Thursday, April 08, 2004



I was going to write a review of some of the exhibits that I saw at the Belgo building yesterday, but early this morning, I discovered Chantal Pontbriand whining in today's Le Devoir about how other cultural institutions got more and better than she did, and that the various levels of government just didn't care about contemporary dance. And, as a consequence the Festival International de Nouvelle Danse was put out of its misery.

If you want to read the article yourself, click here. If you would like to read it in a machine translation, try this link. (don't miss the line "I was in the young score and animated desire to make known the artists from here and besides who came to revolutionize our imaginary dull.")

To start responding vaguely in the order that Ms. Pontbriand writes. She first states that FIND was a great success. If it was such an overwhelming success that why does it no longer exist? Sorta like calling the dodo a great success in evolutionary terms. Montr�al is on the map as a "dance capital" it is because of the dancers. Is Montr�al the jazz capital of the world because we have the biggest jazz festival in the world? How many jazz musicians can you name from Montreux?

She then continues to state that FIND's goals were to "stimulate...the development of the public" (although I much prefer the machine translation: "stimulate the artistic emulation, the development the public ones and the international radiation of the contemporary dance.") Umm, I hate to make this public, but the public is stupid. They buy Celine Dion albums, watch Star Academie, wander around the Jazz Festival, and sometimes watch Cirque du Soleil when they deign to come to town. Guy Laliberte had it right, make it big in town, and then get out of town as fast as possible. Andre Simard did the same thing, but backwards, make it big in town, and then start bringing people in town and milk their wallets dry. Ms. Pontbriand's organization never made it big in town, they went nowhere, and unless they were paying the freight nobody from out of town showed up.

She talks with a sense of pride of how she got 1,000 "personnalit�s du milieu international" to grace our fine city with their presence. Hell, in 20 years, 10 editions, either way you cut it, she accomplished something like 5% of what George Gillett Jr. has done in three years.

If after 20 years someone hasn't figured out how to turn a profit, maybe they should stop trying, and instead come clean and call it charity work. This has succeeded for La La La Human Steps, Margie Gillis, O Vertigo, the Agora du Danse, and others. If after 20 years, you haven't realized that the public at large doesn't give a rat's ass about contemporary dance, then maybe you should stop presenting rat's asses. In Victoriaville, they've got a similar type of festival, dedicated to weird and wonky music. Initially (according to the rumor-mill) Michel Levasseur, wanted to see if he could change the musical tastes of the good people who were responsible for inflicting poutine on the rest of us. Somewhere about 10 or 11 years into this experiment, he realized it wasn't going to happen, no matter how hard he tried. So, he switched gears, moved the festival from a local event happening in the fall, to an international event happening in the spring. And now, he's got a trophy case (I didn't know they made trophies for festivals) bigger then Vladimir Guerrero's.

I'm foaming at the mouth here, so I'm gonna skip some stuff that Ms. Pontbriand writes about the history of the financial difficulties that the festival faced. About two-thirds of the way through her bleating, she states that the Agora du Danse received got more than $700,000 from CALQ and she only got less than $600,000. While at the same time she moans that the Festival de Theatre des Ameriques had a cool budget of $2,700,000 and FIND only had a budget of $1,800,000. Jeez! If Casa del popolo scores a landslide because Mauro and Keva are doing something that I'm not, am I going to complain? Not on your life, good on 'em, and maybe I'll try and copy what they're doing. If the government is going to be your sugar daddy, you can't be complaining to mom that your sister Marie-Helene is loved more, or that sister Francine always gets the biggest piece of cake.

She ends up stating that dance in Montreal needs new blood, and that she's got old blood. From where I sit, I feel sorta confident that the transfusion has already happened and been extremely successful. Now, the question remains, is there a hole in her parachute?

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