A rare occasion to dance like everyone’s watching

After a Covid delay, Petites Danses is performing live and in person this weekend.

“Not everyone is in the position to put on a live show, across Canada or even across the world.” SUBMITTED
“Not everyone is in the position to put on a live show, across Canada or even across the world.” SUBMITTED

In literature, short stories are a powerhouse of storytelling, condensing complex themes into small packages. Petites Danses, a collaborative production between Montreal-Toronto based choreographer Marie-Josée Chartier and Halifax’s Mocean Dance, gives the short story a new life through motion. 

Written and choreographed by Chartier, Petites Danses has been performed in cities across the country in collaboration with local dance companies–each with its own interpretation and unique sections. The Halifax program is made up of four pieces selected from the Petites Danses collection–which, if performed in full, is two hours long–as well as a piece Chartier created specifically for Mocean. 

The new piece has its own music piece to accompany it, which separates it from the other four pieces in Petites Danses. Those other pieces are paired off and performed to one of two compositions. This is part of the show’s musical concept, to see if audience members can recognize that the music has been repeated. “The audience doesn’t even notice that the music is coming back,” says Chartier, “and I find that really fascinating.” 

Originally scheduled for last year, the show met a fate all too familiar and was postponed. Now, with one performance Friday, April 9 and two on Saturday, April 10, Petites Danses has the rare pleasure of appearing before a live audience at Alderney Landing Theatre. 

While excited and grateful for the chance to perform for an audience, Chui is also “definitely aware that not everyone is in the position to put on a live show, across Canada or even across the world.” It’s a feeling echoed by Chartier, who splits her time between Montreal and Toronto, both cities under lockdown. Now that she’s here, she doesn’t want to go back: “If I could I would just stay here for a couple more months.”

The event may have a live audience, but it won’t be a free-for-all like that Blue Jays game in Texas. Audience members will be required to stay within their bubble, distance and wear masks. 

Audience members also have the option to not go in person at all. Alderney Landing recently installed three new HD cameras, and Mocean Dance will use them to broadcast the Saturday evening performance as a livestream. While being cautious about the approach–trying not to make viewers reach for their Gravol–Mocean’s excited to be able to deliver a high-quality stream. As Chui says, “This is all practice for when it gets even worse.”

Petites Danses, Fri Apr 9, 8pm; Sat Apr 10, 2pm & 8pm (8pm performance is also available via livestream); Alderney Landing Theatre, 2 Ochterloney Street, click here for in-person tickets or eventbrite.ca for livestream link, PWYC (for livestream) or $20 (for in-person performances)