La La La Human Steps: Ballet Revolutionized

by Evelyn Reid

Originally published on About.com April 6, 2011

Visual white noise. Unisex punk dance. Feral female power. Ballet noir. Montreal’s La La La Human Steps, the brainchild of company founder, choreographer, and artistic director Édouard Lock has been called a lot of names since its 1980 inception.

Top photo: Talia Evtushenko as seen in Amjad by La La La Human Steps performed May 2008 in Vienna, Austria (original photo by Laurent Ziegler (CC BY-SA 4.0), edited by Clint Lewis). Above photo: Louise Lecavalier as seen in Infante c’est Destroy, a La La La Human Steps show which debuted in 1991 (photo courtesy of La La La Human Steps).

La La La Human Steps has also attracted a lot of names, particularly in the music world, boasting collaborations with Iggy Pop, electro-industrial icons Skinny Puppy, Einstürzende Neubauten and the White Duke himself, David Bowie, who shortly thereafter borrowed Lock as artistic director for his 1990 Sound and Vision tour.

Not that it should come as a surprise they rubbed shoulders with Lock and the Montreal troupe, one of the few avant-garde dance companies that’s managed to successfully strike a balance between high art and mass appeal, impressing industry peers with its perpetual reinventions, impossibly fast gesticulations, gender bends, and the kind of pointe work even Mariinsky Ballet prima ballerina Diana Vishneva finds daunting.

Of her experience rehearsing for her appearance in Lock’s 2011 premiere of New Work in Montreal, Vishneva says, “first I learned the steps slowly, but then I was having sleepless nights wondering how I could ever perform them fast the next day. This feels like ballet for the 21st century. After [La La La Human Steps], ballet feels like slow motion.”

David Bowie

Skinny Puppy (photo by Flickr user JoshuaMHoover (CC BY-ND 2.0))

Iggy Pop

Einstürzende Neubauten

In turn, La La La hooked in viewers who had arguably no interest in contemporary dance until they witnessed the company’s heavy theatrics, acrobatic tumbles, dramatic push-pulls, stop-starts, aggressive pas de deux, juxtaposed video work, and compelling soundtracks, leaving many as perplexed as they were awed by the La La La’s characteristically frenetic pace.

Amelia

a film by Édouard Lock with La La La Human Steps (2003)

This feels like ballet

for the 21st century.

After [La La La Human Steps],

ballet feels like slow motion.

Diana Vishneva,

Mariinsky Ballet soloist

“People are always saying, ‘Why are you moving so fast and jumping?’,” says Lock during a 1993 Los Angeles Times interview. “If the dancers are moving fast, you’re not going to be able to measure. But we’re always measuring: beautiful-not beautiful, tall-short, fat-skinny. We go through this list as soon as we lay eyes on someone. Well, this inability to measure is interesting to me. So the dancers are moving all the time.”

Above: Talia Evtushenko and Marcio Vinicius Paulino Silveira in La La La Human Steps’ New Work (2011) (photo courtesy of La La La Human Steps).

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Montreal | Published April 6, 2011 on About.com – Last night, I saw one of the world’s prima ballerinas dance Édouard Lock’s steps. La La La Human Steps.

Inspired by two operas, both love tragedies from Greek myth—Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Gluck’s Orfeo and Eurydice—New Work isn’t so much a narrative of these stories as it is a display of the love and loss they evoke. Composer and former John Cage collaborator Gavin Bryar, along with Blake Hargreaves, took both operas and deconstructed them to form one score played live by four musicians with saxophone standing in as voice.

Opening the dance was a pas de deux with firecracker Talia Evtushenko. Her impossibly lithe, Aeon Flux physique, irregular, non-classical posture, and centipede-like ground control slid into a recurring side crouch throughout the performance, as if possessed by an ancient vedic goddess scurrying around on multiple limbs.

Next was a side-by-side Olympic-level waacking session on pointe with an instantly recognizable La La La regular, Zofia Tujaka, and her striking, nearly 5’11” frame.

Another pas de deux paired former National Ballet of China lead Mi Deng with La La La veteran Jason Shipley-Holmes. Their chemistry undeniable, sensual, Deng’s limbs shift at breakneck speed as Shipley-Holmes spins her mercilessly, Deng’s flittering arms in full blur with feet like smoke tracers.

Mariinsky Ballet soloist Diana Vishneva, one of the world’s leading prima ballerinas, guest stars in some but not all performances, closes New Work with Shipley-Holmes, rousing a standing ovation from a full house on opening night in Montreal’s Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, her sharp motions a paradoxical blur.

Not that the ending was in sight. Choreographer Lock gives little pause to reflect on his troupe’s kinetic brilliance, New Work‘s pace relentlessly savage, if indigestable at times, leaving the spectator bewildered and at a loss which, given the show’s theme, is roughly on point.

