Skip to main content

Danse Lhasa Danse

Following the untimely death of Montreal songstress Lhasa de Sela, a group of artists banded together to form a moving tribute to her life and music. Danse Lhasa Danse marries words, music and dance in a celebration of the beauty she brought to the world. Recently AE spoke with creator and choreographer Pierre-Paul Savoie about what audiences can expect this Friday night at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium in Halifax.

When and why did you first become interested in dance?
Since my childhood I have always loved to dance; with my family, in discotheques, etc. But I never thought of becoming a dancer because, where I grew up, there were no dance schools or models to draw inspiration from. Sport was where I learned to express physicality. It’s when I studied theater at the National Theater School of Canada that I first took a dance class. A few years later, I realized that dance was a means of expressing my creativity. I was accepted into the dance program at Concordia University at the age of 24—it’s never too late to pursue your passion.

Are they the same reasons that you continue to be involved today? 
I love the dance community because the people are so devoted and invested in what they are doing. I often mention that dancers are a special kind of human being - they develop all their senses at a high level, they are wonderful animals that experience beauty, poetry and spirituality each day, they are always looking to surpass what they already know or have achieved. Also, I am aware that a lot still needs to be done to create greater appreciation of this discipline and that I must contribute in hopes of achieving greater dance literacy amongst the general public.

What are the challenges of the vocation? 
Dance needs to be part of the education system so that children can have the opportunity to discover and explore this art form and grow with it. Dance is a universal language and mode of expression, so the potential is huge. Dance needs visionaries. The politics (federal, provincial and municipal government) have to develop better strategies to encourage its further dissemination. Surviving in this discipline is the main challenge and the support of both the public and private sector are crucial to create a better environment and better working conditions for artists.

What are the rewards? 
The happiness of living your passion…To be close to your body and soul…To create and express yourself at the deepest level…To touch beauty and question the world. 

“I often mention that dancers are a special kind of human being - they develop all their senses at a high level, they are wonderful animals that experience beauty, poetry and spirituality each day…” 

Is your creative process more 'inspirational' or 'perspirational'? 
Both - after feeling it in your guts, you need to engage yourself into a subject, an adaptation of a book, a play, or, in the present case, an artist’s work that inspires you. There are also the dancers and the material, each of which contribute to making a piece of art appear from the dark. 

How has your work evolved over the years? 
Since the start of my career, humanity has been what triggers my need to create. That hasn’t changed. The interrelation between art forms continues to challenge my creativity. What has changed is my capacity to go further into this interaction—to use the experience and tools that I get out of the diversity of projects I have produced. 

What have been some highlights? 
Danse Lhasa Danse is certainly a highlight because of its capacity to reach the soul of nearly every one. Some shows, to which I contribute, including the Montreal Jazz Festival, have given me the opportunity to introduce contemporary dance to larger audiences. In recent years I have also created public performances for kids, which I really enjoy because children are so open and honest. 

What inspired Danse Lhasa Danse? 
Danse Lhasa Danse was inspired by my admiration for the work of Lhasa de Sela. After her death I came to see her work differently. Her death made me realize how special and important she was in the musical world, and how great her work was. She was a brilliant, inspired songwriter and a unique, profound, vibrant and passionate interpreter. I wanted to make her songs resonate further in time and allow her work to be discovered by more people. 

“…the meaning of life is present in some of her songs, as they bare witness to the human experience.” 

What can audiences expect to experience? 
From the very first performance this show has had an enormous impact on the public. The quality and the beauty of the work literally blows everybody away. Lhasa’s songs find their way directly to the heart of listeners. The combination of live music, the voice of the four singers and the diversity of the dance style all contribute to make the experience exceptional and appealing to everybody young and old. It also has philosophical and spiritual dimensions—the meaning of life is present in some of her songs, as they bare witness to the human experience. Her songs about death are especially powerful and give the audience a new perspective on this important moment of life. The work celebrates the artist, but also reaches universal truths. 

What has the response been like so far to the production? 
The public is hooked from the first second and are deeply moved by it by the end. We have heard, in every city that for most it is one of the best shows they ever seen. 

