Friday, April 5, 2013

Can I have some Flamenco with that Danish? The Centaur's Dance Me to the End on/off Love

A pretty old house beside the parking lot on rue St Francis Xavier

An interesting restaurant near the Centaur Theatre

 A hundred yards from the Centaur..Bonaparte Restaurant.

Poster for Dance me to the End On/Of of Love, Directed by Palle Granhoj (with a slash through the o) and various Danish artists, a theatre/modern dance piece based on some of Leonard Cohen's songs.

I'm a spontaneous kind of person, who hasn't done anything very spontaneous lately, because modern life isn't conducive to it, but yesterday an act of spontaneity paid off.

I decided at the last minute to go out and see something 'interesting'  (as I'm on this Perricone style diet and I can't go out to eat at a restaurant) so I checked the Net to see that there were Flamenco dancers at Place des Arts and an homage to Leonard Cohen at the Centaur. I like both Flamenco and Cohen, but there the only seats available at PDA were in the far back corner.

So I phoned the Centaur and YES they had one good seat fourth row center. So I bought it and headed out in the old Chevy downtown and parked down the street from the Centaur and entered the Old Elegant pillared Centaur, which is the Old Stock Exchange Building..

And I picked up my ticket and settled in for the long wait in their lounge, with a bottle of Perrier. I was an hour early, but I wasn't alone in the room.

 Two men and a beautiful woman were chatting beside me. I read the program and saw that in some place called the Seagram Art Gallery they were having a Thursday Evening Chat Up with Bernie Perusse, the Music Editor for the Montreal Gazette and singer Nadine Neemeh. Where's the Seagram Art Gallery, I wondered.

 Upcoming Events.

But right at that moment this same trio made its way to the front of the room. (I was in the Seagram Art Gallery.)

David Johnston, the Communities Editor of the Gazette introduced himself, Perusse, and Neemeh. They all talked about Leonard Cohen.

Oddly, Perusse  has never interviewed Cohen, despite trying to for years, but apparently he did meet him once in L.A. at a Canadian Embassy Function.

As for Neemeh, well, she knew Cohen well. She bumped into him a few years ago  in the Plateau and this led to that and he became her musical mentor and Producer.

Did I mention she was beautiful? Among other song-writing tips, Cohen encouraged her to 'speed-write' refrains, as many as she could think up.

Anyway, as for the performance, Dance Me to the End on/off of Love, I expected more dance, but it was indeed theatre and concert intertwined, quite a mesmerizing performance, both beautiful and bizarre - a bit of a dance macabre...and a true homage to Leonard and his work.

To say the interpretations of the songs were original would be to understate the case. They were often ingenious, often comical.  One of  THE MAN'S most famous songs was performed in pitch blackness.

The main male singer looked Spanish and played on classical guitar and I see from the  programme that he is Scandinavia's top Flamenco performer, Thierry Boison. Handsome too! The women performers were singer/dancers with vibrant crystaline voices, especially Dorte Petersen.

If there was not much dancing, it was clear most performers were trained dancers, with their sinewy well-articulated musculature, but the dance movements was employed, it seems to me,  only to articulate Cohen's lyrics. The Written Word was a character in this theatre piece.

I know that English is Denmark's Second Language, but these Europeans sure love and understand Cohen and his songs, if this work is any indication.

Funny, my brother lives in Denmark. I've only visited once in 30 years.

 I went in 2006, shortly after I myself discovered Cohen, I think by seeing his documentary on the TV.

I had become obsessed, buying his 4 CD greatest hits and playing them in the car all the time until my husband, one day, said "If you play one more song of his I'm going to crash the car on purpose."

My husband finds Cohen depressing.

I had bought the compilation at the HMV at Atwater, the Old Forum- I think. It was the only CD by Cohen they had on sale. I recall finding this very ironic because Cohen's childhood home is but a few minute's drive from that place.

While in Denmark, in some out-of- the-way place near some Very Old Castle that makes the Centaur look as if it were built yesterday,  I found a small record shop and was surprised to see they had ALL of Cohen's CDS.   I bought one or two, can't recall,  and gave them to my cousin in England, as a gift. A piece of Canadiana, but not really...

She knew of Cohen of course, but she assumed he was from New York City.