Video excerpts of La La Human Steps’ New Works

courtesy of the Montreal Gazette

La La La Human Steps
Ballet Revolutionized

by Evelyn Reid

Originally published on About.com April 6, 2011

Above photo: Louise Lecavalier as seen in Infante c’est Destroy, a La La La Human Steps show which debuted in 1991 (photo courtesy of La La La Human Steps).

Visual white noise. Unisex punk dance. Feral female power. Ballet noir. Montreal’s La La La Human Steps, the brainchild of company founder, choreographer, and artistic director Édouard Lock has been called a lot of names since its 1980 inception.

Top photo: Talia Evtushenko as seen in Amjad by La La La Human Steps performed May 2008 in Vienna, Austria (original photo by Laurent Ziegler (CC BY-SA 4.0), edited by Clint Lewis).

La La La Human Steps has also attracted a lot of names, particularly in the music world, boasting collaborations with Iggy Pop, electro-industrial icons Skinny Puppy, Einstürzende Neubauten and the White Duke himself, David Bowie, who shortly thereafter borrowed Lock as artistic director for his 1990 Sound and Vision tour.

Not that it should come as a surprise they rubbed shoulders with Lock and the Montreal troupe, one of the few avant-garde dance companies that’s managed to successfully strike a balance between high art and mass appeal, impressing industry peers with its perpetual reinventions, impossibly fast gesticulations, gender bends, and the kind of pointe work even Mariinsky Ballet prima ballerina Diana Vishneva finds daunting.

Of her experience rehearsing for her appearance in Lock’s 2011 premiere of New Work in Montreal, Vishneva says, “first I learned the steps slowly, but then I was having sleepless nights wondering how I could ever perform them fast the next day. This feels like ballet for the 21st century. After [La La La Human Steps], ballet feels like slow motion.”

Above photo: La La La Human Steps dancer Louise Lecavalier rehearsing with David Bowie circa 1988 (photo courtesy of La La La Human Steps).

“This feels like ballet

for the 21st century.

After [La La La Human Steps],

ballet feels like slow motion.”

Diana Vishneva,

Mariinsky Ballet soloist

Amelia

a film by Édouard Lock with La La La Human Steps (2003)

“People are always saying, ‘Why are you moving so fast and jumping?’” said Lock during a 1993 Los Angeles Times interview. “If the dancers are moving fast, you’re not going to be able to measure. But we’re always measuring: beautiful-not beautiful, tall-short, fat-skinny. We go through this list as soon as we lay eyes on someone. Well, this inability to measure is interesting to me. So the dancers are moving all the time.”

Above: Talia Evtushenko and Marcio Vinicius Paulino Silveira in La La La Human Steps’ New Work (2011) (photo courtesy of La La La Human Steps).

La La La Human Steps’ New Work: A Review

Montreal | Published April 6, 2011 on About.com – Last night, I saw one of the world’s prima ballerinas dance Édouard Lock’s steps. La La La Human Steps.

Inspired by two operas, both love tragedies from Greek myth—Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Gluck’s Orfeo and Eurydice—New Work isn’t so much a narrative of these stories as it is a display of the love and loss they evoke. Composer and former John Cage collaborator Gavin Bryar, along with Blake Hargreaves, took both operas and deconstructed them to form one score played live by four musicians with saxophone standing in as voice.

Opening the dance was a pas de deux with firecracker Talia Evtushenko. Her impossibly lithe, Aeon Flux physique, irregular, non-classical posture, and centipede-like ground control slid into a recurring side crouch throughout the performance, as if possessed by an ancient vedic goddess scurrying around on multiple limbs.

Next was a side-by-side Olympic-level waacking session on pointe with an instantly recognizable La La La regular, Zofia Tujaka, and her striking, nearly 5’11” frame.

Another pas de deux paired former National Ballet of China lead Mi Deng with La La La veteran Jason Shipley-Holmes. Their chemistry undeniable, sensual, Deng’s limbs shift at breakneck speed as Shipley-Holmes spins her mercilessly, Deng’s flittering arms in full blur with feet like smoke tracers.

Mariinsky Ballet soloist Diana Vishneva, one of the world’s leading prima ballerinas, guest stars in some but not all performances, closes New Work with Shipley-Holmes, rousing a standing ovation from a full house on opening night in Montreal’s Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, her sharp motions a paradoxical blur.

Not that the ending was in sight. Choreographer Lock gives little pause to reflect on his troupe’s kinetic brilliance, New Work‘s pace relentlessly savage, if indigestable at times, leaving the spectator bewildered and at a loss which, given the show’s theme, is roughly on point.

Video excerpts of La La Human Steps’ New Works

courtesy of the Montreal Gazette