What are your thoughts on the current state of dance in Canada?
From my point of view, dance in Canada has evolved slowly but surely in recent decades, thanks mostly to local leaders. But it is still in a precarious situation, as there is a lot of disparity of financial resources from one province to another. There is also little interaction between the different regions of Canada. The geographic parameters need to be taken into consideration. Some parts of Canada are underdeveloped due to a lack of structure and resources. 

“Dance needs to be part of the education system so that children can have the opportunity to discover and explore this art form and grow with it.” 

What can we be doing better? 
Develop a deeper national cultural identity for Canada. Develop more artistic exchange and interaction between the region and province. Convince federal, provincial and municipal leaders to recognize the importance of culture in the development and enrichment of their community. Create a bridge between education and art and support cultural activity for children. Support outreach activities to develop new audiences. And the dance community must be more pro-active to reinforce the link with communities. 

What's next on your creative agenda? 
My new creation is a dance-theater adaptation of The Chairs (Les Chaises) by Eugene Ionesco. It will be developed next month at Place des Arts in Montreal. Next spring I will remount one of the biggest successes of PPS Danse: Bagne. I will also start a creative project for young audiences with the DansEncorps of Moncton. Finally I am also beginning to conceive a new music and dance show, based on the works of French singer Leo Ferré.

Danse Lhasa Danse 

Friday, November 8, 8pm
Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, Halifax

Popular posts from this blog

Charles Hsuen

Even after almost 30 years as the voice of jazz in Halifax, Charles Hsuen shows no signs of slowing down. His passion to preserve and promote the genre to listeners of all ages cannot be overstated. Recently we spoke with Hsuen about his roots, and his life-long love of big band, bebop, swing, Sinatra and more.
What are your own roots? My roots derive from a rather mixed background. My father is of Vietnamese / Tibetan / Chinese heredity, but grew up in India, before immigrating to Canada in 1967. While my mother’s roots stem from Indo-China, she grew up in Brunei before immigrating to Canada in 1969. Both extended families ultimately settled in Toronto and my parents met and married in the early 1970's. The last name “Hsuen” (now XUAN), pronounced “Schwen,” comes from the Last Emperor of China Henry Pu Yi who ruled using the name Xuantong from 1909 until his forced abdication in 1912. The story was of a tumultuous reign, his forced resignation and eventual attempt to reclaim his ti…

Danny Bilsborough

Danny Bilsborough, NSCC alumna and owner of Danny B Studios, has spent most of her days consulting various clients on software options for their new business endeavours. 
Although she’s been involved with assessing some really exciting projects, nothing makes her happier than grabbing her brush and splashing colour on a canvas. That’s why she’s decided to take the plunge into becoming a full-time artist.
“I was always so scared to try using colour, but when my daughter was born and the opportunity came to incorporate these new palettes into her life, they quickly found their way into mine,” she says.
Colour brings light to many things and gives people a sense of enjoyment. Markus Maier explained in his academic journal titled Color Psychology that colour carries great meaning and can have an important impact on people's affect, cognition and behaviour.
Bilsborough’s favourite pieces to create are those of nature and animals – a quick look at her online Etsy page confirms this. She be…


Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the passing of Elvis Presley, International World-Champion Elvis tribute artist, Thane Dunn and his Cadillac Kings, will perform seven shows throughout the Maritimes over the coming months. Recently we spoke with the King of Kings about his passion and profession.
What are your roots? I was born in Moncton, New Brunswick. I've lived everywhere from California to Toronto but Moncton always has had a special place in my heart. My musical roots have always been early Rock and Roll and also old Country and Western like Buck Owens and Stonewall Jackson. I’ve always been a huge Jim Morrison fan. He had a lot of similar traits to Elvis.
What first inspired the Elvis tribute? I always loved the man and I’ve had people tell me I looked like him and in early bands I was in people would say I sounded like him. I had a few months leading up to the decision to do it where it seemed every time I turned on the TV there was Elvis, the radio would be playing Elvis…