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In Conversation with Marc Boivin

Marc Boivin in performance
Photo by Michael Slobodian

The door opened west

Choreographed by Sarah Chase and performed by Marc Boivin

April 10, 11, 2024

How long have you been developing this work?

The work began in 2015. There was never any rush to finish it. Creating it implied having the time to go through the choreographer’s process which includes visits on the island in BC where she resides, to exchange, walk, work and simply spend time gathering the stories. Then there are the complex movement phrases to learn and master before being able to play with them. This slow process is actually quite enjoyable and very much a break from the “creation/production/presentation” chain.

Are there any key themes that recur in your work or processes?

This work was a commission. Though oddly enough the choreographer had me in mind to perform her work at the same time that I reached her. In this process I am very much positioned as a dancer, a performer, which means that my “work” or “process” is really to travel and evolve within different creator’s works, processes… visions of the world, ways to relate to it.

Approaching Sarah Chase was to immerse in her world, where I’ve witnessed a lot of softness, or fine intelligence in relating to human stories. I’m not sure if these are themes but they definitely were, and still are, keys that recur in her work and process.

I’d then say that a “key theme” of my own work as an “interprète” is to embody as best I can a choreographer’s creation. I enjoy saying that I am there “to serve” the work, to make it take form, come alive. By focusing on this, inevitably, I am taken on a journey and this is my process. 

In The door opened west the journey is particular as Sarah Chase, the choreographer, works with personal biographies, mine in this case. It wasn’t what I was looking for the most as I approached her, but it is her “matière” (the matter). What I desired was really to immerse myself in her poetry, her treatment of the mind and body as it is taken through tasks and choreographic sequences. 

Sarah plays with perception, with the way the mind receives and processes information. I was drawn to the way she weaves the intellect and the emotional body together.

Is there any advice you would give to emerging choreographers? 

I’d say the same advice that has been the best one since forever… start by listening within to follow your intuition, and have the courage to answer to it. But then I’d add… listen well to the performers and other collaborators that you invite in your processes, they hold many of the keys that will unfold your own creativity. Everyone involved in a process has a different perspective, a very different experience and therefore carries valuable information about what is being created (as it is also being discovered step by step).

What excites you about Toronto’s dance scene? 

I have a history with Toronto and it is a part of me. My two main homeport (as there have been others) of this connection are Danceworks and (what was) The School of the Toronto Dance Theater (now Dance Arts Institute). I have returned many times to the former to perform and to the latter to teach and choreograph. Of course, through these experiences, reaching over more than 30 years, personal bonds have grown, friendships, collaborations. 

What is special to you about remounting a work? Is there anything you learn when performing a work over multiple years for different audiences in different places? 

As it is often the case in dance, works aren’t performed enough, this is unfortunate. You learn about the work by performing it, which basically means by living it in collegiality, in communication with an audience. It really exists only when shared. I can rehearse it, work on it but by its very nature it is all about the exchange. I smile at how even after many performances I feel that there is a different understanding of different sections, of the overall arc, etc. 

I say “I smile at” because it is very much like life, where you think you know something and you realize that there was more to it, and realize too that… one would be a fool to have locked down the understanding of an experience as such. This is something about performing that I enjoy very much.