7-11 February 2023
Sadlers Wells, London
Robomagic Live, in association with Ballets Jazz Montréal, will present Dance Me – Music by Leonard Cohen at Sadler’s Wells for its exclusive UK premiere from 7-11 February 2023.
Dance Me is inspired by the rich and profound work of Montréal-based poet, artist and songwriter, Leonard Cohen. Conceived by the artistic director at the time, Louis Robitaille, approved by Cohen himself, and realised by the strong, bold dramaturgy of Eric Jean, this homage to the famed artist evokes the grand cycles of existence, as described in Cohen’s reflective music and poems.
Three internationally-renowned, contemporary dance choreographers have been entrusted with putting movement to Cohen’s legendary songs: Andonis Foniadakis, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and Ihsan Rustem.
We catch up with Alexandra Damiani, artistic director of Ballets Jazz Montréal.
How excited are you about this project?
Dance me – Music by Leonard Cohen is indeed a very exciting and ambitious multi-media dance show that was brought to life in 2017, thanks to the vision of Louis Robitaille, Ballets Jazz Montreal artistic director at that time.
It seems to have been some time in the making. How did the idea come about?
It was a big production for Ballets Jazz Montreal, involving a lot of collaborators. The idea came from Louis Robitaille as early as 2016.
Did Leonard Cohen know about it?
Leonard Cohen approved the songs and their recordings for the show. It was very important to him that the songs were not just hits from only one period of his career.
Was it a challenge to find the right choreographers to do justice to the work of such an icon?
The three choreographers have different movement and choreographic languages that contrast each other, and their approaches to the rich and profound work of Leonard Cohen were also very different. They accepted to be part of the project for different reasons as well, and I believe this contributed to the success of the show.
Why London and why Sadlers Wells?
London played a pivotal role in the career of Leonard Cohen. It’s very meaningful for Ballets Jazz Montreal to share this homage with London, on such an iconic stage.
What’s your favourite part of the performance?
I love these moments when the dance finds a crack in the melody or the lyrics. The movements of the dancers offer suddenly a new way of hearing – and seeing – the work of Leonard Cohen. They happen throughout the show.
Are you a Leonard Cohen fan?
I do love the work of Leonard Cohen. His deep voice brings me to the earth, while his words and ideas elevate me. Such a tension between below and above reminds me of my place in this world – a vessel, if only I can listen, humbly.
What is the ethos of Ballets Jazz Montreal and how does this production fit within that?
Since its creation in 1972, Ballets Jazz Montreal has always been about offering dances that are accessible to a large audience. The dancers are dynamic, versatile and sensual and, most of all, unapologetic about their pleasure of dancing. This production showcases of all of that.
How has the company evolved since you joined and what’s your vision?
The organisation is entering a new chapter, and I am honoured to be part of it. I am inspired by how multifaceted the company can be, and excited to showcase as many of these facets as possible… the entertaining one, the technical, the serious, the light, the poetic, the ambitious, the humble, the high tech, the old school… all of it. I am also inspired by the endless possibilities I see when we are in a positive ad supportive environment.
What do you like about London?
Museums, theatre, history, David Bowie! I like how multicultural this city is.
How do you think London’s cultural scene differs from other global cities?
London plays undeniably a major cultural influence on the world. Its cultural scene is so rich: theatre, performing art, contemporary art, music, writing, poetry, architecture, design… I can’t wait to be back in London in February