Trajectories analyzes diversity through archetypes
Elian Mata’s new show will be available until November 27
Élian Mata presents his new show Trajectories at the Théâtre Montréal, arts interculturels (MAI) from November 24 to 27. Mata’s piece involves eight performers, each performing a choreography inspired by an archetype that represents human flaws.
Trajectories explores diversity through the prism of mythologies and archetypes. Six characters are interpreted by eight performers. They each stand on their own small stage as the audience is spread out across the theater space, a technique Mata used to recreate the feeling of an exhibition. For him, this organization of space is a commentary on the place given to marginalized groups in modern society. “The initial idea was a proposal inspired by museums, inviting the public to come and see living works of art still relegated to the idea of museum. We accept them when they are at a distance and as part of an exhibition since it makes us safer, but we are not ready to integrate them into society, ”he said.
Mata’s creative process for Trajectories began by designing dresses and clothing related to each of the themes he wanted to explore. The piece was then created with these costumes in mind. Mata remembers being passionate about clothes since he was young. He explained that as a teenager he drew dresses and later dreamed of entering fashion school.
The artist began creating his own dance pieces in 2015, with his first show titled Forest. This work reflected on nudity and diversity. For Mata, Trajectories is the continuity of this piece. In reality, Forest ended with the performers putting on clothes after being naked for the entire performance. With Trajectories, Mata continues her reflections on human nature, but this time the performers are dressed, each garment having a special meaning.
Each of the six characters has a specific composition combining movement patterns and sometimes sounds or words developed in collaboration between Mata and the performers. Therefore, all the choreographies are unique and independent of each other. Mata explained that the process of creating this piece started with visual inspirations he had in mind. “I start with images and those images come to life,” he said.
The piece includes two duets respectively symbolizing the archetypes of Anima and Animus, each adapted as a dance duet. Anima, interpreted by Anne-Flore de Rochambeau and Gabrielle Surprenant-Lacasse, questions the idea of a masculine side that can be found in women. Jontae McCrory and Jérémie Brassard play Animus, the feminine part that we find in men. The terms Anima and Animus were developed by psychiatrist Carl Jung. For Mata, the idea of categorizing male and female character traits is absurd, and these duets are confronted with it. “They are two and they symbolize a person. They face each other, they fight, but they also accept each other and live together, “he explained. For Anima, the two performers perform together in a dress made for two.
Narcissus is another character, played by Stevens Simeon. Mata believes that narcissism is very present in our current culture, which inspired him to refer to the story of Narcissus in this solo piece. The large reflective gold cube placed on the scene of Simeon symbolizes the drowning of the Greek figure as he stared at his reflection in the water.
The choreographer also included the figure of Androgyny, which he describes as a ghostly presence, ignored by all. Portrayed by Thomas Wilkinson Fullerton, this character takes up the performance space without having his own stage to stand on for most of the presentation. With this dance piece, Mata comments on the marginalization of people like Androgyny in our society.
In the center of a black box is Mohawk artist Barbara Kaneratonni Diabo. The artist performs a solo dance based on the Skennen’kó: wa salute, which translates to “do you carry great peace?” In Mohawk. In English, this translates to “how are you”, although this does not have its spiritual or historical significance. “For me, it was obvious that through all the themes I broached, I had to evoke the problematic relationship that man has with nature and current ecological problems. So I had to work with an indigenous artist, because I have always been fascinated by his connection to nature, ”said Mata. This dance performance comments on the current relationship humans have with nature. “If we considered the Earth at the same level as us, we will have a different relationship with it,” he said.
The sixth choreography is inspired by the Magna Mater, or the Great Mother, an archetype related to fertility in Greek mythology. Jacqueline van de Geer plays this character. Mata wanted to question the roles related to pregnancy and motherhood that have historically and continue to be imposed on women, and the burden that this generates for them. “The dress she wears is a reference to the weight of this historical iconography. She’s suffocating because of all these roles, ”Mata explained.
Each of the performances has its own soundscape and lighting. Through a variety of visual organizations and movement proposals, Mata encourages visitors to reflect on diversity. “I invite the public to take a path to meet the other. This “other” is a manifestation of the human psyche, and certain character traits or personalities that are still misperceived today. In the entrance to MAI, spectators can read a preamble to the show written by Mata in which he explains the richness he observes in human differences. “Pluralism generates a healthy evolution of cultures because a society does not freeze in time, it evolves by feeding on the exchanges and the creativity of people who have known how to think differently”, writes Mata.
Trajectories is presented at MAI at 3680 rue Jeanne-Mance. Tickets are available through their website.
Photo courtesy of Vanessa Fortin and David Wong