A well-known and recognized performer, Guillaume Côté signs the choreography of Crypto, a work that questions the often twisted relationship between man and nature.

First presented in preview at the Festival des arts de Saint-Sauveur in 2019, Crypto was part of the Danse Danse program in 2020. After many postponements, the piece finally comes to life on the stage of the Théâtre Maisonneuve, after having passed through a few towns in the province before.

A piece for four dancers — Guillaume Côté himself, as well as Greta Hodgkinson, Natasha Poon Woo and Casia Vengoechea — Crypto has a lot of ambition. A text by Canadian author Royce Vavrek, written at the choreographer’s request, meets the original music of composer Mikael Karlsson, as well as the sophisticated visual effects of the Montreal studio Mirari.

The story, inspired by cryptozoology (the search for animals whose existence cannot be proven), takes on the air of a fable: a drifting couple seeks redemption, which will go through a great quest: to find this mythical creature “monstrous and magnificent” that appears in the dreams of man. Wild, this dreamed and now real creature cannot be tamed or tamed. The couple will call on a surgeon who, armed with her instruments, will try to give him a human form. An operation that will drain the creature of its essence, leading to its rebellion.

The subject of this modern nightmarish fairy tale, which can evoke Frankenstein or The Little Mermaid, is not uninteresting in itself. The narrative framework presented to the public has the merit of being very clear and we understand what it is all about. The text, read by voiceovers with much (too?) emphasis, sets the stage. The projections, well worked out and evocative, lead us into this fantastic dreamlike universe, over which a shadow nevertheless hovers. The music, carried by string instruments and mixed with electronic sounds, installs a disturbing atmosphere where there is a certain melancholy.

The talent of Guillaume Côté, principal dancer for the National Ballet of Canada and who has danced for the greatest companies in the world, is undeniable. His choreographic work in this creation – the first of his new company Côté Danse – remains however quite conventional, in line with the neo-classical, with some contemporary touches.

There are indeed a few broken lines here and there, jerky movements, virtuoso flights, graceful pas de deux and the dislocated contortions of the creature — in this respect let us underline the interpretation of Casia Vengoechea, which offers the most strongest of the show. That said, the tables follow one another without surprising, sometimes repetitive. It’s a shame, because the subject of the piece could have opened the door to a more innovative proposal.

The movement, though incessant, often seems to be swallowed up by the rest of the scenic elements—the offscreen narration, the projections, the music, the lighting. It thus empties itself of its substance. We understand the attraction of using words to support a dance production, and some choreographers do it brilliantly. But there is however this danger: when language says everything, the body does not say anything anymore, and loses its evocative power.

At the Maisonneuve Theater until May 14

★★½

https://www.lapresse.ca/arts/spectacles/2022-05-12/critique/crypto-nature-humaine.php

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