At the École de danse contemporaine de Montréal (formerly LADMMI) last week, I had the wonderful treat of seeing four dancers pass on contemporary choreography to the students. What I found fascinating was the diverse context surrounding each choreographer’s project: everything from Margie Gillis teaching Broken English, a solo she had performed forty years ago, to Marc Boivin teaching his latest solo, Une idée sinon vraie … , expressing a curiosity as to how brand new work could be distilled during this process.
I was there to explore Marie Chouinard’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’une faune, taught by Isabelle Poirier to her students. I had notated this solo for Chouinard last year, leading to a permanent job of notating her choreography. Marc Boivin called Faune a “jewel” in Canadian contemporary repertoire, and I was so delighted that there was something that could be called a jewel, so quickly do contemporary pieces usually disappear.
Students who are fortunate enough to be in a professional training programme like this one know how precious this sharing process truly is. It’s no wonder that several professional and emerging dancers attended Peggy’s repertoire workshop last Sunday, having learned In a Landscape from The Choreographer’s Trust DVDs, and now being coached by Peggy. In an art form that only utilizes repertoire at a very high level of training, Peggy’s objective in making her choreography accessible to dancers is a precious gift. And it’s available to anyone who wants it – The Choreographer’s Trust packages are loaned out free of charge.
I stayed after the workshop to ask Peggy some questions about another solo, Unfold, which I am finishing up notating. I half-jokingly said that perhaps it was taking me so long to finish because I didn’t want it to be over. The piece is so rich that each time I return to the notation score, the dance reveals new connections to my own life. But seeing last week’s workshop with all those keen dancers learning Peggy’s choreography made me realize that the ending of Unfold is exactly as Peggy says – sometimes the ending is just the beginning of something new. And with Peggy offering these solos to the next generation of dancers, it might just be true for contemporary dance.