Whitehorse gets the blood and bones of dance

Louis Robitaille can't remember when his dance troupe arrived in the Yukon. "What's today? Tuesday," says the artistic director. "We had Sunday off ... "So it must have been Saturday."

Louis Robitaille can’t remember when his dance troupe arrived in the Yukon.

“What’s today? Tuesday,” says the artistic director.

“We had Sunday off …

“So it must have been Saturday.”

Whitehorse is the fourth city on the Montreal dance company’s international tour and Robitaille is already struggling with time.

“When you’re on tour you lose your sense of time,” he says.

But Robitaille should be used to it.

BJM Danse Montreal tours all over the world, four to six months every year.

“And the shows are almost always sold out,” says Robitaille.

The secret is keeping it “bright.”

Dance can be very “intellectual and depressed,” he says.

“BJM is everything but that.

“There are no dark feelings and it’s very accessible.

“It’s the kind of show you can go to if you know dance, or don’t know dance at all.”

The two shows performed in Whitehorse were created by Canadian choreographer Aszure Barton during her two-year residency with the company.

Les Chambres des Jacques was developed first but will be performed second.

Barton, during her time at BJM, explored the individual personalities of the 12 dancers who made up the company.

“And she created a character for each of them,” says Robitaille.

So one dancer explores crazy, another explores nostalgic, another is sensual …

“She distributes all the feelings and emotions you can find in one person into different people,” he says.

The next piece Barton created went from the depths of the mature individual to the social sphere of a young group.

Jack in the Box is a dance that revolves around group dynamics.

It explores the “micro-group that is children in school,” says Robitaille.

School is the place “we develop ourselves to be an adult,” he says.

“So you see the evolution from the group to the individual from the first to the second parts.”

BJM danse is a hot company with athletic young dancers -“you see the muscles, blood and bones,” says Robitaille.

“It’s a very athletic, physical company and you have to be full of energy and in great shape to sustain these rhythms.

“Plus touring and travelling takes a lot of energy.”

Despite the demands of the job, the waitlist for a place in the company continues to grow.

Last year, when four dancers were hired, more than 300 tried out.

The company held auditions in Rome, Paris and Montreal.

Its dancers come from Canada, the US, Cuba, France and Luxembourg.

“You have a nice theatre here,” says Robitaille.

Sometimes theatres are too small and some dancers have to be cut from pieces, but in Whitehorse, the arts centre fits the whole show.

Les Chambres des Jacques and Jack in the Box are being performed at the Yukon Arts Centre tonight only.

The show’s at 8 p.m.

“We hope to inspire,” says Robitaille.

Contact Genesee Keevil at

gkeevil@yukon-news.com