Review: Les Cheminements de L’Influence (Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie)

A daughter’s dance and a father’s life of research combine in Laurence Lemieux’s Pathways of Influence at Toronto’s Citadel

I would have never thought one’s research methodologies in political science could be translated onto the stage through dance. Choreographer, performer and company founder Laurence Lemieux does just this in her innovative dance piece Les Cheminements de L’influence (Pathways of Influence), co-produced by Lemieux and her husband and business partner, Bill Coleman.

Borrowing its title from her father’s published book on political science, Les Cheminements des L’influence, Lemieux creates a 50-minute dance piece honouring her father, Vincent Lemieux, and his extensive and inspiring work in the field of political science. An undoubtedly original piece, Lemieux dissects her father’s theories using intricate contemporary movement, interesting musical compositions, impressive lighting designs, and a newly renovated theatre space in the round (well, more like a square).

Walking into the new Citadel theatre space, formerly known as a Salvation Army Kitchen in the Regent Park neighborhood, left me transformed and uplifted. Redesigned by Diamond Schmitt Architects, the three-storey building was purchased by Lemieux and Coleman as a studio dance space with a “pay-what-you-can” yoga studio in the basement, and a modern performance space for rent. Intent on revitalizing arts and culture in the community, this newly opened building was the perfect space for Lemieux’s intimate solo performance.

Dressed in a winter coat and toque, Lemieux enters the stage, inconspicuously sitting down in a theatre seat next to an audience member. A grid of LED theatre lights illuminate the stage above as Lemieux begins to walk along a path reaching every corner of the space.

Open to interpretation, Lemieux takes us on a passage through time of what appears to be her personal understanding of her father’s unwavering dedication to his research, and his sensitivity towards Quebec and its people. At times free-flowing and light, at other times heavy and indirect, Lemieux captures through movement and emotion the trials, tribulations, joys and frustrations that go along with a lifetime commitment to research.

As Lemieux dances, we hear an original score by composer Gordon Monahan, blending Chopin with church-like music and political speeches or hockey commentary in the background, all reminiscent of Lemieux’s childhood memories. Although I sometimes found the spoken word in the background disengaging at times, I still thought it added an unusual quality which suited the overall piece given its context.

Dance has that ability to bring people together. Through dance, people share, interact, and celebrate. It has a universality that transcends spoken language. Les Cheminements de L’influence (Pathways of Influence) is a passionate dance performance by someone who will certainly be as influential as her father. With Coleman Lemieux and Compagnie’s passion and initiative, dance in the community may finally be accessible to all.

Details

Les Cheminements de L’influence presented by Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie will be playing at the Citadel (304 Parliament Street) from February 16th-February 2th, Wednesday through Saturday at 8pm.

-Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased by calling the box office at 416-364-8011 or online at www.colemanlemieux.com

 Photograph of Laurence Lemieux by John Lauener