Photo: Stacyann Lee
Half-naked, in a petticoat around her hips, Sarah Elola appears with a wooden cube balancing on the head before it goes to the ground and becomes a stand.
Inspired by the dances and songs of the women hair of cereals in Burkina Faso, the country of his childhood, Sarah Elola in his second solo proposes a voyage of sumptuous body states. The hair is the reflection of an african female exposed in all its complexity. With subtlety, the performer invites us to a visceral experience that magnifies the daily lives of women from some of the agricultural areas of african — portage, backswing and moves mortar — scattered in a tissue choreographic rich, dense and unique.
Half-naked, in a petticoat around her hips, Sarah Elola appears with a cube of wood balanced on the head. The legs anchored in the ground, the dancer rotates gently and slowly on itself, allowing the spectator to scrutinize all the angles of this exercise of skill to maintain this extension of the body in balance. From the outset, an intense physicality in the movement settles in these transfers of weight. The dimmed lights of Karine Gauthier are effectively value the value that is played on the surface of the skin : the smallest creases and folds, the tensions and contractions of the muscles of the back, the arms, which subtly are tend to help counterbalance the weight.
Without the head off of the cube, it goes to the ground and becomes the base. The head leaning all his weight on the pillar, the performer speaks to us in his native tongue singing, while in contortion, his body rotates around the cube.
The gaze of the dancer who is heading to be various occasions to the audience participates to create a link of empathy and sensory with it. In this crossing of a diversity of states — displacement, flexible and circular to the tunes of distant capoeira, up to a dance tour to the interiority, the body becomes sculptural. Back to the public, the virtuosity of the movement is played up to under the skin. And then, as a counterpoint to this inner landscape, punctuated by loops of arm trajectories chaotic and bounces across the space and onto the base.
In a final scene, the rhythm of the percussive hit to the ground by the dancer intensifies. A vibration back of her feet up to her hips, shaking the unity of the body. A movement familiar in the collective imagination when we think of african dances. Elola pushes the performance to the point of exhaustion, his energy, culminating up to the trance with a musicality of the dance more stringent.
It appears to us, then, as a living statue colossal to the aura of dancing. And when the room plunges into darkness, we want to again and again attach themselves to this image and to the vibrational sounds of his percussive and the breath of the dancer that are still haunting the space. The authenticity of this presence and the great clarity with the intention of spontaneous gestures performed take us up to the emotion. Amazing for a ” creative buds “. An artist to follow with attention.
Choreography by Sarah Elola ; lights Karine Gauthier ; music by Parker Mah. At the Montreal, arts interculturels (MAI), until 26 November.