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Posted on March 18, 2015 in Curator's Notes
Monsieur Auburtin: Life Lived as an Artist

The Dance Centre’s Executive Director Mirna Zagar introduces Serge Bennathan’s new work Monsieur Auburtin, which premieres March 26-28 in a co-presentation with Chutzpah!PLUS:

Since his return to Vancouver in 2007 – after almost two decades directing Toronto’s Dancemakers – Serge Bennathan has been active on several fronts, exposing his remarkably multitalented, renaissance personality through dance, opera, writing, poetry and visual art.

In his new work Monsieur Auburtin, Serge turns the lens on himself to make an autobiographical work reflecting on his formation as a dance artist in France. Blurring the borders between fiction, memory and reality, he skilfully draws us into times past. The title refers to Serge’s very first dance teacher when he was a child, a mysterious but inspirational figure who entranced his student with tales of the great Nijinsky. As a young dancer Serge encountered other dance icons in the flesh – Roland Petit, with whose company he first danced professionally, and the legendary Rudolf Nureyev, in a hilarious episode which I won’t reveal here. Perhaps the days of the Stars of Ballet are now gone – today we tend to talk more about individual artists and trends, rather than artistic eras. This work reminds us of some of the pivotal names in dance that not only inspired Serge and in some way defined his path in dance, but also of individuals who shook the world with their talent and imagination.

Here in Vancouver we recently lost one of those exceptional individuals – Grant Strate, a person who opened doors for so many artists, whose pioneering spirit, determination and innovation had such an impact on training, education, performance and institution-building for the art of dance: it was Grant who helped Serge establish a career as a choreographer, when he first came to Canada. So in telling the story of his life in dance, Serge pays tribute to all artists, past and present, and opens the doors to reflect on the role of artists today in our society.

On stage, Serge is a magnetic presence – his burning intelligence shines through, along with his splendidly Gallic charm and wit. Monsieur Auburtin conjures up text, movement, and live music (created and performed by the Montreal composer Bertrand Chénier) to create an ode to all those who have made art their utmost priority, and to those who have given all of themselves to dance: one of the most fragile, unpredictable, and uncompromising of all arts. A world in which passion and joy are on an equal plane with pain and self-denial, at times even self-destructiveness in the effort to attract and entertain, and yet still to be observant and provide a voice, a political statement at times too.

Serge reminds us of life lived as artist, and the artist’s role and contribution to life.


The Dance Centre presents the Global Dance Connections series: Serge Bennathan | Les Productions Figlio in Monsieur Auburtin, March 26-28, 2015 at Scotiabank Dance Centre, Vancouver. Presented with Chutzpah!PLUS. Tickets available from Tickets Tonight.

Photos: Michael Slobodian


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