In July of 2018, the Montreal Jazz Festival cancelled its run of controversial musical SLAV directed by Robert Lepage, which features a predominantly white cast singing traditional African American songs and picking cotton. Protestors against the cancellation have defended the show on grounds of “colour blindness” and cultural appreciation, but those who support the cancellation understand that the body of the performer always matters. The concept of the dancer’s body as a neutral canvas persists in contemporary dance and yet many creative processes depend entirely on dancers' bodily input and improvisational responses to generate performance material. I seek to think about the body of the dancer in increasingly politicized terms, by developing a dramaturgy that acknowledges the dancer’s corporeal singularity, and treats it as an active point of departure for creation, rather than merely an instrument for channelling the creativity of others.
I will draw on my experiences as a performer, interdisciplinary dramaturg and researcher, as well as a Jamaican-born woman living in Quebec, to examine the ways in which my own body is a politically-charged site, a fact which becomes heightened in performance, under the gaze of the audience.
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Click here to learn more about Angélique Willkie's January 26, 2019 dance workshop Corporeal Turf in Action
About Angélique Willkie
Performer, singer, dramaturge and pedagogue, Angélique Willkie began her dance training after completing a Master’s degree in Economics at McGill University. A graduate of The School of Toronto Dance Theatre, she subsequently pursued a career in Europe where, over 25 years, she performed with dance companies and independent projects throughout Europe, most notably Alain Platel/Les Ballets C. de la B., Jan Lauwers/Needcompany, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, and as a singer with the Belgian world-music group Zap Mama. Angélique has been among the more sought-after contemporary technique teachers on the European professional circuit, teaching companies, schools and festivals including ImpulsTanz (Vienna), Henny Jurriens Stichting (Amsterdam), SEAD (Salzburg), Wim Vandekeybus/Ultima Vez (Brussels), Circuit-Est centre chorégraphique (Montreal) among others. Her dramaturgical work has included projects in dance-, music- and circus-theatre with artists as varied as Belgian theatre director/choreographer Isabella Soupart, French trapezist Mélissa von Vépy and Dutch choreographers Arno Schuitemaker and Pia Meuthen/PanamaPictures. Actively involved in Montreal’s professional dance community as teacher, mentor and dramaturg, Angélique has contributed to the work of choreographers Lara Kramer, Mélanie Demers, Fréderick Gravel, Clara Furey and Helen Simard among others. Assistant Professor in the Department of Contemporary Dance and co-director of Le PARC, the performing arts research cluster of Concordia’s Milieux Institute of Arts, Culture and Technology, her current research interests are firmly anchored in interdisciplinary artistic creation with a specific focus on the dramaturgy of the performer.