreault has manipulated a recording of the work. It is only partially heard – sometimes fading to a soft whisper, at others pumped out at volume but devoid of all treble notes.

The five performers dance not with the music, but almost against it. Straight-legged, as if in a nod to Irish step dance, their upper bodies bend and repeat urgent motions that have their origins in sign language. With a click of the fingers, they turn on the cones of light in the darkness of the staging. Sometimes they are gladiatorial in their performance; at others, a dancer in pointe shoes rises from the rest, or is blindfold as they perform a duet with Glover based entirely on trust.

Kenneth Michiels’ film of a profoundly deaf child playing with his friends helps frame your interpretation of the performance. On stage, children are invited to watch – and sometimes join the dancers – reinforcing that this is no abstract piece but an attempt to give an impression of a real situation which is almost impossible to experience.

Production Details
Production name9
VenueChurch Hill Theatre
StartsAugust 3, 2019
EndsAugust 6, 2019
Running time55mins
ChoreographerHélène Blackburn
Costume designerHélène Blackburn, Michael Slack
Lighting designerHélène Blackburn, Émilie Boyer-Beaulieu
Sound designerMartin Tétreault
Video designerKenneth Michiels
CastCai Glover, Carson Mcdougall, Danny Morissette, Daphnée Laurendeau, Nicholas Bellefleur-Bondu
TechnicalÉmilie Boyer-Beaulieu
ProducerCas Public, Kopergietery, Place Des Arts Montreal, Spect’Art Rimouski
VerdictPhysically intense production that succeeds in giving a choreographic understanding of being profoundly deaf
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Thom Dibdin

Thom Dibdin

Thom Dibdin

Thom Dibdin

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