Laureate 2019

Paul-André Fortier has had a profound impact on dance in the country. His work, originally contrasting with the practice of dance at the time, reflects the constant boldness of its approach, especially in regard to his collaborations. His relationship to the discipline is many-faceted, and his work, plural. His path as creator and soloist, his work as a teacher and mentor is notable. He highlighted the perennial dimension of dance through his own corporeality by projecting himself into time and questioning the survival of his work. It thus initiates a reflection for the whole community.

Choreographer, dancer and Artistic Director of Fortier Danse Création

Paul-André Fortier entered the world of dance in the 1970s, at the heart of one of Quebec and Canada’s most innovative choreographic adventure, the Groupe Nouvelle Aire, which gathered exceptionally creative personalities who, with him, contributed to building the reputation of Quebec dance from the 1980s to the present day.

Let us remember that, even before choreographing, he first distinguished himself as a dancer. A “natural” dancer, he was known for his powerful stage presence and elegant, refined interpretation, soon becoming, and remaining, a leading figure of the Montreal, then Canadian, dance stage.

His career as a choreographer had a significant impact on the dance landscape. Recognized for the “invention” of new choreographic concepts that innovated both in form and content (provided that one can be dissociated from the other), beyond the scope of tradition and convention. Very early on, he was recognized by his peers as a pioneer of a choreographic theatricality that displayed, loud and clear, the tensions and challenges of the modern world, with a bold, determined and rigorous form. Hence, he was one of the first of this time to pave the way to a dance freed of the constraints of the past, inspiring a whole generation of choreographers to open up to modernity and creative risk.

That is a risk he has always been willing to take. Never one to follow formulas in his work, Fortier was always an “art explorer” (in the truest sense of the word), for whom creating is stepping into the unknown. After experimenting with dance-theatre creations that focused on the world and left an indelible mark on choreographic practices of 1980s’ Quebec, he embarked, brilliantly, on a solo adventure with a trilogy accompanied twice by Betty Goodwin. Following that decisive encounter between worlds rich in both in form and symbolism, the choreographer and performer reconnected with the very basis of dance: taking movement to its zenith in Tensions and Lumière.

Aware of the evolution of the current artistic scene, particularly with the advent of

multimedia and new technologies, he does not blindly follow contemporary trends and the current bias for the “everything technological”. On the contrary, he measured its symbolic and aesthetic significance, first in Tensions, then in Spirale, a choreography for 12 dancers created for the Ballet de Lorraine in Nancy, France.

In 2006, he broke new ground with Solo 30×30, at once a trial of initiation, performance, and achievement. This ritual played out for 30 days, rain or shine, for passers-by who may or may not stop to watch, in an act of humility.

Since his first solos, Paul-André Fortier attached particular importance to collaborations with other major creators, such as visual artist Pierre Bruneau, composer Alain Thibeault, Japanese visual artist Takao Minami, lighting designer John Munro, filmmaker Robert Morin, and writer-performer Rober Racine. The latter three were part of the project Cabane, which premiered at the Festival TransAmériques (FTA) in 2008, then toured in Canada and Europe. In 2012, Vertiges was created in 2012, an unusual and poignant duet with improvisational violinist and composer Malcom Goldstein. This unlikely duet was followed by the creation of Misfit blues (FTA, 2014), an eccentric, slightly absurd and ironic little piece, a return to a certain theatricality, created and danced with choreographer/performer Robin Poitras, on a set designed by Edward Poitras.

Nearly 40 years have passed since Derrière la porte un mur, and more than 50 choreographies. Paul-André Fortier now seeks to share a legacy, a heritage for future generations. He is now involved in writing and publishing the Testament artistique, an artistic legacy to the dance community. — Michèle Febvre