DANCE REVIEW: Poulin-Denis delivers bold, engaging show

Jacques Poulin-Denis delivered a humorous, dark, and playfully pathetic piece Thursday night at the Sir James Dunn Theatre as part of Live Art Dance’s fall season.

Overall, it was a powerful, enrapturing performance, which was emotionally bold and physically demanding.

Cible de Dieu, or Target of God, introduces a character whose view of life is marred by an inability and obsessive compulsion to find an unattainable absolute purpose.

An anti-hero, this character uses the series of solos in the 50-minute, modern dance and theatre production as a means to an overt confession.

It’s a personal piece but a human story: trying to find a path, making a plan, finding balance. Attempting. Failing. Faking it through performance until you make or break it. Exploring the ability to live life without being hurt each time there is a bump — to learn to adapt when profound changes debilitate.

Though the subject matter could have induced a bout of depression, the interdisciplinary piece was invigorating and extraordinary because of a variety of surprises, including stupendous talent on the part of the soloist.

It is rare to see someone with a prosthetic leg dance professionally on stage. But it is also unusual to see anyone perform with this amount and diversity of talent. Though Poulin-Denis’s character may be searching to find balance in this piece, Poulin-Denis, the choreographer, director, composer, performer and founder of interdisciplinary arts company, Grand Poney, definitely has done so in his own life.

According to the program, his company has the concept of developing a “hybridized and idea-based writing style that reinvents itself indefinitely, while questioning its relationship to others and attempting to bridge the obvious and the imaginary,” and is self-professedly in pursuit of “delusions of grandeur,” with projects containing a “measure of unfeasibility.”

And so it is easy to see how he’s utilized this process in relation to the composition of this work in particular.

Poulin-Denis dances with fluidity throughout the piece. But it is his strength and not his grace which is highlighted here. He is constantly in character, meaning ill-composed in this case, but he has great control over all movement, which is what allows him to act offset in a convincing manner.

Aside from his artistry as a dancer, it was Poulin-Denis’s abilities as an actor and storyteller that resonated with the audience in a set that was minimalist: a chair and umbrella were used as props and a pair of pants and olive tank top served as a costume.

Even if the performance did detail many losses, he certainly won over those seeing the show.

Originally published in The Chronicle Herald.

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