review | Encoding: Overwhelmed by the words ★★ ½

Well-known and recognized performer, Guillaume Côté signs the choreography for ciphera work that questions the often twisted relationship between man and nature.

Posted on May 12

Iris Ganyon Heaven

Iris Ganyon Heaven

It was first presented in the introductory show at the Saint-Sauveur Arts Festival in 2019. cipher It was part of the Danse Danse program in 2020. After many delays, the play is finally coming to life on the stage of the Théâtre Maisonneuve, having passed in a few cities in the province before.


Guillaume Côté and Greta Hodgkinson embody a divorced couple.

A piece for four dancers – Guillaume Cote himself, as well as Greta Hodgkinson, Natasha Bone Woo and Kasia Vinguccia -, cipher He has a lot of ambition. Canadian composer Royce Vavrik’s text, written at the choreographer’s request, meets the original music of composer Mikael Carlsson and the cutting-edge visual effects of Montreal Studio Merari.

The story, inspired by cryptozoology (the search for animals whose existence cannot be proven), takes the form of a tale: a drifting couple in search of salvation, who will undertake a great task: to find this “wild and wonderful” mythical creature that appears in human dreams. This dreamed-up creature that is now real cannot be tamed or tamed. The couple will call a surgeon who, armed with her tools, will try to give him a human form. A process that drains the creature of its essence and leads to its rebellion.

With cipherTherefore, Cote questions this tendency of man to desire to make nature in his image, and to subjugate it, with the disastrous consequences that this may entail.

fairy tale in Frankenstein


. visual effects cipher It is the work of the Montreal studio Merari.

The theme of this modern nightmare fairy tale, which can evoke Frankenstein where the little Mermaid, not monotonous per se. The narrative framework presented to the audience has the advantage of being very clear, and we understand what it is all about. The text, which is read in audio commentary with great focus (also?), paves the way. The projections, well prepared and evocative, lead us into this dreamlike fantasy universe, in which shadows still swirl. Music, carried by stringed instruments and mixed with electronic sounds, creates an unpleasant atmosphere in which a certain melancholy reigns.

Talent is undeniable as a performer for Guillaume Côté, lead dancer of the Canadian National Ballet, who has danced for the world’s greatest companies. His choreography in this creation – the first from his new company Côté Danse – is still quite traditional, in line with neoclassicism, with some contemporary touches.


The choreography remains somewhat faithful to the neoclassical aesthetic.

There are indeed a few dashed lines here and there, jerky movements, imaginative flights, graceful movement and the dislocated twists of the creature – in this respect, let us emphasize Casia Vengoechea’s interpretation, which offers the strongest showing. However, the tables follow each other without surprise, sometimes in a repetitive manner. Too bad, because the piece’s subject matter could have opened the door to a more innovative proposal.

The action, even if it is continuous, is often swallowed up by the rest of the scenic elements – off-camera narration, projections, music, lighting. Thus emptying himself of his essence. We understand the allure of using words to support a dance production, and some choreographers do it brilliantly. But there is this danger: when language says everything, the body no longer says anything, and loses its remembrance power.



At the Maisonneuve Theatreuntil May 14th


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