Louis Laberge-Côté on Research and Reflection, Excess and Extravagance

DanceWorks upcoming show The art of degeneration by Louis Laberge-Côté runs Oct. 31 – Nov. 3, 2018 at The Citadel: Ross Centre for Dance.

Multidisciplinary and thought-provoking, this world premiere work aspires to initiate discussions on human and social issues that include decay, aging, mental illness, celebrity, excess, and performance. Here, we interview choreographer and performer Louis Laberge-Côté and learn more about the work and his process.

DANCEWORKS:  The art of degeneration is your first full-length solo created for yourself. Can you talk about your creative process for the work?

LOUIS: The process began in 2013, at a time when I was then struggling with creative blocks and physical injuries which sparked grave concerns about the future of my career as a dance artist. I initiated a research project so I could reflect on my artistic path, enrich my creative practice, find new ways of generating movement, and potentially begin the creation of a solo on myself, something I hadn’t done in more than ten years. In 2014, with support from the Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts, I spent a total of four weeks in residency at Centre Q with dance mentor Tedd Robinson, while training regularly with vocal music expert Fides Krucker. The art of degeneration emerged from this research process, which was rooted in the exploration of conceptual ideas surrounding degeneration and renewal.

DANCEWORKS:  The work explores themes such as celebrity and excess, and you reference a Marilyn Monroe quote, “It’s all make believe, isn’t it?”. How do these themes intersect with other social issues you examine in the work, such as mental illness and aging?

LOUIS: Even though my entry point into the investigation of degeneration was initially rooted in my physical injuries, it didn’t take long before I became interested in the various meanings of the word including decay, decadence, and degeneracy. Through this exploration, several stories from my personal life emerged involving addiction, death, suicide, and degenerative illnesses — asthma, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, and schizophrenia. I also became fascinated with numerous celebrities who embodied a sense of extravagance and excess while also experiencing a public downfall like Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Liberace, Vaslav Nijinsky, Chet Baker, Marilyn Monroe, and Marie-Antoinette. The amalgamation of their stories with mine and the concerns surrounding the future of my career as a dancer became the source material for the whole work.

DANCEWORKS:  Can you talk about the multidisciplinary elements in The art of degeneration? Besides movement and music, what other artistic disciplines will be a part of the work?

LOUIS: In addition to dancing, my role involves a fair amount of acting and singing. The production will also include intricate lighting designs by Simon Rossiter, a live soundscape by Phil Strong, video projections by Jeremy Mimnagh, and elaborate costumes by Cheryl Lalonde. My whole team, which also include Michael Caldwell (supporting role performer) and Fides Krucker (rehearsal director and vocal coach) is working toward blending these elements seamlessly, so that the work becomes an organic journey which blurs the lines between inner and outer, intimate and public, spontaneous and planned, unaffected and performative, as well as personal and universal.

DANCEWORKS: Thank you, Louis.

DanceWorks presentsThe art of degeneration by Louis Laberge-Côté  Oct. 31 – Nov. 3, 2018 at The Citadel: Ross Centre for Dance. Tickets are available by phone at 416-973-4000 or online.

*Tickets SOLD OUT on November 1st, with LIMITED availability on all other nights.


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