Lalala Human Steps bring some fancy footwork to the New Music Festival

Montreal dance phenomenon Lalala Human Steps add some fancy footwork to the WSO New Music Festival Supplied

The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra New Music Festival is not just a place for new music to be premiered or discovered. At this year’s festival, Winnipeggers also have the opportunity to witness a new work, aptly titled New Work, from the groundbreaking, genre-bending dance company Lalala Human Steps.

Based out of Montreal, Lalala was formed in 1980 by director and choreographer Édouard Locke. Based on balletic technique and structures, Lalala has moved far beyond the ballet we are familiar with.

Lalala is known for breaking dance boundaries, having put men en pointe and pushing time signatures.

“(New Work) is en pointe, it’s classical ballet,” Locke says from his office in Montreal.

“The way it’s put together, the dynamics of it and the speed of it are perhaps a little more unusual, but it’s not something that’s out of the norm for a ballet.”

Comparing the Royal Winnipeg Ballet to Lalala to get a sense of what is to be expected from their performance, Locke likens it to comparing apples and oranges.

“The big difference is in the use of the technique.

“Classical ballet has been defined over the years to mean a specific thing so that you tend to probably look at the performance of the dancers and assume that the story line was something that is known,” Locke says. “I think in this case (of New Work), the dancers are relatively unknown, so there’s an element that’s probably newer in terms of potential and flexibility of interpretation of the audience.”

Locke’s New Work combines the tragic love stories of fated couples Dido and Aeneas and Orpheus and Eurydice.

“Musically they have been deconstructed by Gavin Bryars, keeping references, keeping indications for those people who know the operas, but they’ve been combined into one musical construction,” Locke says. “In terms of the choreography, obviously it’s a personal treatment of these themes.

“I’m not sure that the audiences are all going to walk away with exactly the same story. I think that for those that are familiar with the actual works being addressed there’s a weaving line that sort of goes through these that I think they’ll be able to identify, but I think it’d be safe to say that the point is not so much to leave with one story for everybody but more to get as involved as possible with both the choreography, the music and the general stage.”

Lalala Human Steps performs New Work Thursday, Feb. 2 at the Centennial Concert Hall. Doors at 6:30 p.m. with a pre-show discussion at 6:40 p.m. and pre-show performance at 7 p.m. Curtains at 7:30 p.m. For more information or tickets check out, or

Published in Volume 66, Number 18 of The Uniter (February 1, 2012)

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